Don Juan in Sicily

July 29, 2010

I pick up Signor Giovanni at the beach, on the golden shores of the Ionian.

Take a picture, he commands, seeing my camera.

I oblige.

He draws a tattered poem from a pocket. Per te, for you, he says, already addressing me with the familiar form. The poem has lines like this:  You’re a beautiful table, so bountiful I barely know where to begin.

I thank him and return to my caffè-shack “office.” He follows and pulls from his breast pocket a chapbook of poems.

“Mine,” he says. “I wrote them all.”

Opposite each love poem is a black and white photo of his younger self in various poses: flexing biceps on some long-ago beach, posing in a smart sailor outfit next to some long-gone naval vessel; rowing an antique wooden boat. “Look at those addominali, he says, pointing to his youthful six-pack.

I scan the poems, charmed that this man—who says he’s had a hard life farming tomatoes and only four years of school—has produced this work.

He says his poetry has opened doors, including to the nearby Club Med, where he’s met oh so many foreign women.

He writes down his phone number and asks about a husband.

C’è ne uno,” I say. There is one.

He shrugs. “Non importa.” And hands me another poem—this one called Paradise For Us.

Signor Giovanni reciting his poetry

Have you met Don Juan in Sicily or elsewhere?


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9 comments to Don Juan in Sicily

  • Dennis Berry

    I’m sure James Laughlin had Signor Giovanni in mind when he wrote. Old men fall in love easily, they have dear memories to relive while still they can. Be kind to them , maidens, for the day will come when you too will need to recapture the raptures of the raptures past. No” ” the poem is from memory and may not be exact.

    • Jann

      Dennis, thanks for tossing in your male perspective! If anyone knows the name of the James Laughlin poem, let us know…

  • There are many Don Juans in Italy. It’s trying to figure out the ones with true intentions that are difficult to find. LOL

  • catherine Billups

    It would be difficult not to meet a few Don Juans in Italy.

  • Christine

    yes I have……in Ponza. It’s the “non importa” that makes me laugh.


  • D. N. Baldwin

    Nice, sad stuff. But the poems. I wouldn’t mind seeing more, if that’s possible.

    Keep up the fine work.


  • all men are Don Juans in their way…they just won’t admit it.

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