The Book of Islands

fragments of a travelog:

these islands have no name.
in the lagoons you’ll find
cool, lapping water, blind
lizards carving sand.
there are few landmarks,
tops of mountains folded
down like reminders....

planned archipelago
heyday is over; the
gilded apartments are
empty; parrots roost
in shredded libraries,
peck furtively at
pavements yellowed and
cracked as ancient maps.

they say literate men
walked here. they borrowed
their lives from pages of
this book. they looked like you
and me but were neither.

1973-1977
Ó Steven Levery

The above poem appeared previously in a limited edition quarterly, The Lithic Review (#1, Summer 1990, Denise Buckner, Editor), and was subsequently reprinted in Loose Lips (2004-2005).


Rte 14, Western Edge of Mojave Desert

the old chevy's wheels burn black circles
in the dust the heat
has you talking to yourself
while sweat gathers under your eyelids
dripping on the words

this is your escape route
the empty landscape with little to hide
dry weeds and cactus shadows
in late afternoon you blink and stare

maybe you really killed someone
or maybe you're fleeing
a painful embrace
a pile of letters unanswered
a question or anything else that bleeds

you mutter at signs and other cars
the cacti you notice are everywhere
crowding the desert
like hordes of ghostly hitchhikers
they rush to the road
waving vague limbs
trying to lure the unwary
with offers of conversation
and "something metaphysical" like

some friends you had
they could have made you comfortable
but for the spines

1975-1984
Ó Steven Levery

The above poem appeared previously in Spindrift (Volume #22; Spring 1984; Douglas Branson, Judith Richmond, Debra Westling, Editors; Shoreline Community College, Seattle, WA).

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