Monte Reale/Mason’s Eucherist: by Bonnie McClellan


Tourists take photos while the faithful take communion.

The priest extends God

again and again.

within the cardboard flavoured

benediction of holy bread

He Is

reconstituted by faiths’ sanguine tongue.

The exchange of force:

the weighted wheel that rights itself

the pendelum

the cam shaft

the finger on the shutter button:

charged reflex of the aperture flash-writes the icons’ golden tesserae

to memory

again and again.

Monday, in the winding weekday of a suburban street:

The bread man drives a panel truck

newgreen once, now filmed with summer dust cast up from the road

innocent as the first stones that years ago

smacked off enamel chips and so

engendered oxides’ ruddy rose.

Chanting through the nasal static of a loud speaker

unintelligible words.

His rough square hands convey

in paper, through which butter has begun to soak,

delicate pastry filled with almond paste and dark chocolate

lightly dusted with powdered sugar, and then:

two swallows of thick, black coffee,

in a plastic dixie cup.

The 10 a.m. taste of salvation

again delivered to working men.

Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: El Pescador / Fingerprint:Ring

Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: Il Pescador / Fingerprint:Ring
El Pescador/Fingerprint: Ring – a multimedia collage from “Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: Embroidered Errors.”

This will make more sense if you take a look at the previous pages of the Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: Embellished Errors

The title El Pescador is from the Mexican lotteria card (that somehow emigrated from Texas to Italy tucked between the pages of a book) included in the mixed media collage on the left hand page. Behind it is another hand print in marble dust on tissue painted round with lampblack. The hand print reaches towards a neon-pink sticker with my mother’s handwriting, towards an unreachable past from a composite future represented by El Pescador – the fisherman – who must always be anchored within in order not to be lost. Ironically, although the image is taken from my Texas cultural roots, the landscape on the card looks surprisingly like that of Lago Maggiore with the Alps in the background, a landscape I’ve addressed in two poems: Monte Rosa or the Picturesque and the Sublime, and Lombard Spring / Rondeau á Lago Maggiore.

The left hand page is connected to the right by a coat of white paint that covers (on the center left) an image of a person who has just opened a box (Pandora’s?), and is holding instructions for what to do with the contents but looks doubtful – again from IKEA. Living in a different cultural context with a different language and only the cultural map from my ‘mother-culture’ to navigate by was a bewildering sensation that I explored in Testimonio.

I found myself searching for constants, strangely comforted by being near the Mediterranean sea whose waters – in some slow, circumnavigation through white clouds and shifting currents – must have once broken on the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. Fingerprint:Ring expresses that unity through another universal language: hardware (no, not the computer kind). A pencil drawing of a hose clamp, comfortingly the same in any country, neither metric nor standard, adjustable with a flat-head screwdriver, a slender coin, or the tip of a butter knife. At the top left of the page, my pale, smeary fingerprint, an intentional error, both unique and universal.

Marsala: Caulk it all up to Experience…

Back in a long ago summer I was working on a remodeling project in the suburbs of the Sicilian town of Marsala, a stunningly beautiful place where Garabaldi’s ‘mille’ made their first landing: the beginning of the work-still-in-progress known as Italian Unification.

Contrary to the myth one hears in Northern Italy, I saw southern Italian’s working hard from six in the morning until four in the afternoon with not much of a break. I recall, after lunch, laying down on the cool tile floor before launching into the next part of the project…and this poem about the often unsung pleasures of manual labour:

Caulk it all up to experience…

I’ve had enough silicone under my nails

To make a fertility goddess of a Hollywood starlette

(or at least to make five clean breasts of it).

You’d think I’d have the bank account

Of a Brazilian plastic surgeon by now…

Fat chance,

Folks don’t pay the big bucks

To have their tiles enhanced.

Will I list this work on my table of discontents?

It could be a Tuesday.

I could be anchored to an anonymous desk

In some downtown gratte-ciel looking out a window that isn’t there

Blinking against no sunlight, thinking:

“Out, out brief candle.”

“out, out.”


then, looking down at the shame of clean and idle hands:

“If only I had enough silicone under my nails

To make a fertility goddess of a Hollywood starlette…”

To read more of the back story click HERE.



(37° 47′ 27.32″ N 13° 1′ 34.31″ E)

The written version of this poem has disappeared. If you’re wondering why, click HERE.

To listen to the podcast, click on the player below:

Testimonio: by Bonnie McClellan



Awake I break and chip this language

As if I am trying to bang out acanthus leaves with

The blunt face of a five pound sledge;

Just call me:


Grazia, (a Dio).


Full of sleep I slide into the Jungian upper room,

Strike the uncomprehending Pentecostal match and speak:


Wet words,

Wavelets around boats that ply

Apostolic present perfect street.

My dreams blink and smile:



Stout woman in a flowered dress.

Flash of thread.

Globe of sky,


Offers, unclouded

Not the world

But the breath of it:




Water stands suspended within

Bright still chaos of oxygen

Where swallows weave with crosséd paths

Nets anchored round scattered signal taps.

Antennae of the televisions

Buoy mark this random ocean.

From rooftop to rooftop

(da tetto a tetto).


Test a mon io.

Click on the audio player below to hear a reading of this poem:


Mon Reale/Mason’s Eucharist: by Bonnie McClellan

The written version of this poem has disappeared. If you’re wondering why, click HERE.

To listen to the podcast of this poem, click on the player below:

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