At the End of My Hours

By Dana Levin b. 1965 Dana Levin
I

here I’m here I’m here I’m

here here here here cricket

pulse — the katydidic tick

(and then a pause) tick

(and then a pause) in greening trees — tales

of a gratitude for water, the hollyhock’s

trumpet Yes, Tenderness

her glove and hoe — her bad trip

love/grief, her medic tent

talking me down, kissed fissures

in the world’s despair, what I’d

loved — alive for a while — a day called

Rip and Brood, a day called

Glorious Hour, the long hunt and the worm found

in the battered petunias — every

morning in summer

that last summer

before the bees collapsed and the seas rose up

to say Fuck You


II

perplexed by how it hadn’t been

unfailingly compatible, our

being numerous — how half the time

we couldn’t see the shapes

we were supposed to make

made grave our disasters — a god’s glass

bearing down

to burn the wheat crop — to keep time alive

inside a tomato, splicing

fish into fruit — some

wanted to defy limitation

were offered famine

bric-a-brac townships

virtual cities

where you could stand in market aisles

still expecting cherries


III

his rhythms were your rhythms

Murray the cat — sleeping à deux

draped your length from hip to knee

like a scabbard — unsheathed his yawn

tortured finches for breakfast

yowled and yowled round the ravaged bowl

till you fed him chicken

from your own plate

another mouth

pearling the wheel of appetite, coveting

a bloody mash

to keep it going — such a dumb rondeau

who invented it!

eating to live to kill to eat, even

cat on a stick when fields failed, no

crave for rain against the blasted scape

nor love nor god at the end

of my hours, but

garlic and butter

a splash of cognac

steak frites


IV

and when soil burned and order failed

and dogs then people starved in char I remembered

an extraordinary peace, the privilege

of   being left alone with bread to eat

and famous butter “the chefs use,” the venues

of white sleep, cannabis and Klonopin

the soma-goods of art and when

my back went up against a blackened wall

for rumored beans in dented cans I forgot

my body — became a future remembering

how it got that way, some

blah blah blah — about hoarding rivers

and hiding gold, we

died in droves — we killed each other and we

killed ourselves until our bones wore out

their plastic shrouds


V

I couldn’t quite

quit some ideas — trees and chocolate

I couldn’t stop yammering

over the devastated earth

pining for nachos — prescription drugs

and a hint of   spring, though I could see

the new desert — its bumper-crop

of   bone and brick

from shipwrecked cities — where now

the sons and daughters of someone tough

are on the hunt for rat — the scent of meat

however mean and a root

sending an antenna up, to consider

greening — what poems built their houses for

once, in a blindered age, teaching us

the forms we felt, in rescue — hoarded-up scraps

whirling around my cave

trying to conjure peaches

NOTES: Read the Q&A with Dana Levin about this poem

Source: Poetry (December 2012).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2012
 Dana  Levin

Biography

Poet Dana Levin grew up in California’s Mojave Desert and earned a BA from Pitzer College and an MA from New York University. Levin’s collections of poetry include In the Surgical Theatre (1999), Wedding Day (2005), and Sky Burial (2011). Selecting Levin’s manuscript for the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize, Louise Glück praised the work as “sensuous, compassionate, violent, extravagant.” In the Surgical . . .

Continue reading this biography

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.