Speech Acts for a Dying World

Peter Gizzi

A field sparrowis at my window,tapping at its reflection,a tiredantique godtrying to communicateit’s getting to meas I set out to singthe nimbus of floraunder a partly mottled skyas I look at the endand sing so what,sing live now,thinking why notI’m listening andreceiving nowand it feeds me,I’m always hungrywhen the beautifulis too much to carryinside my winterwhen my library is full of lossfull of wonderas the polis is breakingand casts a shadowover all of me,thinking of itwhen the shadows fallin ripples, whenthe medium I work inis deathless andI’m living insideone great exampleof stubbornnessas my head is stove-inby a glance, as the day’ssilver-tipped buds sway in union,waving to the corporate skywhen I said workand meant lyricwhen I thought I was donewith the poem as a vehicleto understand violenceI thought I was donewith the high-tonedshitty worlddone with the voice andits constituent papcall down the inheritedphenomenal worldwhen it’s raining in the book,lost to the worldin an abundance of worldlike listening to a violinwhen the figure isn’t nativebut the emotion iswhen everything is snowand what lies aheadis a mesmer’s twirling locketI thought I was donewith the marvelof ephemeral shadow play,the great design and all thatI thought I was donewith time, its theatricality,glamour, and guffgusting cloud, I see you,I become youin my solitary thinging,here in partial lightwhen I said voice,I meant the whole unholy grain of it,it felt like paradisemeaning rises and sets,now a hunter overheadnow a bear at the poleand the sound of namesthe parade of names

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Peter Gizzi is the author of many collections of poetry, most recently, Now It’s Dark, and Archeophonics (Finalist for 2016 The National Book Award). His honors include fellowships from The Rex Foundation, The Howard Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He works at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

"The ethereal yet confident poems in this book deliver their satisfying reckoning without a hint of sentimentality."
Publishers Weekly

"Gizzi is not a sentimental poet—not even close. His best poems exist on a different plane, as if he has achieved and is writing from a transcendent vantage most of us only strive forHe identifies the thing we're all searching for in voices, in poems, in language, in songs; why we read and why we listen."
—Amanda Petrsich, The New Yorker

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