John L. Stanizzi
Self-Portrait as a Snag
A snag in the midst of the heat of late summer,
my old bones grow hollow in the freight of summer.
Cold loneliness, the air out the winter window,
slow burn of snow; oh please, don’t hesitate, Summer.
My back has grown tired, my hands are getting cold,
as weather winters surely through straits of summer.
So many of you have gone before me this year,
in fall, February, and then the chaste summer.
The window behind the altar, massive, opened,
the hand of God behind clouds unlaced by summer.
The sun crashed up in the basement of a white church
where smooth jazz and lies were not the fate of summer.
Staniz, you’ve been haunting the same road forever,
your heart sad, passing into cicada summer.
Bones as Feathers
-O yes, our lives are going on without us.
-O no, we never finish chasing.
-James Tate from Absences
James Tate and I were dear friends, though we never met.
I called on his wisdom when the two lovers met.
The landscape would grow more strange as the weather cooled.
Remember November’s kiss; lips shivering, met.
The city was charming and the years passed as air.
We would sit on the hill where sky and river met.
Were we so blind we couldn’t see the snow or rain?
Were we deaf — couldn’t hear when fear and weather met?
Father of a small city, my back is aching,
even now, when morning says no endeavors met.
My bones have become feathers; they’re the weight of light,
and from shade one comes to harvest all pleasure met.
James would joke that our lives will go on without us.
Don’t ever pretend, John, that you two never met.
Explanation to You 50 Years After Your Death
-for James Walter Sincere
-KIA Quang Nam Province, Viet Nam
-November 22, 1968
I will be your opposition, and you be mine.
Together we’ll oppose them – make them yours and mine.
The combinations of our hate are limitless.
Years are speckles of air strikes, the tears yours and mine.
I must go back everyday to the place you died —
Because your eyes, years gone, have made the hours mine.
If you could, you’d see good folks running through the fields,
If you could, you’d see wounds of sadness, fears’ mien…
But you can’t of course – that’s the gift of being there.
But here – I’ll tell you here the weight of cares is mine.
Just before sleep she will think her belt is a snake.
She will shriek, then laugh, making that tale hers and mine.
That is one way all this fighting belongs to us –
A thing is and then it’s something else, its fires mine.
“They” say only eleven countries have no war.
You think, Who allows this and are heirs truly mean”?
Please. No guilt from the stillness of eternity.
Yet you ask, Since I died, John, are those wars still mine?