Christopher Rizzo, one poem

October 31, 2017



“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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