POND: Five Poems by John L. Stanizzi

Feb 11, 2019

All the way from New England, poet and literature professor John L. Stanizzi brings us five poems from his ongoing book project entitled “POND.” The poet explains, “Every day, for one year, I will walk to our pond [here in Connecticut], jot down a few notes, and take a photo or two. Then I’ll write a 4-line acrostic poem using P, O, N, D as my first letters, with the extra caveat of never using the same first-word twice. I began the book on November 9, 2018 – will finish November 9, 2019.” Stanizzi carries forward the centuries-old tradition of poetry motivated by the human encounter with nature and more precisely with winter (especially since the 16th century). In these poems an original application of poetic language, coupled with a distinctive use of imagery, reveals that such a tradition is alive and necessary to further articulate experiences that many times are difficult to capture with words. Stanizzi’s innovation is the challenge of doing so in an acrostic format while retaining the vastness of the subject at hand. The brevity of each poem limited to the four verses set by their acrostic form conveys that such brevity suffices to contain the magnitude of experience made communicable so exceptionally well in each of these five poems.

All the way from New England, poet and literature professor John L. Stanizzi brings us five poems from his ongoing book project entitled “POND.” The poet explains, “Every day, for one year, I will walk to our pond [here in Connecticut], jot down a few notes, and take a photo or two. Then I’ll write a 4-line acrostic poem using P, O, N, D as my first letters, with the extra caveat of never using the same first-word twice.  I began the book on November 9, 2018 – will finish November 9, 2019.” Stanizzi carries forward the centuries-old tradition of poetry motivated by the human encounter with nature and more precisely with winter (especially since the 16th century). In these poems an original application of poetic language, coupled with a distinctive use of imagery, reveals that such a tradition is alive and necessary to further articulate experiences that many times are difficult to capture with words. Stanizzi’s innovation is the challenge of doing so in an acrostic format while retaining the vastness of the subject at hand. The brevity of each poem limited to the four verses set by their acrostic form conveys that such brevity suffices to contain the magnitude of experience made communicable so exceptionally well in each of these five poems.

Note: the poems 2.2.2019 and 2.3.2019 have also appeared in Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing.

2.4.19
11.50 a.m.
50 degrees

Pawky warmth would have us believe spring is near;

opalescent snow, melted and lustrous, runs in rivulets

nourished by the sun which I can actually feel on my shoulders.

Delible snow has softened the pond, and already the ground is soft.

2.3.19
7.52 a.m.
30 degrees

Plummeting temperatures have given way to a little warming.

Omissible sparrows are making themselves obvious this morning,

netted on every branch, this crew is noisy and numberless; the

degrees moving up have moved them out and they are famished.

2.2.19
8.31 a.m.
11 degrees

Prosaic cold.  The only attribute worth mentioning is its bitterness;

offish and tenacious, it bites into my feet, its fumes

nocent and burning, sear my nostrils.  The birds are famished, and

deer prints line the path all the way to the pond, night’s topography.

2.1.19
9.00 a.m.
7 degrees

Precluding the stream its one elegance, the ice forms another,

ornate with snow over gunmetal blue, and held in place by

nether frigidness and bitterness from above, a snapshot of the stream,

dreamy and static and holding still for as long as I’d like, which isn’t long.

1.31.19
10.09 a.m.
0 degrees

It was extraordinarily bitter day, I remember, zero by the thermometer…
                            -Samuel Beckett
                            -Endgame (Spoken by Hamm)

 

Praise the windless dawn and the cardinal that pulls her

ochre ribbon through the bitter air and joins two males

noble in the very top of the cedar, noiseless until they see me

darkening the fresh snow in the shadow of their trinity.

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About the Contributor

John L. Stanizzi is author of “Ecstasy Among Ghosts”, “Sleepwalking”, “Dance Against the Wall”, “After the Bell”, “Hallelujah Time!”, “High Tide – Ebb Tide”, “Four Bits – Fifty 50-Word Pieces”, and “Chants”. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Connecticut River Review, and many others. Stanizzi has been translated into Italian and his poems have appeared in many journals in Italy. His translator is Angela D’Ambra. Stanizzi teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, Connecticut, and lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.