Philip Levine
Where We Live Now by Philip Levine

Where We Live Now by Philip Levine

1 We live here because the houses are clean, the lawns run right to the street and the streets run away. No one walks here. No one wakens at night or dies. The cars sit open-eyed ...

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Wisteria by Philip Levine

Wisteria by Philip Levine

The first purple wisteria I recall from boyhood hung on a wire outside the windows of the breakfast room next door at the home of Steve Pisaris. I loved his tall, skinny daughter, ...

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You Can Have It by Philip Levine

You Can Have It by Philip Levine

My brother comes home from work and climbs the stairs to our room. I can hear the bed groan and his shoes drop one by one. You can have it, he says. The moonlight streams in the ...

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Heaven by Philip Levine

Heaven by Philip Levine

If you were twenty-seven and had done time for beating our ex-wife and had no dreams you remembered in the morning, you might lie on your bed and listen to a mad canary sing and ...

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Clouds by Philip Levine

Clouds by Philip Levine

1 Dawn. First light tearing at the rough tongues of the zinnias, at the leaves of the just born. Today it will rain. On the road black cars are abandoned, but the clouds ride ...

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You Can Have It by Philip Levine

You Can Have It by Philip Levine

My brother comes home from work and climbs the stairs to our room. I can hear the bed groan and his shoes drop one by one. You can have it, he says. The moonlight streams in the ...

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My Fathers, The Baltic by Philip Levine

My Fathers, The Baltic by Philip Levine

Along the strand stones, busted shells, wood scraps, bottle tops, dimpled and stainless beer cans. Something began here a century ago, a nameless disaster, perhaps a voyage to the ...

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I Sing The Body Electric by Philip Levine

I Sing The Body Electric by Philip Levine

People sit numbly at the counter waiting for breakfast or service. Today it's Hartford, Connecticut more than twenty-five years after the last death of Wallace Stevens. I have ...

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Night Words by Philip Levine

Night Words by Philip Levine

after Juan Ramon A child wakens in a cold apartment. The windows are frosted. Outside he hears words rising from the streets, words he cannot understand, and then the semis gear ...

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Call It Music by Philip Levine

Call It Music by Philip Levine

Some days I catch a rhythm, almost a songin my own breath. I'm alone herein Brooklyn Heights, late morning, the skyabove the St. George Hotel clear, clearfor New York, that is. ...

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The Drunkard by Philip Levine

The Drunkard by Philip Levine

from St. AmbroseHe fears the tiger standing in his way. The tiger takes its time, it smiles and growls. Like moons, the two blank eyes tug at his bowels. "God help me now," is all ...

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A Sleepless Night by Philip Levine

A Sleepless Night by Philip Levine

April, and the last of the plum blossoms scatters on the black grass before dawn. The sycamore, the lime, the struck pine inhale the first pale hints of sky. ...

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Bitterness by Philip Levine

Bitterness by Philip Levine

Here in February, the fine dark branches of the almond begin to sprout tiny clusters of leaves, sticky to the touch. Not far off, about the length of my morning shadow, the grass ...

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Animals Are Passing From Our Lives by Philip Levine

Animals Are Passing From Our Lives by Philip Levine

It's wonderful how I jogon four honed-down ivory toesmy massive buttocks slippinglike oiled parts with each light step.I'm to market. I can smellthe sour, grooved block, I can ...

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Any Night by Philip Levine

Any Night by Philip Levine

Look, the eucalyptus, the Atlas pine, the yellowing ash, all the trees are gone, and I was older than all of them. I am older than the moon, than the stars that fill my plate, ...

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The Simple Truth by Philip Levine

The Simple Truth by Philip Levine

I bought a dollar and a half's worth of small red potatoes,took them home, boiled them in their jacketsand ate them for dinner with a little butter and salt.Then I walked through ...

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What Work Is by Philip Levine

What Work Is by Philip Levine

We stand in the rain in a long linewaiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.You know what work is—if you'reold enough to read this you know whatwork is, although you may not do ...

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At Bessemer by Philip Levine

At Bessemer by Philip Levine

19 years old and going nowhere, I got a ride to Bessemer and walked the night road toward Birmingham passing dark groups of men cursing the end of a week like every week. Out of ...

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Father by Philip Levine

Father by Philip Levine

The long lines of diesels groan toward evening carrying off the breath of the living. The face of your house is black, it is your face, black and fire bombed in the first street ...

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An Extraordinary Morning by Philip Levine

An Extraordinary Morning by Philip Levine

Two young men—you just might call them boys—waiting for the Woodward streetcar to getthem downtown. Yes, they’re tired, they’re alsodirty, and happy. Happy because they’vefinished ...

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Berenda Slough by Philip Levine

Berenda Slough by Philip Levine

Earth and water without form, change, or pause: as if the third day had not come, this calm norm of chaos denies the Word. One sees only a surface pocked with rushes, the starved ...

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Black Stone On Top Of Nothing by Philip Levine

Black Stone On Top Of Nothing by Philip Levine

Still sober, Cesar Vallejo comes home and finds a black ribbon around the apartment building covering the front door. He puts down his cane, removes his greasy fedora, and begins ...

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Everything by Philip Levine

Everything by Philip Levine

Lately the wind burns the last leaves and evening comes too late to be of use, lately I learned that the year has turned its face to winter and nothing I say or do can change ...

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Another Song by Philip Levine

Another Song by Philip Levine

Words go on travelling from voice to voice while the phones are still and the wires hum in the cold. Now and then dark winter birds settle slowly on the crossbars, where huddled ...

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Among Children by Philip Levine

Among Children by Philip Levine

I walk among the rows of bowed heads--the children are sleeping through fourth gradeso as to be ready for what is ahead,the monumental boredom of junior highand the rush forward ...

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Coming Close by Philip Levine

Coming Close by Philip Levine

Take this quiet woman, she has beenstanding before a polishing wheelfor over three hours, and she lackstwenty minutes before she can takea lunch break. Is she a woman?Consider ...

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For The Country by Philip Levine

For The Country by Philip Levine

THE DREAMThis has nothing to do with war or the end of the world. She dreams there are gray starlings on the winter lawn and the buds of next year's oranges alongside this year's ...

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Detroit Grease Shop Poem by Philip Levine

Detroit Grease Shop Poem by Philip Levine

Four bright steel crosses,universal joints, pluckedout of the burlap sack --"the heart of the drive train,"the book says. Starson Lemon's wooden palm,stars that must be ...

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I Won, You Lost by Philip Levine

I Won, You Lost by Philip Levine

The last of day gathers in the yellow parlor and drifts like fine dust across the face of the gilt-framed mirror I ofien prayed to. An old man's room without him, a room I came ...

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Clouds Above The Sea by Philip Levine

Clouds Above The Sea by Philip Levine

My father and mother, two tiny figures,side by side, facing the clouds that movein from the Atlantic. August, '33.The whole weight of the rain to come, the weightof all that has ...

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Holding On by Philip Levine

Holding On by Philip Levine

Green fingers holding the hillside, mustard whipping in the sea winds, one blood-bright poppy breathing in and out. The odor of Spanish earth comes up to me, yellowed with my own ...

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An Ending by Philip Levine

An Ending by Philip Levine

Early March. The cold beach deserted. My kids home in a bare house, bundled up and listening to rock music pirated from England. My wife waiting for me in a bar, alone for an hour ...

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On The Murder Of Lieutenant Jose Del Castillo by Philip Levine

On The Murder Of Lieutenant Jose Del Castillo by Philip Levine

When the Lieutenant of the Guardia de Asaltoheard the automatic go off, he turnedand took the second shot just abovethe sternum, the third tore awaythe right shoulder of his ...

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A Woman Waking by Philip Levine

A Woman Waking by Philip Levine

She wakens early remembering her father rising in the dark lighting the stove with a match scraped on the floor. Then measuring water for coffee, and later the smell coming ...

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The Mercy by Philip Levine

The Mercy by Philip Levine

The ship that took my mother to Ellis Island Eighty-three years ago was named "The Mercy." She remembers trying to eat a banana without first peeling it and seeing her first ...

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Gin by Philip Levine

Gin by Philip Levine

The first time I drank ginI thought it must be hair tonic.My brother swiped the bottlefrom a guy whose father owneda drug store that sold boozein those ancient, honorable dayswhen ...

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They Feed They Lion by Philip Levine

They Feed They Lion by Philip Levine

Out of burlap sacks, out of bearing butter,Out of black bean and wet slate bread,Out of the acids of rage, the candor of tar,Out of creosote, gasoline, drive shafts, wooden ...

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The Water’s Chant by Philip Levine

The Water’s Chant by Philip Levine

Seven years ago I went into the High Sierras stunned by the desire to die. For hours I stared into a clear mountain stream that fell down over speckled rocks, and then I closed my ...

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Last Words by Philip Levine

Last Words by Philip Levine

If the shoe fell from the other foot who would hear? If the door opened onto a pure darkness and it was no dream? If your life ended the way a book ends with half a blank page and ...

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Songs by Philip Levine

Songs by Philip Levine

Dawn coming in over the fields of darkness takes me by surprise and I look up from my solitary road pleased not to be alone, the birds now choiring from the orange groves huddling ...

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Green Thumb by Philip Levine

Green Thumb by Philip Levine

Shake out my pockets! Harken to the call Of that calm voice that makes no sound at all! Take of me all you can; my average weight May make amends for this, my low estate. But do ...

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Fist by Philip Levine

Fist by Philip Levine

Iron growing in the dark, it dreams all night long and will not work. A flower that hates God, a child tearing at itself, this one closes on nothing. Friday, late, Detroit ...

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On The Meeting Of GarcIA Lorca And Hart Crane by Philip Levine

On The Meeting Of GarcIA Lorca And Hart Crane by Philip Levine

Brooklyn, 1929. Of course Crane'sbeen drinking and has no idea whothis curious Andalusian is, unableeven to speak the language of poetry.The young man who brought themtogether ...

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Milkweed by Philip Levine

Milkweed by Philip Levine

Remember how unimportant they seemed, growing loosely in the open fields we crossed on the way to school. We would carve wooden swords and slash at the luscious trunks until the ...

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Where We Live Now by Philip Levine

Where We Live Now by Philip Levine

1 We live here because the houses are clean, the lawns run right to the street and the streets run away. No one walks here. No one wakens at night or dies. The cars sit open-eyed ...

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Once by Philip Levine

Once by Philip Levine

Hungry and cold, I stood in a doorwayon Delancey Street in 1946as the rain came down. The worst part is thisis not from a bad movie. I'd read Dos Passos'USA and thought, "Before ...

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Burial Rites by Philip Levine

Burial Rites by Philip Levine

Everyone comes back here to dieas I will soon. The place feels rightsince it’s half dead to begin with.Even on a rare morning of rain,like this morning, with the low skyhoarding ...

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Those Were The Days by Philip Levine

Those Were The Days by Philip Levine

The sun came up before breakfast, perfectly round and yellow, and we dressed in the soft light and shook out our long blond curls and waited for Maid to brush them flat and place ...

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In A Light Time by Philip Levine

In A Light Time by Philip Levine

The alder shudders in the April winds off the moon. No one is awake and yet sunlight streams across the hundred still beds of the public wards for children. At ten do we truly ...

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M. Degas Teaches Art &Amp; Science At Durfee Intermediate School–Detroit, 1942 by Philip Levine

M. Degas Teaches Art &Amp; Science At Durfee Intermediate School–Detroit, 1942 by Philip Levine

He made a line on the blackboard,one bold stroke from right to leftdiagonally downward and stood backto ask, looking as always at no onein particular, "What have I done?"From the ...

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