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            Michael H. Levin: Poems and Prose  

CLOAKED LAMPS

[It’s] a Republic, Madam – if you can keep it.

   -- Benjamin Franklin, 1787


What could I tell my mother,

that driven orphan who for all

her years refused to ride the

VWs that were

family business cars. She said

they made her gorge rise at the

thought. When friends went underground

she joined World Federalists.

I have still in a drawer

the olive-wreathed gold globe

she pinned to her lapels.


How outline on her webbed

Depression scars the ways

we mirror what brought Weimar down.

They claimed she could not grasp

how indirection may attain one’s ends;

but something tigerish infused her space.

She would not bear the easy

ways in which submission creeps

and secret places are where

life subsists. Do not abide,

she’d say, though fearful of the


cost. Uncloak the Lady’s lamp.

Stride forth. Persist.

First published in Such an Ugly Time (Rat's Ass Review, March 2017); reprinted in [Capitol] Hill Rag, July 2017