True Discourse on Power

By Peter Gizzi b. 1959 Peter Gizzi
When I say the ghost has begun
you understand what is being said.
That time is not how we keep it
       or measure
first there was then wasn’t . . .
It twitters and swerves like
       the evening news.
Now outside is 3D. Inside non-
       representational space.
Every law has an outside
      and inside
I have witnessed cruelty
break and gulp and sweat then
       punch out a smile.
To be awake. This talking in space.
To be absorbed in the ongoing.
Belief’s a shadow to be looked into
       and into
until relief is gone. The dark
triangle settled in the midst of
       traffic is on us.
Time comes in adverbial bursts,
a glass of beer, a smoke . . .
The evening air refreshes, startles,
and the questions grow deeper like
        shadows across storefronts.
A forsythia ticking against
       the dirty pane.
This was time. Up. Down. Up.
And you were a part of it.
If I say it can you feel it now?
Imagine. Lightning strikes. Rain
       falls and drives.
Clouds pass. Night clarified. Stars.
In silent pictures the tree falls
       in the optic nerve.
The sound is chemistry.
There’s no getting to it or if
       getting to it
feels like the actual sound
       is that silence?
Alone here with my shadows
       drawn . . .
So what’s this about?
A horse and a castle, a tree
       and its leaving?
What’s this about in solitary
       splendor?
The undertow and its threshold,
a door and the opening sky?
Or because a play of reflection
       lit up my bumper
and caught my eyes
I saw the shadow of a falcon.
Because a sound a poor man
       uttered
reached my ear I fell into song.
If the syntax of loyalty is not tragic
       then what is the wager?
If there were time, would it be ours?

Peter Gizzi, “True Discourse on Power” from Threshold Songs. Copyright © 2011 by Peter Gizzi. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Threshold Songs (Wesleyan University Press, 2011)

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Poet Peter Gizzi b. 1959

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Class

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 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 Living, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Class

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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