Reading Primo Levi Off Columbus Circle

By J. T. Barbarese b. 1948
Re-reading him in Bouchon
past noon, it is mobbed midtown,
like an ant farm seen through painkillers.
God, what a bust it’s all been,

capitalism, communism, feminism,
this lust to liberate.
Che should have stayed in medicine.
The girls here admit they can’t wait

to marry and get to the alimony,
before they hit thirty. The men,
heads skinned like Lager inmates,
know only the revolutions

in diets and spinning classes.
Still, one table away,
these two, with gnarled empretzled hands,
seem unhappy in the old way.

Source: Poetry (April 2013).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2013
 J. T. Barbarese


J.T. Barbarese’s new book, Sweet Spot, was published this spring by Northwestern University Press.

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