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The Oldest Living Thing In LA


At Wilshire & Santa Monica I saw an opossum Trying to cross the street.

It was late, the street Was brightly lit, the opossum would take A few steps forward, then back away from the breath Of moving traffic.

People coming out of the bars Would approach, as if to help it somehow.

It would lift its black lips & show them The reddened gums, the long rows of incisors,

Teeth that went all the way back beyond The flames of Troy & Carthage, beyond sheep Grazing rock-strewn hills, fragments of ruins In the grass at San Vitale.

It would back away Delicately & smoothly, stepping carefully As it always had.

It could mangle someone’s hand In twenty seconds.

Mangle it for good.

It could Sever it completely from the wrist in forty.

There was nothing to be done for it.

Someone Or other probably called the

PD, who then Called Animal Control, who woke a driver, who Then dressed in mailed gloves, the kind of thing Small knights once wore into battle, who gathered Together his pole with a noose on the end,

A light steel net to snare it with, someone who hoped The thing would have vanished by the time he got there.

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Larry Patrick Levis (September 30, 1946 – May 8, 1996) was an American poet.
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