John Stanizzi

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Rain Storm at the World of Mirth

It causes degeneration and death of the brain cells, especially
in the brain areas responsible for the cognitive, behavioral,
and social skills, such as memory, thinking, language, and personality.
                        -Mayo Clinic
                        -Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

bones in the wind
swimming across the sky
in a dark yawning rain storm
that I pray will deliver
the fantasies I desire

I was plagued by disappointment
and deadly obligations-
I recall the burden,
the formal patience that demanded

I became shy and hesitant
about the prospect of running away


the landscape smells of dusk –
a grape November


I push forward
leading with my face
into the nearly impenetrable rain,
certain that just in front of me
I can see a festival -
and there it is
a make-shift jubilee,
its lights shadowy and garish at once

-it’s a make-shift job
with lopsided booths
and scraggy tents-
lights that blink and short out

the place is empty,
except for a kid who was a clear mark,
throwing darts at balloons,
dreaming wildly about winning
some second-rate prize
His eyes were the texture of smoked glass –
wistful anxious windows –

That’s how it is when your brain
begins to take nothing but wrong turns -

“Fuck it,” I think.
I will stand in this one spot
considering frantically
how to get out of here
I’ll use discretion or carelessness –
-I couldn’t care less which at this point.
what I know is
I will leave this room –
levitate –
sprint –
vanish and reappear -
disguise myself to look exactly
like the kid with the darts


I’m sure I recall
that prior to all this nuisance
this uproar
this duplicitous slight-of-hand
things seemed calmer
made more sense

I tightened my blindfold
grabbed hold of the earth
and hung on by my fingertips.
The scent was caustic-
mud     clay     diamond     coal-
earth's muscle - igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary...

Over by the kid tossing darts
two men were fighting
their faces full of lumps and blood
and I could hear
the punches land with the sound
of a booming, pitiless crunch.

“AhhI seen that crap before,” I said.
I want to be surprised!”

All I had ever dreamed of
hung from my pockets
like little feathers,
like good luck charms-
-just enough to allow me to
clutch the world blindfolded,
and be on my way somewhere    else
some place where the only way
to become anxious is to take out your wallet
and pay for it


The Days After

-In loving memory of Kelsey –
B. September 26, 1993 - D. January 24, 2023 (age 29)

         Zane –
         B. July 5, 1980 - D. January 31, 2023 (42)


         B. December 19, 1978 – D. March 4, 2023 (age 43)


          B. December 27, 1982 ~ March 4, 2023 (age 40)

 -The dearest friends and former students.

“The meaning of life is that it stops.”
                               -Franz Kafka

sun licks fog
from the water

in the clearing
you are all
still gone


soon enough
fog surrounds you again

we should take the blame


I recall the sea
as that nervous black space
upon which we tried to dance

it has now become
too late for that


the sand           miniscule islands
the gulls           blemishes of light


how can you be missing
from a space so cosmically vast
when you’re larger than all of it


a concert of starlings
where the offering of daybreak
brightens the road-

yet I still cannot manage
even a quick glimpse of you
in the spiked light


signs    I’ve always
found them foolish

until I received one


the heat returned
and brought back the starlings
a surge of life
the illumination of a sonata
the radiance of a thousand wings


John L. Stanizzi has published twelve collections of poems. His poetry has appeared in American Life in Poetry, New York Quarterly, Cortland Review, andhis nonfiction is in Literature and Belief, Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, Potato Soup, and others.

A Wesleyan University Etherington Scholar, Professor of English, Manchester Community College, CT, he also taught for 24 years at Bacon Academy. John curated Hill-Stead Museum’s “Fresh Voices” competition and worked with “Poetry Out Loud.” He was New England Poet of the year, and in 2021, received a Creative Writing-Non-Fiction grant from the State of Connecticut Commission on Arts and Culture.