First Night

Either the courtyard
of this hotel
wept all night

or the elevator
is haunted.



Geryon's Master Of Always - For Stefan Zweig (1881-1942)

We only ever question what is good for us,
but never what is bad...

Have you noticed:
the luckiest people never once blame luck,

and the beautiful
call beauty
a curse,

again and again...

It's not the high that kills you,
it is the next morning...

Loneliness of mirrors
is the detail that kills...

Sometimes the longing for a body,
any body,


friend, enemy, lover,

is too much,

too much to bear,
beneath the frailty
of skin...

When the child is happy,
everything she does,
she wishes she could do twice...


I admit,
I never had the same
with others,
even as a child...

Once you’ve both decided,
spoken or unspoken,
you’ll never agree on the past,
you’ve already made your maps of
the future...

Always last to go to bed.
Always last to fall asleep,
Not until the house is quiet,
and the boys are tucked in.

First love, first lust:

Not until it's too late
do you finally realize
that the only way
to discover your body
is with
the hands
of another...

“And life loves on…”

Francis Bacon: "...realism needs to be reinvented..."

So you hope they don’t ask who you are today.

Thirty two year old searching for quarters to do his laundry...

How many times have you drowned in your sleep?

Is this why you’re the last to fall,
even as that child
with no

Truth skin disintegrates between my fingers
quite often…

And when the bull and the butterfly mated
the butterfly ate the bull
leaving nothing but bones
in the grass...

All of this future?

There’s no instrument
invented yet to measure
desire or memory...

Creaking tables excite me...

Sometimes the longing for another body,
someone’s you know
someone’s you don’t,
is too much to bear…

Flashes of her enjoyment
somewhere in time
often feel like a knife slash
to the throat...

Who is the one who told you
you could leave in joy?

I spend my time reading books
on strategy,
on war,
by men
with names
like Clausowitz.

I'm preparing
for some catastrophe
that already happened...

Uncork the bottle of our youth again?

And I seek an imagination
with no reason, point or morality.

A frivolous imagination
with no meaning
but the desires of the dreamer:

To see the lions in the streets again,
and not fear them…

Street washers at 3 a.m.

I watch them.
They watch the sidewalk,
miraculously deflecting
streams of water
with bent trashcan lids
as I walk by
after leaving
far too late...

Why must we wear uniforms?

My stillness is movement,
my movement is still.

Her stillness was movement,
her movement so still,

not even we could tell the difference...

And when I was between
child and man,
son and father,
brother and enemy…

God ran though my veins.

I never forgot this,
it never once
happened again...

(Between brushing my teeth
drowning in Concrete
I never once
flew in my sleep...)

Past inhales
not enough...

I licked my uncle’s head when his child died.
I licked my uncle’s wound when his child died.

He didn’t cringe.
He wouldn’t cry.

His child died.
My uncle I barely knew,
whose child died.

In my dream I cleaned
the gash on his head
with my tongue
when his child died.

I took the hate venom
in my teeth
when his child died.

It was only a dream,
and then he too died

without saying

Too many reasons,
we all stay too long


she wore two watches,
one on either hand.

The left one was so big.
The right one was so small.

The left one told the past here.
The right one told the future there.

But where was there?

There was where here was not.

There was where she was going,

Away from all the books where she met me.

She was not taking the bus.
She never did once.

She was waiting for a car
driven by a man in uniform,
just as she always was
and would be.

A car,
A helicopter,
A plane.

No matter how she went,
or where,
there was a city
away from here
only she alone knew.

Only she knew,
and then
she slipped
her body
out of
both watches,

and handed them to me,

before she got in
the door,
and escaped

When still
I often find myself thinking
of the law of inertia,
Of hurtling through time
and space with no purpose,
but gaining momentum
against my will
with each passing second
to nowhere in particular.

One day you’re just okay with it.

One day you understand
that whether it is
sleep or dream
somewhere in between,

one day,
it’s suddenly okay
to be moving
in any way

you can...

All that you remember
The no measure of what’s been lost...

One day
There will be this: (...),

and this will be you.

It is okay...

I spend my time
arguing with
insurance companies
over definitions
for insanity
to cut costs.

The shame
of it
all is

a mind
can’t be
to India...

Only time whispers


The trick is being around
to hear it...

And the skin
at my elbows
is wasting
no matter
what I rub
on them...

Playing with edges
like they aren’t sharp
until they cut
through the between
of your lover’s

The weight of memory is the burden of the details…

I love women in skirts
and beautiful shoes
with heels too;

so much so
I think
I just made
them all

It’s not that I had no fear,
It’s that I went the distance

with my fear...

They can take it all from me


They can not hire me
They can not talk to me
They can not pay me.
They can not feed me
They can not love me
They can not hate me.
They can not hear me.
They can not listen to me.
They can not know me.
They can not breathe me.
They can not acknowledge me.
They can not me.
They can not take me on vacation...

Until time is no time,
until universe is no universe
and the dream of dreams dies,

Not until then.
Not until then.

My voice goes on
the glass bell ringing at dawn.

Let me breathe my transgression.

Los Angeles - 5/15/07

Gone To Espana...

...to wander aimlessly in search of the Duende that ran away from me when I was nine...


Endless Gulf Disco - Winter, 2003

Endless Gulf Disco - Winter, 2003, originally uploaded by levari.


Last Of The Mohicans

More and more
I understand
In these times


The Last


Moments My Generations (Rilke)

The entire city
Saw him off,

If only
In his mind.

It was all
Hot air balloons,
Ticker tape
Falling from the sky,

And golden gilded balconies
Filled to standing room only
With the elbowing elated.

The streets were lined with
Towering, blow up icons,
And money pinned by
Underweight pimps
To effigies of blown glass.

There were piles of books
And, of course,

Always fire.
A hand turns this dial...

I wake
And she sleeps dying
Through her nose,

Hogging the bed
All the while.

Again and again
We find our ways
To hide
From everyone,

Camouflaged only
By wooden floorboards.

Rivers of our
Unborn children
Escape us
Each morning,

Trying so desperately
To reclaim lost time

And falling.

We are planted
Permanently here,
For now,

But will never admit
To this
Roots and loam and water.

A raised cup for the


If they remember to read
The sections of the map
That hold
The living
To nothing.

When I couldn’t sleep
My grandfather
Told me
With no point;

How, in the end,
The Mongols
Finally retreated

To die
With honor
Beside foreign wells
They would not
Drink from.

It was not the outline of her ear

But the words
She refused
To hear.

One day
Our father will call,
I promise.

He’ll tell us he is leaving,
So get dinner ready
For his empty chair.

I only handled a rifle once.

I was eleven, and
A prodigy of a thousand deaths


I pulled the trigger and
It blew up in my face;

I didn’t even get the chance
To destroy my perfect aim.

We as children laid
On mildewed mats
In firing position,

Waiting obediently
For the last signal
From God

Again and again.

No one ever
Had the courage
To sit
In the stool
We built from snow.

I can’t remember anymore

Taught us
To uncork
The grenade

And then walk away.

No one talks about
The last century

We just buy the clothes,

And how many more
Innocent buildings
Must be lost
To satellite TV?

They took him prisoner
For his own good
To protect the others
From the 8th

Without looking up
The guard told him
That union rules stipulated
He must change
His shit-stained

And that there were no
Shoes left

That could fit
So small.

We take pictures
To seal in boxes
And forget

Through all of this:

All of these days,
All of these ages,
All of these channels,
All of these addictions:

We will still try to protect you

Because we couldn’t
Get it right
The first time.

If you haven't guessed yet

I stared out at
The blinking,
Time echoed city
Of my birth,

And the sign
Above the skyline

You must change your life.

Bryn Mawr, PA – 10/6/06


Jeff's Garden - 11/05

Jeff's Garden - 11/05, originally uploaded by levari.


Ode To The Ceiling Fan

the smells
of our

Los Angeles - 5/10/07


Monkeys (Spring, 84')

John Swort wanted to be a monkey. He checked out every book there was about monkeys from the library. He knew every species, what continent they lived on and the food each liked to eat.

His obsession became so intense, after a few months, he could no longer control himself. He'd suddenly leap up on a desk, grab his armpits, run this way and that, while making his idea of screeching monkey sounds. He'd drink a gallon of water and let out loud belches, spitting the biley backwash on anyone and everyone around him. During recess he'd climb to the top of the swings and hang upside down for forty five minutes like it was nothing at all. Everyone was scared of him.

John Swort once saw a bee during reading class and sprang to his feet grabbing a dictionary from off the teacher's desk. Before she could stop him, he swung, trying to flatten the bee, but he missed and smashed through a window cutting up his arms and hands bad, his blood gushing all over the floor.

The next year we heard John Swort went to military school. When he came back during the summer his hair was cut short. He answered questions with a "yes, sir," or a "no, sir," even though it was just us. At the mall he held doors open for older women, and his shirt was always buttoned to the neck, tightly tucked into his pressed trousers.

When we asked if he liked his new school he nodded, but his eyes never met ours once.

No one said anything about monkeys, and he didn't bring it up.

Bryn Mawr, PA - 10/7/06


Swingset (Autumn, 83')

In the Autumn of fourth grade, just after Halloween, Chris Baxter's father showed up during recess and tried to kidnap him while we were playing soccer on the concrete with a half inflated volleyball. He would have gotten Chris Baxter into the back seat of his powder blue Chevy, but Ms. Raguel stood in his father's way even though Mr. Baxter towered over her with his mustache and denim jacket, and cursed at her, every name in the book, without any fear he'd be punished.

But no matter what Mr. Baxter threatened, Ms. Raguel stood her ground in front of the truck and wouldn't let them leave. Chris Baxter didn't say anything the whole time. In his father's hands his body looked like one of those faceless sock puppets we made in arts and crafts.

The police finally arrived with sirens blaring, screeching right up to the swingset. They dragged Mr. Baxter away in hand cuffs while he screamed over and over, "He's my son! He's my son!"

They finally got him into the back seat. We could all see Mr. Baxter's lips moving, but we could no longer hear his words, through the windows it all became muffled cries.

After he was gone, we all stared at Chris Baxter.

"It's my team's ball," he said, grabbing it out of Fred Bohlander's hands.

We watched as he dribbled the ball between his feet, wound up, and then kicked the winning shot through the empty space between the two bike racks that served as the goal.

After that, the whistle blew, and we all went inside for our spelling test.

After that, we never saw Chris Baxter again.

Bryn Mawr, PA - 10/6/06


Obedient Rebellion


Los Angeles - 4/06


Bodies Anymore

The fish danced
On our stomachs
All night long.

Dawn sounds:

Haitian French mixed with scattered English,
Distant doors slamming then opening again,
A loud knock repeating four times I don't answer,
Hallway whispers about what to do...


Then the inevitable, murderous
Screaming from somewhere else,
Somewhere between
The walls


Is it a cat crying
Or a woman
Over and over again?

Then, like a forgotten faucet
Finally turned off,
Voice stops.

There's no one to ask because


Didn't hear it,
And I know
I'll be afraid
To tell her
As I follow
Through the streets;

She dressed in her white

Sun dress,


And cell phone,

As the men,
The men,
Always stare.

My pride.
My hate.

And we'll pretend to ignore the gazes.

Talk of Dim Sum
At 10 a.m.
In the July heat.

Either way, I tell myself,
At least this is not all

And this rich man's
White on white

We have somehow
Borrowed from chance
For the last two days,

Would not be better
If it were anywhere
But here.

So I lie in this bed
Scribbling luxorious
On silk sheets
While trying
To leave the
Cost of concrete
Out of this precision.

I am content
To listen
To this
Sleeping body
Beside me
That breathes
Over and over
Without my want

For once,

Have you ever listened to
A sleeping body,

A body that stretches and breaks
Again and again
Just to hold back and contain
For one more night?

This body,
It makes its own sounds,

Like it's saying a name
That is no longer
An accusation.

And then I wonder
I write letters
In the late afternoon
To people I’m
To know
And want to,

But not afraid

To admit
I have not ever

And probably never will.

I turn back to her
And our bodies
Spin with the fish,

Though her body tries
Its best to sleep fitfully,
But fails

Because of dreams.

Then I get close
To this free falling,
Dreaming material:

Skin, bones, arms, legs…

This mysterious body
I may have once known
As well as my own,

But not too close,
For touch is sometimes

Just have to learn when,

And this can
Be taught
Through much
And much

Failure is the ultimate priviledge
In this regard.

Her eyes are covered
From the light
In a dark, cotton scarf
Of her choosing,
Just like they always were


Covered like a devout
Muslim wife
Who will never
Follow along
In my footsteps

I know this now.

Covered eyes,
So no one can see
The vulnerability
In this

Mourning dawn darkness.

Her body cannot
Her dreams


Then the streets
Can break me of
My stumbling
That observes us,

Our last days.

All of this cuts,
And will continue to,
Long after
We have forgotten
This city,

There is no sense
In denying this

But blood is life
And, yes,

When dried into the
Scabs that will never
Completely fall away,

Sometimes there will be the sound of our separate laughter too.

Just listen
And the clotting
Might even begin.

But remember this:

A body can only
Tell you
Everything and nothing

All at the same time.

New York City – 7/8/06


Leopard Claws Out Of Mouth

So many friends
and so few minutes,

all of us so tired,
why spend these moments?

And yet
when we come to you
you always
make sure
there are chocolates

on every table,
on every chair.

And as we look at you,
as we always do,

for that is their obligation,
and mine,

You say what you must say,
you do what you must do,
and twirl,

forever hiding.

will never know
who did this.

Los Angeles 2/20/07


Self Portrait - Summer, 2003

Self Portrait - Summer, 2003, originally uploaded by levari.