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poemoftheweek poem of the week



Peter Gizzi

Strangeness Becomes You


The old language is
the old language.
It don't mean shit.


It's not where you begin
it's how you finish.
Everyone's got beer muscles


when they're young.

Try as you must.
Break as you will.


Solo in space
clinging to space.

Fuck, the air said

passing a corner,
a long ropy snot
hitting a gutter.


To know something
and fail.
Why discount it?


The onslaught of eyes
beneath a fuck-you sky.

The syntax breaks down

its mangled draft and says, 
one day the poor 
will have nothing 


to eat but the rich.

I hate that, when syntax
connects me to the rich.

When Orbital Proximity Feels Creepy

Right now there are teenage microwaves
screaming through your body 
while you are having text with me.
This is the moment I'll need you to sing 
   with me.
I am making my way in some darkroom 
looking for other structures to love.
From the left something speaking 
   I can't identify. 
The floor goes unfixed and moving
and this doesn't happen only at night 
but during the day when I don't want 
   to think on it.
That I saw a blood-orange ball caught 
   out my window. 
That I'm listening to light and it said time. 
I'm listening to time, it says, ha.
You need to be howling at bloody torn space. 
Need to be spooked out of your hidey-hole 
   and its glowing mess. 
But I love this ball I'm riding on.
The strange hunk of metal and rock whizzing 
around my loves and my loving.
The fact I spin and it spins and everything 
   is spinning close up. 
From far away it's so cool.
I guess they call this physics or they call it laws. 
If they're so well-made, why do we suffer? 
I thought the day was opening 
but now I see it's already gone. 
Outside the cruel dove has a broken window. 
The day isn't friendly. 
Who are you to me? 
A way to understand the floor? 
The floor that holds me up and leaves me 
I don't know where to go.
Me, Tuesday at 5pm.
What does it mean to be in a room, 
   any room. 
The wind banging against the clapboard. 
I know enough to see the cracked pane 
isn't going to be fixed anytime soon.
Who has time for such things in the song?
Breaking. Blooming.
The wobble of light on wood-grain late 
   in the day. 
In the loneliness of orange. 
In the loveliness of orange.


"the winter sun says fight"

The winter sun says fight.
The arctic blasts say fight.


This polar world is flat
even if my head
says round. Like this
meant something
to me, like nothing.


I was more ing 
these days to
every surface. So
what's in this morning 
that will solace?

Once I saw the city 
of God reflected 
in a freak shadow 
the sun cast. I 
thought life complete, 
tight, happiness.

Now sun says cigarette, 
and I abide. I remember 
its noisy ray clanging 
my room on my knees 
looking for crumbs.

I remember days and 
nights and days and 
nights, days, nights, 
high and dirty.


Now fog says coffee, 
that'll bring you back.
To where? Where 
do I actually live so far 
outside my head deep 
inside the chemical 
wash of my genes.

I am fighting for love 
but I need a new god. 
Left here, this one
no longer fits. I, sick 
of the reptile in me, 
the dis in time, 
its twigged agony.

I've been here before.


      -from Archeophonics, selected by Guest Editor Ocean Vuong


BIO: PETER GIZZI is the author of Archeophonics (Wesleyan, 2016), In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems 1987-2011 (Wesleyan, 2014), Threshold Songs (Wesleyan, 2011), The Outernationale (Wesleyan, 2007), Some Values of Landscape and Weather(Wesleyan, 2003), Artificial Heart (Burning Deck, 1998), and Periplum (Avec Books, 1992). He has also published several limited-edition chapbooks, folios, and artist books.

PROMPT: Using Peter Gizzi's "the winter sun says fight" as inspiration, start a poem off with some anthropomorphizing: let the non-human boss you around a little. Instead of the winter sun, your poem could have a bossy tiger or a nagging electrical outlet. Whatever it is, have this inanimate object tell you what to do and see what happens when you let something else take the reins. -Amie Whittemore, Associate Editor,

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