John L. Stanizzi

Connecticut teacher, author, and poet


Unlike the other men in the family, my father
has no chains or skunks with attitude,
or his last name over crossed Italian flags,
no Mom or Born to Ride or broken heart,
no Semper Fi, no naked ladies or dice.
My father has no Jolly Rogers or devils,
no angels, crosses, lions, dragons, or knives.
He has no rosary beads or praying hands,
no Virgin with child, U.S. Army or dove.
My father has no Sacred Heart of Jesus.
But on the inside of his left forearm
there’s one tattoo no bigger than a signature
and the same shade of faded blue as the bruises
that blossom on his papery yellow skin,
and as he sits in his big reclining chair,
smiling vaguely and squeezing a stuffed toy,
I glimpse the washed-out ink that tells the story
Johnny and Dolly, faded and just about gone.