II. The Oldest Living Thing in L.A.
By mid-winter the young are no longer
And the winter’s still yet-to-become.
We eat tacos in 90 degree heat
With our friend the anthropologist
From Massachusetts, where seven snows
Yesterday did disclose simultaneously themselves
And disappeared beneath them whole Massachusetts.
His work imagines beginnings:
Summers surveying settlements,
Chiseling bone from beneath the steppe,
Reconstructing, from its absence,
What begins to resemble life.
He likes the writing too, but of course
It’s specialist work and no one reads it.
The old are no longer either, mid-winter.
The cars pass bright and clean.
The old seasons have no hold here,
Nor their stupid fantasy of fertility
Bright-burning, and death rounded-out.
This is a new thing now, and though
All the words remain to describe it,
Though they swirl up from within us
As if they were our nature, sharp and soft,
Sounding from passing traffic, sounding
In their reverberations among the walls
And alleys and all the dead young’s skulls,
Sounding as if they were capable
Of the necessary sounds, none of it does.
Jeffrey Schultz’s artist statement:
Title of series: Fifteen Variations on Themes from Levis.
In a series of fifteen brief variations, Schultz will meditate on a number of themes–some of them poorly recalled from memory, some of them badly obscured or poorly understood–from Levis’s work.