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Philip Levine - Heaven

If you were twenty-seven 
and had done time for beating 
our ex-wife and had 
no dreams you remembered 
in the morning, you might 
lie on your bed and listen 
to a mad canary sing 
and think it all right to be 
there every Saturday 
ignoring your neighbors, the streets, 
the signs that said join, 
and the need to be helping. 
You might build, as he did, 
a network of golden ladders 
so that the bird could roam 
on all levels of the room; 
you might paint the ceiling blue, 
the floor green, and shade 
the place you called the sun 
so that things came softly to order 
when the light came on. 
He and the bird lived 
in the fine weather of heaven; 
they never aged, they 
never tired or wanted 
all through that war, 
but when it was over 
and the nation had been saved, 
he knew they'd be hunted. 
He knew, as you would too, 
that he'd be laid off 
for not being braver 
and it would do no good 
to show how he had taken 
clothespins and cardboard 
and made each step safe. 
It would do no good 
to have been one of the few 
that climbed higher and higher 
even in time of war, 
for now there would be the poor 
asking for their share, 
and hurt men in uniforms, 
and no one to believe 
that heaven was really here.

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Heaven - Comments and Information

Poet: Philip Levine
Poem: Heaven
Poem of the Day: Jun 9 2008
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