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Sunday, February 19, 2023


by Patricia Phillips-Batoma

Giuseppe di Matteo was kidnapped in 1993 in an attempt to blackmail his father into not giving evidence against the Mafia, Italian prosecutors said. The 12-year-old boy was held in captivity for two years before he was strangled and dissolved in acid. Matteo Messina Denaro, one of the mobsters who ordered little Giuseppe's kidnapping and murder, was finally caught yesterday in Palermo while he visited a private clinic for cancer treatment. —Mirror (UK), January 17, 2023

For Giuseppe di Matteo, who loved animals.

I stand before you today
single-breasted and slim cut
of jacquard silk-wool blend
with breast pocket for a pocket square
made with Italian love.
Gentle fingers
stitched together all the precision-cut
pieces of me into the kind of shape
that dreams someday it will grace
a UEFA champion at a red-carpet gala
or the jaunty gait of a screen star
collecting a prize.
Now imagine
our fate in the closet of U SiccuDiabolik
—hoarder of Raybans and Rolexes,
my Armani brothers, my Versace cousins,
in bunkers during 30 years on the lam.
Scars are etched in every single place
he sweats acid of the same grade
used to melt bodies after torture
and strangulation. That is to say
those not simply blasted away.
Here on the threshold of his demise
I announce today my candidacy
to serve as outfit for the cremation.
After all, nobody wants to don me,
and I, uncomfortable now on any skin,
no longer abide the humiliation of covering up
a criminal body. The way he felt my buttons,
caressed my smooth weave, precludes
all pretense to future dignity.
But the worst was how he adjusted each sleeve,
likely how he strangled that pregnant woman,
with  just  one  tug. 

Patricia Phillips-Batoma is a writer and teacher who lives in Illinois. She has published poems in OffCourse, Plants & Poetry, Parentheses, Tuck Magazine, and Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis.