David Giannini

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Cookout, 4th of July

Flares from gas burners of the outdoor grill

at sunset: hot-blue-sky-with-orange shooting up. At horizon, that slim, xanthic mouth, one cloud for its teeth, is going the way of all things Cheshire. Darkness descends on us, we say, and a slim sky rarely ascends. Adolescent owls through day and night glide up and down air, trying to find their adult voices while small animals jink under their shadows. Burgers are tested, placed on a serving plate. You turn off the vertical sky and close its brushed metal lid. Deck light on, but we no longer see the Roman head in one flowerbed or the miniature Stonehenge in another. There is apparitional mist like white gas drifting between them. There is meat still thawing on a bench. We want what we wanted:  something else minced but molded, something that could, without care, easily take a turn for the worse. We didn’t mean meat of any usual sort. We wanted risk. We wanted our heads intact and no one kneeling on our necks. We wanted a raw sense of justice toward victims and the police, how to think outside of any system that tries to tell you how to be. The ancient Hyksos tribe seized Egypt from within. Invasive bittersweet climbs first, then flowers. Whatever is subversive remains tartare.

At a Restaurant

The waitperson said s/he thought poets

learn early to salivate over a dictionary and, later, pomegranates—sucking up seeds and phonemes to spit out in a fine order, a sort of lexical fruit for others to savor too, then mop with sounds from their own tongues, s/he said. But you thought s/he had the wrong order.

Next to the chopsticks were tweezers

ready to match pincers with the first crab on the plate. But it wasn’t crab the waitperson brought. It was some sort of alien carapace with steak sauce, and all you could think of was marbled Angus with duck sauce and ginger asparagus, then one of those lyricless Swedish melodies, kulnings, to call the cows home. O cows, cows, clomping without eyebrows, what are we to make of you now?

The Cellar in the Iphone

We were in a sort of progress, as if descending through open bulkhead doors, only the screens of our devices lighting the way. We had lost all solace and human touch, and conversation was grunts. Oh hell, we were as ghosts, phantoms that could never improve, even if they improvised. Soon, we fell into something like sleep. 

Whether or not I awoke, I was alone. I saw a border collie herding ripe watermelons, plump as them, and for some reason I felt more than glum, with a deeper sadness I could not explain, despite the symbolic melon collie. I knew I must soon leave for something other than waking, other than sleep. There were rains from around the world falling everywhere around me, each drop in slow motion, somehow scratched, clawed rains with each droplet convoluted as if each were a tiny brain. I could feel myself vanishing into the earth with them. William Blake came to mind, “For a tear is an intellectual thing.” I felt compelled and still intense enough to leave this note, like a mote or drop in air.


David Giannini’s most recently published collections of poetry include: Viral Packet  (New Feral Press, 2020;) Mayhap (selected brief poems,2020;) The Future Only Rattles When You Pick ITt Up; and In A Moment We May Be Strangely Blended (Dos Madres Press, 2018-2019;)  Faces Somewhere Wild (Dos Madres Press, 2017;) Span Of Thread (Cervena Barva Press, 2015;); AZ Two (Adastra Press,) a “Featured Book” in the 2009 Massachusetts Poetry Festival; Inverse Mirror, a collaboration with artist, Judith Koppel (Feral Press/Prehensile Pencil, 2012;) WhenWe Savor What Is Simply There (Feral Press/Prehensile Pencil, 2013;) and Rim/Wave (two full-length poetry collections in one book from Quale Press, 2012.) Antonio & Clara, Giannini’s 1992 poem issued as a book from Adastra Press was reissued in a different format from Feral Press in 2012.                                                                   

His work appears in national and international literary magazines and anthologies.  Awards include:  Massachusetts Artists Fellowship awards; The Osa and Lee Mays Award For Poetry; an award for prosepoetry from the University of Florida; a 2009 Finalist Award from the Naugatuck Review, and a 2020 James Hearst Poetry Finalist Award; He has been a gravedigger; beekeeper; and taught at Williams College, The University of Massachusetts, and Berkshire Community College, as  well as well as preschoolers and high school students, among others; and he worked as a psychiatric case manager for 31 years.  His Installation, The International House Dust Collection, was exhibited most recently at the Yager Museum in Oneonta, New York.   He has been a committee and board member of The Becket Arts Center where a dramatic reading of his extended narrative prosepoem, RIM, was produced in 2005. Giannini was the Lead Rehabilitation Counselor for Compass Center, which he co-founded, the first rehabilitation clubhouse for severely and chronically mentally ill adults in the northwest corner of Connecticut. He started and hosts Writers Read, an ongoing series of monthly readings by poets and fiction writers presenting at The Lee Library in Lee, MA. He lives among trees in Becket, Massachusetts with his wife, Pam, and their two cats, Mina and Maya.