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John L Stanizzi – The Fallen Leaves – II

Stanizzi LEP&W Oct 2020

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John L. Stanizzi is author of the collections Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, and Sundowning.  His brand new collection, POND, published by “impspired” in Ireland will be out in October.  John’s poems have appeared in Prairie SchoonerAmerican Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Blue Mountain Review, Tar River, Poetlore, Rust & Moth, Rattle, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others.  His work has been translated into Italian and appeared in El Ghibli, The Journal of Italian Translations Bonafini, Poetarium, and others.  His nonfiction has been published in Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, Adelaide, Scarlet Leaf, Literature and Belief, and Evening Street.   A former New England Poet of the Year, John is the Flash Fiction Editor of Abstract Magazine TV, and he has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others.  For many years, John coordinated the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition for Young Poets at Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT.  He is also a teaching artist for the national recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud.  A former New England Poet of the Year, John teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

The Fallen Leaves – II

-for Sam and Teri Norman, and for Ben.
-The Things that never can come back, are several —
Childhood — some forms of Hope — the Dead —
-Emily Dickinson

We cannot blame the fog or blame the fallen leaves.
You are just gone; how can we blame the fallen leaves?

There was rain that night, and fog, and then you vanished.
This wasn’t fog’s plan, or the aim of fallen leaves.

People milled about in the yellow light of fog,
dazed and sad, not seeking the plane of fallen leaves.

Mourners bundled in rain gear; I did not know them;
they meant well when they came upon the fallen leaves.

In your absence, those you love will try to exist;
broken, they embrace the remaining fallen leaves.

The tree will still be there, and the stones on the road;
the same ruts will be there, and the same fallen leaves.

On the table are strewn a thousand photographs,
as if the pile had been raked and named fallen leaves.

The Things that never can come back, are several –
some go, others remain after the fallen leaves.


– For John Prime
-“If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it.
But if the plague breaks out in a land while you are in it,
do not leave that place”
-The Holy Quran
-The Prophet Muhammad

If I could see I’d see sputum cramming the air,
God exclaiming why this has to be about me.

Stand in the far corner, sparks exploding from you.
From a distance I’ll dream circling trees about me.

On cathedral walls there are things we cannot see –
if I can’t speak, there’s too much debris about me.

You look confused clutching your rags of memory.
I’ll tell you – it’s about you, this spree, about me.

Recall the lawn where we stood holding each other?
I backstep, germs swirling all blindly about me.

From the far side of the lawn, gesture like hugging.
Was it years or hours, your arms, your knees about me?

The wind is troubling the trees, crying through the woods.
I am scared.  I’m sure it’s a decree about me.

Masked people have taken all the thermometers.
Through sweat in their eyes the things see about me.

Grotesque empty shelves from here to the horizon;
long flatland with nothing to foresee about me.

Corpses new to the game hijacked the trailer trucks;
their journey to that sweet land, that lea about me.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be; it just means it’s not,
though for the moment the smell is sweet about me.

The world is wrapped in hoses, death on the P.A.
When it calls out John!, what does that mean about me?


I’m back, back, back, back
Back on the streets again…
-Written by Emilio Castillo and “Doc” Kupka
-Tower of Power

Moving to the tunes, shouting shing-a-ling,
you find yourself in a sunken ballroom,
flanked by slots and noisy poker machines,
and lights and bells and whistles and cha-ching,
and is that a wolf with his eyes on you?

You work your way to the front of the room,
trying your best to find you a new you.
You standing front row with your elbows on
the stage, looking up at the massiveness
of the Tower of Power’s horn section.

The horns, that team of golden wild horses,
has seduced you into a sick brain funk,
and though you ain’t exactly sure what’s hip,
something has grabbed the bottom of your feet,
scorched your body, and blew out through your head.

In the days before masks and particles
poisoning the air, we jammed body to
body, chanting the lyrics with Emilio.
Funk with me, I’ll funk with you, body to
body, no thoughts of rubbing death on you.

Check the floor; that’s your own face looking up.
T.O.P will do that; rip your face off.
No fear of the cat next to you coughing.
You was here for one reason; funkafize!
body cut loose full of that funky juice!

Moving to the tunes, shouting shing-aling,
trying your best to find you a new you.
although you ain’t exactly sure what’s hip.
Funk with me, I’ll funk with you, body to
body, you cut loose, full of that funky juice.

© John L. Stanizzi