My only advice is not to go away.

Grief is made luminous in this intensely beautiful Larry Levis (1946-1996) poem I have been reading and re-reading for the past year.

“In the City of Light”

The last thing my father did for me
Was map a way: he died, & so
Made death possible. If he could do it, I
Will also, someday, be so honored. Once,

At night, I walked through the lit streets
Of New York, from the Gramercy Park Hotel
Up Lexington & at that hour, alone,
I stopped hearing traffic, voices, the racket

Of spring wind lifting a newspaper high
Above the lights. The streets wet,
And shining. No sounds. Once,

When I saw my son be born, I thought
How loud this world must be to him, how final.

That night, out of respect for someone missing,
I stopped listening to it.

Out of respect for someone missing,
I have to say

This isn’t the whole story.
The fact is, I was still in love.
My father died, & I was still in love. I know
It’s in bad taste to say it quite this way. Tell me,
How would you say it?

The story goes: wanting to be alone & wanting
The easy loneliness of travelers,

I said good-bye in an airport & flew west.
It happened otherwise.
And where I’d held her close to me,
My skin felt raw, & flayed.

Descending, I looked down at light lacquering fields
Of pale vines, & small towns, each
With a water tower; then the shadows of wings;
Then nothing.

My only advice is not to go away.
Or, go away. Most

Of my decisions have been wrong.

When I wake, I lift cold water
To my face. I close my eyes.

A body wishes to be held, & held, & what
Can you do about that?

Because there are faces I might never see again,
There are two things I want to remember
About light, & what it does to us.

Her bright, green eyes at an airport—how they widened
As if in disbelief;
And my father opening the gate: a lit, & silent



Happy National Poetry Month

Dear readers,

Although I’m slightly bewildered that April is upon us already, I am very much looking forward to sharing another round of poems with you in honor of National Poetry Month. Whether you are a new visitor or have been kindly following for the last seven (!) years, welcome to another romp through verse from near and far, from recent decades and centuries past.

“Poetry is my daily bread and I want it to be the bread of all people,” wrote the tremendous Iraqi poet and activist Saadi Youssef. Yes. Sharing this nourishing bread is, after all, the reason I began this blog in the first place. During days overflowing with e-mails and workloads and the litany of to-dos that make us perpetually “busy,” I invite you stop for a moment and sink your teeth into a poem. Perhaps you, too, will find yourself wanting more.