Sunday, February 15, 2015


Philip Levine
(January 10, 1928 – February 14, 2015)


We stopped at a beer garden,

drank, and watched the usual farmers

watching us, and gave a dull

country laborer a lift

in the wrong direction. He

giggled by the roadside where

we left him, pissing in snow

and waving, forty frozen

miles from home.

                            When the engine

failed, we stood in a circle

of our breathing listening for

the sounds of snow.


just before the dawn of the

second day of a new year

already old, we found her

under white heaps, another

city in another time,

and fell asleep, and wakened

alone and disappointed

in a glass house under a

bare wood roof.    

                               I called out for

you, my brothers and friends, and

someone's children came, someone's

wife — puzzled helpful faces —

saying "father" and "husband."

You never answered, never

heard, under the frozen stars

of that old year where the snow

creaked in great mounds and the air

bronzed from the slag heaps twenty

miles south of Ecorse, for you were

happy, tired, and never going home.


Philip Levine
Not This Pig
Wesleyan University Press 1968


Jonathan Chant said...

Sad news: a great poet.

Bob Arnold / Longhouse said...


ALL poets are "great" in someone's eyes (often their own).

PL lived long, wrote many fine books, and seemed to keep at it right up to the end. There's something great there.

all's well, Bob