"The Poem You Asked For"
Larry Levis (1946 – 1996)

My poem would eat nothing.
I tried giving it water
but it said no,
worrying me.
Day after day,
I held it up to the light,
turning it over;
but it only pressed its lips
more tightly together.
It grew sullen, like a toad
through with being teased.
I offered it all my money,
my clothes, my car with a full tank.
But the poem stared at the floor.
Finally I cupped it in
my hands, and carried it gently
out into the soft air, into the
evening traffic, wondering how
to end things between us.
For now it had begun breathing
putting on more and more and
more hard rings of flesh.
And the poem demanded the food,
it drank up all the water,
beat me and took my money,
tore the faded clothes
off my back,
said Shit,
and walked slowly away,
slicking its hair down.
Said it was going
over to your place.