Ordinary Psalm with Violent Interruptions by Julia B. Levine


        March crashing its green fruit
against the re-given sky, you mute the TV news,
                with its looped reels of smoke
        shrouding the dissembled and fallen.

        Outside, the fields are a voice-box hallelujah—
all those iris noosing cobalt blue,
                vernal debris trembling fritillaries and trillium.
        Commentary seems beside the point.

        Like this black swallowtail weaving through
your clothesline hung with underwear and bras.
                Random brightness. The wrong things
        shining. Death is a plea bargain you made

        under threat of never being born.
And spring, a gorgeous parole.
                Nicasio reservoir decanting a winter of good rain.
        A four-point buck staring towards the Pacific,

        his ears like paired kites tugged by wind.
Your daughter’s voice levitating through the phone lines
                back to you. We all believe
        what we want to believe. Somewhere, the fog has lifted.

        New suicide vests hang unexploded on hooks.
The list of dead and injured pause in their rise.
                Go ahead. Sooner or later
        we all need to turn the volume back on.


Julia B. Levine has won numerous awards for her work, including the 2015 Northern California Book Award in Poetry for her latest collection, Small Disasters Seen in Sunlight, (LSU press 2014) as well as the 2003 Tampa Review Prize for her collection, Ask; the 1998 Anhinga Poetry Prize and bronze medal from Foreword magazine for her first collection, Practicing for Heaven, as well as a Neruda Award from Nimrod, and a Discovery/The Nation award. Widely published, her work has been anthologized in The Places That Inhabit Us, The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, and The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry. She received a PhD in clinical psychology from UC Berkeley, and lives and works in Davis, California.