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Pass It On

What's in the darkness
Must be revealed to light.
We're not here to judge what's good from bad
But to do the things that are right.

                    Bunny Wailer
                    Pass it On

An hour after my father died, my mother
asked me if I knew what I had said,
and I answered quickly, trying to give the impression
that I understood, that I was in control.

The late summer dusk that filled the room
touched everything with a gauzy yellow light,
a balm that comforted and eased the pain
of that long last exhalation of relief.

When his last breath came it stilled his trembling,
and what I heard as I sat there by his bed
was the unmistakable sigh of liberation,
a simple ahhh that seemed to say Thank God.

I told my mother his passing was a gift
that had taken away his anguish and his hurt.
But a year has passed and I’ve had time to think
about what I would call our last exchange;

I was murmuring words of reassurance
through the thickness of the morphine drip,
and then the light in the room began to shift,
to soften to a comforting shade of yellow.

And that was when he spoke in the language of
the dying, and I took that final sound
into myself, and spoke it in translation;
Thank God I breathed into the darkening room,

a whispered bliss, the suffering left to us. 

John L. Stanizzi’s first book, Ecstasy Among Ghosts, was published by Antrim House Books (; it’s now in its 3rd printing.  His second book,  Sleepwalking (also with Antrim House) was released in October, 2009.

New poems have just been published (or will appear soon) in The New York Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, Hawk & Handsaw, Freshwater, Gutter Eloquence, and SNReview.

John L. Stanizzi is a former Wesleyan University Etherington Scholar and Poet in Residence at Manchester Community College and the Middletown Public Schools, both in Connecticut.

His poems have appeared in Passages North, The Spoon River Quarterly, Poet Lore, The Connecticut River Review, Stone Country, and many others.  He was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

John L. Stanizzi is an Adjunct Professor of English, Manchester (CT) Community College, and he teaches English at Bacon Academy in Colchester CT, where he directed the theater program for 15 years.

In 1998, he was named The New England Poet of the Year by The New England Association of Teachers of English.

Garrison Keillor has featured his work on The Writer’s Almanac.

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