Sunday, June 23, 2019

Curled in Sleep as the Procession Passes


Larry Levis

First Architect of the jungle & Author of pastel slums,
Patron Saint of rust,
You have become too famous to be read.

I let the book fall behind me until it becomes
A book again. Cloth, thread, & the infinite wood.

Don’t worry. Don’t worry.
In the future, everyone, simply everyone,
Will be hung in effigy.
The crepe paper in the high school gym will be
Black & pink & feathery,

Rainbow trout & a dog’s tongue. In effigy. This,

For example, was written in memory of ...

But of whom? Brecht gasping for air in the street?
Truman dancing alone with his daughter?

Goodbye, little century.
Goodbye, riderless black horse that trots
From one side of  the street to the other,
Trying to find its way
Out of  the parade.

Forgive me for saluting you
With a hand still cold, sweating,
And resembling, as I hold it up & a heavy sleep
Fills it, the body of someone

Curled in sleep as the procession passes.

Excuse me, but at the end of our complete belief,
Which is what you required of us, don’t we deserve

A good belly laugh? Don’t we deserve

A shout in the street?

And this confetti on which our history is being written,
Smaller & smaller, less clear every moment,

And subject to endless revision?

Under the circumstances, & because
It can imagine no other life, doesn’t the hand,

Held up there for hours,

Deserve it?

No? No hunh? No.


  1. those are good looking cats

    given the title of levis's poem, i was a little surprised to find out that his last breath was on five eight nineteen ninety six - he was forty nine

  2. I had to brake once on the way to the nascent DC zoo for George Will.
    Also, in KY, met McConnell as he was first campaigning for Senate. Hated him, felt I should've done something at the time. He was a monster even then.

  3. 'riderless horse' refers to jfk's funeral procession, of course

    i wonder about the first three lines here - is the reference to sinclair lewis? 'jungle' fits this hypothesis, but 'pastel slums', 'rust'?

  4. I think you mean Upton Sinclair.

  5. our friends at wikipedia say about upton sinclair

    Not to be confused with his contemporary, Sinclair Lewis, another American novelist.

    in this case 'not to be' can be paraphrased as 'often'

    what if i set myself the task of reading one book by each of them?

    e.g. 'the jungle' or maybe the pulitzer-prize-winning 'dragon's teeth'

    and, for the other sinclair, maybe 'babbitt' or 'elmer gantry' or 'it can't happen here'

    although it's hard to make predictions, especially about the future, it's not impossible this goal could be achieved - i have the audacity to hope that it COULD happen here

  6. Whenever the topic arises (topic? what topic? nobody said anything about a topic!) I mention/suggest/recommend Oil! by the uppity one, mainly to draw attention to a Hollywood darling's de-politicization of the source material. From the Wiki: "Paul Thomas Anderson said that he only incorporated the first 150 pages of the book into his film, so the rest of the film and novel are nearly entirely different."

    Indeed, except I always smell a rat, which in this case is a rodent who didn't have to even credit the novel, since a name change here and there would have rendered the loose base not in need of further destruction. Some might say that I should appreciate his having given credit because it would lead to more reading the book, to which I reply, "Name one. And then right a 10,000 word essay on the plotlines not adapted in the film and why any American born & bred Hollywood film-makler might have been disinclined to include it."

    I am aware, however, that this is not me being radical in any cool sense but rather just being a poopy pants as a old friend used to say.

    Dragon's Teeth sounds interesting. Now, about Alice's Adventures...