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Literary and Other Works by Joe Stanco

Joe bashes a coconut to smithereens in his front yard during the First Annual Fruitball Games on his last birthday, July 4, 2001. JR Compton photo

On this page   painter   The Pantheist's Gardens   My Children  
Pagan Poets
   recollection #5281


Other works by Joe Stanco on

Thinking About Language (2.7 megabyte MP3 - Track 11 from Victor Dada's Chants of a Lifetime CD featuring Joe Stanco and the band)

The Fairfield Journal — Joe writes about death and living from a bucolic setting far from Dallas.

The Joe Stanco Obituary

Joe's Biased Review of Viva La Vulva, his daughter's Austin-based comedy performance group

Planting a Silent Oak for Joe in October 2003 and the party after 

DARts Member Pages Index

Photograph of Dallas poet, teacher and performance artist Joe Stanco at the annual Saggitarius Party at his house on Victor Street.

Joe Stanco (with both hands up applauding) in his natural habitant — at a party at his house, in the center of a crowd of young and old friends and family members and fellow members of Victor Dada and students and... Late December 2001 at the annual Saggitarius Party. Photograph by JR Compton


recollection #860

Colored eggs in back yard garden grass. Girls squeal in delight, chocolate-smeared mouths instead of lipstick grin fulfilled hunt. Easter, spring after all. I hunted these eggs now fertilized. It was good, it was rhythmic. The hunt had nothing to do with what I found: the hunt for hidden eggs, colored, maybe, by unseen hands. Three nights and two lifetimes I hunted but poured myself into a vortex which gyroscoped on the string between right and wrong, down by gravity. The girls squeal. They find colored eggs. I am walking a tightrope, balanced like a rabbit in a hat waiting to be pulled out by the magician, but there is no magician. He is out hunting colored eggs. Chocolate imaginings: fertility amazes me, my wife's body is a deity breeding new life out of imaginings. She brings females like Kali who begets no time. Where was I? I am walking a tightrope without a net. The ringmaster is gone. I announce myself, seize eggs from blank air, magician chanter idiot. The eggs are various colors painted on air. They are beautiful. The girls show me baskets of candy and colored eggs they will someday bear. I smile like an idiot. The grass is green, sunrise. I smile like a magician. I want to hunt, forever. I lose my balance and fall into a colored egg. We laugh forever in the sweet chocolate dawn. Where was I?

Joe sent this piece to March 6 2002



The Pantheist's Gardens

Waking, I open bedroom curtains
To contemplate the gardens
Blossoming in full season
Flowering from our fruitful labor:
In sun, moon, wind, rain
The soil gives back profusion
To rituals as old as Eden.

Where is the god who forbade us
To partake of this mother's harvest?
We never see his face or hear
His thunder among wild sage
Rosemary, fairy lilies, hibiscus;
He does not stroll with us through
Crimson gladiolas or purple hyacinth bean,
Does not admire datura moonvine,
Beloved nightshade of shamans,
Whose thick-scented flowers open
White in unconscious darkness.

Our souls are clean of original sin
Baptized in spring downpours
Burned clean in summer purgatories
Exalted in autumn ordinations
Buried in winter seed-dreams.

The gardens call, in their own voices
And I will answer with the prayer of time.


sent March 4 2002




Pagan Poets

Pagan poets howling, reaching for the sky
Pagan poets wondering what makes summer die
Pagan poets find a god in every branch or leaf
Pagan poets sing the birth of life within their reach

Sun and moon swing to rhythms echoing the stars
Light and dark sing the circle greater than the parts
Oxygen and carbon flow, from animal to plant
Male and female, dead and living celebrate the dance

Gods beyond us, gods within us, building blocks of worlds
Little gods, horrific gods, trickster gods uncurl
Goddesses cavort in birth, then smile away their time
Giving green, giving red, giving brown and dying

Woe to those who kill the gods, woe to those who lie
Woe to those who refuse the world right before their eyes
Woe to those who defile Gaia-she will not give birth
Woe to those who buy the land-enslaving their own earth

We sing of equilibrium, of day and night entwined
Like lovers of equal measure, yin and yang they slide
We sing the music of the spheres, melodies unheard
Beyond the ear, beyond the eye, beyond the simple word

Mother of all, father of all, son of all, and daughter
Flesh, blood, soil, fire, air, leaf, water
Hear the prayer of those who love, self and other same
Hear the prayer of all who gather in our holy name

Pagan poets sing a hymn to principalities
Pagan poets sing of lovers, of muses and of furies
Pagan poets howl at the moon, and at the sun and rain
Pagan poets feel the power of pleasure and of pain

Pagan poets all of us, every swinging soul
Pagan poets always know the story to be told
Pagan poets talk the talk and walk the walk unsaid
You are all pagan poets, you living and you dead.


published in Dallas Arts Revue #38 in 1995




i'd studied art in college
but painter's eye a keen thing
honed like a god's
but transparent
so things intrude
on ideas
very picture of reality
say plato from the cave
hot shot, just a flash
like, i'd studied art in college
but painter, he looks
and looks, likes what he
seizes, some more
give me more light, he say
let it be.
... and do, for a while
but it hurts
so give up, split
listen to some sounds
wiggle worm on hook
like that picture- in my mind
whose mind? if you don't ...
painter, he watches
and waits
for right light, might make
picture, like art
— "art, rime, the original crime" —
say who
forgot to look, too busy
thinking to see
but originally, two points
one to see on.
was Van Gogh listening
to heavy metal that night?
who won?
paint what hear
watch what deceive.
painter draws the door
but forgot the knob
sob goes the easel!
it was paint while it blasted, but
was it art?
art, ole buddy,
hear you been painting ...
good for the peepers
but was it you, art?
i mean, what you really see?
molecules, atoms maybe,
that's the thicket —
relative density,
that terrible little propensity
for more than
you can mumble
absorb, therefore be
just for me
and that makes three
if someone watches.
painter watches
holds light like breath
but breathless
float airy free
eyes linger pantheistically
imagine, point by point
becomes a line.


Corpus Christi, Texas
Fall 1987

published in Dallas Arts Revue #25



recollection #5281

i am sitting in a motel room with five women who are in PMS. this is not a dream. we are taking various drugs and showering one at a time. this is not a sexual encounter. nor is it a dream. we are talking. i open the drapes and see a lawn with cedar trees. it is pretty but we are talking. they are talking. i look at a cedar tree. i have three daughters and one of these women is my wife who is in pre-menstrual syndrome. they are taking various drugs. i am helping. my wife is taking a shower in the bathroom. i open the glass door and light a cigarette. these women have children and they are all bleeding. i am not bleeding. i feel like i should be. i open a beer and watch my wife's clean hair. i am thinking while i talk that to be a woman by a lawn with green cedars is difficult, perhaps as difficult as to smoke a cigarette and drink a beer and take various drugs in a motel room with five women who are bleeding and want to talk about it, but i am talking about my wife's clean hair and i want a sexual encounter but not with five women two of whom are my sisters and one of whom is my niece and one of whom is my friend and my wife's friend and my sisters' friend and who soon will be married to my friend who is not here. i will be at their wedding. we will drink champagne and i will think of the green lawn with cedars washed in hot light. i finish my cigarette. she is talking. she answers and she laughs. my wife laughs. my niece brings in a pizza. she talks about bleeding once a month. now it is night. a half moon shines on cedar shadow lawn. i close the drapes. one of them is taking a shower. i am not bleeding. it is half moon in summer in austin. we eat the pizza and take various drugs. we are laughing. my wife and i walk among the cedar moon-shadows. we remember our wedding. we drink champagne with our friends. we kiss, and we bleed, together. this is not a dream.


published in Dallas Arts Revue #32 — autumn 1991



My Children*

while they sleep i play loose in my mind
like a child almost, but they are child
already, my children i say and they
haunt me my own ghosts and those of my wife,
we see shadows in each others' eyes
that dance like children. they sing songs
unlearned and untaught by paltry genes or
examples. they sleep. in the morning i will
pay bills, feed animals, take messages from
the local PTA, shop for groceries and medicines
with coupons at various stores with bargains
on milk and bread and decongestants, not
to mention dog food, cat food, hamster mash and
bird seed. it is dark, raining as i write. a child
stirs in her sleep.


* previously untitled poem ( file named "The Househusband Poem" )
  from JR Compton's archives,  dated September 1992


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