Levon Helm [poem] by Peter McEllhenney

Lie down and rest, Levon, in the green
Unspoiled country you sang into being.
How did you hear what we could not?
The strong secret pulse of the soft dew,
The fresh peerless morning, the plowed
Fields, the warmth of the blessing sun,
The cut wheat, the lovely shimmering of
The leaves, the bright moss on wet stone,
The grey mist hanging over the old snow
You voiced and told with skin and wood.

How could a flame so pure consume the
Candle? Tell me youth and joy in making
Are enough to stun time and free us from
The ticking clock of flesh. I will not believe
Age and sickness ravaged you though I saw
Them with my eyes. You will always be on
Scorsese’ stage, in your Woodstock barn,
Before us swirled in beat and harmony,
Songs intensely blue like a summer sky,
Luminous, invincible.


Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: This poem put the editors in mind of Robert Loftin’s essay “The Gospel According to Hank.”]

Image by Garin Fons

Peter McEllhenney is a writer living in Philadelphia, PA. His work has appeared in Philadelphia Stories, The Apeiron Review, and Blast Furnace. He blogs at www.PeterGalenMassey.com.