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.
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.