Looking into the eyes of Gerard de Nerval
You notice the giant sea crabs rising.
Which is what happens
When you look into the eyes of Gerard de Nerval,
Always the same thing: the giant sea crabs,
The claws in their vague red holsters
Moving around, a little doubtfully.
But looking into the eyes of Pierre Reverdy
Is like throwing the editorial page
Out into the rain
And then riding alone on the subway.
Also, it is like avoiding your father.
You are hiding and he looks for you
Under each vine; he is coming nearer
And nearer. What can you do
But ignore him?
In either case, soon you are riding alone on a subway.
Which is not important.
What is important is to avoid
Looking too closely into the eyes of your father,
That formal eclipse.
The Selected Levis: Selected and with an Afterword by David St. John by Larry Levis. Price: $22.50 cloth. ISBN # 0-8229-4141-4 cloth. Order from University of Pittsburgh Press, c/o CUP Services, Box 6525, Ithaca, NY 14851. Phone: 800-666-2211, Fax: 607-277-6292.