KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 12: Summer 2019
Micro-Poems: [varies]
+ Commentary: 285 words [R]

An e-Chapbook of PONDs

by John L. Stanizzi

7.35 a.m.
33 degrees

Presents? Twilight. The pond one-third frozen. The sun
overlaying the moon, ornaments in scattered blue light,
notes of Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter there too, though
dawn on the water is the first light of Christmas I see.


8.27 a.m.
21 degrees

Penurious stand of saplings, their only possession three cardinals.
Oath-drawn January keeps its promise, the grass hard as concrete,
noiseless dawn moments behind, the stream frozen up into the wood—
damaged as the surface of the moon, the pond is as still as the air.


10.09 a.m.
0 degrees

It was an extra-ordinarily bitter day, I remember,
zero by the thermometer...

—Samuel Beckett*

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.


12.13 p.m.
22 degrees

Phoebe in the frigid afternoon struggles to say its name.
Oblations of cardinals signal the coming of spring one click at a time.
Northerly winds wrench through the scrub and whip across the ice,
dealing blow after blow, forcing me to scribble, weep, hurry in.


11.43 a.m.
61 degrees

Plash of green frogs and the wind shimmers the pond.
Oozing from the algae a snake more mud than flesh,
nonlinear slithering, and hundreds of polliwogs toss themselves
deeper, scattering tiny fish more light than bait.


6.53 a.m.
53 degrees

Preceptor of stillness—the water snake—coils his fatness
overtly and eyes my own stasis with suspicion. The hydrilla,
nevi on the pond’s surface, ambles toward a place
defunct of oxygen, wild, uncontainable, and deadly.


7:43 a.m.
62 degrees

Predilection for these lovely invaders, the irises,
openly yellow, startlingly yellow; evening is their
nom de plume—gone today, here tomorrow.
Depicted in the moonlight, they could be little stars.


7.17 a.m.
58 degrees

Phrases of tiny gnats, fragments really, fly around my face,
omen of a short life, and all that is delicate; audacious
naggers, they whirl about my head, land on my lips,
dip into my eyes as if they were other smaller ponds.


1.55 p.m.
73 degrees

Prizing the daisies that have popped up along the shore,
outsized by the little flower, the hoverfly, with the slightest
nick, feeds on nectar, while the air is full of flitting blue
damselflies devouring aphids, gnats, and mosquitoes.


7.25 a.m.
64 degrees

Promise of rain later this morning; cool and overcast now, and an
orange damselfly lights beside pink weed, jewels beside jewels.
Notches flapping slapping the neon mud, the swallows
dilly-dally, shilly-shallying in the silky-shiny muck.


2.19 p.m.
90 degrees

Primal goings-on today. Two black birds crash into a red-tail,
ousting the big bird from the area of their nest, and
“needling” all over the pond, myriad species of damselflies and
dragonflies, tiny but no less spectacular than that chased raptor.


7.37 a.m.
65 degrees

Pleasing music this morning in the woods and along the path.
Ovenbird loud and clear from the forest floor, and catbirds
nominating me to put out the morning’s suet cakes, as Stella
D’oro daylilies bloom along the way, just for the beauty of it.


* “Bitter day” quotation spoken by the character Hamm, in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame: A Play in One Act (Grove Press, 1957)

Credit Notes:

Four of these micro-poems were first published in other venues, as listed below, and appear here with Stanizzi’s permission:

  1. “12.25.18: Presents?” in Amethyst Review (13 March 2019)

  2. “1.14.19: Penurious” in Front Porch Review (Volume 11, April 2019)

  3. “1.31.19: Praise” in Inverse Journal (11 February 2019)

  4. “2.27.19: Phoebe” in Plum Tree (February 2019)

Poet’s Commentary

The POND. We have lived here for 30+ years, and while the pond has been very important in our lives—the kids fished there, put their canoes in, ice skated, and had campfires—I had never really studied the pond closely. At night, it comes alive with activity: raccoons, coyotes, opossums, frogs—from the massive bullfrogs, to the green frogs, and the tree frogs—foxes, deer, and birds of all kinds, owls and kingfishers and several species of is quite a magical place. And so, on November 9th last year, I came up with a plan that would take me exactly one year to complete.

The POND project is this: At some point every day (it really does not matter what time of day—each time offers new surprises), I walk to the pond with my notebook, my pen, and my camera. I stay for a while, in meditation, and take notes. Not every day has been a picture-worthy day either, but certainly the potential is there, so I never head to the pond without my camera.

Once I have a page of notes, I head home, put the journal down, and go about my day. When the muse strikes, I never know her arrival time, specifically. She works on her own schedule and I follow.

The poems themselves are acrostic. The first line begins with the letter “P,” the second line with “O,” third with “N,” and the last with “D.” The other MAJOR CHALLENGE is that I may not EVER use one of those first words twice—which means I need 365 words that begin with “P,” 365 with “O,” and so on.

That is the challenge. But! So far so good.

—Commentary was published previously in Praxis Magazine (1 January 2019); appears here in slightly different form with poet’s permission.

John L. Stanizzi
Issue 12, Summer 2019

is author of the collections Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide—Ebb Tide, Four Bits, and Chants. His new book, Sundowning, will be released this fall by Main Street Rag. Besides in KYSO Flash, his poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Rust & Moth, Connecticut River Review, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others. The poet has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. His work has been translated into Italian and has appeared in El Ghibli, the Journal of Italian Translations Bonafinni, and Poetarium Silva.

Stanizzi is a teaching artist for the national recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud. A former New England Poet of the Year, named by the New England Association of Teachers of English, he teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

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