Poison Pie Publishing House: A Prayer for Philip Levine

A Prayer for Philip Levine

Lord, a poet has died. The veil in the temple
was not rent in twain. The Earth did not yield
to tremors and split asunder. I did not even notice
until more than two months had elapsed,
when I chanced upon mention of his passing.
He didn't have many complimentary things
to say about You. The truth of the emptiness
found in great heights exhausted him.
It was not unheard of for the champions
in his poems to voice a timely curse for God,
inserted at a poignant moment, when the sympathy
of the reader was most exposed. O Lord, he taught me
the righteousness of a well-placed curse. A pagan,
he worshipped mountains as they dissolved in dust.
He called "bad news I can do nothing about"
his gospel! It seems unfair to both of you to request
a pardon he did not want and You shall not grant.

Lord, I too have a gospel, though
I am more circumspect than he in sharing it,
for he sought to express a common plea
in the stead of those who could not articulate it,
while I keep quiet because I know too well
the limits of my wisdom and I do not wish
to speak for anyone else on matters so dire and,
finally, my experience has been quite different from his,
for when I summoned that eloquence available to me
and spoke with passion on these grand, eternal themes,
I received no accolades. On the contrary,
I discovered only an increasingly frequent sensation
of being avoided, which, if the truth will out,
suits me fine, for here, in this silence, I am better
prepared to embrace the message he no longer shares.

A Prayer for Philip Levine
David J. Keffer
Knoxville, TN
April 22, 2015