July 16, 1999
JFK Jr., Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Lauren Bessette
Poetry is an art of rhythm but is not primarily an affective means of communication, like music.
— Czeslaw Milosz
lazy trees and us
locked in again in the haze
muddled presumption of death conjecture
vista of miasma and scribbled silhouettes
recollection of the sea glazed and harmless
buoyant in its jaws
calling laughing in the haze again
bloated sloppy sky
spilling all over itself
assumptions and nothing
nothing in the sky
there’s nothing up there
and tides pull this way and that
recollection of the sea
as glassy and harmless
and indistinct from the sky
through silent groveling trees
presumption of stillness
mockingbird contradicting the mist
seeing hearing singing music
not falling out of the haze…
The train’s deep whistle
ascends from every tree in the valley,
spreads out in the sky
like the voice of God
heard everywhere at once.
There are some who,
as they move silently
through mansions of dust
rising along the clay road,
will dream of journeys
that take them nowhere,
and as each light in each window pales,
they will return here
to the silent clay road
and a night sky full of holes
to remind them of what they chose
and what was chosen for them,
as if, in the end,
the two were somehow different.
And there are others
who will stand motionlessly
at windows of light
and hearing the same train,
will dream of journeys to places
where the air is quick with
the sound of wings and birdsong.
Although the sky at night is broken,
they will sleep peacefully
under that weak lamp,
knowing that today was never enough
and that tomorrow
will only bring the sound of another train,
the illusion of light,
and at the end of the day
a sky lit only
by a tapestry of flickering sparks
against a backdrop of black
which will have to be enough
although they know with certainty
that it will not last.
Red-winged black bird
like a god or some jeweled royalty,
audacious, yawns at the feeder
blasé in his mottled blackness,
and I keep returning
to the same question year after year.
It has become astonishing to me,
this unmitigated persistence
that does, on occasion,
cross the line from irritating to funny.
At times I am able to chuckle
at these limitations
that keep me returning
like the child
who cannot resist the hot stove.
So today, or now anyway,
I will gather what’s in front of me-
Hangover, inkling of sunshine
brightening the fog,
the patience to wait until morning for relief,
birds in all directions,
cluck and coo and melody,
humidity boring its head in everything,
birdseed distended and juicy,
cat cry, jay call, hawk screech, wren chatter,
and the voices of children playing.
What I see, moment to moment,
defines me for the moment.
Then with one key stroke, the delete key,
I begin again with a blank white page.
I will fight against the urge to yawn,
the urge to consume everything at once.
John L. Stanizzi has authored eleven collections — Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide/Ebb Tide, Chants, Four Bits, Sundowning, POND, and The Tree That Lights the Way Home. He has published in Prairie Schooner, American Life In Poetry, New York Quarterly, and many others. His translations appear widely in Italy. His nonfiction has appeared in Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, after the pause, to name only a few. A former New England Poet of the Year, John received a Fellowship in 2021 from Connecticut Office of the Arts. He lives in Coventry, CT., with his wife, Carol. https://johnlstanizzi.com