Phillis Levin

As It Happens
September 5, 2015 Levin Phillis

As It Happens


As it happens, there was nothing left, so much to do, a plethora
Of urgencies, an unguent unglued.

As it happens, everyone who wanted something had nothing to gain,
Nothing to lose, given the plenitude, given the remorse.

As it happens, somersaults on the grass were not prohibited,
Not exhibited, but not for the reasons you’d suspect.

As it happens, the classical stance broke down, the stoic wept,
Theaters opened in gutters, the rats came out to applause.

As it happens, the spectacle stuck in our throats, the aftermath
Burst through the branches and flared, matchsticks sizzled with rain.

Lucky are they who sing without knowing the words, so la ti do,
Whatever the blasphemy, whatever the praise.

Phillis Levin has work forthcoming in The Atlantic and Kenyon Review. Her newest book, Mr. Memory & Other Poems (Penguin Books, 2016), was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is the author of four other poetry collections, Temples and Fields (University of Georgia Press, 1988), The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995), Mercury (Penguin, 2001), and May Day (Penguin, 2008), and is the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English (2001). Her honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, a Fulbright Scholar Award to Slovenia, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in New York and currently is a professor of English and the poet-in-residence at Hofstra University.