Browsing Category Gangster Poems

A poem about the mafia, murder and respect

When I was working in Manhattan in the 1980s, Paul Castellano, the head of the Gambino crime family, was murdered as he got out of his limo in front of Sparks Steakhouse, a few blocks from my office. It was a huge news event and there was much speculation around the reasons for, and details of, the assassination. One thing I learnt was that some mob killings are more “respectful” than others, inspiring this poem…

With Respect

When they machine-gunned Sonny
on the causeway
it was done with respect.
Strictly business.
Nothing personal.

When they sent Luca Brasi
to sleep with the fishes
it was done with respect.
Strictly business.
Nothing personal.

When they chopped Lucchese
into lots of bits
it was done with respect.
Strictly business.
Nothing personal.

When they built an office block
above Little Vinnie
it was done with respect.
Strictly business.
Nothing personal.

When they shot the Don
at his favourite restaurant
but before he’d eaten,

that was personal.



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