John Levy

A Giorgio Morandi Still Life of Five Containers

For the first time looking at this ad I tore out
of ARTNEWS more than eight years ago
for an exhibition in Bolonga in 2011 (taping it

to the back of a door in my house) I see
a bottle as if it's an awkward young man

standing in front of his stout grandmother; she's

taller, a rectangular bottle with a tapered neck,
dignified, strong, and I know this isn't

what Morandi intends. Morandi
didn't want me to think of a person
as I look at any of these five objects

placed near each other on a table
in this painting. He'd shut himself in, at home, to re-

what? Re-create? Yes and no. See and re-

see, and find, open himself in relation
to whatever shapes of things can mean, at any time

there is time
to be alone with
looking and feeling how lines, volumes, colors, juxta-

positions, edges become



It has been well

over a year since I heard (imagined)

anything that reminded me of my late mother

calling me Johnny. Once
in a while, while she was still

alive, and also after, I did

the two syllables and how she'd
shape them, her pitch

and voice. Nothing

like the sound of air being shaped
loudly by a ship, probably

a ferryboat, that noise
that sounds as if it is always

above a body of water. Or a train
for that matter. Or gulls.


An oven grows on a stem and when you open
the oven door you're a stone and the oven
spirit takes your place. Its personality

apparently close enough to yours that when it returns
to your home and speaks your language
no one realizes it's not you. Not

your spouse or your children. Meanwhile, as a stone
you understand that you don't understand
why you're in an oven or how the oven is supported

by a slender stalk. Then you realize you can think.
What you can't grasp is why no one at your home
misses who you were.

How do you even know that,
you wonder. Then you realize you don't, you're
just being even more paranoid. It's then

that you feel the heaviness
of your stone self. The rain begins to pour,
but you're inside, dry.

A Child at the Wheel

Soon after we arrived in Meligalas we rented a the small house on the northeast end of the village, below an abandoned church on a hill. We spent a week cleaning and painting the house, which had been uninhabited for a long time. One morning we were outside near the dirt road in front of the house when an old black car (it was 1983 and the car was at least 40 years old) slowly passed by. The boy driving was about seven and another boy, around the same age, sat next to him in the front seat. No one was in the back seat. We watched it go down into the village and then it was gone.

I don't remember ever seeing that driver again. We lived in the village for two years. It was the single time I saw a child driving. I remembered it just now, about 37 years later. I wonder where the boy driver is. And is he still close to his passenger?

Valentine's Day 2020
                                                                            for Leslie

Last year I made, not drew, a heart on the dirt
path at the back of our yard with red or reddish
stones and one fragment of a red tile. Then you

put inside it, where there was room, our
initials, with small white stones
I never read. Some time after

your tribute to us I saw a scattering of
what seemed random stuff inside the heart and
cleared it out. A little after that was when you told me

what you'd spelled out there. Perhaps a coyote,
javelina, bobcat or deer stepped
onto our adjacent initials, rendering them illegible

or, more likely, not knowing they were there I
didn't recognize them when I thought I was making
the heart itself more emphatic.

John Levy's book of poetry, Among the Consonants, was published by The Elizabeth Press in 1980. Another book of poems, Oblivion, Tyrants, Crumbs, was published by First Intensity Press in 2008. His most recent book of poems, published by otata's bookshelf in 2019, is Silence Like Another Name.
previous page     contents     next page


Post a Comment

<< Home