AFTER LEVINE

What does it mean to write
a poem that is angry? Little fox
raising a stone to his head-height
threatening lords and ladies 
on the path. This morning I rose 
into a feeling, a kind of dampness
despite the nice weather, a cold 
dark cloth draped over my head,
stuffed in my guts. Last night, 
in haste, I pulled open a bag 
of chamomile, spilled its seeds 
over my cup, drank it anyway, 
without filter. Nothing angry there.
Except my haste was to avoid
another feeling. I knew what
I was brewing up. Knew what
was coming, or wasn’t. What 
would not. Oh to feel as clear
and sharp and sure as I felt
overlooking the old streetcars,
certain it was a crime to be made
to clean up a mess that wasn’t 
mine—my earliest memory
a toddler’s anger, mildly Byronic
I sometimes think—the self-
importance, someone who doesn’t
know the world is any bigger
than what he is able to see. Doesn’t
understand that the injustice
doesn’t extend beyond his self

DOMOVOI

Helpless I watch the sun trace
across the asphalt—my voice speaks
when they are sleeping—
they do not know why I beg for bread
and salt—what feelings 
are mine and what belongs to them—
when I arrived it was without 
blood of chicken or goat—they did not sprinkle 
the four corners of this one bedroom—
didn’t speak my name or say their prayers—
let the dog disturb me in his haste
to shout at the glass—he is
the only one who knows—snarling, 
suspicious—the fur raised 
around his slim neck—should feel 
instead weight beyond cunning—terror—
what he cannot know—what, 
if abused,
could destroy him. Sometimes pain is felt
in one place but found elsewhere—
sometimes the sun when it moves
becomes something living

I WILL GO WITH YOU AND I WILL HOLD YOUR HAND

to reset I used to go to the art gallery, search for a painting that would arrest
no specific feeling—I wanted to be either surprised or held
I’d carry a little notebook with me and sometimes leave my phone at home
or else mostly ignore it or only take pictures—now M
wants to go to the art gallery. we all do. I told her this afternoon
that I was running towards the blue, an imagined blue screen that hung in front of me
like something I would never reach—the Aegean, I said, mourning
the dead recast as heroes, or not heroes exactly but figures of tragedy, ancient 
consequence, betrayed mores—I’d downloaded the audio from a movie that I’d watched
the previous night, listened to it with headphones—she said in her next message
that my voice sounded different than it did elsewhere—
I liked what she said, more alive to itself, something like that—while she searched
for the word I thought immediately and without hesitation it was “open”
something that in this quarantine I have sometimes struggled to do—
tonight I read a book that surprised me, then I got out of bed to fulfill a promise
I kept making and breaking—to smoke weed on the back deck
let myself feel or concentrate on the action—to take deep and slow breaths
back in bed a sound is coming out of my throat
except it is noiseless—full and round and like a kiss on the neck

A GEOGRAPHY

meditating felt like I was pushing through sludge—some final 
resistance, some difficulty—held in the body but not in the brain, or 
in the brain but bodily—passing their house, desire to explain—
what needs to be explained?—light of the sun on the facing buildings, 
neighbours passing in and out, with groceries—on the front lawn a sign
free, cat deceased—easier to throw out than have to speak 
to the street, to keep record—what needs to be explained, what needs to 
illuminated, what needs to be brought—what is the new responsibility, 
what is carried—how can I be sure that what is called up in me is only
muscles or footsteps, vibrations and jarring—something apart from love 
apart from desire, apart from need? know now I’m drawing a boundary:
at the conclusion of this poem whatever it is will be released