Carmine Dandrea
Once In Korea:
an Odyssey

Carmine Dandrea
Carmine's previous FootHills books:
Trying On America
Undertaking the American Dream

Once In Korea: an Odyssey, is first of all, as its subtitle suggests, a perilous journey or adventure characterized by many shifts in fortune. More specifically, it is concerned with Marine Corps combat culture and its consequences during the Korean War in 1951.  Internally it is divided into three parts or phases:  combat action; physical, mental and emotional consequences in the Epilog; and lasting irredeemable consequences in the end piece, Casualties.

Once In Korea is a series of poetic sequences drawing on all the other literary genres-fiction, memoir, autobiography and history --as poetry many times does. The sequences also use many different poetic forms from narrative to free verse to more traditional forms, including the lyric.  The individual poems of the sequences depend greatly on the use of irony, metaphor and imagery and attempt to deal with truths as well as facts.

Carmine Dandrea

From the book:

Child At The Gate


Our cannon with blistering heat
bombarded hills;
the air was sweet
with smoke curled up
from village streets
like fingers
on a blackened hand.

Later, as I passed a gate
that smoldered still
as if from hate
which we had spilled,
I saw a naked boy
with hands and body black,
from exploding shells.

I will come back,
I thought;
and the child, distraught,
waved his charred hand
at me as I went by
with Roman pennies
on my eyes.

Honest the feelings
in our veins at times,
but I was on my way
up to our lines
and never passed
that gate again.

Now, the boy
forever cries,
and I tell myself
once more the lie
that, after all,
I really tried.

After graduating from Elmira Free Academy in Elmira, New York, Carmine Dandrea enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, trained at Parris Island, and enrolled in the Naval School Of Electronics at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Later, he served in a variety of posts until released into the inactive reserve. In July, 1950, a month after war started in Korea, he was recalled to active duty and posted to the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C., for Fleet Marine Force infantry training.  Crossing the Pacific aboard the U.S.N.S. General William O. Darby, he landed with other Lejeune marines at Po-Hang-dong, Korea, and was assigned to the 3rd Platoon, Dog Company, 2nd Battalion, 5the Marine Regiment of the Ist Marine Division. There he served in .30 caliber light machine guns. He fought North Korean guerrillas in the Pohang-Yongchon-Andong Triangle, participated in Operation Killer, and fought at the battles of Wonju and Hoengsong. He was with the 5th Regiment when it fought against the Chinese 4th Field Army units during the Chinese 1951 Spring Offensive, and in September, 1951, he and his comrades defended the mountain ridge known as Luke's Castle at the Punchbowl where in a ferocious night battle he was badly wounded. He was awarded the Purple Heart medal in Hawaii, and spent nearly 9 months in a variety of hospitals recuperating. In May, 1952, he was posted to Brooklyn Navy Yard and released from active duty.

The author as a Marine in Korea.

Once in Korea is a 140 page hand-stitched paperbook with spine.   $18.00

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 Carmine Dandrea
A Mythos Of Immigrant Life

For my grandparents, the DePiettos and the Dandreas, without whose incredible courage and vision in braving the crossing in steerage of the Atlantic to fulfill their American Dream, I would never have had the experience of trying on America.  Needless to say, it is also dedicated to all those Mamma Mias who threaded their way, in one fashion or another, through my life.
Il loro coraggio e visione compie la mia vita.

From the book:

Coming to America

If it was the Muccigrosso episode or not,
Giacomino found an inspiration in a sheer aside,
a mere passing remark made by a friend,
Angelo Marino, who said that he would like
sometime to see America, Land of the Free,
and, perhaps, even be a dollar-rich Americano.
And so then would Giacomino enlist his talent
and his strength to travel steerage overseas
to a world beyond anything that Genovese
could imagine in his visions of spice and gold,
in anything his New World depictions could unfold
to his Spanish conquistadors, brazen and bold,
or to his Spanish rulers who turned ultimately cold
and brought him home, humiliated and in chains.

Giacomino left his young wife and daughters on their own;
came to America on a contract signed and sealed
by M. Del Papa who fondled riches in his friendly hand,             
who lined his pockets with his countrymen,
who kept Sabatini on his dole to play the role
of sole support to Italian working men--
came to dig ditches for the railway beds,
came to lay tarred ties and nail iron rails down
for the Delaware & Lackawanna tracks
running East to West, West to East
and back, here in America, Land of the Free.

Days added up to weeks, weeks to months;
months morphed to years-5 to be exact.
It was a fact the money grew too slow,
given the costs to eat and live, the costs
to keep Del Papa rich and Sabatini fat,
to find relief from work at Jack's saloon
to find there the boon of cheap red wine
among the brisc players and all of that;
the boon to ease the woes of weary men,
men lonely for their families far away in Italy.
But, then, came the day when Giacomino
could count out money in his hand,
enough to send Amelia in that far-off land
passage money for three small souls to sail
the vast Atlantic in the steerage hold
of a small, cramped, cold Norwegian ship
and passage money, too, for Giacomino
to go to that small island in Manhattan's bay
where nearly all Italian names were changed:
James for Giacomino, Emily for Amelia
and Grazia Maria to Grace Marie.

My Father Fell Through Years of Light

As I lost sight
in my dark night
of just how brilliant was his flight,
my father fell through years of light.

I had been too much concerned
with just how  much my life had turned
since his candescent arc had burned
colors in my mind to have learned
the lesson that his death's gyre drew.

His life, an azimuth true
to the compass point, grew
arched as an arrow shot through
the blue bow of heaven to imbue
me with what he knew:
love is the spectrum that burns through
death's door when a life is true.

Carmine Dandrea, Professor of literature and creative writing and former editor of  Blossom Review, was educated at Hobart College, Brown University, Elmira College, and Cornell University from which he received the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.  He has taught at Elmira Free Academy, Elmira College, Corning Community College, and Lake Michigan College.  Mr. Dandrea served in the United States Marine Corps and during the Korean War was awarded the Purple Heart Medal. He was a national winner in the Discovery '69 Program of the New York Poetry Center. His 1st book of poems, Heart's Crow, based on experiences in India, was published by P. Lal's Writers Workshop of Calcutta in 1972. His poems have been published in Plaintiff, Transition, Ego Flights, Michigan Magazine, Husson Review, Albion and other  literary journals and anthologies. Over 40 of his poems have won prizes and awards. Most recently, he won First Prize in the 2010 prestigious Tom Howard Poetry Contest.  In 1977 the editors of the International Who's Who in Poetry awarded him a Certificate of Distinguished Contributions To Poetry. Wyndham Hall Press published his book-length sequence of poems, American Still Life, in 1992.  He has been a Scholar at the 1993 NEH Institute of Chinese Culture and Civilization at the East-West Center in Hawaii and has participated in the Center's 1994  Field Study in the People's Republic of China and its 1995  Field Study in India. His 3rd book, Liberation: a Journey to India, was published in 1995 by P. Lal of the Writers Workshop of Calcutta, India. FootHills Publishing released his 4th book, Undertaking The American Dream, in November, 2008.  P.Lal of The Writers Workshop of Calcutta published his 5th book, An Infinite Human Tale, in July, 2009.

An ardent practitioner of poetry as oral art, Carmine Dandrea has read his work in Athens, Beirut, Istanbul, New Delhi and throughout India, in Katmandu, Honolulu, in Ireland, The People's Republic of China, and in the United States.

TRYING ON AMERICA is a 96 page hand-stitched paper book with spine - $16.00.


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 Undertaking the
American Dream


Counting Out My Growth In Deaths     
A Karate Expert Kills A Car     
The 1st Of November     
The Image In The Mirror     
Sunrise In Chicago     
Alone In The House     
An Elegy In Spring     
Rising After Midnight     
The Man From Yesterday     
The Flower Man Is Gone     
An Escape From The Institution     
A Trinity For Maladjustment     
How The Old Man Died     
A Report From The Clinic     
Everything Is Springtime And Great Beauty     
Farm Auction     
Dreamland And Charles Bukowski     
On The Eve Of The Gunfighter's Death     
Undertaking The American Dream     
The Will That In The Sunset Finds Release     
Dirge For The Dead Anatoly     
A Bird In Winter     
Upstate March     
Visiting The Cages In Bombay     
In The Madras Market     
The Highway To Delhi     
Waiting For The Third Wave In     
To A Korean Comfort Girl, Shot Sniping     
I Find The Dead Chinaman     
Easter, 1951     
Rescue By Helicopter     
The Blue Sky Motel     
A Dead Horse In The Supermarket     
Piece De Resistance     

Sequence: Those Inscrutable Chinese:
       Lady With A Small Dog     
       Lunch At The Chinese National Art Institute         
       Shao Shi Peng Speaks Toilets     
       Mr.Gupta, Mr. Li      
Everyone Loved Fala     
Her Room At Night     
The Universe Of Death     
A Fable Of Flies     
M. Del Papa     
My Rich Croatian Uncle, Andy Smith     
The School Photographer Takes My Picture     
All The Little Comforts     
Jumping Off The Eiffel Tower     
I Love You, Minnie Wantagh, In The A.& P.     

From the Book:


This sun-filled Sunday morning
when I woke,
I knew that you would  not;
I knew that you had gone,
and that your eyes
were closed to Sundays
and to sun.

All my life
I have counted out my growth
in deaths
until they have become
the total of my time
as every stone
that makes a cairn
becomes a marker of the spot;
and your death, Grandfather,
is only one
among the many deaths
I register;
but how special to my growth
it is, I think I know.

At ninety years, your  mind alive
to Sundays and to sun,
you simply fell asleep at five-
a quiet afternoon of naps-
and died. No pain we knew of
crossed you in that hour.
Of course, you were alone,
and that was fitting too.
The family had gone home
and left the dream you had
to you .

Who could have known,
although we were aware
at ninety every moment spins
a pinwheel in the sky,
and every arrow spun
is ever pointed straight.
Death smiles, sweet and sure
as lovers do in summer sun,
each time you close your eyes.

With you, another part of time
that calibrates my growth
and scales love has gone.
The sun of yesterday
will not be here tomorrow.
The sun, however, rises
as perhaps I do.
But you, old dial, stand still
the farthest measure of my hour.

I have counted out my growth
in deaths,
and yours is shortening
my life's shadow.
My growth slows
with fainter, thinner line
to mark my moments
in creative light.
The sun at noon is nude,
and so am I.


I've been reading evolution theory,
trying to get back
into the primal  mud of pond behind the farm.

How hard it is to do
after Adam and the naming of things:
after the tawny lion and the slippery toad,
after the giant Redwood and the warty weed,
after the telescoping of giraffe,
the chipmunk chittering and the lisp
of squirrels sliding the telephone lines,
after the titmouse teetering
on the thinnest branch and the great crow
curving through the sky
in sheer, black-robed telegraphy.

How hard it is to do
after the  wonderful fib
of Eve and Adam's rib,
after the infamy of apple,
the notoriety of glitter
surrounding the snake,
the Father filled with wrath,
unforgiving, relentless, but
promising some future fruit.

I'm sure that science is a useful thing,
but how drab and gray it is
beside such metaphors
that ring and sing.

Undertaking the American Dream
is a 112-page hand-stitched paper book with spine.

To order through mail click here.


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