Larry Levis: Boy in Video Arcade

Some see a lake of fire at the end of it,
Or heaven’s guesswork, something always to be sketched in.

I see a sullen boy in a video arcade.
He’s the only one there at this hour, shoulders slightly bent above a machine.
I see the pimples on his chin, the scuffed linoleum on the floor.

I like the close-up, the detail. I like the pointlessness of it,
And the way it hasn’t imagined an ending to all this yet,

The boy never bothering to look up as the sun comes out
In the late morning, because, Big Deal, the mist evaporating & rising.

So Death blows his little fucking trumpet, Big Deal, says the boy.

I don’t see anything at the end of it except an endlessness,

The beauty parlors, the palm reader’s unlighted sign, the mulberry trees
Fading out before the billboard of the chiropractor.

The lake of fire’s just an oil speck.
I don’t see anything at the end of it, & I suppose that is what is wrong with me,

Among the other things. And it’s slow work, because of all the gauzy light,

It’s hard to pick out anything.

Levis, Larry :  Boy in Video Arcade [from Elegy: Edited with a foreword by Philip Levine (1997) , University of Pittsburgh Press ]

 

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