Hypostasis & New Year

By Peter Gizzi b. 1959 Peter Gizzi
For why am I afraid to sing
the fundamental shape of awe
should I now begin to sing the silvered back of
       the winter willow spear
the sparkling agate blue
would this blade and this sky free me to speak
      intransitive lack –
the vowels themselves free
Of what am I afraid
of what lies in back of me of day
these stars scattered as far as the I
what world and wherefore
will it shake free
why now in the mind of an afternoon is a daisy
      for a while
flagrant and alive
Then what of night
of hours’ unpredicated bad luck and the rot
       it clings to
fathomless on the far side in winter dark
Hey shadow world when a thing comes back
comes back unseen but felt and no longer itself
       what then
what silver world mirrors tarnished lenses
what fortune what fate
and the forms not themselves but only itself the sky
by water and wind shaken
I am born in silvered dark
Of what am I to see these things between myself
       and nothing
between the curtain and the stain
between the hypostatic scenes of breathing
and becoming the thing I see
are they not the same
Things don’t look good on the street today
beside a tower in a rusting lot
one is a condition the other mystery
even this afternoon light so kind and nourishing
a towering absence vibrating air
Shake and I see pots from old shake
       and I see cities anew
I see robes shake I see desert
I see the farthing in us all the ghost of day
the day inside night as tones decay
       and border air
it is the old songs and the present wind I sing
and say I love the unknown sound in a word
Mother where from did you leave me on the sleeve
       of a dying word
of impish laughter in the midst my joy
I compel and confess open form
my cracked hinged picture doubled
I can’t remember now if I made a pact with the devil
       when I was young
when I was high
on a sidewalk I hear “buy a sweatshirt?” and think
buy a shirt from the sweat of children
I’m just taking a walk in the sun in a poem
      and this sound
caught in the most recent coup

Peter Gizzi, “Hypostasis & New Year” from Threshold Songs. Copyright © 2011 by Peter Gizzi. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Threshold Songs (Wesleyan University Press, 2011)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Peter Gizzi b. 1959

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Life Choices, Nature, Winter, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Imagery

 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. . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Nature, Winter, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Imagery

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.