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Christopher Rizzo, one poem


“Un bateau frêle comme un papillon de mai” —Rimbaud


So Molière’s character didn’t know he had been speaking prose all his life

& the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him

of unrequited love’s fate

while surrealism runs through the streets of Mexico I hear

although I assume the same about France although it’s impractical realism

ce truc n’est pas une hallucination, je te le dit May flowers do their evil

in this season of hell empty love’s crushing fate

the way children pick flowers & leave them crumpled beside a curb

another reminder that death horizons life

eventually you reach it

& sometimes cigar smoke is just the Cuba I’ve never reached

although scent’s a chain of molecules sparking words

another chain of molecules

a throat transforms into sound’s enactments

of curiosity & bliss

not prose all of our lives we should speak ourselves

which turns itself out poetically & not platonically

despite requite

of curiosity & bliss I love talking with you

as though I can hear the symphony a sun makes

despite the dead of lightless space

which is far too platonically prosaic I hear

inside our sun’s a spooky orchestra

the beauty of which never exceeds itself

to reach our ears here

but I’ve seen America with no clothes on she sings

in a strange & estranging light

if the sun were to unquestionably die right now

we would live under the assumption

it still burned for roughly one last cigarette at least

the delay’s a distance

& Gabriel García Márquez dies

while we live under different assumptions

for instance Lady Liberty wears poetry beneath her robes of justice

& Captain America’s square jaw believes in truth

when in truth de Tocqueville’s democracy (ne plus

ultra) lives under the antipoétique thumb of an invisible hand

which means it keeps flipping me off

while you speak sunny prose all of our lives


So the USA Today article reports that he was a socialist

friend of Fidel Castro

& sharp critic of what he considered U.S. imperialism

for years he was denied a visa to enter the U.S.

but in 1994 García Márquez dined with President Clinton

who called him “my literary hero”

all of which is undoubtedly prose

while gravities pull against my heartbeat

whether it’s nobler to become or to live a common imagination

brought to you by the makers of a global lingua franca

for in this death of sleep what American dreams may come

especially in form of speech’s change

it’s better to have spoken prose and won

than to have loved at all


I remember so little lately

I’m practically the evil twin of Joe Brainard

brought to justice in the latest Marvel epic

a summer blockhead buster a spectacle to star my eyes

when Captain America grits his very white teeth

on downtown Beijing billboards

made of free market freedom

this is how the world ended

not with a bang

but with branding

& Gabriel listens to another winter of the monarchs

wing the song of a long ago time of a far off future

right now anything but prose

anything but a lingua franca

for selling memorabilia & meanwhile

atop Mt. Sinai I feel Coke

& somewhere an old white man on Viagra & vacation in Aruba

dreams up The Collected Poems of Sasha Grey

to frame cinematic legitimacy

frame by slow motion frame

to frame the limits of a common imagination

tagged American

a very soft imperialism

Lady Liberty wears beneath her robes of justice (at least

what Oscar Wilde couldn’t know

living out Fellini’s Waiting for Godot

when everything’s about sex but sex

sex is about power & while you’re waiting for it to come

you might as well be waiting on Godot) & Lady Liberty she only earns

80 cents for every dollar made by Lincoln, Roosevelt, Jefferson & Washington

even that statue of our truthful George in the Boston Public Garden

the balls of which were painted orange once upon a time I mean

the horse’s of course 80 cents

for every dollar

to own an American edition of Molière


So Molière’s character didn’t know he had been speaking prose all his life

since sound tells me what’s happening

what’s likely to happen

the way Spinoza tells me about pleasure & suffering & appetition

waiting for May to come the way it comes

a chirping saint made of sunlight & grace to have survived

another winter since sound tells me what’s happening

the ear’s our affectual sense

& there I go again

it’s bang o’clock somewhere before airing dirty Facebook laundry

& we could have stolen everything from time & space

if not for those meddling metaphysicians

who have no nose for violets the tangs of May violets

remember the violets a mélange of red & white & blue

we would get away with one another in other words je t’aime

feeling through triumph in other words

I’m grateful to say suffering

more about écriture than sprechstimme or more about

it’s so terrible for our health he says

class isn’t discussed or debated in public

class identity has been stripped

from popular culture

but who’s doing the stripping they say

I hate the term upper class it is so non-upper class

to use it

I just call it “all of us”

so Gertrude Stein is very fine but not for us O Tommy Boy

ye hardly played a convincing Possum anyway

says Flossie Williams

my mother & his were both shocked

they hated the poetry

they’d shake their heads & say

but such language! & blah blah blah

when the richest 20% of Americans hold 85% of the national wealth

let’s throw a barbeque & vote Possum because, you know

we live in a classless society what did that British philosopher ask?

now what can a poor boy do?

except write a poem called “Gabriel García Márquez is Dead”

to realize the condition of my own perception

after another winter of the monarchs

dies into the warmth of a northern sun

for in the death of sleep what dreams may come about

though I’m just an empath who suffers the disease of misanthropy

very well then I contradict myself

& by containing multitudes Uncle Walter didn’t mean

he wanted a megamall named after him

but of curiosity & bliss I love talking with you

as though I can hear the symphony a sun makes

sparking off the matter that matters

called a soul say all the energy that stays to say

it’s spring & we’re alive

& I know prose runs through your streets I see

you’d rather bury me below your apathy

than love us

at all


Editor's note: this poem appears in a smaller font to preserve the line breaks and formatting of Mr. Rizzo's poem.


Christopher Rizzo is a writer and editor whose most recent collection of poems, Of Love & Capital, was selected for the Bob Kaufman Book Prize by judge Bernadette Mayer. His latest chapbook, Was That a Real Woman or Did You Just Make Her Up Yourself?, is forthcoming from Greying Ghost Press. Rizzo’s poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in a range of publications, including Art New England: Contemporary Art and Culture, The Cultural Society, H_NGM_N, Jacket, Otoliths, Oyster Boy Review, Pierre Joris – Cartographies of the In-between, Process, Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture, Tight, and a featured author issue of Gondola. Follow him on Twitter @TheRizPo.

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