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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 14: August 2022
Poem: 449 words
By John L. Stanizzi

One Too Many Mornings

For our friends who gave their lives in Viet Nam:
Kenny Lavine, Alex Brown...and especially for
my dear brother, Jimmy Sincere

But this too is true: stories can save us...I keep dreaming Linda alive. And Ted Lavender, too, and Kiowa, and Curt Lemon, and a slim young man I killed, and an old man sprawled beside a pigpen.... They’re all dead. But in a story, which is a kind of dreaming, the dead sometimes smile and sit up and return to the world.

—Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried *
 

First day of high school, 
where I knew no one 
except the five or six who also came from St. Mary’s 
after outgrowing their uniforms. 
I stood among a swarm of kids 
in everyday clothes outside the gym. 
The overwhelming size of the building, 
the massive number of students, 
the rush of adrenalin-infused freedom. 
I had been liberated from 
the cloistered mahogany and brick of St. Mary’s, 
its uniforms, its severity. 
But about three months in, 
there was Dallas, the book depository, 
and a nation draped in black, 
mourning inconsolably. 
We found out a little after 2 that Friday afternoon, 
November 22, 
1963, 
when Mrs. Wilson came on the loudspeaker 
and had to try twice to tell us what had happened. 
I walked home that afternoon with Billy McGowan, 
Burnside Avenue stretched out 
in unyielding black and white silence, 
the horror and sadness 
troubling the November clouds. 
And Jimmy, how could we have ever imagined 
that the world would quake with grief again, 
five short years later to the day, 
Quang Nam Province, 
November 22, 
1968, 
your last day. Kenny, Alex, Jimmy, 
I could tell you how the world has changed 
since you’ve been gone. 
Much of it would be 
truly impossible to believe. 
You’d marvel at it. 
You’d probably be stunned with delight. 
Though what you might find more unbelievable 
is what has remained the same. 
War is an everyday thing now. 
It’s commonplace. 
We watch it on TV. 
It’s what we do. 
And yes, kids your age, 
kids who might have been your grandchildren, 
still go off and die, like you, 
for reasons as shadowy and dense 
as those heavy November clouds in 1963. 
Jimmy, you had written in my yearbook, 
Johnnie, remember the summer we just took off? 
I do remember, 
and though we never had the chance 
to take off again, 
every now and then 
I dream us somewhere under a hot July sun, 
arms around each other’s shoulders, 
laughing at the foolish choices our young selves made, 
singing Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings” 
to the top of the sky, 
our singing, 
like us, 
out of tune with everything. 

 

 

*Publisher’s Note:

The book by novelist Tim O’Brien referenced in the epigraph above, The Things They Carried (Houghton Mifflin, 1990), is a collection of linked short stories about a platoon of American soldiers fighting on the ground in the Vietnam War, based upon O’Brien’s experiences as a soldier in the 23rd Infantry Division (Wikipedia).

John L. Stanizzi
Issue 14, August 2022

is the author of eleven collections: Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide—Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, Sundowning, POND, and The Tree that Lights the Way Home.

Besides in MacQ, John’s work has been widely published in journals such as Prairie Schooner, The Cortland Review, American Life in Poetry, Tar River Poetry, Praxis, Rust & Moth, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, The Laurel Review, The Caribbean Writer, Blue Mountain, Poetlore, Rattle, Hawk & Handsaw, Plainsongs, Imspired, and many others.

His work has been anthologized in Waking Up to the Earth: Connecticut Poets in a Time of Global Crisis, edited by Connecticut Poet Laureate Margaret Gibson (Grayson Books, 2021); Accidents of Light (fifth annual KYSO Flash Anthology, 2019); Accept Apart (Scars Publishers, 2018); Cardinal House Poetry (2016), a collection from members of Connecticut Poetry Society; The Best of Boston Literary Magazine (Volume One, 2016); Editor’s Choice, III: Fiction, Poetry, & Art from the U.S. Small Press, 1984 to 1990 (The Spirit That Moves Us Press, 1991); the Anthology of Magazine Verse and Yearbook of American Poetry; and several others.

Angela D’Ambra has translated John’s work into Italian, which appears in El Ghibli; Poetarium Silva; The Journal of Italian Translations (editor Luigi Bonafini); and others.

John’s nonfiction has been published in Literature and Belief, Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, Adelaide, Scarlet Leaf, Evening Street, Praxis, Potato Soup Journal, The Red Lemon, after the pause, and others. Potato Soup Journal named his CNF “Pants” among “The Best of 2020” and published it in their anthology celebrating these works. In 2021, he was awarded an Artist Fellowship in Creative Non-Fiction from the Connecticut Office of the Arts and Culture for work on his new memoir.

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 numerous others. For many years, he coordinated the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition for Young Poets at Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, Connecticut. He also spent a decade as “teaching artist” for the national poetry recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud.

A former Wesleyan University Etherington Scholar, and New England Poet of the Year (1998), named by the New England Association of Teachers of English, John teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, Connecticut. He lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

Author’s website: http://www.johnlstanizzi.com/

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

An e-Chapbook of PONDs by Stanizzi, with poet’s commentary, in KYSO Flash (Issue 12, Summer 2019)

 
 
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