The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2020

All Issues
SEPT 2020 Issue


Last Poem

The dove and the grass share
a genetic relationship.
These things that fit.
I fit with the night sky
where candles manufacture
classic scenes.
There is a constant
banging in my head.
Not sure what it looks like.
I wanted more.
The green light rushing in.
But the light is strobe-like
against the pane.
I am lost inside it
and have been traveling a long time.
My compass spinning.
So I let go of the world
and the world came back.

The sun leaves us homesick.
It is the mundo of existence.
Hangman, wait,
I am sick with sunset
as I wait for the past
to recuperate
lines into a presence.
I awake to a wanting
other than time.
To see past oneself
over here in a poem.
Sound winging.

The world will burst
into green and fall to dirt.
The dirt will green
when the colors come back
into the words
and these colors speak
not for me but for you.
Thinking of all the people
thinking of people
they won’t see again.
And so it goes, high noon
where I worry labor
and its discontents.

I hate hubble photos of the sun,
it looks so fucked up.
I mean, look out man,
the world isn’t stable.
A dog whimpers
in the house next door.
These elements nature.
The orders of spring,
for instance, confuse
the speech mechanism.
The lodestone came singing
but the breakage
in the signal was permanent.

Middle of the night
electrons hurt most.
This is a metaphor.
Though I hurt and wonder
unhinged by maybe
and wave to the unconscious.
Punctuation like damage.
Damage like applause.
The hum of the fridge
is all there is.
Some days, truth is.
I don’t got a clue.
I was in the midst of death
when I wrote the poem of life.
I didn’t know.

Now It's Dark

No one gave me a greater thing
than their time.
But the old song,
worn from use,
is with me again.
So much of it
behind me now.
In front of me a slow season,
when a face passes
into a name.
Last night the moon was lolling
9 degrees over the horizon
but I didn’t know.
I was in a fever dream
downloading ravens into my skull.
An unkindness of them.
This is called what it’s like
to sleep alone for years.
It means all these years to remain
untouched wrote the poem.
I use my mouth to say goodbye,
fever dream, raven, skull.
To say like a flower, little dust.
To say what of it.
The world is close today
and elegy is my tonic.
I recast language in hope
of recovering the red oak
my neighbors felled.
It lived over a hundred years, glowing.
Now, neither music or rhyme,
just night, tin, and sky.

Out of the World in Real Time

The silence in this room is causing a looping effect.

All I see is wood grain and air when it’s raining in the true north of the poem.

It gives purchase to the page. It gives courage.

I want to tell you this isn’t just all song.

I want to say this scrap of paper has sky in it.

To be lost in its yesterglow casting shadows upon a silent h.

H for hour and honor, honest and heir, also ghost, ghastly, ghetto, etc.

Who knew such light could come from torn paper.

What comes first, flag or paper? Voting or votive?

There are distances. The whole archival light blooming.

I recast words to say everything touched by light remembers that light.

To recast light that touched marble strewn from time, lying among weeds
and trash—

worn from human traffic and ordinary songs.

In my head, a flywheel unable to power anything other than song and all that’s
left is survival—

some old piece of canvas flapping in the gale.

The oak creaks and the air is keening.

That green light could only be oxygen.

I am witness, a copy of rain in June, a glinting vowel.

The Afterlife of Paper

the last best love is language in the mouth

the last best hope for joy doesn’t forget

a besting sensation

the last stranger blooming on the tongue

a compass rose blooming internally

laying down track

riding the rails

wake unto me


Peter Gizzi

Peter Gizzi recent books include, Now It’s Dark (Wesleyan, 2020), Sky Burial: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet, UK 2020), Archeophonics (Finalist for the National Book Award, Wesleyan, 2016); In Defense of Nothing (Finalist for the LA Times Book Award, Wesleyan, 2014); and Threshold Songs (Wesleyan, 2011). For more info:


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2020

All Issues