School of Flesh

By Dana Levin b. 1965 Dana Levin
And blush for a cheek of stone.   

      Blush for the lips sewn tight with thread, no speech for the dead   

      You’ve got the razor. You can make each suture snap.   

      And watch the mouth   
bloom up with foam,   
      as if he’d drowned himself in soap—   

      You lift the neck and let the head drop back.   
The mouth yawns wide its prize—   

      White thrive.   
The larval joy.   
      Hot in their gorge on the stew of balms,   
a moist exhale—   
      as if there were a last breath, a taunt   
      into your inner ear, Good Dog, you dig your hands in,   
      the glossal   

      saying, Graduate   
of the School of Flesh,   
      Father Conspirator—   

      I will learn it.   
      I will bite the tongue from the corpse.

Source: Poetry (January 2004).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Poetry magazine

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January 2004
 Dana  Levin


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 . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, School & Learning, The Body, Activities, Nature, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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