I have more to say about these poems, but I'm going to hold all critical thoughts for my exam which I will pick up in less than six hours. But you can, no doubt, decipher their importance to someone like me who's been waiting and preparing to take this exam for years. And now the time is finally here.
Who knows? Maybe I'll actually get a question that will allow me to answer using a Levis poem or two. Wouldn't that be grand?
The Levine poem here is the last poem I read before going to bed. I didn't have a sleepless night. Slept very well in fact. But, I thought it was pretty funny. Not the poem. The idea of reading a poem called "A Sleepless Night" right before my poetry comp.
A Sleepless Night
April, and the last of the plum blossoms
scatters on the black grass
before dawn. The sycamore, the lime,
the struck pine inhale
the first pale hints of sky.
An iron day,I think, yet it will come
dazzling, the light
rise from the belly of leaves and pour
burning from the cups
The mockingbird squawksfrom his perch, fidgets,
and settles back. The snail, awake
for good, trembles from his shell
and sets sail for China. My hand dances
in the memory of a million vanished stars.
A man has every place to lay his head.
from New Selected Poems
Boy in Video Arcade
Some see a lake of fire at the end of it,
Or heaven’s guesswork, something always to be sketched in.
I see a sullen boy in a video arcade.
He’s the only one there at this hour, shoulders slightly bent
above a machine.I see the pimples on his chin, the scuffed linoleum on the floor.
I like the close-up, the detail. I like the pointlessness of it,
And the way he hasn’t imagined an ending to all this yet,
The boy never bothering to look up as the sun comes out
In the late morning, because Big Deal, the mist evaporating & rising.
So Death blows his little fucking trumpet, Big Deal, says the boy.
I don’t see anything at the end of it except an endlessness,
The beauty parlors, the palm reader’s unlighted sign, the mulberry trees
Fading out before the billboard of the chiropractor.
The lake of fire’s just an oil speck.
I don’t see anything at the end of it, & I suppose that is what
is wrong with me,
Among the other things. And it’s slow work, because of all
the gauzy light,
It’s hard to pick out anything.
The Poem Returning as an Invisible Wren to the World
Once, there was a poem. No one read it & the poem
Grew wise. It grew wise & then it grew thin,
No one could see it perched on the woman's
Small shoulders as she went on working beside
The gray conveyer belt with the others.
No one saw the poem take the shape of a wren,
A wren you could look through like a window,
And see all the bitterness of the world
In the long line of shoulders & faces bending
Over the gleaming, machined parts that passed
Before them, the faces transformed by the grace
And ferocity of a wren, a wren you could look
Through, like a lens, to see them working there.
This is not about how she threw herself into the river,
For she didn't, nor is it about the way her breasts
Looked in moonlight, nor about moonlight at all.
This is about the surviving curve of the bridge
Where she listened to the river whispering to her,
When the wren flew off & left her there,
With the knowledge of it singing in her blood.
By which the wind avenges. By which the rain avenges.
By which even the limb of a dead tree leaning
Above the white, swirling mouth of an eddy
In the river that once ran beside the factory window
Where she once worked, shall be remembered
When the dead come back, & take their places
Beside her on the line, & the gray conveyor belt
Starts up with its raspy hum again. Like a heaven's.