Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty
There was an error with PayPalClick here to try again
CelebrateThank you for your business!You should be receiving an order confirmation from Paypal shortly.Exit Shopping Cart

 Michael H. Levin: Poems and Prose  


(Basement exhibits: September 2016)

This is the lumbar region

of the world, a knotted spine

whose segments radiate pain.

The Middle Passage still casts

shadows here: night sweats, damp fears

still cramped by unseen chains.

How live as property? each

orifice inspected twice a day.

Peremptory gestures that mean

strip, lie mute; mean choked-back screams.

A prohibition unto death

on contact between eyes.

How live as inventory?

Lists of half-names tallied

in estates or shuffled out

of pigeonholes and slapped on

barrel-heads hint what’s denied.

A stubborn slow migration

north to alien ground, ticked out

in scrap-booked railroad stubs, hints

otherwise. Somehow by bright

church hats or bluesy gospel

tunes, through gnarled dead-ended

passages they made a way,

in time laid paths where there were

none; left Egypt’s black despair

behind. Yet hauled stone and hewed

wood still caw. O country, you

know well first sin. Our spiny

serpent wakes, then rises ring-

side from bunched rows of cotton

bolls again. No cure for snakes --

not goshawks, eagle-strikes or prayer –

can last: we’re bound, winged angel

to its demon, in a whole. Though

dignity acknowledged might

some day help repair this one

sciatica of soul.

Version first published in What Rough Beast, July 16, 2019