Charles River

Charles River
Upper Limit Cloud/Lower Limit Sail


"Messianicity is not messianism ... even though this distinction remains fragile and enigmatic." (Jacques Derrida)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Departed (Michael Gizzi)

The news of Michael Gizzi's death, so sudden, it seemed, first came to me through Silliman's Blog. The rollcall of the dead, as someone named it. Yet Ron, for all his prickly acuity, does a great service here -- the duty of remembering the fallen, even if you've never heard of them, who share this queer hard labor of the word.

Which is what has struck me about Michael Gizzi's death. A guy I barely knew. A guy who bristled with strange charisma and his work, well, it was lovely. His departure, through deep trouble, sends out ripples and connects so many of us who care for the craft, care for what he cared for. The instant of surprise. That sense of being astonished on the lip of a poem.

I saw him last fall in Lowell, on a panel about Kerouac with Anne Waldman, Pen was there, lovely and poised, and he was bright with the call and response, and later, standing outside, early evening, by a brick wall, kind of hunched into himself, weirdly glamorous and all alone, and I could have spoken then and didn't.

The Departed

Say you say nothing.
That would be the simplest way.

Or say you sing a song of sixpence
then put the phone down.

Say you say the words, a few words
for you, for you are departed.

Choose random phrases.
It’s raining today.

Mix random phrases
with items from the news.

If I can bear it, I will call.
If I can bear his dearness then
I will call or I may fall silent.

Say you plead silence
and put the phone down
as terrestrial love creeps by unawares.

Say you say how each word matters.
The green grass, the golden pine needles.

Say it is raining somewhere.

How we go out in the morning.
How we come home in the evening.

Say in a few words how less
is better. How least, lost,
the last letter is a whisper.

Say it so the ghost can hear you.


  1. names erik lomen, i was photographing Michael that day right out on the sidewalk just after the panel...if you'd like photographs from that day email me at Jim Dunn just told me about Gizzi's passing this evening...i still cant believe it, he was an amazing man. -erik

  2. Hi...

    I got my BFA in creative writing at Roger Williams, where Gizzi taught, and took every class he offered. I found him to be really deep but harshly critical, too. I really valued that. I never thought I liked poetry until I read it through his eyes and found appreciation for the most simple of expressions. I really thought of him as a mentor and a life guide. What a loss. Colin

  3. Erik and Colin -- thanks so much for adding your voices. In the absence of the actual, remembering becomes like a second life.