Phillis Levin

In a Valley & Theorems of Reason
January 24, 2019 Levin Phillis

Theorems of Reason


Hello to the theorems of reason, hidden

For so many years. How good to see them

Ready already to make trouble,

Bounce against the wall of each belief, level

Their aim at anything they mean to conquer.

Do you think you’ll escape their rancor,

Or have you been practicing so hard

Nothing they say can cancel your parade?


Steel yourself for the next charade,

Contortions, clichés, incoherent banter,

Ideas betrayed, failing to pay rent or

Sell themselves on an open market: bubble

After bubble iridescent over rubble

Only the gold of the moon may redeem.



In a Valley   


Grief freely flowing,

Like water down a mountain

From a glacier feeding


A brook snow-bound,

Like song unbroken.

Blood in a channel going


Back to a heart borne back

To the heart of a mountain,

Back to the bank, to the bed.

Phillis Levin has poems forthcoming in Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, and Plume Poetry 8. Her newest collection, Mr. Memory & Other Poems (Penguin Books, 2016), was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is the author of four other collections and the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English. She lives in New York and teaches at Hofstra University.