Editor’s note: This week we feature the work of Lynn Levin. These poems are from her new collection of poems,
“Fair Creatures of an Hour,” published by Loonfeather Press
Grass of mammals,
atmosphere of the temporary planet,
nimbus of self.
On a man
I like you best close cropped
at the sides,
feathered back like the shoulders of a hawk.
if only I could learn
how to stop desiring you,
my heart would be placid.
In a strong wind
you are as helpless as the passionate.
You wave like hundreds of immigrants
from the deck of a ship,
flags on a plaza,
then silver with age
and vanish like cash.
you grow in the grave
giving an afterlife to those who believe
only in molecules,
rewarding the bald at last.
How grieved I am
when I find you lost –
on my coat or the edge of the bathtub.
Always the same message there
in your elegant script:
Don’t mourn me, you say.
I have let go and am glad of it.
To the Future
Fountain of the forward notion.
Crossroads of freewill
and dumb luck.
Science says I can reach you
relatively unwrinkled. Then in your clouds
only the faces of clocks
will be as vain as I.
Washboard of the mega-tsunami,
hot tub of the warm globe,
distant city of shimmering inventions,
you only love what’s new.
Nostalgia and loyalty
with their pleading faces
just annoy you.
Between you and me so far,
it’s been a pretty good run.
Sometimes I even think
our prospects are improving.
But I know you: you embrace many
and drop each one –
for you always
an endless stream
of willing companions.
And to keep you,
I will put up with almost anything.
Sublunary and All
You are my bubble tea.
You are my knobby knee.
You are my cell phone and my skeleton key.
You are my praying mantis.
You are my lacey panties.
You are my Nowhere, my Atlantis.
You are my book.
You are my match.
You are my Trader Joe’s, my T. J. Maxx.
You are my upper and my last,
as well my heel, my tic tac toe,
my soap, my nasal spray, my radio.
What I am to you I’m shy
to ask. I may not be
the caffeine in your Coke,
your pair of dice, your cryptoquote,
your corned beef special,
your bowl of borscht.
Baby, there are days you’re not
my profile or my two-eye shot,
my mic, my makeup, or my token for the bus.
Not all is equal in the coupled world
or fair or right. One may love more,
the other less. But in the well of night
beneath the sickle moon,
I know you are my bling, my jelly bean,
my medicine, my spoon.
For Eric after Four Hours of Doom
Passions run high from the 6th through the 10th.
Should you be impetuous? Restrained?
These are all good questions.
Whatever you do, don’t date anyone
from your co-dependency support group.
Try marinating chicken in lemon juice, olive oil,
a little garlic. Very good with rice pilaf
and green salad. Best bet: 28 black.
Tonight: Change your furnace filter, pair your socks.
Nick Wanted to Be an Anarchist
Six planets in air signs spell the unspeakable.
Don’t drive back
from Maryland with Hugh on the 5th.
He’s as reckless as you are. The Taurus will hydroplane,
and you’ll fly
out the window: the purple hair, the chains,
the cartoon-character voice you used
with your girlfriend’s mother who was perfectly
willing to like you the way you were and very grateful
to you for showing her Nancy Spungen’s grave.
Tonight: Your favorite pepperoni pizza
then visit your granddad.
Fashion tip: Anything black,
but you already knew that.
To Tiffany with a Stud in Her Tongue
These days you’re eager to prove yourself,
and small wonder with your moon
knocking on every door. To get an A in humanities
write your essay on “The Rebel Imagination of Charlotte Perkins Gilman.”
When Herbert pressures you to take him
to the methadone clinic during biology,
you’ll have to choose between him and college.
And tell him the yelling has to stop.
Pick-me-up of the week: A barbed wire tattoo
around your ankle. Tonight: Expect the unexpected.
IMs from Lucifer.
What the hell, go ahead and answer
Paula, File Clerk, Student, Receptionist, Student, Childcare Worker…
As the fourth Libra moon enters your house, a roofbeam will land
on your sister’s head. She’ll take the baby with her
to the hospital leaving you to care for her three-year-old.
Call the baby’s father? No way since Sis
played around on him. Just hope Mr. Schaeffer
will understand. You’ve already no-showed for work
five times this month.
Tonight: Macaroni and cheese, Barney tapes, weed.
Mr. Schaeffer, President of Schaeffer Title and Abstract
Personnel matters come to a crisis as you suspect
the fourth Libra moon of taking advantage
of your kindness. By the way, your wife only called
the carpet man for an estimate. You didn’t have to yell at her
for a half hour, and Paula will miss her sixth day
of work this month. Some cockamamie story
about a roofbeam landing on her sister’s head.
Err on the side of compassion.
Tonight: A Grey Goose martini.
Then another Grey Goose martini.
These poems are from Lynn Levin’s collection “Fair Creatures of an Hour” (Loonfeather Press, 2009)