John L. Stanizzi


As all the Heavens were a Bell…

Emily Dickinson


Alzheimer’s Disease

there was a dent in my father’s head

placed there in some forgotten life

maybe even worse than Emily’s terror

bleaker than her 

parade of mourners

my mother on the other hand

crawled inside 

the bittersweet security

of “insanity” 

litany — 

here is the tear that hangs inside us forever 

here is the love supreme of fall leaves

here the trusted lust for summer 

imbedded in the brittle artifacts of childhood

here the broken signs that made you call out

“I am home!

I must be so fortunate!”

of course, there was grief 

the chief artificer of loneliness

dark length of solitude

self-inflicted sanctity

sacrament of the Eucharist- 

reviver of creativity

foggy mystic trickster

driving a pre-owned blue Cadillac

his compilation of denominations

secured with a rubber band

and tossed on the passenger’s seat

strung across the bell of the universe

churches lurch for your throat

your lungs fill with leaves

your mind all busted up

is flung over there

by the curb somewhere

what can I tell you?

that’s just how it goes.


-for Philip Bannock


With empty sleeves

and no extravagant top hat

you slip into the bottle.

Inside there is a

ship with two bows

riddled with holes.

A dark storm screeches

around you

filling you with green water.


Yellow light

turns up the corners

of your mouth

in a ghastly grin.

That is certainly not

why children run to you.

Secondhand stars

settle in your eyes,

enough glow left

to illuminate a dark, thin

path unfurling before you.


A narrow crack ripples

down the length of your bottle

wide enough

for one of your wings 

to escape and flutter.

The rest of you

curls up inside –

a dark flame

crying from your

onion-skin tongue.


You peer down the tunnel

of your ear

only to discover

that you’ve been sleeping

in a casket-

or so it seems-

it could also be

entirely fabricated.

Your hair is turning to leaves.


Imitating an infant thrown to the floor

you explain

that you’ve been balanced on one toe

all night.

The children are puzzled

when the neighbors 

give you an ovation.

Crisp locks of hair

drift to the floor. 



Your father is broken.

He speaks to you through his silence.



Clutching your model

of the Titanic

you exit the room

speaking a foreign language.

I see you in the morning – 

a tiny globe in one hand 

and nothing in the other

You tell me the empty hand

is paralyzed

Its finger uncurl

and the skin falls away

like sand in the wind

searching for the ocean.


Your bones only appear to be smiling.


The globe is a tear.



(For Michelle Messina Reale)

All the goods are stolen, all the blisters are in the cup.

-“Milk” by Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)

We are all born mad.  Some remain so.

-“Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett (1953)

the maps of the holy land in full color made as easy to follow as tree branches poor black and white jokes bog tree all the same someone give credit for the rake of sun forcing its way let’s hang ourselves a fine jamboree here there’s not enough room that sound snapping branches someone calling out in pain! I told you was there something you were searching to know are they opposites or essential either way let’s return we’ll put our bags down here and then…you’ve interrupted me now I’ve misplaced my train we’ll bag our thoughts here under these branches quickly night is stampeding the way it does we should turn with great resolution and face nature insidious crab-apple see the tree see tree tree the tree yesterday’s absence of hillsides and valleys and scenery help me! which I had hoped to say why worry have you been robbed he hid in the tree with your boot you’re ridiculous as foolish as a brightly flavored eggplant calisthenics make one bottom heavy then you grasp all over the sky low to high taking a room that is not yours shouldn’t be yours yes yes fine is yours my inability to see does that to me what is the time give or take no no allow me to guess it is exactly the time to do nothing just like HIM ahhhhhh no leaves not a single one everyone leaves quick get the bags look inside yes now I’m going to go a great distance only to return on the morrow stop that! this is no time for travesty


bones are crawling against the wind 

into and through the sky’s

dark cavern-storm

created for creatures

with a lust for tiny dim spaces –

they will only relinquish to you

the illusion that they have

inhabited your benevolence 

and that you have gained

      a “friend”

-a 33 and a third punk

who runs his lip at 78–

true – you getting’ old –

but you still know how to roll-

remain alert and confident-

-give off the vibe

that ain’t nobody can fuck with you-

also be very wary

catastrophizing about 

the prospect of bouncing –

remain static      remember that

stand in the stark light

of this derelict peeler club

and don’t move – feel me?

the air smells like beer from some other century

dead cigarettes 

land that smells of pernicious humans-

but only vaguely like a hot summer night

twilit and tawdry

your eyes have become

the texture of glass

the glass of a dreamed-through window

that’s it-

that’s just the way it is –

things fall apart

up in this ginmill-

-like us

I dream persistently 

of holding the world gently 

in my upturned palms

and imagining it’s a butterfly

that lifts off into the black night

when I push my palms upward just a little

then I stand there and watch

until I can’t see it anymore

I’ve always thought this way-

and it’s gotten me into 

more than enough jams 

when I get outside

I’m alone

there’s an old Caddy

parked by the curb

it’s back door

is being held open by Griff

the radio is scorching

and I am blind

and pretty sure I’m lost

Griff says, Hop in, Johnnie Boy.



is a chance destination of the heart’s rugged topography 

whose season is all too brief. 


–David K. Leff – April 9, 1955 – May 29, 2022 

An elegy for a dear friend. 

Flocks of the grief-addled tied up the phones;  

    email inboxes congested with grief.  

One cannot ease the mourning of these souls; 

    a scrim of tears cannot deter this thief. 

Keats might remind us of life’s contraries, 

    tell us, Speak to the dead as if they’re here. 

David would speak of the light – it varies.  

    We navigate moiling darkness this year. 

I wondered as I wrote, what good prayer is. 

    I blessed myself, bowed my head to inquire. 


Time disperses; the echoes from Walden  

    travel deep, the depth of field more precise.  

I’ve only known one man who’d feel walled in 

    with one gazeteer; only three suffice – 

alphabetical, encyclopedic,  

    and dictionary; this is where regions   

like campanile sound out, aesthetic,

     countries calling mirrored selves in legions,                                                                  

David in the midst, at times hermetic, 

    in the breach that surges between seasons. 


At other times he’d just appear, like love, 

    like the time I did a reading, never 

imagining that, for his friend, he’d come 

    so far – but David’s mates were forever. 

I looked up from the podium and there 

    he was; we smiled, the heart’s submission 

stowing away that brief glance like a prayer, 

    brothers born in a bright supplication, 

stitching together water, earth and air – 

    David lived with this as his foundation. 


Rain on my pre-dawn window like stuck stars, 

    the only light this fall morning; I swear 

they emit tiny, imagined fires, 

    ‘til the real heat rises and clears the air. 

Just one terra nexus amid them all, 

    wonders of nature right before our eyes. 

Gorgeous – places used hard – beyond the pall; 

    flotsam, jetsam – rust tractor, profound prize, 

swaddled in bittersweet’s copious sprawl; 

     the forest-claimed Dodge – in deep woods it lies. 


Winter encroaches, and David would speak 

    of skeletal limbs that arc in darkness; 

against the backdrop of the sky they creak  

    in freezing wind; he smiles at the sharpness.  

Let’s join together and embrace our gifts. 

    Instead of Good-bye, Whitman loved, So-long! 

So let’s say So-long! into autumn’s mist, 

    and seek paths hidden in plain view like songs. 

Two red-tails above the canopy drift, 

    flying a trail for you to follow along. 

John L. Stanizzi’s books are Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After The Bell, Hallelujah Time!, HighTide-Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, Sundowning, POND, The Tree That Lights The Way Home, and Feathers and Bones. His new book, Viper Brain, will be out in the fall. 

Besides Ovunque Siamo, John’s poetry has appeared in American Life in Poetry, New York Quarterly, Tar River, Paterson Review, The Cortland Review, and others. His work has been translated into Italian and appears widely in Italy. 

His nonfiction has been published in Literature and Belief, Ovunque Siamo, Potato Soup Journal, and others.  His story, “Pants,” was chosen by Potato Soup Journal as the best of 2021. His memoir, Bless Me, Father, For I Have Sinned, has a release date TBD. A former Wesleyan University Etherington Scholar, an adjunct Professor of English for 26 years, a former New England Poet of the Year, and in 2021, he received a grant in Creative Writing-Non-Fiction from the State of Connecticut Commission on Arts and Culture.