Thank you for taking time to read the material posted here. I would be pleased if you could comment, and I promise to comment back. Sincerely, Nancy


Saturday, May 21, 2011



The sound of the train traveling over
tracks reminded her of her legs
pumping, rocking back and forth
on a fancy foot rest of metal - a
Singer Sewing Machine.
Legs with strong muscles - a
thimble on her thumb pushing cotton
over metal and then - sound stops.

Out of her window from her seat
on a train she view hills, meadows,
streams, ponds, and naked trees
kissing icicles - from a cold rain
the night before. Now a warm
wind brushes snow gathered late
last night.

Traveling slower, close to a town
small children wave at
strangers staring from small soiled
windows where she glanced at
impatient motorists at a railroad
crossing, she hears the whistle
from the train, over and over -

The train rocks now from
side to side, crossing Main Street,
every small town has Main Street
and cobblestone - as common as
garlic browning in olive oil - or
fresh tomatos ripened on her vine -
a single apple from the Fruit Man.

The conductor shouts, “Schenectady.”
Legs uncross – cross – nervous
squirming in her seat, fidgeting,
fussing over a wrinkle found on
her blue cotton dress and fingering a
corsage pinned to her gray overcoat.

In her mind she kept touching the
holes in her husband’s socks, reaching
for her pin cushion near large spools
of white thread, she sat at her kitchen
table and stitched - breaking thread
with her teeth.

The flowers disappear from her
dress - replaced in her mind by a
dingy apron dreanched by dirty water,
tied at her waist. Her hands raw -
scrubbing her husband’s skin.
Her body a machine, like her sewing
machine; her feet on the metal grate
her hands on her husband's back
over and over until soot is removed,
or when her feet no longer strong
enough to pump a black cast iron
sewing machine. The soot - he once
delivered coal - until a strike he
began delivering fruit on Erie -
where once the Erie Canal ran down
instead of a street.

She touches her old dress, glances
out the window knowing she needed
her children, their love - how fast
a world changed now John is dead.
His only friend blown to pieces -
never did testify - on this day she
traveled alone.

Tears filled her eyes, her hands
clasped in prayer, her face covered
with guilt - she never won - she
fought for her children - and the
Fruit Men won.

Nancy Duci Denofio
(c) all rights reserved

Saturday, April 23, 2011



A faint light from a full moon
hiding behind the oak tree near
the barn, lights your face – oh,
you are gone but some still say
you vanished in the storm…

Your eyes would stare into mine
and I would feel the passion, the
appetite to love you. It was here
and yes at times, on the sand near
the sea.

You see no one sees you either,
nor has anyone talked to you here,
near the barn where we first met,
oh, it seemed like yesterday when
you squeezed me so tightly I wanted
to tell you, but not then, not the
first squeeze.

Here or there, your face will never
leave – your face brings me back to
our last day – waves spilling over a
rocky shore – you and I holding
hands as if we were children…

You wanted to roll in the sand, so
I followed, and our bodies were
coated with fine grains of white

You see - I would not let you
go - I held you – whispered
in your ear, kissed your ear
lobe - but a force stronger
pulled you from me.

I recall our hands slipping
apart – our last touch as you
fell away from my being – so
I walked to the barn and you
were there, I knew you would
be, waiting to say good bye,
until my day arrived to live again.

This place where I stand -
I shall return no matter the
distance I must travel –
Your face will still be alive
in the moonlight – from land
to sea - an instrument of
life after death - keeping
me alive and breathing.

Now as moonlight fades –
sun slips into unfriendly water.
I say farewell – once more.

Nancy Duci Denofio
© 2011 all rights reserved

Monday, April 11, 2011


Blind Fists Cry Out

A stranger wraps his arms about
her waist - shivers run up and
down her spine -

"They will save him," she whispered,
"Experts do this all the time."

She fingered sand as it fell through
her fingers, heard sea gulls squawking,
and legs splashing – faint voices
mumbling in the distance.

“Is it day or is it night?
Her body unskilled - slipped over

She screamed, "I want to know!"
She flung her arms above her head
as if they had eyes – to the wind -
"Is he alive?"

She stood to run, tripped, and fell.
Seashells cut sporadic lines on her legs -
her head bent, she grabbed sand –
squeezed her fists, and cried.

A stranger’s voice, a touch patted her
back and asked, "Are you the mother?"

She reached to feel her face.

"Tell me – what . . . does he look
like - Is he cold? Is he warm
or - is he blue?”

Nancy Duci Denofio

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Her Open Window

Fresh steps in snow
reveal her footprints -
as evening paints her
garage a deeper shade
of yellow – as squirrels
leap over steep banks
of snow – a black crow
circles dried toast, she
tossed from the
it was her window…

Small red beans attached
to thorns - her bushes
coated with ice -
crack – letting color peak
from winters coat – the
sun disappears behind the
garage - near tulips
fighting to be born
again - near pears resting
on the ground. . .

Her round pedestal table
is cold, naked without
her special table cloth -
hand sewn flowers at the
edge - dried flowers
on display from last
summer. . .

Her pedestal table near
a second floor window -
now cluttered with
notes . . .
A wind enters - from
the second
window –
notes tossed
I rush to gather paper -
another gust of wind
enters from her
window. . .

Nancy Duci Denofio
(c)all rights reserved

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


1954 Beneath a Pull String

Your thumb curled back,
Lick it…
Lick it…
Turn pages of your bible
while you sit on garments,
pressing them.
Everything is home made -
curtains above a radiator
move in the night. . .
back and forth, back and forth
your apron covers a navy
blue dress – you must be
going to church – but right
now your are stirring homemade
cocoa –
stir it - stir – stir –

Grandmother’s footsteps reach
the landing on the second
floor, her voice calls out
Grand daughter, it’s time
little legs bend as hands help
to climb a twisting staircase.

You sat there beneath a pull string
a string that hit your head each
time you sat to join me for my
morning cocoa. On your back
a red sweater, half buttoned,
holes at your elbow, on the
left side.

You twisted in your chair
back and forth, now I know
it was to get comfortable, and
you smiled.

You were never tall but the
string, the one to pull for
light in your kitchen kept
swinging back and forth.

You would connect a long
tube, but now I know it was
a cord to your radio – every
afternoon and night – listening
to church songs.

Often I noticed your ankles
were never thin? Never did
ask you why?

You would connect another
long cord to a toaster, to the
pull string for light and music.
Your curled thumbs flipped toast
from side to side as you open
up to investigate, to see if the
toast was done.

Strange how a cord so
insignificant would be a
memory connecting you and me.

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011



Few friends knew why I sat
on a snow bank, close to
frozen ice – watching them
skate –

My frayed red mitten would
be covering my pointer finger
as I drew names, houses, on
ice –

Mother wondered why I never
wanted to skate – she knew I
detested brown straps around
my ankles on sparkling white
skates –

We walked up Seneca Street
turned left on Lenox Road and
a few more blocks, there it was
Steinmiz Park, frozen for all
neighborhood children –

Wind blew in my face, coated
nose, Ice stiffened gloves –
then I sat and drew pictures
with my pointer, with frayed
red mittens –

Watched mother skate, and
all my friends. Watched girls
twill as I did when I danced
on toe – or in slippers of pink
or black –

I watched until mother and
my brother were ready to take
another cold - walk home, now
wind against my back –
shoving me –

No one saw the city I carved
in ice, left behind near the
snow bank.

Nancy Duci Denofio
2011 @all right reserved

Wednesday, March 2, 2011



On our way to “Middle” -
near the border of Vermont,
mother - is buried - in “Middle.”

The County Fair is over,
land – bare; I begged for
cotton candy - there.

A one - room schoolhouse
need of fixing – missing
wood, broken windows,
brick bruised. You
can hear echoes of children.

Down the road across
a creek, beyond sliced
slabs of slate: A vintage
bar still living, patrons still
sitting on the same broken
down porch.

Past the bar, we take a
sharp right, twisting like
a slippery creek – a gentle
rain slips down slate – hard
rain – a creek grows
moreover, roads closed.

We pass tiny huts with
many children – half clothed -
playing near a rusted car
tires – gone. . .
Clothes of brown hang
from trees.
Mother called them guilders.

A sharp right - I remember –
as if, it was today. . .
fear inside while mother
talked about bad men
Inside massive gates
and towers; men
hold big guns – a giant
building with tiny windows
letting in little sun. . .
And, the closer we get the
larger it grows - more fear
as my feet, kick the back of
the front seat and I feel
my own heart beat. . .

Back, when I leaned my
head onto the window of our
car, pressed my nose against
glass – eyes wide – a tear,
inside – praying to myself –
I will never, ever be bad.

Today, we pass the massive
prison, filled with bad men,
those who murdered kept
inside while men still stand
in towers holding guns.

Behind the prison little
houses where guards sleep
many empty – then visitors
parking lot – filled.

Still we twist and turn as
a creek follows to our left –
houses hidden behind
maple trees – holding buckets
their spine aches - giant barns –
fewer cows roam.

Another sharp left – up a
Hill - Saint Mary’s Catholic
Church. At five – I marched
down the Aisle as a miniature
bride as my parent’s did
so long ago.

Mother said, “Keep those
white patent leathers clean,
and lift your dress – there is
mud around these parts.”

Recalling the aisle, when
I walked front and center
down a red carpet – how
different that would be today.

Mother lays sleeping -
told me inside a bronze
Nothing changes in
“Middle” – she was one
of seventeen children,
she – the first girl to die,
today only two survive.

We cross the river with
no name – pass my
mother’s best friends
home across from the
green grocery store
- close to the rivers

We pass my Aunt’s
house next door to my
Uncle PJ’s Bar – her home
built before the Civil
War – here trees have
grown around head
stones, as if the spirit
climbed trees – looked
in at me, when I was
trying hard to sleep.

Down the road a bit
to the left, my mother’s
home it was once
there sitting high on
a hill – a giant porch
as a child – a stair
way - we climbed and
slid down, when no one
was around -

A hill where I once
played - tumbled,
rolled, pushed on a sled

behind mother’s home
where she learned to
milk a cow.
Where she played
baseball with ten brothers
– where mountains of
Vermont stood close
in the distance –
a short walk where she
would stay – this day.

Now a left, on a dirt
road – approaching a
black gate – locked – we
step around tree trunks -
climb a slight hill –
we pass grandmother’s
stone – grandfather’s –
where my older brother
sleeps at the foot of his

I make the sign of the cross.
I read - to myself – all those
dead members of my family
resting near Vermont.

A stone path gets shorter as
land fills up with those who
lay beneath ground –
stretching beyond my view
of the mountains.

I see a heart shaped stone
and read the Irish Prayer –
my father’s name,
who is not there.

I stare – I turn – away. . .
talk in soft sounds
alone on a stone path. . .
no one hears, I never stay
to pray at her grave – but
talk to her as my feet
carry me from stone to
stone, so many belong in
this small town.

I gaze up at the mountain,
smile – I know she is
here – today – with me
nevertheless, mother still
travels in
her spirit world –
mother still sees me,
warns me of a rising creek -
listens when I speak.

Nancy Duci Denofio
all rights reserved @2011