I saw a documentary on Larry Levis, A Late Style of Fire, two years ago that made me like him less. Nonetheless, this is a pretty killer little poem.
I’ve loved you
like a man loves an old wound
picked up in a razor fight
on a street nobody remembers.
Look at him:
even in the dark he touches it gently.
I’d forgotten how much I like this poet of California’s Central Valley. He often writes of farming and of his father, a farmer of small means. I think he’d be better known, but he died at 49.
My father once broke a man’s hand
Over the exhaust pipe of a John Deere tractor. The man,
Ruben Vasquez, wanted to kill his own father
With a sharpened fruit knife, & he held
The curved tip of it, lightly, between his first
Two fingers, so it could slash
Horizontally, and with surprising grace,
Across a throat. It was like a glinting beak in a hand,
And, for a moment, the light held still
On those vines. When it was over,
My father simply went in & ate lunch, & then, as always,
Lay alone in the dark, listening to music.
He never mentioned it.
I never understood how anyone could risk his life,
Then listen to Vivaldi.
Sometimes I go out into this yard at night,
And stare through the wet branches of an oak
In winter, & realize I am looking at the stars
Again. A thin haze of them, shining
It used to make me feel lighter, looking up at them,
In California, that light was closer.
In a California no one will ever see again,
My father is beginning to die. Something
Inside him is slowly taking back
Every word it ever gave him. Continue reading “Larry Levis”