Vincent, Homesick for the Land of Pictures

By Peter Gizzi b. 1959 Peter Gizzi
Is this what you intended, Vincent
that we take our rest at the end of the grove
nestled into our portion beneath the bird’s migration
saying, who and how am I made better through struggle.
Or why am I I inside this empty arboretum
this inward spiral of whoop ass and vision
the leafy vine twisting and choking the tree.
O, dear heaven, if you are indeed that
or if you can indeed hear what I might say
heal me and grant me laughter’s bounty
of eyes and smiles, of eyes and affection.

To not be naive and think of silly answers only
not to imagine answers would be the only destination
nor is questioning color even useful now
now that the white ray in the distant tree beacons.
That the sun can do this to us, every one of us
that the sun can do this to everything inside
the broken light refracted through leaves.
What the ancients called peace, no clearer example
what our fathers called the good, what better celebration.
Leaves shine in the body and in the head alike
the sun touches deeper than thought.

O to be useful, of use, to the actual seen thing
to be in some way related by one’s actions in the world.
There might be nothing greater than this
nothing truer to the good feelings that vibrate within
like in the middle of the flower I call your name.
To correspond, to be in equanimity with organic stuff
to toil and to reflect and to home and to paint
father, and further, the migration of things.
The homing action of geese and wood mice.
The ample evidence of the sun inside all life
inside all life seen and felt and all the atomic pieces too.

But felt things exist in shadow, let us reflect.
The darkness bears a shine as yet unpunished by clarity
but perhaps a depth that outshines clarity and is true.
The dark is close to doubt and therefore close to the sun
at least what the old books called science or bowed down to.
The dark is not evil for it has indigo and cobalt inside
and let us never forget indigo and the warmth of that
the warmth of the mind reflected in a dark time
in the time of pictures and refracted light.
Ah, the sun is here too in the polar region of night
the animal proximity of another and of nigh.

To step into it as into a large surf in late August
to go out underneath it all above and sparkling.
To wonder and to dream and to look up at it
wondrous and strange companion to all our days
and the toil and worry and animal fear always with us.
The night sky, the deep sense of space, actual bodies of light
the gemstone brushstrokes in rays and shimmers
to be held tight, wound tighter in the act of seeing.
The sheer vertical act of feeling caught up in it
the sky, the moon, the many heavenly forms
these starry nights alone and connected alive at the edge.

Now to think of the silver and the almost blue in pewter.
To feel these hues down deep, feel color wax and wane
and yellow, yellows are the tonality of work and bread.
The deep abiding sun touching down and making its impression
making so much more of itself here than where it signals
the great burning orb installed at the center of each and every thing.
Isn’t it comforting this notion of each and every thing
though nothing might be the final and actual expression of it
that nothing at the center of something alive and burning
green then mint, blue then shale, gray and gray into violet
into luminous dusk into dust then scattered now gone.

But what is the use now of this narrow ray, this door ajar
the narrow path canopied in dense wood calling
what of the striated purposelessness in lapidary shading and line.
To move on, to push forward, to take the next step, to die.
The circles grow large and ripple in the hatch-marked forever
the circle on the horizon rolling over and over into paint
into the not near, the now far, the distant long-off line of daylight.
That light was my enemy and one great source of agony
one great solace in paint and brotherhood the sky and grass.
The fragrant hills spoke in flowering tones I could hear
the gnarled cut stumps tearing the sky, eating the sun.

The gnarled cut stumps tearing the sky, eating the sun
the fragrant hills spoke in flowering tones I could hear
one great solace in paint and brotherhood the sky and grass.
That light was my enemy and one great source of agony
into the not near, the now far, the distant long-off line of daylight
the circle on the horizon rolling over and over into paint.
The circles grow large and ripple in the hatch-marked forever.
To move on, to push forward, to take the next step, to die.
What of the striated purposelessness in lapidary shading and line
the narrow path canopied in dense wood calling
but what is the use now of this narrow ray, this door ajar.

Into luminous dusk into dust then scattered now gone
green then mint, blue then shale, gray and gray into violet
that nothing at the center of something alive and burning
though nothing might be the final and actual expression of it.
Isn’t it comforting this notion of each and every thing
the great burning orb installed at the center of each and every thing
making so much more of itself here than where it signals.
The deep abiding sun touching down and making its impression
and yellow, yellows are the tonality of work and bread.
To feel these hues down deep, feel color wax and wane
now to think of the silver and the almost blue in pewter.

These starry nights alone and connected alive at the edge
the sky, the moon, the many heavenly forms
the sheer vertical act of feeling caught up in it.
To be held tight, wound tighter in the act of seeing
the gemstone brushstrokes in rays and shimmers.
The night sky, the deep sense of space, actual bodies of light
and the toil and worry and animal fear always with us
wondrous and strange companion to all our days.
To wonder and to dream and to look up at it
to go out underneath it all above and sparkling
to step into it as into a large surf in late August.

The animal proximity of another and of nigh.
Ah, the sun is here too in the polar region of night
in the time of pictures and refracted light
the warmth of the mind reflected in a dark time
and let us never forget indigo and the warmth of that.
The dark is not evil for it has indigo and cobalt inside
at least what the old books called science or bowed down to.
The dark is close to doubt and therefore close to the sun
but perhaps a depth that outshines clarity and is true.
The darkness bears a shine as yet unpunished by clarity
but felt things exist in shadow, let us reflect.

Inside all life seen and felt and all the atomic pieces too
the ample evidence of the sun inside all life
the homing action of geese and wood mice
father, and further, the migration of things.
To toil and to reflect and to home and to paint
to correspond, to be in equanimity with organic stuff
like in the middle of the flower I call your name.
Nothing truer to the good feelings that vibrate within
there might be nothing greater than this
to be in some way related by one’s actions in the world.
O to be useful, of use, to the actual seen thing.

The sun touches deeper than thought
leaves shine in the body and in the head alike
what our fathers called the good, what better celebration.
What the ancients called peace, no clearer example
the broken light refracted through leaves.
That the sun can do this to everything inside
that the sun can do this to us, every one of us
now that the white ray in the distant tree beacons.
Nor is questioning color even useful now
nor to imagine answers would be the only destination
to not be naive and think of silly answers only.

Of eyes and smiles, of eyes and affection
heal me and grant me laughter’s bounty.
Or if you can indeed hear what I might say
O, dear heaven, if you are indeed that
the leafy vine twisting and choking the tree
this inward spiral of whoop ass and vision.
Or why am I I inside this empty arboretum
saying, who and how am I made better through struggle
nestled into our portion beneath the bird’s migration
that we take our rest at the end of the grove
is this what you intended, Vincent.

Peter Gizzi, “Vincent, Homesick for the Land of Pictures,” 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 Painting & Sculpture, Arts & Sciences

 Peter  Gizzi

Biography

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 Painting & Sculpture, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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