The Moonlight Defense
Why shouldn’t it begin at midnight
when the doorman is asleep in his lodge
and the spinning chrysalis in perfect equanimity
with earth, slippers under the chair,
toothbrush back on its thingy.
If tomorrow were promise, then tonight is real.
Let us pray before the bearded poplar
morphing in up-late celestial wonder.
Celestial wonder inscribed on sleeping lids.
I wander through doors and cascade in noise.
Libraries tower in their occult light.
Yes, solar wind, now windows bloom,
the body waves beyond itself.
Not all speech unuttered equals silence
nor a dropped curtain signals an end.
There are sudden days every animal secure
in one virtue. The bedrock vision
and the road unraveling, gentle traveler,
the great thing is about to begin.
I don’t want to go back there.
Don’t want the lockdown
the bray, the cobbled headgear.
Can’t it be clear?
Can’t it mon dieu?
So often the inklings
the starter round
the jerk and huh of morning.
But the instants, the lake walks
and for a blip open sky
unshackling a bad history.
Nothing more personal than headlines.
Today’s surtitles blinking
above the eyes.
The sun deploys its shadows
and things grow in dark too.
Leaves arch over everything
they are so democratic
to us our viewer in a world of secrets
in a world of navigable
foreshortening emotional registers.
In the park, breeze-shaken
wrappers drift outward.
The sand here seems coliseum-like
it is so contesting
just plain old.
Who can we turn toward
walking the hills’ unbridled shoulders
breathless far from the story.
The day blooms in its self-knowledge
it’s that simple when we ask about faith
how can I answer
not to inhibit
any single point in this ray.
Out of this house and out into the day
things come to focus
silver-tipped antennae tweak the blue
and sheets of rainwater
at the foot of the statehouse.
Something is something
when the administration
of money flows backward.
In this word time seems a trip,
come back little sheen of products
in rows behind glass.
We went to the store and why not
we go to the moon,
jeweled box on a shelf.
In summer we open and opening
we wander and
before we were happy
we were unhappy
such is the dialectical
is hankering to embrace.
When the TV’s on
the faces in the stands echo
and bounce far into the field
the hopes and suspense
of our inescapable turbulence, daily,
so often submarine
made plain as a runner rounding second.
There is reason to watch—
unlike the blinking reflection
in a darkened window glass—
we find purpose
in the game and together,
this crucial passage given flight
and detail is appealing to a crowd
that too quickly invested
and then discarded power.
It’s getting dark
indigo setting on the glass
just sitting there. Reminding us
days gallop into grass rushing wind
into miles of cable.
When the pistons call,
when I was a wedge of sun
over steel mills,
when I asked what happened,
I meant, what happened to us?
—Peter Gizzi is the author of Some Values of Landscape and Weather (Wesleyan, 2003), Artificial Heart (Burning Deck, 1998), and Periplum and Other Poems 1987–1992 (Salt Publishers, 2004). He also edited The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer (Wesleyan, 1998).