The Last Shift: Poems
Nostalgia gets a bad rap, and poet Philip Levine proves to his readers just how lovely nostalgia can be. This collection shines a poetic light on the everyman in an ordinary, day-to-day world. The men of Levine’s world wear scuffed work boots while stomping through their second-story flats before jumping into their old jalopies, and the women wear threadbare clothes, hold down menial jobs, and pack brown-bag lunches for their families everyday. With lines such as “It’s their life./ Nonsense, you say, how can the life/ of an angel include a Ford plant/ where new life is tortured/ into things?” one is drenched in the holy found in the most common of places and people. Levine’s mastery of language and specificity of word choice makes every line shine and lifts metaphorical phrases about the most common things well above cliché. But by no means do these poems pretty up how difficult life is for the families and individuals about which Levine writes. The poems are imbued with the ordinariness of the everyday life of working people fighting to keep what little they have. Don’t miss this important collection.