top of page

John Stanizzi





To one who has Faith, no explanation is necessary.

To one without Faith, no explanation is possible.

Thomas Aquinas

Why is it that You

have limited our relationship

to one of invisibility,

You always hide in the sky, 

or somewhere, always,

as I remain down here

stumbling around senselessly?


I recall as a small child

questioning Your whereabouts

as I pointed straight up

with a chubby finger

at a sky so vast

it was as endless as the nothingness

my scarce incomplete mind 

could fathom.


Yet, it’s not really nothing, is it,

with its huge, cosmic junkyard,

its orbital speedway,

its turbulent light and lack of light.


That’s one of the problems with 

learning to comprehend things-

we create our own notions

of what is and is not

and those become our legitimacies,

the certainties by which

we live and judge—

our understanding

becomes our history and our guide

and it’s probably all wrong


I know I’ve pointed at the sky

hundreds of times

trying to make a little contact,

and have always failed


Here’s another mystery;

what to make of a boy

who fashions his truths this way:

my precepts are gleaned

from all the lies I’ve harvested

and believe to have perfected,

from all the cruelty

I perceived as mere frolic…


…my flimsy loves I called them,

artificial smiles,

layers of dishonesty… 


…and I am met by a disappearing act 

and silence and He mystifies me into imagining

the possibility of His presence,

and the only thing necessary

to get me all worked up

is for me to ask Him to let things slide 

just this once…

…and viola-everything is cool…

until the next time I fuck things up


I’ve often thought hard about such things

slashed by anxiety

occasionally glancing up

into the problematic firmament,

which from here

seems empty, and endless-

an impossible challenge

to comprehend 

even if, somehow, I acquire the thinnest

slice of its blue,

which I fold into a neat square

and place into my pocket forever

waiting for some kind of life to emerge

or just allow it to remain safe in my pocket

close to me always

flashy and dazzling or not-

no matter -

I will continue to wait 

for the main star sequence

to become the spiritual sounding

High mass star which

when summoned by the Red Supergiant

time closes in

before I witness the colossal self-annnihilation

of the Red Supergiant,

devoid of hydrogen

spitting out infant stars

in a drama we call the supernova,

billions of times brighter than our sun,

and it occurs to me that the distance

is enough to keep me safe,

to allow me to continue

my fascination with the

the small piece of folded sky

which I keep in my pocket

wondering if I’ve trapped it

or made a friend for life.


Amber Alert


Police have to believe an abduction has taken place 

and the child must be at risk of serious injury or death. 

Police also must have a description of the child, 

captor, or captor’s vehicle and the child must be 

child must be 17 years old or younger.


“You are her last hope.”


cars on the road      cars on the road


ribbons on a doll 

its eyes open filling with rain

how can there be so many

cars on the road

did no one have eyes

to see the doll in the soft hands

of the child

see her cry

looking around wildly

at nothing familiar


birds everywhere     birds everywhere


ribbons tied to trees

signs stapled on telephone poles

birds must have seen something

something they might even speak of

landing in the branches

pretending not to see


bones in the field     bones in the field


sun sets over half-buried bones 

birds’ music is sewn into the branches

like lace so delicate it cannot be seen

though we are sure of its presence


after the girl was stolen

the man kept the doll

which now had one arm missing

the other lost as the girl fought for her life

the doll’s ribbon dripped with thick wet mud-

-its eyes slammed shut 

when the man crushed the doll

with the heel of his boot


The Crawling of the Worms


The inner lotus has never seen a drop 

of mud or dirty water; it is pure, 

bright, beautiful.

Bird’s Tail Magazine


When I buried you, I loved you such tenderness

Now I feel shame


I pretended to give you everything I had-

quilt of patience, cool breeze for the sadness-


I created a life of gifts-

red sky with impinging clouds,

the pinkness of birth,

sand and sand

and more sand

One cannot have too much


Though whatever your most dear wishes,

you swore you saw them

hurtling over the rise

by the Chinese restaurant,

someone pretending to be you.

The heart was moved,

the confusion seemed to evaporate-

someone said they saw you smile

as you raced over the winding roads 

leaving this scrapyard

in a feverish search for the beginning.


The worms,

dressed formally,

were released,

just as a reminder

of the difference

between the start

and the finish,

the thoughtless-

senselessly hysterical-

followed by the 

wraith of the moribund.

Double Life? Hardly


The biggest problem

is that we’re all the same-

yes, yes we behave differently

from one another,

but that is inconsequential.

You’re overlooking the oddities-

the mouth, 

the eyes which believe

they run the show, 

the nose and ears

which never stop growing

your entire life.


It is exhausting these parallels,

which is why we’ve designed

a system that urges us

to work on nonconformity,

to create the illusion

of the myriad benefits

of a lifetime of trying to 

chisel a new you,

a you like no one else.


Even if you hire an expert

to work your face like putty

until you no longer resemble yourself,

you will still fail.

Everyone who has ever known you

will recognize you immediately.


And let’s not forget

that horrifying internal feud,

the one in the mind

where nobody ever wins,

they just suffer.


Thank God for metaphors.


I’ve separated myself into two

equal parts,

and though I’m condemned

to listen to them shout 

curses at one another

over a split-rail fence

made of fog,

when it’s time for me

to intervene I do.


I choose a side 

and I write

about what the view is like

from that side-

spring flowers smattering

the hills and the valleys

with notions of

multi-colored beauty,

places where I gather up

as many colors as I can

and carry them to the other side.


The other side-

-black-dark torment,

constant reminders

that reassembly is impossible,

made worse by advanced

macular degeneration,

deafness, and a temperament

that wavers back and forth,

bashing against the walls

and doing so much

repulsive damage

that if anyone caught sight of you

they would have no idea

who you were,

or what.




“How beautiful you must be

to have been able to lead me

this far with only

the sound of your going away”

W.S. Merwin, The Moon Before Morning




Closeness became an illusion

like one darkness passing slowing

through the eyes of another




Alone with furniture

that will not hide its face

I wait

counting the ghosts

that spiral up from the wood’s grain

and tick by




When I return

I am silent

I do not wake you

Thinking this does not concern you

I let you sleep





and I must leave


You try to touch me

but the blaze of these moments

will not allow it


I am too protective

of the illegal light 

that coats my mornings




We do not exchange the colors

spreading within us


One light passes quickly unnoticed

through the eyes of the other


John L. Stanizzi is the author of Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, Sundowning, POND, The Tree That Lights The Way Home, and Feathers and Bones. His new collection, Viper Brain will be released in early fall (Main Street Rag Publishing – Scott Douglass).


Besides appearing in Danse Macabre several times, John’s work has also been widely published including in the journals American Life in Poetry, Blue Mountain Review, Caribbean Writer, Connecticut River Review, Cortland Review, Front Porch Review, Hawk & Handsaw, Jerry Jazz Magazine, Laurel Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Mad Swirl, New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Peacock Literary Review, Plainsongs, PoetLore, Prairie Schooner, Praxis, Rust & Moth, Tar River Review, Thin Slice of Anxiety, Verse Virtual , and many others.


His work has been translated into Italian and appears widely in Italy. His translator is the Italian scholar and translator, Angela D’Ambra.


His nonfiction has been published in Literature and Belief, Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, Adelaide, Scarlet Leaf, Evening Street, Praxis, Potato Soup Journal, The Red Lemon, After the Pause, and others. Potato Soup Journal named his story Pants among “The Best of 2020” and it appeared in their anthology, celebrating the best work of the year.


John has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. For years, John coordinated the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition for Young Poets at Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, Connecticut. He was also a “teaching artist” for the national poetry recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud; he spent a decade with Poetry Out Loud.


Former Wesleyan University Etherington Scholar, and New England Poet of the Year (‘98), John has just been awarded an Artist Fellowship in Creative Non-Fiction – 2021 - from the Connecticut Office of the Arts and Culture for work on his new memoir, Bless Me, Father, for I Have Sinned.  He is a former Professor of Literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, Connecticut, and lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry, CT

bottom of page