American Life in Poetry: Column 623


Here's a poem by John Stanizzi, who lives in Connecticut, in which we get a good look inside middle-school culture in the 'sixties. But is it really any different today? This poet's most recent book is Hallelujah Time! (Big Table Publishing, 2015).

Cry To Me

We walked through some heartache in '62.
Gary liked Teresa but Teresa
asked Elizabeth to tell Peter that
she really wanted to go out with him
but Peter had been making out with Jane
in the theater, celebrating their
one month anniversary, so that was
out, and even though Jane broke up with Pete,
Peter kept asking Gail to talk with Jane
which Gail wouldn't do because she'd told
Brenda that she thought that Peter was cute
but Brenda wasn't listening to a word,
wrapped up in lonely teardrops shed for Greg.
The waters of 8th grade were never still.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2016 by John Stanizzi, “Cry To Me,” (2016). Poem reprinted by permission of John Stanizzi. Introduction copyright © 2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.