for Guy Birchard and Anne HeeneyWhat day isn’t? Though we may forget. Why not have a day each year to celebrate language, a holiday observed as we speak and write, as we read and think. Any day would do. Today, say, “as we speak,” as the saying goes. As the saying goes we go, word by word, into our lives, our times of understanding, and misunderstanding, our blah blah, and those words we try hard to mean. One day a year to praise language, to care fully for these gifts that come to us weathered and rich. [from Oblivion, Tyrants, Crumbs] * * * John Levy (pronounced “Lee-vee”) was born in 1951. His life changed when he read The Selected Poems of William Carlos Williams at 15. Life changed again when he met Leslie Buchanan, a painter, in 1982. Leslie and John lived in a Greek village for two years (1983-1985), and John wrote a fine memoir of that period, entitled We Don’t Kill Snakes Where We Come From. The couple now make their home in Tucson. At age 37, John went to law school and graduated in 1991; in 1997 became an assistant county public defender handling felonies and is still doing that. He and Leslie have a son and a daughter who figure prominently in his poetry.
Poetry Month 2015: John Levy
A handful of poems by John Levy…. (AFTER BASHŌ) My poems aren’t really mine. Any more than a frog owns its croak or its splash as it dives beneath the green surface. You see the surface translated into language ripples. (The frog invisible, immersed.) * EMILY DICKINSON AND N Emily Dickinson: “. . . to N’s I had an especial aversion, as they always seemed unfinished M’s.” A world of the unfinished next to the finished. A world, for her, alive and emotional, full of seeming, all the way down to where a letter is never fulfilled no matter where it appears. * OBLIVION, TYRANTS, CRUMBS Today I typed “oblivision” for oblivion. Not wanting to obliterate that typo, I started writing this poem. In one version I typed “tryant” for how the mistake took me for its subject. A typo in a poem about typos. And a self-portrait as an ant, trying to carry the crumb of an error and erring at that, an errant. * TONGUES & TONGS Tongues and tongs. In English the sounds are kin. And in German, too, die Zungen (the tongues), die Zangen (the tongs). The tongues move words out of silence into air as sound waves that float us but tongs pinch, and carry, and what they put down stays as down as a stone. The tongues, the tongs, die Zungen, die Zangen, swim side by side through this poem to reach the bottom where they separate and swim disparately. * THE DAY OF THE WORD