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 is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Mr. Memory & Other Poems (Penguin Books, 2016), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; her other collections are May Day (Penguin, 2008), Mercury (Penguin, 2001), The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995), and Temples and Fields (University of Georgia Press, 1988). She is the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet (2001). Her honors include the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, a Fulbright Scholar Award to Slovenia, the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Best American Poetry, Kenyon Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Paris Review, Poetry, Poetry London, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She lives in New York.