peter gizzi

 

MASTERS OF THE CANTE JONDO

 

 

1


                  They were beside me,

they sat in black taffeta, in veils, leather chaps,

felt hats, lace. “Closer” they call, “closer.”

“And my body I give to you,” “my body

I would betray for you.” The sun akimbo

to the plated horizon sinks, a goblet moon

above sea slowly rises.


                  If we could talk: “Moon,” I’d say,

“your light’s too elegant, too old, useless.

In it, I could brush my donkey, polish apples,

sew nets. You are strong and ay, I have

already begun to fray.”

 
                  I’m past the mid-haven,

have heard your stories, have seen the bark

twist into a face, the bole of wood speak,

have seen the leaves run along the river’s edge,

fairy hedges.


                  I was beside me as architecture,

solid as a house, a hovel made of sticks,

a shack whose chimney is a cloud at dusk,

a broken shack stove in by a single vista,

a room where countenance continues to fall,

a retinue of hair.

 

2.


                  (visitation)

 

There were words in the garage

broken against anvils, in pieces.

There was a forge, flames from a coal oven.

 

In the dream there were broken windows,

mold on walls, green light from brush, from trees.

It was summer, late in the day, and the banging.

 

The hammer and anvil rocked a rhythm,

rocked and rang throughout the forest.

You had come from a far place,

a desert, I knew this from your eyes.

You mapped a diagram with grease

to explain the history of that place.

 

3.
                  (solo guitar)

 

It was a structure-

cactus flowers, lipstick

 

the dry scent of sand,

sage and everywhere

 

cottonwood fluff.

The day was the day we kissed,

 

the sky, bent for always

and a disc of fire warmed us.

 

There was narrative, a future,

screen doors and pickups,

a dirt-shimmied vista.

Things as they are-

 

upon a time

and goes like this.

4.

                  (song)

 

“I know where you are because I knows


                  where the sun is”

 

In all its disguises

Says the open mouth-agape

 

By the time of this speech

The original has vanished

 

Without promising emancipation

The sound is a body

 

This sound is my body

 

5.


                  (duet)

 

“And my body”

 
                 What ground is this?

“I would give to you”


                  Whose sky?

“And my body”


                 At whose table are we called to order?

“I would betray for you”

 

And what about order?

 
                  “Say it is nameless”

That we are nameless

                  “dust?”

and the shape of our walk become pages

become pavement underfoot

and overhead nothing, so clear that it

might finally break us, and that is good

 

The great-coats walk by, let them

 

6.

                  (the dance)

 

To walk, was walking, in the capitol

a hand composing in air, in rain

was raining, on sheets, notes dissolved

into pools, tides unsettling a coin

at the bottom of the cistern.


                  And so to you

a song, a palm open to the elements:

paper, rock.

 

Is there a score for the treatise

you compose in rain

 

for the voice as it comes

out of blankness

liberty?

                  Tell of the way

light enters your rooms, quiet

alone with your book

in your book, friend

 

                  it is raining,

a broken line

 
           picked clean

by sparrows at dusk

 

invisible against dusk

 

7.

                  (post script)

 

Many days since this letter, I want to report

I have seen the seeds outside my factory open,

have seen the door to my apartment broken,

heard footsteps by the window,

tasted the small charge of power, which is bitter.

“At sunrise I saw a fire, I have it to live.”

“And I can never believe how much

I want you. I can never believe it.”

It is late. The cicadas make a racket in my ear.

What will they sing, say of our words. Shaping dust,

a room out of air, an empty room, a room

whose breeze is only song, a body when no one sees it.