for Philip Levine
Standing the concrete of a backbone,
the spine end on end, plate on plate,
over knees and ground meat of feet
is harder than to move. Yes, I also stand in line.
Yes I also stand at sandwich counters, behind
a register. I also fall down the holes, the caves,
the wells and let the whole thing collapse in burning.
Always burning, as though coal never ended.
A prehistory never-ending.
Yes, this sounds nothing like Philip Levine (unless you’re pointing to some of the vocabulary), but I had What Work Is buzzing through my head as I wrote this. I hope to offer you an essay about a poem from that book.