The knuckled trailer park rests
in topsy repose on a plinth of ledge
beside paltry little Windham Airport
whose main function is
flying people up
so they can skydive down,
and where every now and then at dusk
a Cessna’s vesper whispers across
the wide sky above Walmart,
citadel of cornfields’ provenance
where I’m going, despite my better judgement,
that idiosyncratic fiction that shillyshallies
all over my windblown sensibility,
chameleon pinball banging off the facades of Home Depot
and the hollowed out Sears building
rusting against a stand of sick maples
and being devoured by a parking lot
where the lamp posts have risen blind in the twilight,
and out on Route 6
an ’83 Ford simulated-wood-grain-sheet-vinyl-woody-wagon
smolders back to tatty Willimantic,
loaded down with Risoline Smoke Repair,
bird seed, cukes, mangoes,
and maybe a couple of cheap work shirts.
I’m going in to Walmart,
where expediency leverages integrity
and the fishing tackle is cut-rate.
And when I come out
I’ll drive away from the sunset
shambling behind Sears,
turning my back on the litigations,
the proscribed unions,
the bodies aflame in Bangladesh,
slapped children coiled on factory floors,
their tiny fists clinched
around their 6 cents an hour,
while that seductress, Convenience,
whispers hokum in my ear,
biting my neck softly,
as I drive past boarded shops,
and a declining sky which
welcomes me weakly,
as Icarus’s siblings descend,
canopies cascading onto the weedy runway,
bringing to my botched conscience
thoughts of the river in fall,
leaves toppling onto the ashen surface,
and silently gliding downstream,
vivid and mum,
coming to rest behind rocks and treefall
where they will wordlessly wane
into something more valiant than self-deception.
READING RENNIE MCQUILKIN’S POEM — CATHEDRAL FIRE, 1956
December 31, 1956
My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue…
I don’t recall how far gone
St. Joseph’s was when I arrived,
but I do recall you telling me
you were there, too.
You would have been 20,
and I, seven.
My vision was locked on the firemen
and the magnificent stalactites
of ice that had formed
on the big brims of their helmets
and all around the fat hoses
where the water poured out.
Their breath was thick white,
and their faces tired and cold.
I never looked up,
not until the rosette window blossomed,
its ball of fire swirling
through shattered stained glass
that rained down on freezing people
who held each other and wept.
I like to think we were there together, Rennie,
the organ wheezing in the flames
a dissonant hymn to friendship.
About the poet:
John L. Stanizzi is the author of the collections “Ecstasy Among Ghosts”, “Sleepwalking”, “Dance Against the Wall”, “After the Bell”, and “Hallalujah Time!”. His next volume, “High Tide – Ebb Tide”, will be out in 2017. John’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Rust+Moth, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, Passages North, The Spoon River Quarterly, Poet Lore, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others. A former New England Poet of the Year, John has read at many venues throughout the northeast, including the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival. He teaches literature in an adjunct capacity at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT, and lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.