Eagle Nest, New Mexico, 2012. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.

PHB

My Photo
Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and an '86 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of '97 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 24 years-we're recyclers. I've published 2 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), and THE O'BRIENS (2012), and 2 collections of stories NIGHT DRIVING (1987), and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my book stuff at www.peterbehrens.org I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'll be teaching at Colorado College and Wichita State in 2013-14.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

America the Beautiful & Walt Whitman & Larry Levis


Whitman:     
   “I say we had better look our nation searchingly in the face, like a physician diagnosing some deep disease.” -Democratic Vistas

“Look for me under your bootsoles.”

On Long Island, they moved my clapboard house
Across a turnpike, & then felt so guilty they
Named a shopping center after me!

Now that I’m required reading in your high schools,
Teenagers call me a fool.
Now what I sang stops breathing.

And yet
It was only when everyone stopped believing in me
That I began to live again—
First in the thin whine of Montana fence wire,
Then in the transparent, cast-off garments hung
In the windows of the poorest families,
Then in the glad music of Charlie Parker.
At time now,
I even come back to watch you
From the eyes of a taciturn boy at Malibu.
Across the counter at the beach concession stand,
I see you hot dogs, Pepsis, cigarettes-
My blond hair long, greasy, & swept back
In a vain old ducktail, deliciously
Out of style. And no one notices.
Once I even came back as me,
An aging homosexual who the Tilt-a-Whirl
At county fairs, the chilled paint on each gondola
Changing color as it picked up speed,
And a Mardi Gras tattoo on my left shoulder.
A few of you must have seen my photographs,
For when I looked back,
I thought you caught the meaning of my stare:

Still water,
Merciless.

A Kosmos. One of the roughs.

And Charlie Parker’s grave outside Kansas City
Covered with weeds.

Leave me alone.
A father who’s outlived his only child.

To find me now will cost you everything.

-Larry Levis, from his collection "Winter Stars"

No comments:

Post a Comment