A handful of poems by John Levy….
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
ripples. (The frog invisible,
EMILY DICKINSON AND N
Emily Dickinson: “. . . to N’s I had an
especial aversion, as they
A world of the
next to the finished. A
her, alive and
emotional, full of
seeming, all the way
to where a letter is never
no matter where
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
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
where they separate and swim
THE DAY OF THE WORD
for Guy Birchard and Anne Heeney
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.