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Michael Gizzi




A good teacher instructs by swatting flies.

An elephant never forgets an excuse.

What made the tick choose anthropology?

Try this: repair a hubbub.

Studies suggest people who speak in tongues never eat with you again.

And that pieman once thought to be a berry (now a wooden boat)

died of seahorse strokes.

He used to baby-sit Leadbelly.



The father in exile stripped of his sundial borrows the equator for a belt.

All his life his life had yet to start, coming of age was the end.

You think about genetics, would think, well,

maybe a whole other life is possible. Maybe noon would rather be midnight.

The humble Hellebore becomes a rock star thanks to intelligent design. Coziness
cradles him like rage. “He hid under his bed when he lived with his mother!”

One branch of the family is antiseptic, another a lecture on prickers.

Everything else is made up.



Two nightcaps at the Schola Cantorum and suddenly we’re on sleeping terms. A cow
cut into calves.

True or false: Infantilism is a kind of anorexia of the soul symptomatic of the grownup
desire for a second childhood.

What are the roots of enchantment, that resinous substance in which our chauffeur
performed the trick of lowering one eyelid?

On the whole, sinking in poetry fills a hole.

There was even talk of a cave — no one’s life was safe. Let’s face it gesture is one
of the pleasures of having sex, like gathering rosebuds for a clear complexion.

Slumming with his coy mistress he felt a sudden idleness and went into the
gingerale business.



A wandering thought in the dreaming brain of a Rhine maiden murmurs
a poem to Heine.

Look at the words the siren brings: silk-hosed simpers, libations, “on the rocks”.

The drowned are always the same, despite their number. If only one could put
some order to it.

A Rhenish enchantress whispers enticements discolored by rain,
the same nightmare that unites us with four walls all above us, perspiring.

May you keep this memory, the one you’ll never see.

MICHAEL GIZZI is Professor of Creative Writing at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. His most recent volume of poems is My Terza Rima (The Figures). He has a book forthcoming from Burning Deck in spring 2009.

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