M. A. Vizsolyi is the author two books of poetry, Anthem for the Wounded, and The Lamp with Wings: Love Sonnets (HarperPerennial), winner of the National Poetry Series, selected by Ilya Kaminsky. He is also the author of the chapbooks, Notes on Melancholia (Monk Books) and The Case of Jane: A Verse Play (500places press). He teaches at Goddard College where he is the faculty advisor for Duende, the national literary journal of the BFAW program.
A Note Left by Comrade Grief
No more ghosts, if even you can sense that. I have gone
with the rest of them. Call it a dream stretcher. I used
to think children forget, when the sky’s night, that only
the desperate go about & nobody lives as the same shape—
perhaps what we truly are & the rest dissolves. It’s hard
to imagine un-being. It’d be nice if I could stay by that stream
over there & bend down & touch my face. Nature teaches
us to look close, & so I have & will not home again.
There’s a lark in the tree I sit under. Though I am gone,
I imagine he is singing still, as a child would, kissing
the whole world, & I cry & I wait. I have flowers you can
take them, with their soil for your own alone time.
My thoughts sway like a drunk coming home, now into
the brilliant orange of a streetlight, & now into the dark box
of his home. Once I was shining always though I saw
what I see now, & you, each of you, why do you keep time?
For what purpose now? If just to haunt the year?
To all of you who read about me—
I would like to say that I was a glassy man & handsome.
I enjoyed bass-heavy music & would, in the cold, dance
alone under the stars. I caught a perch once in the stream,
& he was a beautiful fish, & so I let him go. I jumped
once very high & have never sighed. I was awake & alive
& saw the shapes approaching when others would not.
Now I see another shape, a darker one, though still lovely
like a lake at twilight. I was six foot seven inches tall.
My name was Comrade Grief—a bald pacifist in a dark time.
Impossible to return
to Bernadette, though
we can imagine her going
away, maybe to wherever
she has gone to. I imagine
one must cut through first
the forest again & the
specks of daylight on
the under-floor where
she sits eating candy &
drinking iced tea from a
bottle. She looks so comfortable
alone there at the edge
of the pond on her bench
that we should be quiet &
wait in the shadows, perhaps
until she leaves. She's
talking to herself saying, the
chorus should turn first toward
me & Marie & sing of
half people camouflaged in
railroad tracks & then they
should look away sing of
people who grow smaller in
stories until they're gone, & no
room in the bomb shelter, nor
in the water which is cool &
is said to heal, the chorus should
take a nap & mutter in their
sleep that it weighs me down—
the shape my body takes, it
weighs me down, the shape,
it weighs me down, down, down.
With His Own Quill
So many times I thought I should be writing this down
& never did, believing in memory. When some strange
courage brought Grief onto the roof of the house, his
red cape & too much gin & then dive-bombing straight
down into the pool, or even Lauren passed out, the needle
in her arm, mumbling something about the boyfriend
who beats her, something about her love. & more than
a few dead now. It's too much for anyone to say, just
an unrendered melody of strings, the people that I knew
& left on the shore must be eight million years old by no—
that life, an ancient tortoise bound to chaos & translated
into a series of stories.
So many times, feeling gone away
& face to face with myself as hero, how they came back
to me holding lamps, how they led me again above sea
level, where my love & Grief stand alone, remembered
again & still raging like light & what we always are.