March Poetry Monday: David Giannini



I’m especially pleased today to welcome this multi-faceted and multi-talented poet to our pages.  David Giannini has published over thirty collections of poetry, most recently AZ II (Adastra Press), a “Featured Book” in the 2009  Massachusetts Poetry Festival, and How Else? (Longhouse Publishers).  His book of prose poems, Span of Thread, will soon be published by Cervena Barva Press, and a long out-of-print prose poem collage, Rim, will be republished shortly by Quale Press.  His poems also appear in many national and international literary magazines  and anthologies.

 As awards for his poetry continue to mount, David Giannini continues his devotion to his “day job” as a psychiatric case manager.  This has been his primary profession for the past thirty years, and he is currently the Lead Community Outreach Specialist for a project called the Rural Mental Health Initiative, helping to set up the first rural mental health social rehabilitationclubhouse in the northwest corner of Connecticut. 

Among Giannini’s many achievements is an installation, The International House Dust Collection, which was exhibited most recently at the Yager Museum in Oneonta, New York.  He himself lives in a (dust-free?) house among trees in Becket, Massachusetts, with his wife, Pamela and their two cats, Mina and Maya.

The poems below have been selected to show the range of his work  Included are two short poems, plus an excerpt from his lovely, moving chapbook tribute to his Italian-American grandparents, Antonio & Clara.

                                                          Irene Willis
                                                          Poetry Editor

AN APPLE AWAY                                                     

The sound of a core tossed into tall grass
for a moment is the sound of a woman
shifting in a loose yellow dress.

I stand for hours at the edge of a field…
nothing appears but daylight’s rim,
then darkness.

I throw both hands up into the night where
they become paired wings.  Love—
be the gift your shadow brings.

              [published in Side-Ways from Quale Press]


Over its claws
you enter into the steam-
bellied porcelain
                                 and dip
down slowly—water
drawing ankles,
and you’re in the soap-
white early morning
by an unglazed window:
you make out rocks
and chickens in
cracked snow,
rooster on crust,
the scene yesterday
of the mountain
lion’s rip—feathers
blood scattered
as your life is
While you bathe
and roar, neck
and mane wet, the man
in the porcelain lion.

 [first published in October Mountain Anthology, edited by Paul Metcalf]


METAL thimble on his thumb, Antonio sewed a suit until “lunch” was sung in soprano by Clara at the top of the stairs, puffed as a robin, but blind, past her days at Carnegie Hall, the whole house trilling with her calls with her calls, until Antonio stepped up for lentils, thumbskin still tight against his nail, tailor’s tape adangle around his neck—ah, suit and soup were on and fingers curled loving around spoons.


BRUISES on either thigh, Clara braced each morning against the pain.  More and more blind, she relied on Antonio to do it right.  Pipe in his teeth, Antonio injected the insulin and relief went up in both of them, in sighs.  I wasn’t supposed to look, but spied them once with an eye at the corner of the stairs—Antonio setting the needle aside, said nothing, kissed her thigh.


ANTONIO smoked a pipe so many years he couldn’t remember which came first:  him or the pipe—he used to rip a bit of news each morning, then twist it until it fit like a wizard’s cap around and over his pipe bowl—said it kept out wind so ashes wouldn’t drop on rug or tabletop, but mostly not on cloth he didn’t own at the tailorshop.


IT was hard to see, but Clara along with supper somehow made a sauce of words, each other one salted with sorrow, and the others with the pepper of a chuckle; and considering how often around the table aunts uncles cousins dad and me with Antonio skinning his after-dinner-apple jabbered la bella lingua de la famiglia little sense but all sense was made with everyone talking at once and the music of words the music itself the music danced!


BETTER than bocce or certainly the Pope, Antonio would watch, then tell Clara again and again about the “man with the million dollar legs,” who wrestled and drop-kicked, with “gentleness, ” on TV—“Rocca” was the hairy wop hero with Pagliacci face who brought it all back home.


THERE were no weeds among the roses, only Antonio whose rows were free of everything, but me—he taught me till,  he taught me hoe,and peaches grapes and roses grew “on the Adriatic above the sea,” in East Orange, New Jersey.

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