September 4, 2011

John L. Stanizzi


It begins with a mistake
while they are rushing through
what they call “busy work,”
some assignment you
find a drag as well,
having concocted it
so that you can tell
parents you wouldn’t permit
a lack of rigor to seep
into the classes you teach.

A moment before they sleep,
stupefied kids reach
for the mouse and click
the spell check as the last
charade in the high school schtick.
And the word that will never pass
is their take on definitely,
which they can never spell.
Spell check suggests defiantly,
but you can always tell
that what they really meant
was unambiguous,
something adamant,
but in their thoughtless rush
they push the enter key
and that’s the end of that.

Yet it doesn’t bother you
when they turn out the light
having finished the task,
held their end of the deal.
And tomorrow when you ask
for the work, they’ll feel
around inside their packs,
and emerge with a wrinkly mess
which you will gladly take
in spite of its meaninglessness.
You may give them a cursory read,
and then again maybe not;
written in a teenage trance,
it’s better that it’s all forgot.

No. You’re being defiant, you
and the kids in this room.
They know the drill too;
this will not matter soon.
You believe this definitely.
You’d rather see them play
the game defiantly
than let them walk away
absolutely sure
that as soon as they graduate
it’s off to the allure
of the future and a date
with everything they’ve ever planned.

Even the dutiful,
who seem so sapped of life,
confused and beautiful,
and concerned only with
what their parents will say,
their position in the class,
the almighty GPA,
and the terror of being last,
while working obediently,
can’t even get it right;
they click on defiantly,
and turn out the bedroom light.

Just once you’d love to see
them flip you off and smile;
that would definitely be
an act defiantly wild,
an act to be remembered,
no matter how it’s spelled.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010


John L. Stanizzi: “I defiantly owe this poem to the spell checker and to my high school students.” (website)

Rattle Logo

February 27, 2001

Tribute to Mental Health Workers

Conversations with
Ted Kooser & William O’Daly


Releasing in December, 2010, Rattle #34 turns its attention to another intimate vocation, spotlighting the poetry of 26 mental health professionals. These psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, counselors, and case-workers dive inside the mind daily and come home soggy with the muck of dreams. Many of them write about their careers, but the scope is broad, and all of their poems are informed by years of training and unique insights on the human soul. The section is highlighted throughout by the stunning abstract portraiture of art therapist Mia Barkan Clarke. As psychoanalyst Forrest Hamer writes, “so much depends on what’s under.”

Yet the Tribute is only part of the issue. Rattle #34’s open section features the work of 50 poets, plus the 11 winners of the 2010 Rattle Poetry Prize. Also, Alan Fox interviews former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser and Pablo Neruda translator William O’Daly.


Mental Health Workers

Richard Brostoff Some Thoughts on the Relationship…
Michelle Amerson Delusions
Myra Binns Bridgforth 3 p.m. Clients Must Not Be Boring
Elizabeth Burk Living Alone
Elizabeth Chapman Stella
Sharon L. Charde Love’s Executioner
Nina Corwin Speaking of Tongues
Ray Emanuel 4% of Everything or Nothing
Helen Montague Foster For a Patient…
Michael Fulop The End of the Old Woman
Kate Gleason While Reading Scientific American…
Tony Gloeggler Trading Places or Out Among…
Forrest Hamer A Poem Also About Duplicity
A Poem Also About the…
Donna C. Henderson To Tinnitus
Diane Klammer These Are the Rules
Jerry Kraft Such Music as This
Perie Longo Said
Peter Marcus The Boundaries
Fran Markover Addictions Counselor
Ken Meisel Psych Ward
Glenn Morazzini Where Do You Go?
Gwenn A. Nusbaum Hospital, Spring
Renee Podunovich This Poem Is Not About Me
Jill Stein Lunch with My Parents
Charles Harper Webb A Bad Way to Go
Maryhelen Snyder The Art of Waiting: The Parallels…


Paul David Adkins War Story #133: Helicopter Ride…
Chris Anderson The Junco and the Boy
Ron Anderson Fluid
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz Op-Ed for the Sad Sack…
Ellen Bass Gophers
Craig Beaven Arguments About the World
Cindy Beebe While I Am Driving in the Morning…
Heather Bell Urgent Care
Marvin Bell The Book of the Dead Man…
Ace Boggess “Can They Do That?”
Marianne Boruch When’s a Fork a Spoon
Andrea Hollander Budy Field Hospital
Trent Busch The Ordinary Man
Mario Chard The Barrel
Thomas Cochran Fishing
Michael Diebert Retail
William Doreski The Concerto I Composed… 
Jehanne Dubrow Nowa Huta
J.C. Ellefson Last Words of Encouragement…
Alan Fox Vanished
Jeffrey Franklin Living Right
Anne Haines What This Poem Will Do
Christopher Kempf The Professors’ Wives
Robert W. King A Language
Michael Kriesel As Crickets Chip Away the Light
Ilyse Kusnetz Match Girls
J.T. Ledbetter Grandmother
Gary Lemons Missing in Action
M While My Mother Rots in Memory…
David T. Manning Not My World
Michael Miller The Invisible Life
Peter Nash Have You Seen My Son?
William Neumire Branches
Harry Newman Early Snow
William O’Daly To the Antiphonist, from Bill Nephele
Matthew Olzmann Rare Architecture
Joel Peckham Body Memory
Doug Ramspeck One True Poem
Lauren Schmidt Why I Am Not a Taxidermist
Prartho Sereno Mr. James’s Marvelous Thing
John L. Stanizzi Defiantly
Sarah Pemberton Strong Cold Tea
Tim Suermondt Graduation
Mark Terrill A Poem for Parking Lots
Elizabeth Volpe Loaves and Fishes
Kathleen A. Wakefield Relic
Jesse Weiner Salome
Adam Michael Wright Make a Wish Foundation
Maya Jewell Zeller My Grandmother’s Cow

Poetry Prize Winner

Patricia Smith Tavern. Tavern. Church. Shuttered…

Honorable Mentions

Michele Battiste Once More, with Feeling
Heidi Garnett Sin of Unrequited Love
Valentina Gnup We Speak of August
francine j. harris Katherine with the Lazy Eye. Short…
Courtney Kampa Avant-garde
The Miscarriage
Devon Miller-Duggan Old Blue
Andrew Nurkin The Contest
Laura Read This Time We’ll Go to Kentucky…
Scott Withiam The Petty Snow


Ted Kooser
William O’Daly

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