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

M.A. Vizsolyi


for R.Y.


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.

Goodbye Bernadette

M.A. Vizsolyi


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

M.A. Vizsolyi


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.