IN THE HEYDAYS OF HIS EYES
(taut jeans dancing)

An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
 
 
Home
Table Of Contents
Authors
Acknowledgments & Links
 

AUTHORS


TO A CHILD TRAPPED IN A BARBERSHOP

Philip Levine

You’ve gotten in through the transom and you can’t get out till Monday morning or, worse, till the cops come. That six-year-old red face calling for momma is yours; it won’t help you because your case is closed forever, hopeless. So don’t drink the Lucky Tiger,* don’t fill up on grease because that makes it a lot worse, that makes it a crime against property and the state and that costs time. We’ve all been here before, we took our turn under the electric storm of the vibrator and stiffened our wills to meet the close clippers and heard the true blade mowing back and forth on a strip of dead skin, and we stopped crying. You think your life is over? It’s just begun. * Lucky Tiger: A perfumed hair dressing containing alcohol.


M. DEGAS TEACHES ART & SCIENCE AT DURFEE INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL Detroit, 1942

Philip Levine

He made a line on the blackboard, one bold stroke from right to left diagonally downward, and stood back to ask, looking as always at no one in particular, "What have I done?" From the back of the room Freddie shouted, "You've broken a piece of chalk." M. Degas did not smile. "What have I done?" he repeated. The most intellectual students looked down to study their desks, except for Gertrude Bimmler, who raised her hand before she spoke. "M. Degas, you have created the hypotenuse of an isosceles triangle." Degas mused. Everyone knew that Gertrude could not be incorrect. "It is possible," Louis Warshowsky added precisely, "that you have begun to represent the roof of a barn." I remember
that it was exactly twenty minutes
past eleven, and I thought at worst
this would go on another forty
minutes.  It was early April,
the snow had all but melted on
the playgrounds, the elms and maples
bordering the cracked walks shivered
in the new winds, and I believed
that before I knew it I'd be 
swaggering to the candy store
for a Milky Way.  M. Degas
pursed his lips, and the room
stilled until the long hand
of the clock moved to twenty-one,
as though in complicity with Gertrude, 
who added confidently,  "You've begun
to separate the dark from the dark."
I looked back for help, but now
the trees bucked and quaked, and I
knew this could go on forever.

 
 
Website Design and Hosting by Allied Computing