John Levy

After Guillevic
                                              for John Martone

Straight Line: Occasionally
the circle dreams
of how it would feel
if it could
stretch out
two ways.

Dotted Line: It's true,
sure, no dotted line
appears to be a giant
(unless in a book, say, for
a child in which
the point is to connect them) and
modesty, acceptance
of limit, becomes

Broken Line: together we stood
in the Heard Museum
in front of the old barber
in the long exhibit of how
Native American boys
and girls were forced to
have their hair cut, stop
wearing the clothes their
gave them, drop their own


One of those words.

Its last half sounds
like sinking, like your

and you're. It is short and

swallows up vowels
at an alarming rate

yet slowly too. A I U E, what a word

you'd not want
to hear; being stuck

with the same spot

and at the same spot the pit.
Pelted, manhandled. Collecting

yourself again, you wish

the word away; let it
sink without you.


In an essay the reader's

don't bump along the way

they do
in most poems, bumpity-


Lines were longer in poems when Napoleon
rode his horse

and stayed just as long
as his boots touched earth once more.

When it rained the drops gathered on his hat

and traveled at various speeds
thanks to gravity, which the drops

did not thank with words, nor
did Napoleon, wet and moving.

Note to Ken Bolton

"I like time" you write in your
poem 'Star Eyes'

and I think

as I listen to the garage door
shut (Leslie

going out to meet a friend
for coffee while I'm

in the storeroom of the garage that
I altered to make my study, a long

narrow space crammed
with books, papers, magazines, photos,

clippings, etc.) that
Anthony Bourdain, the latest

famous suicide, must've
decided he stopped

liking it. Your poems
are no more the famous

stream of consciousness

than an architect's
plans, so yes and no all

over and in every corner.
You and I are both older

than Bourdain was a dozen
days ago when he hung himself with his

bathrobe belt in a small hotel.
I thought, still do, it must've been

an impulse, apparently
irresistible, to decide to

hang himself or one thinks
he would've found or bought

a rope. It's not as if
he couldn't have afforded

the small length. He had said
he'd had everything he dreamed of

and had said that quite a number
of years before

seemingly deciding that his dreams
weren't worth living for? Who

knows? There was no news of a
note left behind and his mother

said she was shocked, never
thought he would do that. Though

a few friends
said he had been down. Down.

The word, down, sounds
like one has had enough, done

enough, is
done. I didn't even watch a full

episode of his TV shows
so why do I care? Though I

listened to an interview with him
a year or so ago and am listening to another

now. He seems, in the
interview, to not like so much

who he was sometimes, especially
when he was an addict, but

is energetic, seems
happy to both talk about himself

and listen to the interviewer (Marc
Maron, fine

interviewer and a character
himself). A bathrobe belt?

I, too, like time. Though I wouldn't
have ever thought to say it

like that
before reading your poem.

Your poems
flow, so in that way they are

streamlike, and I'd say
they're streamlined too, though long

usually, and wonderfully. What

you care about and see
clearly fills

your poems, unpredictably
and you laugh

at yourself much more than at any
other human, but not

in any whining manner.
I like Bolton poems.

John Levy lives in Tucson, Arizona. His most recent book of poems is On Its Edge, Tilted (otata, 2018), available at https://otatablog.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/onitsedgeprint-with-isbn.pdf
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