John Levy

Watteau, Helicopters, Time, Fellini, Dreams


I discover I can order
a hand-painted copy
of Watteau's

L'amour au théâtre italien

for $342.99
on September 24th, 2017

almost by accident
by Googling

I don't, but admire the painting
as I continue
to consider what Ken Bolton writes
about another Watteau:

Watteau's happy people make us cry.
They do not see what surrounds them —

Time, & a lot of
big trees, fugitive sky.

There's more to his poem.
There's more to

almost everything
before our Time

endeth. I make
a joke out of that,

that "deth" that is two-thirds
of endeth
is awfully

close to death, just
an a

dropped in. . .by a helicopter. Let's
use the chopper

from Fellini's La Dolce Vita
with the same sound

and clouds, but instead of Jesus

hanging from a chain

and the sexy women in small
bathing suits standing and waving

the same beauties
will wave and be excited by the lower
a. Then

shall we leave
before the a

between the
e and t? PRESTO,
we're back to Watteau:

in the Italian Theatre. A torch

held by a man
under the moon, and again
this isn't

the painting
writes about in his
poem, that painting is

Pilgrimage to Cythera.



is the name
in English

of a poem
in Greek

written by Yannis
Ritsos, who

was a very very very prolific
poet. Leslie and I
visited the house on the little

island, Monemvasia, in the
Peloponnesus, where
Ritsos lived (and we were there
when he was still

alive (though he was not
actually inside the house
when we were outside it)), a survivor
of the TB that killed

his mother and sister
when he was about 12. I had not

to focus
here, too,
on death, but
so much

for intention, intentions (retaining

walls, above which
a blue sky); imagine

the sea
around Monemvasia. It was

to stand near a cliff edge above
the sea, although
normally I

have no fear of


This is the birth
section, where I mention

that in a dream I had
this morning

several white eggs
grew on a green bush

I happen to see as I leave
a building and I

one, effortlessly and

in a dreamy
thoughtless way


it a moment
before I woke. I wasn't


in the dream
of eating the egg, am

not sure why I did
take it, except that I seemed
to want

to hold it.

I had seen, awake, before
going to sleep, a great photo of a

hand holding two eggs (a black-and-white
photo) by Sam Contis in the latest
ARTFORUM (September
2017). I don't

in black-and-white. According
to an article in The New York Times by
Anhaad O'Connor on
December 1st, 2006, a study published in 2006

found that people over 55 who
grew up
without seeing much color

reported dreaming about 25%
of the time in black-and-white
while overall 12% of everyone everyone everyone dreamt
entirely in black-and-white. Fellini's

La Dolce Vita is

black-and-white. Do numbers and

make life feel more here
and death more
abstract—or is it

the other way
around? Back to

the helicopter in the

beginning of La Dolce Vita.

John Levy lives in Tucson, Arizona. His books include Oblivion, Tyrants, Crumbs (First Intensity, 2008), A Mind's Cargo Shifting: fictions (First Intensity, 2011), and the ebook In the Pit of the Empty (otata's bookshelf, 2017). He collaborated with the painter Donald Cole to produce float among what sails & spirals (Dovadola Press and ArtXchange Gallery, 2016), a reading of which is online on vimeo.
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