by Richard Levine
We must be changing, adapting or evolving in significant ways, in order to live with Covid confinement, the effects of a wooden cross being driven into the heart of American democracy, the zero-sum economy, the black & white ballistics of social justice and racial inequality, the sport of mass-shootings as political discourse, the relentless genocidal assault on Ukraine, and industry’s death-wish denial of an imminent climate holocaust. It’s made loved ones ever more important, and yet some days it is something as small and selfish as eating a candy bar in the solitude of my parked car that makes the day bearable. And one question that writing poses is whether to grieve over our collective witness of real human suffering and our capacity to inflict it, or, beyond the reach of algorithmic targeting, to horde and huddle alone with some small confection.
There might be more that I could do than to scrawl these poems day after day, trying to tell some small self-evident truths about what is now in contest. But until I discover how I might be more useful, I work like a graffiti or mural artist at the top of a fragile scaffold, brushing my perceptions of the world on the blank sides of buildings for all who might look to see. Then, I clean my brushes and go home to my wife.
Richard Levine is a retired NYC teacher and the author of Richard Levine: Selected Poems, Contiguous States, and five chapbooks. Now in Contest is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. Winner of the 2022 Connecticut Poetry Society Award, he was co-editor of Invasion of Ukraine 2022: Poems. “The Spoils of War ” will appear in American Book Review. He is also an Advisory Editor to BigCityLit.com. Website: richardlevine107.com.