Mudlark Flash No. 73 (2013)

The New God is a Revolver in the Sun
and So Death Blows His Little Fucking Trumpet

by John Valentine

Author’s Note: It’s been some 16 years now since the passing of Larry Levis, and he is missed. He wasn’t just an extraordinary wordsmith. He was—as are we all—an uncanny event, “an unfinishable agenda of the stars.” What I’ve admired about his poems is his amazing ability to point at the uniqueness, the singularity, of the existential moment and the people in it. A very precise example of this is the poem “Photograph: Migrant Worker, Parlier, California, 1967” in the collection Elegy. Here, we are invited to dwell upon the utter facticity of Johnny Dominguez, his individual, transient, and profoundly irreplaceable being-there. In so doing, Levis reminds us all of our own such being. “The New God is a Revolver in the Sun” and “So Death Blows His Little Fucking Trumpet” are thus a kind of pointing as well, an homage, a reminder of a man and his very special talent.   JV

The New God is a Revolver in the Sun

Huitzilopochtli is what we shall call him.
Blue Hummingbird Warrior Of The South

Brought Back From The Dead.
This time as a gun. Each bullet wobbling

in the inferno, fire-sky becoming fate. Nothing
left, not even an atom of Shakespeare. Eons

away, yes, though the hourglass evacuates
relentlessly, like sand dragged to the sea.

But this is not a poem about oblivion
or myth. Or resuscitation.

This is a poem about Larry Levis, maker
of poems, and bright hummingbirds

brought back from the dead in the quick
wings of his words. Or not that either.

Not that. This is a poem that points at
Larry Levis. The way Aztec priests

pointed at the sun. Singularly. The way
they knew it would flame itself

out after so many years of service to the
beat of blood boiling in the heart.

They knew their god was dying. They knew.
And they never stopped, weeping then

in the rain. Stand back. This is a shard of
sunlight on an empty altar.

This is a poem that points at Larry Levis. 

So Death Blows His Little Fucking Trumpet,
Big Deal, Says The Boy

                                                             for Larry Levis
It doesn’t matter who. He’s anyone.
He never thought of Death

as a musician. Not with the band up 
all night, every night, and all that

jazz. Riffs for the dying. Music
only they can hear. A few

notes. Not like taps. No. Not like that.
More like Bourbon Street in the rain. Late.

Nothing left but a horn. An old man blowing
blues. The song halfway gone, like a threnody.

Something thin, something leaning softly 
on the wind. 

John Valentine teaches philosophy at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. His poems have appeared in various journals, including The Sewanee Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review, The Adirondack Review, and Rock Salt Plum Review. He has had five chapbooks published with Pudding House Publications, and one chapbook with Big Table Publishing.

Copyright © Mudlark 2013
Mudlark Flashes | Home Page