John Tessitore, writer

All the Lonely American Roads

A Poem

All the Lonely American Roads is a poem about starting over. What do we take with us? What is worth saving? What is important to us as people with complicated lives—families, jobs, desires? Which lessons from the past, which stories, which myths? An interrelated series of lyrics, fragments, songs, and dialogues, it is a portrait of a man, and a culture, trying to find a new way forward. 

I leave to find my love again.
I will scatter myself as I go.


John Tessitore grew up on Long Island and is a long-time resident of Massachusetts. He has been a newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, and a biographer. He has taught British and American history and literature at colleges around Boston and has directed national policy studies on education, civil justice, and cultural policy. He now runs his own strategic communications business. His poems have appeared in the American Journal of Poetry, Canary, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Wild Roof, The Ekphrastic Review, and other journals and anthologies. His chapbooks, I Sit At This Desk and Dream: Notes from a Sunday Morning on Instagram (2021), We Are Becoming Unbound (2022), All the Lonely American Roads (2022) and Parchment: A Prayer Quintet (2022) are available in print and for Kindle.

Now serving as Co-Editor Across the Pond for The Wee Sparrow Poetry Press. Learn more

Parchment: A Prayer Quintet is a collection of five poems, each a yearning for spiritual renewal in a troubled age. Inspired by (but not beholden to) the outcasts, beats, and mystics of the American pastit is an urgent, lyric and sometimes-ironic plea for better angels.

To do this now is insanity, I know, 
a prayer for a prayer-less century (so far), 
but is it crazier than relying on
the knowledge of history? 
Is it crazier than denying all progress? 
It it crazier than preferring the darkness of the past?

Available in print and for Kindle.

I scribbled my way through dozens
of notebooks, for years,
before I started to undo real damage,
the violence of defining my character.

So much easier to spill
today and see what happens later.

–The opening lines of We Are Becoming Unbound, available in print and for Kindle

“The New Pattern,” appeared in the March 2022 issue of Wild Roof Journal, “Artemisia” appeared in the inaugural issue of Magpie Lit, and three new poems appeared in the Spring 2022 anthology published by Sunday Mornings At the River.

I am trying to be philosophical

as I lose my philosophy.

I am training a new tendency,

learning to…let it be,
connect a duality as old as my dreams.

–The opening lines of I Sit At This Desk and Dream, a chapbook available in print and for Kindle.

“Corner Boy” appeared in Issue VII of The Closed Eye Open. “Festina Lente” and “attachment” were featured as Maya’s Micros on the same site. 4 poems appeared in Issue 18 of The Thieving Magpie. And “Ask Her” was published on July 22, 2022 in The Ekphrastic Review.

Reading a short passage from I Sit At This Desk and Dream. You can find lots of other readings on Instagram and TikTok, both @jtessitorewriter.

“Wittenborg Woods” was featured the week of August 3 in Gastropoda, “The Second Law” appeared in the September 2022 issue of Wild Roof Journal, “I Purchased a Pile of Dirt” was published in the September 2022 issue of Duck Head Journal, “silere “ was featured on September 28 at Boats Against the Current, and “Hopespring” and “I Will Not Set Such Thoughts Aside” were included in the Hope is a Group Project anthology by The Wee Sparrow Poetry Press.

But I do not know the trees
in my yard, the animals that sleep
among them, or the stream
seeping behind the shed, the vein
of some larger drainage system
that flows somehow to the sea
from my home in the hinterlands.

from “Where the Water Runs”

This was my first journal-published poem. A couple of years old. You can read the rest in The American Journal of Poetry archive.

I Sit At This Desk and Dream: Notes from a Sunday Morning on Instagram, Order now in print and on Kindle!


And follow me on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

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