Michael H. Levin


(face time with Archibald MacLeish)

The first time (he said) was before she died.
I collected the plaque with remarks I thought
funny. We trooped next door to a
fancy-pants grill and wiped our plates clean.
I remember she gazed at me drily
past pink arctic char, her unasked question
at rest.

Then it got faster (he grunted) –
awards, degrees, girls taking notes.
Professional sheen. Now (he flung
an arm), all that stuff on the wall (and turned):
don’t ask what matters till you get to the
place where

language turns tigers: a toothed spring coiling,
sinewy; dangerous. Danger
makes new.


Archibald MacLeish (May 7, 1892 – April 20, 1982) was a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Assistant Secretary of State in the fourth Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, and Librarian of Congress from 1938 to 1944. His most widely anthologized poem, “Ars Poetica,” states: “A poem should be wordless/As the flight of birds” and “A poem should be equal to:/Not true.”


Michael H. Levin is a lawyer, renewable-energy developer, and writer based in DC. He has published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Adirondack Review, Wisconsin Review, and Poetica. He is the author of Watered Colors (Poetica Publishing, 2014), Man Overboard (Finishing Line Press, 2018), and Falcons (Finishing Line Press, 2020).www.michaellevinpoetry.com