So nice to be back in Sicily

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it’s so nice to be back in Sicily 
where the mafia controls the bees, 
the flowers, the rivers and the streams 
and which birds may nest in which trees. 

The mafia controls the sunshine 
the stars and, when it can rain, 
the mafia controls mount Etna 
Madonie daisies it “keeps in chains”

At night the Gangi nightingale sings 
just to keep the mafia peace 
the ants, and butterflies and porcupines 
are all pay-rolled “mafia police”. 

The mafia controls the wind 
up high, and Geraci Siculo’s water 
the mafia controls, controls, controls 
in precisely the way that it oughta!

if you sleep in peace under a bright starry sky 
it’s ‘cos the mafia has taken a cut 
you can’t even eat a “mafia-free” 
lowly Etna pistacchio nut 

Certain pistacchio’s” have always supported “The Mob” 
with their ears very close to the ground
and tentacle like branches exquisitely scheming “up”
then “down” and around and around. 

So it really is great to be back in Sicily 
where the mafia controls 
the flowers, the birds and the sun 
and that is the way things have always been 
ever since time begun! 

I wrote the poem “So nice to be back in Sicily” in Gangi in June 2003 after over 15 years of solo walking holidays in Sicily, mostly in the Madone countryside but also in the Nebrodi. I was very disappointed because godfather-mafia-obsessed English ‘travel journalists’ seemed never to be able to write about Sicily without making lazy forbidding references to Sicily-and-the-mafia and never mentioning the Madonie or Nebrodi regions. 

Whatever serious problems there are with crime they are not the whole story. Some people, intoxicated by the cinema and silly repetitive journalism said my solo walking holidays could be dangerous and that I might end up dead inside a mafia violin case. 

Instead I truly enjoyed Gangi nightingales, Geraci waters, clever circumnavigating pistacchio trees and starry skies, none of which were available in inner-city London where there is also plenty of organized and disorganized crime and now also bombs after the criminal war against Iraq. This poem re-cycles stupid journalistic obsessions. 

Ian Cameron 
Petraiia Sottana, Italy, 2005