Turin: the Calabrian Mafia’s laundry.
City-symbol bull’s heads bulge
from a Liberty façade
whose counter-sensual columns
the building holds in place.
100-year-old bourgeois family house,
lift and pipes the same good age;
lucky there’s a fountain nearby.
Stairs to keep you fit,
best Carrara marble, what else?
Bas-reliefs of city sights on unexamined walls.
Let’s see who’s inside.
Janitors from Naples.
Smile too much and miss the sun.
Somewhere keep three fine kids,
accident-prone yet never out of shape.
Ground floor is offices.
A hive of insurance ladies
drones quietly in one.
The other suffocates any aspirations
of grey, serial-failing businesses.
One by one, they leave.
Up a level. There’s a hotel overflow
and a millionaire eye-doc
whose patients’ relatives triple-park outside.
On the stairs those patients ebb and flow,
discussing lenses and degrees of strabismo.
Up again to a thick-set biker
husbanding a storybook blonde:
granite and quartz.
Opposite’s an uppity, uptight foreigner.
Don’t know why they let him in. Be gone soon.
In between, a wheezing widow, was someone once,
slipping away from her adult zombie son,
who visits when stakes are high.
Overhead, a flat of normal people,
stair-running brats who keep their adults
on a long leash,
next door to rich commie architects
who never sleep,
but squabble through the night
till dawn raises their son
to walk his machine.
Top floor reserved
for the neighbourhood hotelier,
best friend a sky-diving cat.
Padanian neighbours. On a good day,
you get tight-lipped greetings
they have to force out like trapped wind,
till a summer cockroach invasion
and tickles their throats.
Glad they’re not mine.