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Refuge Field

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You have installed a voice that can soothe you: agents
         of the eaten flesh, every body

         a cocoon of change—

Puparium. The garden
         a birthing house, sarcophagidae—

And green was so dark in the night-garden, in the garden's
         gourd of air—

green's epitome
         of green's peace, the beautiful inhuman

leg-music, crickets'
a pulse

         to build their houses by,
         successive molt

a tent of skin
         in which skin can grow, the metallic sheen
of their blue backs

         as they hatch out, winged and mouthed—

Like in a charnel ground, you sit and see.

In one of the Eight Great
         Cemeteries, you sit and see—

How the skull-grounds
         are ringed by flame, how they spread out under
a diamond tent, how the adepts
among bones—

         saying I who fear dying, I who fear
being dead—

         Refuge field.

         See it now.

That assembly of sages you would have yourself
to hear the lineage
         from mouth to ear, encounter the truth-

Saying, Soft eaters, someone's children, who gives them
         refuge from want—

Cynomyopsis Cadavarena. On every tongue
         they feed.

Source: Poetry (December 2006)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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Refuge Field

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  • 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 Theatre also won the John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares, the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the PEN/Osterweil Award.
    Levin’s free-verse, image-driven poems grapple with the legacies of both Confessionalism and Language poetry by engaging and questioning the self, while using line breaks, punctuation, and syntax as primarily sound-driven tools. In a 2008 interview with the Kenyon Review, Levin noted, “[F]or me, imagination is a transpersonal force. Its products can come unbidden; when asked to be employed it is...

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