Larry Levis

Larry was one of my professors in college.  He was fantastic and bizarre.  He would wander the room and lecture brilliantly, quoting long passages while staring out the window.  He was an equal opportunity fount of knowledge, finding pertinent material from sources that were both obscure and ubiquitous (he particularly liked The Talking Heads).  This is one of his poems.  I have loved it since I first read it, which was long before I met Larry.  It’s funny and strange and a little dangerous, just like he was:

The Poem You Asked For

My poem would eat nothing.
I tried giving it water
but it said no,

worrying me.
Day after day,
I held it up to the llight,

turning it over,
but it only pressed its lips
more tightly together.

It grew sullen, like a toad
through with being teased.
I offered it money,

my clothes, my car with a full tank.
But the poem stared at the floor.
Finally I cupped it in

my hands, and carried it gently
out into the soft air, into the
evening traffic, wondering how

to end things between us.
For now it had begun breathing,
putting on more and

more hard rings of flesh.
And the poem demanded the food,
it drank up all the water,

beat me and took my money,
tore the faded clothes
off my back,

said “Shit,”
and walked slowly away,
slicking its hair down.

Said it was going
over to your place.

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2 Responses

  1. And now I love this poem too.

  2. I’m so glad you read this. Larry is an aquired taste, but one that keeps coming back to you, like a favorite food that you only eat on vacation.

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