A Panic That Can Still Come Upon Me

By Peter Gizzi b. 1959 Peter Gizzi
If today and today I am calling aloud

If I break into pieces of glitter on asphalt
bits of sun, the din

if tires whine on wet pavement
everything humming

If we find we are still in motion
and have arrived in Zeno’s thought, like

if sunshine hits marble and the sea lights up
we might know we were loved, are loved
if flames and harvest, the enchanted plain

If our wishes are met with dirt
and thyme, thistle, oil,
heirloom, and basil

or the end result is worry, chaos
and if “I should know better”

If our loves are anointed with missiles
Apache fire, Tomahawks
did we follow the tablets the pilgrims suggested

If we ask that every song touch its origin
just once and the years engulfed

If problems of identity confound sages,
derelict philosophers, administrators
who can say I am found

if this time you, all of it, this time now

If nothing save Saturdays at the metro and
if rain falls sidelong in the platz
doorways, onto mansard roofs

If enumerations of the fall
and if falling, cities rocked
with gas fires at dawn

Can you rescind the ghost’s double nakedness
hungry and waning

if children, soldiers, children   
taken down in schools

if burning fuel

Who can’t say they have seen this
and can we sing this

if in the auroras’ reflecting the sea,
gauze touching the breast

Too bad for you, beautiful singer
unadorned by laurel
child of thunder and scapegoat alike

If the crowd in the mind becoming
crowded in street and villages, and trains
run next to the freeway

If exit is merely a sign

Peter Gizzi, “A Panic That Can Still Come Upon Me,” in The Outernationale © 2007 by Peter Gizzi and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: The Outernationale (Wesleyan University Press, 2007)

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Poet Peter Gizzi b. 1959

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Faith & Doubt, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Peter  Gizzi


Educated at New York University, Brown University, and the State University of New York at Buffalo, poet Peter Gizzi is the author of several collections of poetry, including Threshold Songs (2011), The Outernationale (2007), and Artificial Heart (1998). Influenced by Ezra Pound, the Beats, and John Ashbery, Gizzi uses both narrative and lyrical gestures to engage and question distance and light in his search for the unmapped. . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Faith & Doubt, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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