In this etching I worked from one of Dad's military photographs. It represents three generations: him, his parents (upper left) and my hand print on top. Carmine Sarracino wrote a poem based on this work for the Handprint Identity Project.
In His Youth
“In His Youth” is black and white, just as the world,
in his youth, was black and white. Called by Right
to cleanse the blot of Wrong, in black tangles
on snowy mountains, with a heavy machine
gun he met the edge of its dark bulge.
And he could not fire fast enough!
Blue, he felt so blue, far from home, but
the red of rage, fear’s acid yellow, the purple of guilt,
and grief, that blackest black, so black that like white
it contains all colors, came back in dreams
he did not talk about, not even to himself.
He returned to ranks, he marched straight
home where he could not make too much life fast enough!
Only five kids? Or nine? He would create 19,000
if he could, he would stand up one live child for each cross,
if only he could…. At ten, as if out of belt ammo, he stopped.
And one of those ten made this portrait of his dad.
At a glance, any GI. But look, the eyes: sensitive, shy,
peeking from a hidden inner world.
His son, blood of his blood, would saw that world
open, turn it inside out, and live his life there,
making his own creations, one after another,
never enough, with color, texture, shape—
clay, bronze, iron, wood—everything
an artist needs when he is free
with permission of the poet