Los Gatos High School Poets & Larry Levis

It couldn’t be a more perfect story. “Los Gatos High Freshman English Class Publishes ‘Windows to the Teenage Soul’. The Ebook poetry anthology — possibly the first of its kind for a high school class — is innovative project to help finance 2017 Senior Prom.”

Quoting from Los Gatos Patch: Los Gatos High School English 9 Honors students collaborated with the Los Gatos Library and Smashwords, a distributor of self-published books, to create and publish what they believe to be the first self-produced ebook by a high school class.  Written by more than 120 freshman English students at Los Gatos High, Windows to the Teenage Soul  is an an electronic poetry anthology — an Ebook — available worldwide through Smashwords, on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, KOBO and Apple’s iBook store. Proceeds from the book’s sales, which begin May 6, will help fund the LGHS Class of 2017’s future events, including senior prom. 

I can’t share a poem from this book (not yet published) but I will share this poem about teenage life and its challenges and dreams.

The Poet at Seventeen

by Larry Levis

My youth? I hear it mostly in the long, volleying
Echoes of billiards in the pool halls where
I spent it all, extravagantly, believing
My delicate touch on a cue would last for years.

Outside the vineyards vanished under rain,
And the trees held still or seemed to hold their breath
When the men I worked with, pruning orchards, sang
Their lost songs: Amapola; La Paloma;

Jalisco, No Te Rajes—the corny tunes
Their sons would just as soon forget, at recess,
Where they lounged apart in small groups of their own.
Still, even when they laughed, they laughed in Spanish.

I hated high school then, & on weekends drove
A tractor through the widowed fields. It was so boring
I memorized poems above the engine’s monotone.
Sometimes whole days slipped past without my noticing,

And birds of all kinds flew in front of me then.
I learned to tell them apart by their empty squabblings,
The slightest change in plumage, or the inflection
Of a call. And why not admit it? I was happy

Then. I believed in no one. I had the kind
Of solitude the world usually allows
Only to kings & criminals who are extinct,
Who disdain this world, & who rot, corrupt & shallow

As fields I disced: I turned up the same gray
Earth for years. Still, the land made a glum raisin
Each autumn, & made that little hell of days—
The vines must have seemed like cages to the Mexicans

Who were paid seven cents a tray for the grapes
They picked. Inside the vines it was hot, & spiders
Strummed their emptiness. Black Widow, Daddy Longlegs.
The vine canes whipped our faces. None of us cared.

And the girls I tried to talk to after class
Sailed by, then each night lay enthroned in my bed,
With nothing on but the jewels of their embarrassment.
Eyes, lips, dreams. No one. The sky & the road.

A life like that? It seemed to go on forever—
Reading poems in school, then driving a stuttering tractor
Warm afternoons, then billiards on blue October
Nights. The thick stars. But mostly now I remember

The trees, wearing their mysterious yellow sullenness
Like party dresses. And parties I didn’t attend.
And then the first ice hung like spider lattices
Or the embroideries of Great Aunt No One,

And then the first dark entering the trees—
And inside, the adults with their cocktails before dinner,
The way they always seemed afraid of something,
And sat so rigidly, although the land was theirs.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Los Gatos High School Poets & Larry Levis

  1. Jennifer Swanton Brown says:

    Thank you for the invitation, Tonya, I’m not going to be able to join you. But I will wish you all the virtual luck I can for a smashing event and I can’t wait to buy my own copy. Brava to you and hip hip hooray for the students.

  2. Tonya McQuade says:

    Thanks for showing an interest in our class book! We’d love to have you join us at our Book Launch Party at the Los Gatos Library on May at 6:45 p.m. Several students will be reading their poems, we will be talking about our project, and we’ll be giving out some awards!

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