(for Michael Morse)

All I know is that I was somewhere in space and time reading Larry Levis.
A poem about God. How God is always and forever 17.

I don’t remember much about the poem
and what I do remember is not really of much importance.

What matters is that I was on the sofa in space and time
and something had been accomplished.

I had read something like a lilac came up out of the ground.
Larry Levis died when he was 49 in the space and time continuum of the arrested heart

and his accomplishments were too far out in the galaxy for me or anyone to name.
That is the problem with naming things we’ve done.

Sometimes they mean something to the woman in Alabama drinking her wine from Seattle
and sometimes they carry no weight whatsoever.

Michael told me when we were 29 that I’d love the poems of Larry Levis
and in time I got to love them.

In space I don’t think I will ever adore them.
Space is a hard thing for me because I have not been able to figure out

how to move in it
from one end of the room to the other end of the room and kiss a woman.

Larry Levis died alone but his poem about God being 17 will always and forever
punch me in the face the way it did today

as I sat on the green cushions
wondering how I managed to get to this particular place

in the super-sonic super-slow pace that is my life, that is any life.
In all these lives we don’t get to know many people

even though we talk to a lot of people. I want it to rain right now. Very badly.
As badly as I want it to kiss. For someone to kiss me.

I saw a movie earlier called Monsters, about aliens.
A man and a woman are traveling through the space and time of an infected area

called Mexico
to get to a non-infected area called America.

The reality is that everywhere is infected
because everything is beautiful.

The woman and the man want to kiss so badly
you can tell it hurts their bodies so badly.

At the end of the film they are about to be eaten out of their human parts
by one of these creatures but then another creature shows up

and the two creatures, mate. In their mating they sound like whales and glow like
The Northern Lights.

Afterwards they vanish into the ether of physics and astrophysics and no one is devoured.
But the man and the woman devour each other,

kiss each other like it means something under the lights of an abandoned gas station
with the mini-mart and all those chocolate bars.

In real life the actors are married and that’s why their on-screen kissing
is the time it takes to get from the earth to the moon and

I wish Larry Levis
had been alive to see this movie with me and Michael.

Because it’s a love story in a world where there shouldn’t be love.
But there should always be love.

There should always be a room or a road that you have to travel inside of your body
and outside of your body

to get to someone else’s body.
That’s why God is always 17 even though Larry Levis’ poem does not mention any of this.

That’s because he died too young,
and if he did not know this, then I am telling him right now,

in the time and space of his death that keeps getting bigger and bigger
when guys like me try to obliterate sadness in the living room

working out the sounds we need to make like whales and monsters
so the person across the room knows to meet us somewhere in the middle.

And then when we have accomplished the work of getting there,
to the middle

you can watch us in our circle dance of love,
glowing red and purple and orange,

and can turn and kiss the person next to you whom you love so much
so that the kissing becomes the bending of light

the way that Einstein said that this kind of thing
happens in outer space

where the aliens spent so much time moving in their bodies
to get here

to show us how to do it and how always
to be 17.

Matthew Lippman
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