John Stanizzi


-for Angelo Bordieri


-Don’t ever tell anybody anything.  If you do, you start missing everybody.

                                                    The Catcher in The Rye, JD Salinger


Don’t take much of what Holden said as Truth –

the ducks, the phonies, the actors – but the

museum – now that’s a different story.

You could go a hundred thousand times and

still see those deer, their skinny, pretty legs.


Your dad was a quiet man – to a point;

he said so many things when he was mad,

mostly in Italian and making that

angry cave between his eyes grow darker,

a metamorphosis from Pop to Thing.


All we knew was it happened in “the war,”

and of course he wouldn’t talk about it,

so we would move between pity and hate,

as he moved from the percolating pot

of coffee to his chair at the table.


He would sit and sip his coffee before

heading out, all of us kids in the car —

Anthony, Danny, Mark, Mickey, and me.

All these years later and I’m still not sure

why Mrs. Bordieri made him take us.


He never got mad but he never smiled.

Maybe he figured if he stayed quiet

people wouldn’t see the cave in his head.

Maybe that was why he had no friends, and

why he dragged us kids everywhere he went.


Don’t take too much of what Holden said as Gospel –

he said so many things when he was mad

that we would move between pity and hate.

All these years later and I’m still not sure

why he dragged us kids everywhere he went.



                  -for Anthony Bordieri


Time held me green and dying

Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

                                            -Fern Hill

                                            -Dylan Thomas

Stop sign at the end of Industrial Park Road —

straight and potted, it emptied onto Skylark Road.

This was before Vietnam, the Navy, the Guard,

before thoughts of death; these were days of burn-marked roads.

It was a game we played – the pedal to the floor,

your old man’s ’56 Buick — ark of the road.

This was back when we were kids, running heedless ways,

before sniper fire, booby traps, and tricked roads.

We’d take your old man’s car, strip the air-filter off,

and scream down Route 5, making for Trailer Park Road.

The power steering was busted and your old man

didn’t have a dime to repair that antique rod.

Where would he get cash – a fucking short-order cook

at the drive-in – that Buick limped down the back roads.

My grandma said, don’t get old, but we ignored her.

I’m bent double and cancer kicked you down the road.

Did we miss the all signs or did we ignore them;

they were dark but obvious, lining the cracked road.

None more stark than the cleft in your father’s forehead,

where a piece of shrapnel flew up from ransack road.

Like Holden said, the only different thing is you —

take that piece of metal driving a fractured road —

it’s always plowing in between your father’s eyes,

and we never knew it was a cul de sac road,

we never realized it was another sign,

a sign Johnnie should have known marked a dead-end road.


The following three poems are from a manuscript in progress called POND.



4.22 p.m.

42 degrees  

–I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

                               -Emily Dickinson


Pungent wood smoke invokes a melancholic joy as dusk

overpaints the faded afternoon with darker tones, and

numen night-shadows bless the candles in our windows,

dabs of grace, messages of hope not seeking crumbs or anything else.

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8.14 a.m.

59 degrees   (incredible)


                               -after Wallace Stevens

                               -The Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour

–Married 28 years today.  It has been as close to perfect as one can imagine.

Pluvious morning, torrential and warm, thawed mole-tunnels caving in,

ordination of melting ice, the rain broadcasting itself over the remnants,

narrow troops of downpour skitter across waning ice,

drenching rain, one thing, a single thing, In which being there together is enough.



11.27 a.m.

40 degrees  


Perched on hundreds of branches in the woods, this

overture performed by quarrels of sparrows, this treatise

names the day winter, the pond thawed, and the cardinal and the blue jay

divine the branches on which they perch consecrated with color.

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Stanizzi 5Stanizzi 3

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John Stanizzi earned a BA and an MA from Wesleyan University, where he was an Etherington Scholar. He is the author of the full-length poetry collections Ecstasy Among Ghosts (2007), Sleepwalking (2008), Dance Against the Wall (2012), After the Bell (2013), and Hallelujah Time! (2015), which explores the biblical sources of Bob Marley’s lyrics. Published widely, his poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. He has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was New England Poet of the Year in 1998. Stanizzi taught for many years at Bacon Academy and is currently an adjunct professor at Manchester Community College. He lives in Coventry, Connecticut, with his wife, Carol.