(Fall 2009)
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Philip Levine: A Symposium

Peter Klappert
"To a Child Trapped in a Barber Shop": And We Stopped Crying
Lee Upton
"Animals Are Passing from Our Lives": Yes. Yes, This Pig
Edward Hirsch
"They Feed They Lion": Lionizing Fury
Kathy Fagan
"Let Me Begin Again": Nice Work If You Can Get It
Kate Daniels
"The Fox": A Vision
Tom Sleigh
"The Two": Wringing the Neck of Eloquence
David St. John
"Call It Music": Breath’s Urgent Song


Philip Levine

A Wall in Naples and Nothing More

Betsy Sholl
Jesse Lee Kercheval
Lee Upton
The Mermaids Sang to Me
Debra Allbery
Piazza di Spagna, 1821
Alice George
Alison Palmer
Days Fallen Into
Sherod Santos
The Memory-Keeper
Elizabeth Breese
Grenora, N. D.
Daneen Wardrop
Life as It
Judith Skillman
Hot and Cold
Karin Gottshall

Dogtooth Violet

Anne Haines
The Fuel
Elton Glaser
Gifts Out of Dirty Weather
Jay Rogoff
David Dodd Lee
I Can’t Remember
Jim Daniels
Judy Garland Esperanto
David Bowie Esperanto
Joe Cocker Esperanto
J. W. Marshall
Two Poems, One Conceit
Seward Park
Michael Chitwood
The Collection
Chana Bloch
A Mantle
Flour and Ash
Chase Twichell
Cold Water
Marianne Boruch
"The suffering of the masters, Chekhov wrote"
"Stopped behind a school bus, I saw"
Shirley Kaufman
Ralph Burns
Palo Duro Canyon
Bill Edmondson
The Cost of Health Care
David Wagoner
A Room
Brett Eugene Ralph
The Student
Nance Van Winckel
Will Schutt
  Forgetting Waukesha, Remembering St. Helena
Man Reading in Sauna
Gretchen Primack
Nancy Willard
  The Monastery Kitchen

There is more, there’s the perfect
blue of sky, there’s a window, and hanging
from the sill what could be garments
of green cloth. Or perhaps they’re rugs?
Where is everyone? you ask. Someone
must live in this house, for this wall
surely belongs to a house, why else
would there be washing on a day
of such perfect sky? You assume
that everyone is free to take in
the beach, to leisurely stroll the strand,
weather permitting, to leave shoes
and socks on a towel even here
in a city famous for petty crime.
For Thomas Jones, not the singer
the ladies threw knickers and room keys
at, but the Welsh painter, it was light
unblurring a surface until the light
became the object itself the way
these words or any others can’t.
I’m doing my feeble best to entrance you
without a broad palette of the colors
which can make a thing like nothing
else, make it come alive with the grubby
texture all actual things possess
after the wind and weather batter them
the way all my years battered
my tongue and teeth until whatever
I say comes out sounding inaccurate,
wrong, ugly. Yes, ugly, the way a wall
becomes after whoever was meant
to be kept out or kept in has been
transformed perfectly into the light
and dust that collect constantly
on each object in a living world.

--Philip Levine

Copyright © 2009 by Oberlin College. May not be reproduced without permission.



One of my parents was a flame, the other a rope.
One was a tire, the other a dial tone.

In the night I’d wake to a hum and the faint
smell of burnt rubber.

One of my parents was a flag, the other a shoe.

The ideogram tattooed on my lower back
is the one for dog trying to run on ice.

One of my parents was a star already gone out,
the other a cup I carried into the night,
convinced it was fragile.

One of my parents I drank, the other I dreamed.

In the revolving door of my becoming,
one pushed from inside, one from without.
Thus, my troubled birth, my endless stammer.

One was an eyebrow, the other a wink.
How they amused each other.

One was a candle, the other a bird. I was ashamed
of not burning, embarrassed I couldn’t fly.

I was a girl calling across the ice to a dog
she didn’t have.

--Betsy Sholl

Copyright © 2009 by Oberlin College. May not be reproduced without permission.


The rivers have jumped ship.

I know my place among the missing.

Huddled in my home, the water
is cold at my feet. The wooden rafters
sink from weight. And I wait.

This is the last day for walking
the ground. The cemetery,
lithe, its stones afloat.

Here come the deadened ones,
the gone too early, too late.

A concrete bassinet with chiseled
baby inside rests outside my door.

I watch through the window.
The living make their way
to higher ground, as the dead
take their lead from the water.

I open the door, signal to a man on
a raft, his family in tow.

This is more than lightness. This
is more than mere sorrow.
This is the world saying, here,
here is your way to travel.

--Alison Palmer

Copyright © 2009 by Oberlin College. May not be reproduced without permission.


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