Exchanging Tender by Carol Levin

Exchanging Tender
                             for Evan Boland

On the bill George Washington’s wrinkles
are flattened but not smooth
against forefinger and thumb.

His eyes
are engraved,
poker-face tight-lipped.

In the lobby I trade him
for a ticket. A barter
I support.

The bill buys me a seat
in the second row
where I give myself

to your poems
glistening like filigree
sparklers lace the dark—

You recall the oil lamps
of immigrant Irish
being put “out the back”

when electricity lightened
dusk colored hardships.
Verses celebrate computers,

honor long married
love, cradle your child
in stanzas on the outskirts

of death. You wonder
what becomes
of gestures, births—

What becomes
of women’s words
as they are devalued?

You answer the question
for yourself by leaping,
rustling “luminescence

of sequins and satin”
—over hedgerows of
poker-faced

paternal eyes, tradition
bound old men not ready
to make change.


Carol Levin is the author of three full collections: An Undercurrent of Jitters (MoonPath Press 2018), Confident Music Would Fly Us to Paradise (MoonPath Press, 2014) and Stunned By the Velocity (Pecan Grove Press, 2012). Also chapbooks, Red Rooms and Others (Pecan Grove Press 2009) and Sea Lions Sing Scat (Finishing Line Press, 2007). Her work’s been widely published in journals and anthologies, print and online, in Russia, New Zealand, Germany and the US. As a founding member and Literary Manager of The Art Theatre of Puget Sound, she, along with two Russians, translated Chekhov’s four major plays. Carol’s an Editorial Assistant at Crab Creek Review and teaches The Breathing Lab/ Alexander Technique, in Seattle.