Andy Palasciano, "Canoli Spumoni and the Ice Cream Man Boat Adventure"

      As Canoli and Pizelle walked along the street by the Main Canal of Venice, just beyond the Main Square, she saw the Gelato Vaporetto, or the Ice Cream Man Boat, puttering in the canal playing an Italian Ice Cream Man tune. As she saw the other children rushing toward the edge of the Canal waiting for their turn to get some gelato, Canoli thought of times gone by where she would love to hear the sweet sound of that tune.  And now that she was going to be in third grade she could really appreciate it.

     As she and Pizelle walked on they came to a market with some baskets, one basket was like a hamper four feet tall.  It was wicker and it had a wicker top to it.  Suddenly, someone jumped out of it and shouted, “Time to go to High School!” “Jenna, is that you?” Canoli said.  It was her classmate at Venice Elementary School.  “Marco Polo High School is many years away for us.”  Jenna walked with her two younger sisters.  One of them, Sam, was only two years old.  They all looked at the Gelato Vaporetto and suddenly they saw three men jump on the Vaporetto and speed off with it.  Sam had envisioned buying some gelato and thought of it, now that the boat was stolen, just melting to the ground.  She yelled at the men, “You’re all in the dungeon!” 

     Canoli thought fast and borrowed her uncle’s Gondola that was not being used at the time and slowly followed the Gelato Vaporetto.  The four girls all got in and they were on their way.  Jenna’s other sister Abigail said, “I think they are heading toward the Eastern Square.  We should be able to cut them off if we go down this way.” Canoli said, “Abigail, you have the instincts of a crime fighter, I agree and I know this route as I have rope swings I’ve made attached to porches all up and down this area.”  They cut down the alley and into the open channel. The sun was beginning to set and they drifted through the side streets now lit up with the moon in the night sky.  The stars were bright and it was a little cold in the air.  As they pulled into one alley, a couple of friends opened their lit bedroom window and spoke to them.  Canoli looked in room and said to Riley, “What are you making there?”  “Slime,” she said.  “You have buckets and buckets there.”  “You never know when you’ll need some slime,” she said.  Riley and her older sister Alexa climbed out their window and onto the Gondola and they drifted on into the channel.  As they went on, Canoli pointed to the porches hanging over the channel that she had put rope swings underneath.  There was a festival going on with clowns in white on stilts and minstrels and jugglers. But there still was no sign of the Gelato Vaporetto or its bandits.   

       They watched the festival as if mesmerized by the lights and the pageantry.  The Clowns flipped and juggled on stilts.  Then, suddenly, the calm water they were floating on got rough from a large ship in the channel’s wake.   They were out in the rough channel and couldn’t get back in when they noticed a rope with a small hook on the end of their gondola.  Alexa said, “I used to be the best in my class at the game where you throw a bean bag into a hole from far away. Let me have the rope and I may be able to throw it and catch it in the hole on the dock where they tether ships to.”  Alexa threw the hook and caught it on the hole and pulled the ship to the sidewalk area.  As they pulled themselves along the wooden side of the channel they noticed the Vaporetto anchored in the middle of the channel.  The men must have left it there and got on another boat to attend the Festival.  “Let me handle this,” Canoli said.  “I have a  rope swing under this balcony.  I will get out to it.”  Canoli climbed the rope swing and let it loose from the balcony.  She swung out and landed on the Vaporetto.  “It’s all here,” she said. “It’s all here, all the gelato.”  They pulled the line to the ship and got onto it and unloaded all the gelato on their Gondola.  When the bandits returned to the Vaporetto they found their gelato barrels were full and drove away.  A bit later they discovered the barrels were full, with slime.

     Canoli and her friend’s Gondola pulled up to the Festival and they brought the gelato for all the townspeople.  It was brightly lit.  Sam got some gelato and said in a heavy Italian accent, “ge-la-to!” with a smile.  Jenna said, “I want chocolate milk!”   And after they had all finished eating and were sitting at the table, Riley was thinking of her lollipop she had just finished.  “Lollipop gone, lollipop  gone,” she muttered to herself.  Abigail said in an English accent, “Lolly, I’d like my lolly now, mommy.” Canoli was happy that the town got their gelato back, as were the rest of her friends.  “The holidays will be over soon and it will be back to Venice Elementary School for us.”   Sam couldn’t really talk yet in full sentences but gave a very moving speech with some words and Italian noises and gestures.  They all agreed that the holidays would be back and they could keep the feeling they had then all year and for all time after that. They got in their Gondola and drifted back to return the boat to the uncle and began to think of clowns on white stilts and the gelato in the clouds of the sky.

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Andy Palasciano was born in Connecticut and has lived in San Diego for sixteen years, where he is a part of the Full Moon Poetry Circle. His work has appeared in The Penwood Review, The Journal of New England Writers, and the San Diego Poetry Annual.