John C. Mannone


John C. Mannone is a widely published award-winning poet nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize and for the 2010 Rhysling Poetry Award. His poetry and short fiction appear in numerous literary and speculative fiction journals such as Pirene’s Fountain, Aethlon, Lobster Cult, Eclectic Flash, Iodine Poetry Journal, The Linnet’s Wings, Enchanted Conversation, and Astropoetica. Professor Mannone is a nuclear consultant and teaches college physics in east Tennessee.


Three Poems (July 20, 2010. Issue 19.)

Orange Peels

Mom dried the peels of orange; they twisted hard in city air.
Draped them over coals; citrus smoke engulfed us. A sweet
spike for appetites. Defrayed yellow jacket sting-runs. A nuptial
for lemon’d chicken: dripped olive oil, garlic & parsley licked air.

Dad stashed the wine in a grape juice jug under the picnic table.
I was easily bribed to keep quiet with bottom-of-glass sips
in case the beach patrols came with sour looks. Dad winked
at Mom. Her potato salad, with celery seeds, a winner. We’d
steal a bite or two. Winked back. Swore we wouldn’t gamble
like that again.

Smell of Chesapeake Bay mingled with damp sand and pine
wood floors. One-arm bandits lined pavilion walls—a juke
box in the corner. The music — whirring clacks of plastic,
the shower of coins as lemons, cherries, and oranges
rastered in the payoff windows.

I lurked in the edges. Too young to play, too broke to sneak
a crank of the handle. Sometimes I’d find an old Buffalo nickel
wedged between the slats of wood streaked with orange clay,
worn down from the shuffle of would-be winners scraping by
floors, their pockets empty; eyes still glazing a pair of sour fruits.

Chemistry of Hatred

They kneel in ashes.

Prayers stenched with sulfur
corrode even their own
leaded windows—
jade stained jihad red,
sanctified for fear.

Tips of steel with tungsten,
carbide-toughened, propel
to pierce the armored hide
of rhinoceros-tanks treading
desert. Staccato chants
of turbine powered guns
shooting shells. Euphoric.
Pyrophoric. Self-sharpening
pointed words shout all a-
round, round-after-round.

Stone chips, chocolate coated,
another covert carbide,
melt in hot peroxide
hidden in the sweet
toothpaste tube. Squeeze it.
Auto-ignition drives
the pressurized pieces
through portals, fire-breathing
acetylene peels skins from
skeletons of jumbo elephant

They kneel in the ashes
of the iron carbide.
They kneel in the ashes
of the calcium carbide.
Carbon copies
of hardened hearts.

Empty Shell

All mankind is of one author,
and is one volume; when one man dies,
one chapter is not torn out of the book,
but translated into a better language.

— John Donne

The ocean waves slap
as if tuning one watery
page after another
in a chapter of its life.

There’s an echo
on the beach, the swish
of sand, the clink of pebbles,
the clatter of death
from an empty mussel.
Its shell, a palace, a coffin.

An insignificant piece of sand,
irregular glass, perhaps,
edges the tender flesh, pokes,
irritates the mantle membrane.
Exacerbated by peristalsis,
the shuttling of that grain
until worn smooth
with magic chemistry,
the slow lapse of time,
refreshing of salt.

Strange symbiosis—
blue oyster with green sea
forming a nacreous orb secretion
translucent to a light
that it may never see.
It has no glow of its own.

Why is the pearl hidden
inside the folds of darkness?

The pearl, as if a perfect
period, marks the end
of the sentence in its chapter
given to the waves.