September 11, 2023

John L. Stanizzi


Bacon Academy
Colchester, CT
October 31st, 2001


Shortly after 9/11,
a boy who had been stealing pick-up trucks
from a local dealership
and hiding them in the woods
so he could sell them later,
decided to fashion a fake bomb
and place it on the loading dock
outside the cafeteria
on Halloween morning.

We, of course, were all still
emotionally threadbare
and sent into a frazzle.

The first order of the morning
was to stop the buses
before they got into the parking lot,
and not let the kids into the school.

As each top-heavy yellow clunker
pulled its plume of blue smoke into the drive,
we stopped it and tried to explain
what was going on,
without freaking out the vampires,
witches, monsters, and ghosts,
12 buses,
each filled with high school kids
all being something else for the day.

We sent the buses to the elementary school,
where all 800 ghouls
would hang out in the tiny gym
until the danger had passed.

Take a moment here to imagine that.



I thought of my own youth—
different time, same fear—
the old days of “duck and cover,”
air raid horn baying at the spring sky,
and all of us either balled up under our desks,
or standing, boy girl boy girl
against the cool, cool
painted cinder block walls
in the shadowy hallways of St. Mary’s,
the perfume of lilacs
in the breeze that breathed there,

or before me, in England,
the shelters in underground tubes,
railway arches, subways,
and my Auntie Elsie,
staring in dread at the ceiling
in the shelter in her cellar.

And later,
after the Russians did their bomb,
and Yuri Gagarin swirled around in our sky,
General Foods and General Mills
sold dried war rations,
and the nuclear protection suit was a hot item.

Wall Streeters even claimed
that the bomb shelter business
would gross billions in the coming years,
if there were any.
And every day
the radio sizzled warnings
that a shoddy, homemade shelter
would get you broiled “to a crisp”
or squeezed “like grapefruit,”
as in American neighborhoods
people built “wine cellars,”
or else the contractors worked
under cover of night.

I cried into our couch
for 14 days straight in 1962,

and I didn’t even really know why
beyond the fact that all the adults
seemed quiet and scared,
and I understood the word annihilation,
and saw, over and over again,
the documentary where the house
gets blown away sideways
by a speeding cloud of nuclear winter.

But the bomb never fell,
even though everyone,
including me,
kept fear in their hearts,
and spent years
practicing for the end,



and it’s the same now.

When the kids returned to school
later that morning,
we tried to resume a
typical Halloween
in a typical American high school,
the kids dressed to kill,
the sugar-high higher
because they were back on familiar ground.
But the party didn’t last long.

Soon a voice filled with urgency
squawked over the perpetual loudspeaker
that we needed to immediately
go into the “S-plan.”

Ignore all fire alarms and bells.

Students in the hallway
should run to the nearest classroom.

Teachers lock your classroom door.
Do not let ANYONE in.

If students ask to be let in,
do not let them in.
Direct them to the office.
Do not let them in.

Cover the windows
with the black paper
that you’ve put aside
for this occasion.

Huddle all your students
into the corner,
away from the windows and doors.

Do not use the school phone
or your cell phone.

Stay there until you receive instructions.

And we did. For two hours,
me and the bum,
the Ninja Turtle,
the Queen of Hearts,
fear in the eyes behind the masks,
fear in the tears of the ballerina.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009


John L. Stanizzi: “It occurred to me that generations upon generations have been ‘practicing’ in one way or another for some terrible ‘thing.’ We have been rehearsing so that we will know just what to do when the unthinkable happens. This is the myth around which my poem swirls.” (website)

Rattle Logo

February 27, 2001

Tribute to the Sonnet

Conversations with
Alice Fulton & Molly Peacock


#32Releasing in December, 2009, issue #32 celebrates the “little song,” poetry’s most enduring traditional form. Shakespeare and Petrachan sonnets, a backwards sonnet, free verse sonnets, blank verse sonnets, clean sonnets, dirty sonnets, invented sonnets, sonnets that praise sonnets, sonnets that mock sonnets, a sonnet that uses only one rhyme-word fourteen times…all capped off with a full heoric crown of fifteen sonnets by Patricia Smith. The variations are limitless—there’s nothing more liberating than a little restriction. T. S. Davis introduces the special section with a personal essay on his journey into form.

Also in the issue, Alan Fox interviews Alice Fulton and Molly Peacock. Along with 60 pages of open poetry, we share the 11 winning poems from the 2009 Rattle Poetry Prize, culled from over 6,000 candidates.


The Sonnet

T. S. Davis The Recrudescence of the Muse
Tony Barnstone Bad Usage
Michelle Bitting Silence Took My Tongue…
Chris Bullard Back Story
Wendy Taylor Carlisle The Circus of Inconsolable Loss
Peter Coghill Gabriella
T. S. Davis Whooping Rendezvous
Paul Dickey A Knack for Losing Things
Caitlin Doyle Backward Sonnet for a Forward Thinker
Jehanne Dubrow The Cold War, A Romance
Alan Fox Dover
Carol Frith Black Tights, a Halter Top
Ernest Hilbert Cover to Cover
Luke Johnson The Heart, Like a Bocce Ball
Mollycat Jones Unholy Sonnet Number One
Stephen Kessler Any Hack Can Crank Out…
Jeff Knight Knives of the Poets
Gregory Loselle from The Whole of Him Collected
Austin MacRae Library Lovers
Patti McCarty Make Mine Darjeeling
Mary Meriam The Romance of Middle Age
Jessica Moll Costume
Ron Offen Aubade for One Dismayed
Jessica Piazza Panophilia
Catherine Esposito Prescott To a Hurricane
Patricia Smith Motown Crown
Elizabeth Klise von Zerneck Freedom
Thom Ward Rumpus, Cohesion, Mess
Donald Mace Williams The Venturi Effect
John Yohe The Ghost of Frank O’Hara


Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz At the Office Holiday Party
Michael Bazzett The Disintegrated Man
Francesca Bell With a Little Education
Tammy F. Brewer One of Those Topics I Shouldn’t…
Erik Campbell This Small Thing
Claire W. Donzelli Two Haiku
Christine Dresch Nuts
Laura Eve Engel Did You Come Yet?
Joseph Fasano North Country
Matthew Gavin Frank After Senza Titolo, 1964
Glenn J. Freeman The Transparencies
Ed Galing Dancing
Peter Harris Living Large
Lilah Hegnauer Exceptions with the Sloughing Off
Michael Hettich The Wild Animal
Bob Hicok How the Mirror Looks…
Colette Inez The Tuner
John Philip Johnson Midas on the Beach
Michael Kriesel Threesome
Rachel Inez Lane Catch Me, Alfred, I’m Falling
Ken Letko The Power of Light
M Salt
Marie-Elizabeth Mali Campaign Season
Kerrin McCadden Intersection
Laren McClung Confluence of Rivers and Mouths
Sally Molini Meal Ticket
Kent Newkirk Fixing Cars
Molly Peacock A Tale of a T
The Softie
J. F. Quackenbush To a Child
Rebekah Remington Happiness Severity Index
David Romtvedt On Broadway
Ralph James Savarese Nor Yet a Dream of War
Lauren Schmidt Grandma Zolie Gives Unheeded…
Mather Schneider Between Us and It
Prartho Sereno Electrodomestico
Lee Sharkey Berlioz
Paul Siegell 06.25.00 – PHiSH…
Charlie Smith The Casing
John L. Stanizzi S-Plan
Arthur Vogelsang Environmental
David Wagoner Before the Poetry Reading
Mike White Nascar
Jeff Worley Lucky Talk

Rattle Poetry Prize Winner

Lynne Knight To the Young Man Who…

Honorable Mentions

Michelle Bitting Mammary
Mary-Lou Brockett-Devine Crabs
Carolyn Creedon How to Be a Cowgirl in a Studio…
Diana Goetsch Writer in Residence, Central State
David Hernandez Remember It Wrong
John Paul O’Connor Beans
Howard Price Crow-Magnon
Patricia Smith Birthday
Alison Townsend The Only Surviving Recording…
Emily Kagan Trenchard This Is the Part of the Story…


Alice Fulton
Molly Peacock

March 2, 2001

350+ Poets Read Their Work


As much as we loved providing an audio CD for issue #27’s Tribute to Slam, we didn’t want page poets to be left out. The tradition of public readings is central to contemporary poetry, whose medium, we’ve always felt, isn’t the page, but rather the breath itself. Here is an opportunity to listen to poems as the authors intended them to sound, in their own voice.

Any poems that have appeared in Rattle are eligible, and this archive will be updated regularly. If you are a poet who we’ve published, and would like to be included, email us to ask how. We also plan on adding audio clips from recent and upcoming interviews—keep an eye on this page for updates.

Poet Title  
NEW! Leslie Marie Aguilar Poem for the Educated Black Woman …
Christeene Alcosiba What Remains Is Given Up to the Fire
Pia Aliperti Boiler
Dick Allen from The Zen Master Poems
David Alpaugh Strip Taze
David Alpaugh Space Monkey
Arlene Ang Tonsillitis
Arlene Ang A Driving Student Adjusts the Seat
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz Op-Ed for the Sad Sack Review
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz At the Office Holiday Party
NEW! Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz Things That Happen During Pet-Sitting …
Robert Archambeau The People’s Republic of Sleepless…
James Arthur Sad Robots
Matthew Babcock Passage
Kathleen Balma Roadkill on the Path to Salvation
Li Bai Alone on Mount Jingting
Caleb Barber I Went in With My Hands Up
John Wall Barger Three Photos of Jayne Mansfield
Tony Barnstone Jack Logan, Fighting Airman
Tony Barnstone Bad Usage
Tony Barnstone Why I’m Not a Carpenter
Tony Barnstone The Truth Is That He Never
Tony Barnstone Young Woman Drinking…
NEW! Ellen Bass How I Became Miss America
Michele Battiste Once More, With Feeling
Grace Bauer Our Waitress’s Marvelous Legs
Ruth Bavetta Elegy for My 1958 Volkswagen
Michael Bazzett The Usefulness of Marriage
NEW! Michael Bazzett The Last Expedition
Francesca Bell With a Little Education
Francesca Bell Narrow Openings
Heather Bell Love Letter to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill
Lytton Bell Jane’s Heartbreak Yard Sale
Marvin Bell from A Conversation with Marvin Bell
Karen Benke Joyride
NEW! C. Wade Bentley Storytelling
NEW! Roy Bentley Ringo Starr Answers Questions …
Kristin Berkey-Abbott Currencies
F.J. Bergmann Uses of Metaphor
Gregory Betts Lingers Tear Gas
Darla Biel When My Ex Called in Sick
Michelle Bitting Mammary
NEW! Michael Blaine Jayus
Laurie Blauner The Hit Man Absentmindedly…
Laurie Blauner Peculiar Crimes
Sally Bliumis-Dunn Meaning
Sally Bliumis-Dunn Gratitude
Michael Boccardo Weighing In
Bruce Bond Boo
Jan Bottiglieri Dear Atlas,
Russell Bradbury-Carlin Rooms Change When We Argue
Amanda J. Bradley To Thomas Pynchon Regarding...
Myra Binns Bridgforth 3PM Clients Must Not Be Boring
Rachael Briggs Singularity
Traci Brimhall At a Party on Ellis Island, Watching…
J. Scott Brownlee City Limits
Grace Bruenderman Piraha
Andrea Hollander Budy Eating Mashed Potatoes
Andrea Hollander Budy Delta Flight 1152
Andrea Hollander Budy Field Hospital
Chris Bullard Back Story
Jane Byers Baseball
Patricia Callan Clearking at the Ideal Laundry
Allison Campbell What to Know
Marlon O. Carey Every Element Is Relevant
Wendy Taylor Carlisle Circus
Pablo Garcia Casado Dinner (tr. by Chris Michalski, performed by The CS Field Trio)
Grace Cavalieri Why They Stayed Together
David Cavanagh Fugue
David Cazden The Joy of Cooking School
Sam Cheuk Dramaturgy
Rohan Chhetri Not the Exception
NEW! Michael Chitwood Summer Job
Teresa Mei Chuc Playground
Antonia Clark Famous Last Words
Martha Clarkson How She Described Her Ex-Husband…
Thomas Cochran Fishing
Cathryn Cofell Leaves of Grass/Suicide/Psychic Hotlines
Brendan Constantine So God Will Know You
Anne Coray Call it Love
Anne Coray Letter From a Brother
Claudia Cortese Sarah’s Mother Makes Her Long Dresses…
Nina Corwin Speaking of Tongues
Steven Coughlin Another City
Hope Coulter Morning Haul
Sage Cohen What’s Wrong With
Chris Crawford So Gay
Kelly Cressio-Moeller Waiting for Charon in the ER
Barbara Crooker The Fifties
Barbara Crooker Question Mark and the Mysterians
Nika Cruz Under the Shadows
Paul F. Cummins Undercover
Jim Daniels Lip Gloss, Belgium
Carol V. Davis Salt
David M. deLeon Not Everything I Do Is Magic
Paul Dickey Wheat State Salvation
Michael Diebert Retail
Kim Dower Why People Really Have Dogs
Kim Dower How Was Your Weekend,
NEW! Kim Dower Boob Job
Caitlin Doyle Backward Sonnet for a Forward Thinker
James Doyle The Flippant Zeitgeist
Stevie Edwards What I Mean by Ruin Is…
Sally Ehrman Magic on the Other Side of This
Meaghan Elliott How to Drown Kittens in 1958
Ray Emanuel 4% of Everything or Nothing
Alejandro Escudé Précis
Rhina P. Espaillat Familiar Faces
Anna Evans Crash
Anna Evans Feeling Compassion for Others
NEW! R.G. Evans The Things That Mother Said
Robert Fanning Watching My Daughter Through the One-Way …
Joseph Fasano Mahler in New York
Joseph Fasano North Country
Patricia Fargnoli Fun
Doris Ferlinger Lookists
Michael Ferris Think of the Children!
Megan Fernandes The Flight to Sacramento
Brian Fitzpatrick Sleep Half Sleep (Silence) with Reasons
Charlene Fix Dear FSG
NEW! Kelly Fordon Tell Me When It Starts to Hurt
Linda Nemec Foster Playground
Linda Nemec Foster The Dream of Trees
Drew Foti-Straus Film Color, 1950
Alan Fox Silk Woman
Matthew Gavin Frank After Senza Titolo, 1964
Catherine Freeling The Robbery
Cal Freeman Farrier
Joy Gaines Friedler Assisted Living
Katie F-S Two Bits
Peter Funk The Town Drunk’s Last Stand
Gary Gach Haiku
Jeannine Hall Gailey I Forgot to Tell You the Most Important…
Jeannine Hall Gailey Advice Given to Me Before My Wedding
Jeannine Hall Gailey Elemental
Kay Putney Gantt What Difference Could We Make
Rhonda Ganz Cryogenesis
Conrad Geller The Coyote in the Graveyard
Conrad Geller The Destination
Kristin George Bagnadov Holding Light
Dan Gerber On My Seventieth Birthday
Maria Mazziotti Gillan Shame Is the Dress I Wear
Maria Mazziotti Gillan The Cedar Keepsake Box
Ted Gilley The People Across the Street
Valentina Gnup We Speak of August
Idris Goodwin Why Do They Call Bill Clinton the First…
Myles Gordon The Beat Goes On
Jack Granath After the Japanese
Chris Green My Brother Buries His Dog
Timothy Green Cooking Dinner
Sonia Greenfield Sago, West Virginia
Benjamin S. Grossberg The Space Traveler’s Moon
Albert Haley Barcelona
Sam Hamill Eyes Wide Open (credits)
Sam Hamill On Being Invited to Submit…
francine j. harris Katherine with the lazy eye. short…
Mark D. Hart Incompetence
Lola Haskins The Fruit Detective
Lola Haskins Creek Light
Penny Harter Blue Sky
Robert Haynes On the Rule of SB-1070
Rebecca Hazelton Elise as Android …
Jamey Hecht First Divorce
Susan L. Helwig What Need or Duty
Donna C. Henderson Tinnitus
Donna Henderson Shenpa
Patrick Hicks Sitting on the Berlin Wall
NEW! David Brendan Hopes James Dickey Died Owing Me a Bar Tab
Amorak Huey Rock J. Squirrel Goes Alone …
NEW! Amorak Huey Mick Jagger’s Penis Turns 69
David James How to Make Amends
David James The Famous Outlaw
Lesley Jenike A Golden Retirement
NEW! Edison Jennings Blue Plate Special
NEW! Edison Jennings Brown Eyed Girl
Luke Johnson The Hearth, Like a Bocce Ball
NEW! Joel F. Johnson Oakbrook Estates
Allan Johnston Waitress
Zilka Joseph Puzzle
Zilka Joseph Waiting Inside
Bo Juyi Springtime in Loyang
Courtney Kampa Avante-Garde
Courtney Kampa The Miscarriage
Courtney Kampa Self-Portrait by Someone Else
Sean Karns Jar of Pennies
Glenn Kletke Sledding
Deborah P. Kolodji Basho After Cinderella
Danusha Laméris Arabic
Sara E. Lamers November
Eugenia Leigh Destination: Beautiful
M.L. Liebler Underneath My American Face
Diane Lockward The Mathematics of Your Leaving
Sandy Longhorn Self-Portrait: November
Gregory Loselle from The Whole of Him Collected, #10
Bob Lucky Wouldn’t You Confess?
Krista Lukas Patio Tomatoes
Alison Luterman Say Yes to the Dress
Alison Luterman Big Naked Man
M While My Mother Rots in Memory Care…
M Salt
M To a Husband Saved by Death at 48
M For Those Who Never Know …
Taylor Mali What Teachers Make
Charles Manis Flu Season and A Living Will
David T. Manning Not My World
Michelle Margolis The Blessings of Dreams
Bruce McBirney Midnight
Stephen McDonald Flow
Glenn McKee A Beauty Spot
Glenn McKee Another Night Nobody Came Alive
Michael Meyerhofer Pasteurization
Devon Miller-Duggan Old Blue
Mario Milosevic You Don’t Know Because You’ve…
NEW! Annie Mountcastle Labor
Mathias Nelson Dip My Pacifier in Whiskey
Mathias Nelson I Only Dance for My Mother
Harry Newman Early Snow
Harry Newman Primitives
Hannah Faith Notess To the Former Self in Art Class
Judith Tate O’Brien Sawdust
Loretta Obstfeld My Life with Jeff Goldblum …
Grace Ocasio Ars Poetica
John Paul O’Connor Breakfast
John Paul O’Connor Beans
John Paul O’Connor Stone City
William O’Dalyfeaturing music by Louis Valentine Johnson To the Antiphonlist
Wendy Oleson Eat Your M&M
Jason Olsen My Best Friend’s Wife
Brett Ortler What the Dead Tell Us About Charon
Todd Outcalt Ont he First Anniversary of His Wife’s…
NEW! Jeremy Dae Paden After My Copy of Levertov’s …
Nancy Pagh Spring Salmon at Night
Molly Peacock from A Conversation with Molly Peacock
Robert Peake Road Sign on Interstate 5
Joel Peckham Body Memory
Kate Peper Don’t You Miss the Phone Booth–
Jennifer Perrine Home Visit: Danny
Jennifer Perrine Home Visit: Jenny
Jessica Piazza Panophilia
Patrick M. Pilarski Your Village
Marilyn Gear Pilling The Dog
Donald Platt Caddy
Christine Poreba Between Missing and Found
Jack Powers Rob Smuniewski Is Dead
Ken Poyner The Robotics Problem
Catherine Esposito Prescott To a Hurricane
Richard Prins The God Zoo
NEW! Melissa Queen Learn to Sail with Your Dad
Peg Quinn When the Buddha Farmed Nebraska
Saara Myrene Raappana A Battleship Examines Its Faith
Doug Ramspeck Bottomlands Widow
Jessy Randall Poetry Comic #1
Jessy Randall Poetry Comic #2
Dian Duchin Reed Holy Cats
Richard Robbins The Tattooed Woman
Kirk Robinson The Breaks
NEW! Larry Rogers Mr. Rescue
David Romtvedt American Election
Rachel Rose What We Heard About the Americans
Rachel Rose What We Heard About the Canadians
E. Shaun Russell Archetypes
Michael Salcman The Night Before
Hayden Saunier Self-Portrait with the Smithfield Ham…
Hayden Saunier The One and the Other
Jacob Scheier Single Man’s Song
NEW! Barbara Schmitz Pretty Sure
Jan Seabaugh Czechs Mix
Diane Seuss What Is at the Heart of It…
Glenn Shaheen Feral Cats
Glenn Shaheen Chinese Spies
Lee Sharkey Berlioz
Michael Shea Letter to a Young Bombmaker
Thadra Sheridan After the Bowling Stopped
Carrie Shipers Apology for Being Small
Heidi Shuler Trials of a Teenage Transvestite’s Single Mother
Jinen Jason Shulman Constellation
Paul Siegell 6.22.00 – PHiSH – Alltel Pavilion, NC
Martha Silano What the Grad Students Said
Martha Silano La Gioconda
Karen Skolfield Ode to the Fan
Mary McLaughlin Slechta The Hour of Our Belief
Marc Kelly Smith I Wanted to Be
Patricia Smith Building Nicole’s Mama
Laurence Snydal Eye in the Sky
Ephraim Scott Sommers To Myself as a Statue in Central Park
Lianne Spidel Ambassador Bridge
Terry Spohn Shelf Life
John L. Stanizzi Defiantly
John L. Stanizzi S-Plan
Jill Stein Lunch with My Parents
NEW! Lolita Stewart-White If Only
Paul Suntup Olive Oil
NEW! Sarah Sweeney Tripping at the NC State Cultural Fair
Carol A. Taylor A Fading Memory
Abigail Templeton U.S. Unemployed Jumps to 12.5 Million
Mark Terrill Ways In, Ways Out
Jamie Thomas 1973
Davey Thompson & Cameron Tully The Chair
Lynne Thompson Overheard at Starbucks
Lynne Thompson Lament: I Am Implication
Lynne Thompson Psalm for Working Women
Melinda Thomsen Major League Salaries
Deborah Tobola Dream/Time
Emma Törzs Watching Fireworkds Alone
Emily Kagan Trenchard This Is the Part of the Story I’d Rather Not Tell
Brian Trimboli Things My Son Should Know…
Ann Tweedy Nature Essay
R.A. Villanueva Teacher’s Prayer
Vance Voyles After
NEW! William Walsh The Movie Star’s Secret
Thom Ward The Invention of How
Thom Ward The Thing in Question
Charles Harper Webb BLACKDOOG™
Lesley Wheeler Rim Walkers
Lesley Wheeler Science Fiction
Laurelyn Whitt Bunahan
Marcus Wicker Self Dialogue Reading Etheridge Knight
Ian Williams Hero
Martin Willitz, Jr. Pacific Dogwood
L. Lamar Wilson Dreamboys
NEW! Matthew Wimberley Tabula Rasa
Jessica Young Instructions Included with Telescope
Michael T. Young The Risk of Listening to Brahms
Natalie Young Discussing Earth’s Insects