I Won, You Lost

by Philip Levine

Philip Levine

The last of day gathers
in the yellow parlor
and drifts like fine dust
across the face of
the gilt-framed mirror
I ofien prayed to.
An old man's room
without him, a room I
came back to again
and again to steal
cigarettes and loose change,
to open cans of sardines,
to break open crackers
and share what he had.
Something is missing.
The cut glass ashtray
is here and overflowing,
the big bottle of homemade,
the pack of English Ovals,
the new red bicycle deck
wrapped in cellophane
and gold edged, the dishes
crusted with the last snack.
The music is gone. The lilt
of his worn voice broken
with the weight of all
those lost languages --
"If you knew Solly like
I knew Solly, oy oy
oy what a girl." That music
made new each day and absent
forever from the corners
ofrooms like this one
darkening with dusk.
The music a boy would laugh
at until it went out
and days began and ended
without the banging fist,
without the old truths
of blood and water, without
the loud cries of I won,
you lost, without song.

Last updated May 02, 2015