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Larry Levis

As I move on with you

Different days,
Different hours,
Many faces,
bouqutes of flowers,

Fantisies,
And mists,
Of dreams,

Lost away,
Onto the ways,
Of yesterday,

See the future,
Past untold,
In his arms,
Is her hold,

Watch the moments,
See me through,

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Blue Stone

Someday, when you are twenty-four and walking through
The street of a foreign city...
Let me go with you a little way,
Let me be that stranger you won't notice.
And when you turn and enter a bar full of young men
and women, and your laughter rises,
Like the stones of a path up a mountain,
To say that no one has died,
I promise I will not follow.

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The Map

Applying to Heavy Equipment School
I marched farther into the Great Plains
And refused to come out.
I threw up a few scaffolds of disinterest.
Around me in the fields, the hogs grunted
And lay on their sides.


You came with a little water and went away.
The glass is still on the table,
And the paper,
And the burned scaffolds.
*
You were bent over the sink, washing your stockings.
I came up behind you like the night sky behind the town.
You stood frowning at your knuckles
And did not speak.
*
At night I lie still, like Bolivia.
My furnaces turn blue.

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Readings in French

1.

Looking into the eyes of Gerard de Nerval
You notice the giant sea crabs rising.
Which is what happens
When you look into the eyes of Gerard de Nerval,
Always the same thing: the giant sea crabs,
The claws in their vague red holsters
Moving around, a little doubtfully.

2.

But looking into the eyes of Pierre Reverdy
Is like throwing the editorial page
Out into the rain
And then riding alone on the subway.

Also, it is like avoiding your father.
You are hiding and he looks for you
Under each vine; he is coming nearer

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Larry Levis

My poem would eat nothing.
I tried giving it water
but it said no,

worrying me.
Day after day,
I held it up to the llight,

turning it over,
but it only pressed its lips
more tightly together.

It grew sullen, like a toad
through with being teased.
I offered it money,

my clothes, my car with a full tank.
But the poem stared at the floor.
Finally I cupped it in

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The Poem You Asked For

My poem would eat nothing.
I tried giving it water
but it said no,

worrying me.
Day after day,
I held it up to the llight,

turning it over,
but it only pressed its lips
more tightly together.

It grew sullen, like a toad
through with being teased.
I offered it money,

my clothes, my car with a full tank.
But the poem stared at the floor.
Finally I cupped it in

[...] Read more

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Signs

All night I dreamed of my home,
of the roads that are so long
and straight they die in the middle—
among the spines of elderly weeds
on either side, among the dead cats,
the ants who are all eyes, the suitcase
thrown open, sprouting failures.


2.
And this evening in the garden
I find the winter
inside a snail shell, rigid and
cool, a little stubborn temple,
its one visitor gone.


3.
If there were messages or signs,
I might hear now a voice tell me

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In a Country

My love and I are inventing a country, which we
can already see taking shape, as if wheels were
passing through yellow mud. But there is a prob-
lem: if we put a river in the country, it will thaw
and begin flooding. If we put the river on the bor-
der, there will be trouble. If we forget about the
river, there will be no way out. There is already a
sky over that country, waiting for clouds or smoke.
Birds have flown into it, too. Each evening more
trees fill with their eyes, and what they see we can
never erase.

One day it was snowing heavily, and again we were
lying in bed, watching our country: we could
make out the wide river for the first time, blue and
moving. We seemed to be getting closer; we saw
our wheel tracks leading into it and curving out
of sight behind us. It looked like the land we had
left, some smoke in the distance, but I wasn't sure.
There were birds calling. The creaking of our

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Fish

The cop holds me up like a fish;
he feels the huge bones
surrounding my eyes,
and he runs a thumb under them,

lifting my eyelids
as if they were
envelopes filled with the night.
Now he turns

my head back and forth, gently,
until I'm so tame and still
I could be a tiny, plastic
skull left on the

dashboard of a junked car.
By now he's so sure of me
he chews gum,
and drops his flashlight to his side;

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The Oldest Living Thing In L.A.

At Wilshire & Santa Monica I saw an opossum
Trying to cross the street. It was late, the street
Was brightly lit, the opossum would take
A few steps forward, then back away from the breath
Of moving traffic. People coming out of the bars
Would approach, as if to help it somehow.
It would lift its black lips & show them
The reddened gums, the long rows of incisors,
Teeth that went all the way back beyond
The flames of Troy & Carthage, beyond sheep
Grazing rock-strewn hills, fragments of ruins
In the grass at San Vitale. It would back away
Delicately & smoothly, stepping carefully
As it always had. It could mangle someone’s hand
In twenty seconds. Mangle it for good. It could
Sever it completely from the wrist in forty.
There was nothing to be done for it. Someone
Or other probably called the LAPD, who then
Called Animal Control, who woke a driver, who
Then dressed in mailed gloves, the kind of thing

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