Monday Jul 22

Harriet-Levin Harriet Levin’s first book of poems, The Christmas Show, (Beacon Press) was selected by Eavan Boland for a Barnard New Women Poet’s Prize and was a winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, A PEW Fellowship in the Arts Discipline Winner and a Philadelphia Inquirer Notable Book. Her poems are forthcoming in Harvard Review and Prairie Schooner. Her new book, a 2009 National Poetry Series Finalist, Girl in Cap and Gown, is forthcoming from Mammoth Books in Fall 2009. She teaches at Drexel University where she directs the University Writing Program.

I wish I could bumble and buzz
transfer honey to the tongue
of the stranger gyrating his hips,
his drink in his hand,
and lick off the salt rim
encrusting his tongue stud

with the unsullied swagger
of honeybee daggers in captivity
for three thousand miles
when their crate doors swing open     
on almond blossoms.

When I sashay up, he recognizes me
as if after 18 years, an event more momentous
than the honeybee release, because at that moment
someone bumps my elbow
and my drink spills and his drink spills
and as he reaches over
to help assemble
the ghostly broken vessels

his knuckles brush the crotch on my too tight jeans
I'd like to hurriedly remove.
Is it just the clinging material
or my soul cleaving
or the solely material
weave of airwaves
collapsing the dark caves
beneath my eyes?

My fingers let go
stinging with ardor
as into the bower of each open flower.
Night Walk

The barking wakes
me after midnight. How he busted out—
the lever on his crate open.
It is as if I myself am called upon
to urinate on roses, shastas, azaleas
but mostly on the espaliers

planted a foot apart
staked up through their hearts
trained to grow straight

in the white moonscape
of the April Nor’easter,
among spewed chunks of ice

and downed branches
where leaves had already died
curled up in wind.

I am called to dig
under it, rupture skin
to reach bone

with stark logic nourished on cold.
Night makes me feel liquidy
cast off in shadows

sliding toward tree limbs,
the locked chambers of tree trunks
that guard enormous rings inside.
As I nose from stick
to stick, the leash pulls me further
from the house.

Wind haunted trees howl.
My voice a crashing
night voice hurled back
into space like lights
in a skyline
illuminating distance.
And of that distance I know.
My hands grow cold.
They open the door,

the storm in the heart door,
an automatic release,
a touch of something in the wiring.