Spooky Action at a Distance
Poems by Howard Levy
“I sometimes, and unoriginally, surmise that the affiliation of poets with the academy has deprived too many of us of a wider world to render. Howard Levy, poet, but also a businessman, shows awareness of realms less confined than those of much current verse. He can be heartbreakingly tender… and truly cosmopolitan. But it’s not a matter or either-or: the private poems have a salty dose of the worldly, just as the poems of apparently broader scope have the bittersweet, mixed savor of personal dejection and aspiration…. a mastery that Levy exerts as if without effort.” – Sydney Lea
Connection and isolation are the twin poles between which Howard Levy navigates in the luminous poems in his second collection, SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE (CavanKerry Press; April 2014; $16.00, paperback). A poet grounded in the real world and tethered to landscapes both earthly and temporal, Levy here explores the human need for emotional and physical bonds, and the journey from loneliness and seclusion to attachment and fulfillment. “Howard Levy’s remarkable second book chronicles the human struggle to overcome the often vast emotional distances between people, between the self and the world, and even between oneself and one’s own life,” says Jefffrey Harrison. “The collection’s final poems not only glimpse the world’s splendor but ‘offer it up as the heart and grace of love.’”
Levy’s masterful use of imagery and razor-sharp perception guide the poems—which, fittingly, begin with rain and end with light arriving through a break in the clouds, “pouring into all five senses.” En route they visit the shared stuff of human experience: dreams and wakefulness, illness and death, “morning’s squadrons of fog” on the ocean or moonlight illuminating the pictures in a child’s nighttime sanctuary. With poignancy he traces the arc of time, remembering his father—
when I find this picture after his death,
I am thrilled and proud,
drinker of élan,
impresario of life,
— or his son, at four, asleep at the circus: “So confident, he works without a net.” He writes, too, of the cycle of seasons along the coast, or a northward journey across Europe, underscoring the inevitable, unstoppable forward motion of life’s passage.
The title poem takes its name from a phrase coined by Einstein in a critique of the Copenhagen theory, here deftly transformed into a central metaphor for the love between two people and the connection that impels us to embrace both joy and pain.
It is this way: men and women
spin. Hundreds of miles apart, thousands
of miles, the speed of light, it will make no difference….
And Einstein, could he admit
that love would be fast enough,
that this “spooky action at a distance”
is not necessarily paradox,
that these two influence simply in their being,
taken in to each other and separate,
separate and taken in.
An accomplished collection of exquisitely wrought, deceptively quiet poems, SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE reaffirms Howard Levy ‘s talents, and underscores the words Baron Wormser wrote of his first collection, A Day This Lit: “The common note threading the poems is an unabashed humanity, a willingness to look scrupulously and yet rejoice in the small and large mysteries.”
About Howard Levy
Howard Levy is the author of CavanKerry’s first book, A Day This Lit. His work has appeared in Poetry, Threepenny Review, and The Gettysburg Review. He has served as a faculty member of the Frost Place Poetry Festival and currently lives in New York.