In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems 1987-2011 (Wesleyan Poetry Series)
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Since his celebrated first book of poetry, Peter Gizzi has been hailed as one of the most significant and distinctive voices writing today. Gathered from over five collections, and representing close to twenty-five years of work, the poems in this generous selection strike a dynamic balance of honesty, emotion, intellectual depth and otherworldly resonance—in Gizzi's work, poetry itself becomes a primary ground of human experience. Haunted, vibrant, and saturated with luminous detail, Gizzi's poetry enlists the American vernacular in a magical and complex music. In Defense of Nothing is an immensely valuable introduction to the work of this extraordinary and singular poet.
every thing is poetry here a vast blank fronting the eyes more sparkling than sun on brick October’s crossing-guard orange 81 A H I S T O R Y O F T H E LY R I C I lost you to the inky noise just offscreen that calls us and partly we got stuck there waving, walking into the Percy grass. A sinking pictorial velvet spray imagining vermilion dusk. You lost me to your petticoat shimmering armor saying it is better here on my own amazon. Why can’t we or is it won’t you leave your solo ingle beside
theater waiting for The Best Years of Our Lives to begin. Our first night back, we’re here entertaining a hunch our plane did crash somewhere over the Rockies, luggage and manuscripts scattered, charred fragments attempting to survive the fatal draft. To be dead in America at the movies distracted by preview music in dimming lights. I never once thought of Alfred Deller or Kathleen Ferrier singing Kindertotenlieder. It’s good to be lost among pillars of grass. I never once thought of My Last
118 from THE OUTERNATIONALE A P A N I C T H AT C A N S T I L L C O M E U P O N M E 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,
it takes a photon to reach the surface of the sun eight minutes to hit our eyes If every afternoon gravity and fire it’s like that here undressed, unwound 124 3. If today and today I am speaking to you, or if you/I whisper, touch, explain If they/you hate those phrases if we struggle to get to the thing the body and the other noises If a W stumbles here even in private there was this man we said everywhere between us if speech can free us If summer fall winter spring the broadcast day spins
The dying one (in time) becomes a landscape, do you remember how it came about? Snow unlike glass, glass unlike a corpse Moon unlike a torso boldly colored in with bark, with slate, with soil breaking up in the furrows of another eroding shape Or a severed line, bringing us together for the first time March unlike Spring or an almanac out of date, nomenclature: everywhere Evidence, perception, conclusion Unlike a dull pool on a brown tire track, earlier I said landscape 58 How did it come