John L. Stanizzi Poetry

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Excerpts






Ecstacy Among Ghosts


CARDINALS
for Carol

I had seen them in the tree,
and heard they mate for life,
so I hung a bird feeder
and waited.
By the third day,
sparrows and purple finches
hovered and jockeyed
like a swarm of bees
fighting over one flower.
So I hung another feeder,
but the squabbling continued
and the seed spilled
like a shower
of tiny meteors
onto the ground
where starlings
had congregated,
and blue jays,
annoyed at the world,
disrupted everyone
except the mourning doves,
who ambled around
like plump old women
poking for the firmest
head of lettuce.

Then early one evening
they came,
the only ones—
she stood
on the periphery
of the small galaxy of seed;
he hopped
among the nuggets,
calmly chose
one seed at a time,
carried it to her,
placed it in her beak;
she, head tilted,
accepted it.
Then they fluffed,
hopped together,
did it all over again.

And filled with love,
I phoned to tell you,
over and over,
about each time
he celebrated
being there,
all alone,
with her.




Sleepwalking



a concert of waxwings
where the offering of daybreak
whitens the road

their music
sewn into the branches
like lace
so delicate
it cannot be seen





Dance Against the Wall


TATTOOS

Unlike the other men in the family, my father
has no chains or skunks with attitude,
or his last name over crossed Italian flags,
no Mom or Born to Ride or broken heart,
no Semper Fi, no naked ladies or dice.
My father has no Jolly Rogers or devils,
no angels, crosses, lions, dragons, or knives.
He has no rosary beads or praying hands,
no Virgin with child, U.S. Army or dove.
My father has no Sacred Heart of Jesus.
But on the inside of his left forearm
there's one tattoo no bigger than a signature
and the same shade of faded blue as the bruises
that blossom on his papery yellow skin,
and as he sits in his big reclining chair,
smiling vaguely and squeezing a stuffed toy,
I glimpse the washed-out ink that tells the story
Johnny and Dolly, faded and just about gone.




After the Bell


TEXT

There was an ultrasound, gray smears of
what she said were nose, mouth; and her smile
floated below eyes that searched for something
like a blessing, though there was none there,
and other children glided by, sideways glances
and instinct that kept them moving, and conversation
that stopped now, only silence and the photo
held between us, and white blossoms on all
the trees in front of the school, and I had
to come up with something that would release me,
but her lips smiled and I was relieved, not because
of reconciliation but because an understanding
had flowered in the air and for that small time
we whispered shouts of forged joy, the bell rang,
and a week later in a text she wrote
hope ur good LUV UUUUU lol
by the way i lost it