That Black Trench Coat

black and white photo of a man with beard in black trench coat
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The late 1910s. Grandpa Vuolo wore it on those cold days when he looked for work. It was black wool, fine as camel hair, with a raised collar and large button; the coat easily reached his knees. It also had a curious angle pocket near the left collar. Many days he would brush the falling snow from it as he entered his room, after another day of ignoring the shouted “Guinee go home!” and the endless jobs for which he was not hired. Working—living—alone, he tried saving enough to eventually bring over his family.

On some cold nights, he may have fallen asleep atop his bed with it still buttoned.

snow at sunset
even his footprints
fade from view

The late 1970s. My father inherited the coat. He strode into Fiorella’s Café—across from Lincoln Center—with it open, revealing his latest suit. Quickly hanging it up, he would check the floor to see how the shift manager had everything in order.

Bill Beutel, the long-time ABC news anchor, would arrive sometime during the day and ask Dad for “that bottle of Crown Royale.” Sometime after, Dad would walk past Al Pacino, who sat nestled in a corner, embraced by his own, brown trench coat and fedora, and desperate for anonymity.

clinking glasses
echoes of steps
and car horns

The early 1990s. I wore the coat over a flannel shirt and a bright-orange, psychedelic, tie-dye t-shirt. Faded jeans, Italian leather ankle boots and a “Crocodile Dundee” brimmed hat completed my attire. None of it worked without the trench coat.

Jaime nearly died when I picked him up. But as we made our way south from Binghamton in a seriously used 1984 Honda Prelude, he got used to it. Good thing, too: I never took it off!

covered in crows
a bare tree

Photo by Library of Congress

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Frank J. Tassone

Frank J. Tassone lives in New York City's "back yard" with his wife and son. He fell in love with writing after he wrote his first short story at age 12 and his first poem in high school. He began writing haiku and haibun seriously in the 2000s. His haikai poetry has appeared in Failed Haiku, Cattails, Haibun Today, Contemporary Haibun Online, Contemporary Haibun, The Haiku Foundation and Haiku Society of America member anthologies. He is a contributing poet for the online literary journal Image Curve, and a performance poet with Rockland Poets. When he's not writing, Frank works as a special education high school teacher in the Bronx. When he's not working or writing, he enjoys time with his family, meditation, hiking, practicing tai chi and geeking out to Star Wars, Marvel Cinema and any other Sci-Fi/Fantasy film and TV worth seeing.

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