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96 pages, Paperback
First published January 5, 2016
Poor means knowing the trees couldn't care lessand of "A Singing in the Rocks":
Whether you carve the initials of your enemies
All over the trunk's white bark,
Or whether this sleep beneath them is your last.
In the contorted figures meant to represent their sleep,
The statistics never show the deep shade in the park,
The mother appearing in the dark of someone within whose
Sprawled arms clear gin & black tar mingle
To compose the blood's unwritable psalm,
The blackening church bells sat the poor are wrong,
So does the traffic stalling on the bridge; so does the lazy swirl
Of current underneath it all, a smile fading in the dark.
They will say he is the saying & the finishing of the saying,Levis's final poems come alive in this collection, drawing you into their theater of sound, equal parts tragedy and comedy.
And that even the unsaying restores the beginning.
It isn't so, & the hawk caught in the boy's net
That I watched, later that day, had no sophistry about it, no guile.
Its choice was the tearing of itself to shreds.
So that, in an hour of so, it bled to death, And therefore, no.
He is the moment the trap springs give & something is snagged
For a last time in the cross-stitched mesh of the net.
So say that on a hill of twisted mesquite & a scattered outcropping
Of rocks gray in that first light,
He was the singing & the no one there,
Dobro & slid guitar & the pinched, nasal twang of a country tenor.
...I miss that talk, although I thinkI will certainly want to re-read Elegy now: I wasn't as taken with it as I was with Levis's other collections, but given my thoughts on this book, perhaps I misjudged that one.
I'm right to be alone, in the gift of my
One life, listening to songs not made
For me, invented by no one I know, for luck,
For a winter night, for two friends who,
Some nights, some days, gave me everything.