As the century turned toward America Danilo Gallo traveled alone age twelve from a peasant house near Naples steerage to New York knowing no one, knowing no English, knowing nothing save the need to earn with quick wit, quicker hands, feet quick enough to escape the grasps of cops and mobs. He applied himself when wops were needed not to apply to whiter men wherever he looked.
After five years he sent for his parents and little Rosa and Rocco to join him in the flat behind the haberdashery shop he ran in the lower East Side tenement and soon owned without loans from friend, bank or shark. Each hat, each lease led to other shops and taller buildings and the filling stations across the river in Queens near the apartment house where the newly-wedded Americans Daniel now and Mildred gave life to Josephine and William, Teresa, my mother, and Dan, Andy and Lucille, last born, last holding the family fortune, last breathing fire from her nonagenarian mouth and eyes applied against them who take she says the country her father had found on the streets right out of her diamond-ringed and perfectly manicured hands.
A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his LGBT speculative story “Leaves,” also set in Indonesia, was a finalist for the Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest and so appears in the Saint & Sinners Literary Festival 2017 anthology. His essay "It's Been a Long Time Coming" was featured in The New York Times "Modern Love" column in April 2016. Penha edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of current-events poetry. @JamesPenha