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Editor's Note




by John L. Stanizzi


He asked me to step inside the book room;
he wanted to say
he was sorry for being a dick
in my class.

6’ 2”, must have gone 240,
a little doughy
but strong, I’m sure;
he’s only 17.

Said, “I don’t wanna mess up
the rest of the year.
We still got three-quarters left.”

Out in the hallway
the indistinct sound of the bell,
and the muffled industry of teenagers
gloriously vulgar,
incredibly beautiful,
horny as they’ll ever be.

But inside the musty book room
just me and this big sad kid.

I guess I shifted my weight a little,
a movement that implied
shake hands?
or perhaps ya’ need a hug?

For a fraction of a moment
the kid’s right hand moved slightly,
a faint twitch that travelled
up his arm and into his shoulder,
responding to the offered hand
then the hug,
and ending in neither.

That’s when the tears came.

My life is all screwed up, Mr. Stanizzi.
You don’t even know.
All the bullshit about
the spoiled rich kid
gets whatever he wants.
I started working for my old man
when I was in first grade.
First grade.  Still do. 
And yeah he puts gas in my car
but that don’t make it OK
for him to be such a prick.
I get in trouble
he’ll kill me.
And my mother. 
Screw her.
I haven’t talked to her
in two years.
And I ain’t gonna tell you
she did.

I shook his hand
and said it would be OK,
even though I didn’t believe it.

I never did find out
what the kid did for his father,
what his father did to him,
or what his mother did for whoever,
but I did wonder how it felt
to see love as a weakness.

I also wondered what it meant,
really meant when he said
he’ll kill me,
pondered what it was like to believe
your mother was a whore,
and questioned if it was
worth those tears,
worth that kind of fear.

Orient Point at Dawn

From the Connecticut shore
Orient Point hovers just inches
above the surface of the sound
as distance and light
recreate, erase, distort,
until what’s left is a bar-code of gray silhouettes,
beveled patterns of inarticulate shadow
through which the first glints of sunlight
needle dreamy sleepers to stir.

Once I took the ferry          
from New London to Orient Point
and Clem’s knotty-pine bungalow,
cool beneath enormous conifers
and filled with ocean knickknacks;
the yard was softened by rusty needles
hewn by off-shore winds,
and the mourning doves
hung shiny round notes on the humid afternoon.

I cooked shrimp translucent pink,
and at dusk drove back to the landing
to guess which of the tiny silver figures on the sound
was the ferry carrying you to the point.
The water-soaked jetty leaned
this way and that against the tide
and into the half-light,
akimbo ties, heavy, never dry;
a gull at the shoreline
ran down tiny hermit crabs
tossed ashore by the thousands,
fielding them as they tumbled on the ebb,
swallowing them whole,
and then there was your ferry.

The clarity of this morning
begins to fill in the blanks on Orient Point
and what remains now
are flashes of color
from years ago in small places
which are way over there now,
across the water
and held in faintest shadow.


Point O’ Woods
South Lyme, Connecticut

A beard of rusted grass
streams from a robin’s beak
and the cottage whispers
with the sighs of sleepers.

The robin flies beneath the cottage
where the string floors
of three nests
reach down into the musky air
under the floorboards.

Baby grackles screech themselves hoarse
from an invisible nest
in that tree right there,
and two more nests are pressed
up under the eaves
of the leaning garage.

The radio says to brace ourselves
for heavy weather,
a line of storms that will rake across us
and toss our things around.
It is impossible to ignore the storm,
its gray face paint,
its floribunda of lights-out clouds
that short out the horizon
over and over again.

For now the heat squeezes us,
a hot breeze muffles
the industry around the marsh,
and a lady bug has careened into me,
crashing into my arm
where she rests for a moment,
folding her luxurious wings
back into their brilliant red case.

John L. Stanizzi 's first book, Ecstasy Among Ghosts, was published by Antrim House Books (www.antrimhousebooks.com). His second book,  Sleepwalking (also with Antrim House) was released in October 2009. New poems have just been published in The New York Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, and The Wild Goose Review. He's a former Wesleyan University Etherington Scholar and Poet in Residence at Manchester Community College and Middletown Public Schools.Besides SNReview, his poems have appeared in Passages North, The Spoon River Quarterly, Poet Lore, The Connecticut River Review, Stone Country, and many others.  His work has been nominated for the Pushcard Prize twice. He's an Adjunct Professor of English, Manchester (CT) Community College, and he teaches at Bacon Academy in Colchester CT, where he is Theater Director Emerius.In 1998 The New England Association of Teachers of English named Stanizzi The New England Poet of the Year.

Copyright 2010, John L. Stanizzi. © This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.