Rhode Island poet mobster Bobby ‘the Cigar’ DeLuca sprung under coronavirus
The bad news is, well, you all know what the bad news is this week.
The good news is, one of America’s premier poets, Bobby “the Cigar” DeLuca, is a free man once again, and can resume the literary life he left behind back in 2018 when he was locked up for the fourth or fifth time.
Last Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper released the 75-year-old Rhode Island Mafioso because of the alleged health risks of, you guessed it, COVID-19.
Now the Cigar can add to his oeuvre, which already includes such immortal verse as “Guilty As Sin,” “Lonely in North Providence,” and “Wrongly Separated,” as well as the unforgettable work of his Canine Period — “Puppy Dog Eyes,” and of course his masterpiece, “Who’s Minding the Puppies?”
That was Bobby’s lamentation on the ruined state of the rackets in South Boston after Whitey Bulger took it on the lam. The poet laureate of Providence outlined the turmoil in the context of the peril faced by two black French poodles, Nikki and Gigi, that had been abandoned by Whitey’s girlfriend Catherine Greig.
“Who’s shaking down the bookies?/ And who’s gonna deal the drugs?/ Who’s gonna sell the stuff/ From TV’s to Persian rugs?/ Who’s gonna travel the whole world/ Disguised as a pair of yuppies?/ And while Whitey’s with the Greig girl/ Who’s taking care of the puppies?”
When he became the latest local plug ugly convict cut loose in the Panic, Bobby was just over two years into his latest bid, for obstruction of justice and making false statements. He had lied about the gangland hit of Steve DiSarro, a Boston nightclub owner, whose body Bobby had disposed of in a hazardous-waste pit in Providence.
The Cigar had also been convicted of lying to investigators about another Mafia rubout in Providence in 1993.
Although he’s best known in beaux arts circles for his jailhouse poetry, DeLuca is also a prose stylist of some renown, as he proved in a lengthy letter of apology to a federal judge in 2018:
“I am not making an excuse for what I done. I know it was wrong. I am sorry for it and I except (sic) full responsibility for it.”
He “excepts” full responsibility for what he “done?” Note how this master of iambic pentameter cleverly adapts the persona of a rude, unlettered street thug.
A few years back, after his first burst of snitching on his fellow hoodlums, DeLuca fled to Florida, where he became a struggling artist. He told the judge a woeful tale of surviving by selling stuff at local flea markets. He also accepted Jesus as his savior — stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
“I went and got saved and was going to be baptized the next Sunday,” he told the judge. “I got arrested the Monday before.”
Don’t you hate it when that happens?
So obviously, the Cigar has a lot of new material to mine here in his later period. Not the least of which is his family — he has four kids between the ages of 9 and 52, not to mention his beloved older brother Joseph, another mobster-turned-rat.
“Once I started cooperating, except for my brother I never tried to protect anyone in the Mafia.”
I like that word, “cooperating.” Back when he was locked up in the Plymouth House of Correction, DeLuca had another word for guys like Stevie Flemmi who … cooperated. He called ’em rats.
Is it too late to publish a holiday collection of DeLuca’s prison poetry? Here’s a suggested title, using his Bureau of Prisons ID number:
“BOP 02547-070: Bard of the Big House.”
In what scholars will someday refer to as his Plymouth Period, the Cigar’s muse was his second wife, Kimi. Like Romeo and Juliet, like Bonnie and Clyde, they pined for one another:
“Somewhere tonight/ South of Boston/ In the Plymouth County jail/ There sits a man named Robert/ Who is sorting through his mail….”
He’s got the Plymouth HOC Blues.
“As I sit alone/ In solitaire/ Thinking that life/ Ain’t treatin’ me fair/ Feeling so sorry/For only myself/ I try to remember/there’s somebody else/ That is sitting alone/ In the still of the night/ Wishing that I was/ Holding her tight/ Wishing that somehow/ Things would make sense. Then I realize you’re lonely/ In North Providence.”
Some jailbirds have claimed that Bobby didn’t really write his own material, that he used a kid he was locked up as his ghost-writer. The same accusation has been hurled at Shakespeare, of course.
Another similarity between the Bard and the Cigar: they both wrote love sonnets.
This is from “Puppy Dog Eyes”:
“Hey Kimi/You lovely girl/ You’re the object/ Of my desire/ So wiggle your ass/ Right over here/ And set my heart/ On fire/ Come on darling/Don’t say no/ to my sweet/ Puppy dog eyes.
“Let me have/ Your tender body/ And let me hear/ Your whimpering cries/ Oh Kimi I’m a dirty dog/ But I have sweet/ Puppy dog eyes.”
What a year — first Eddie MacKenzie COVID-scams his way out of Club Fed, now Bobby DeLuca.
Who’s gonna be the next geezer gangster to get cut loose for Christmas?
John “Zip” Connolly? “Cadillac” Frank Salemme? The Rifleman himself?
Bad news everywhere.