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This evening, the sturdy Levi's
I wore every day for over a year
& which seemed to the end
in perfect condition,
suddenly tore.
How or why I don't know,
but there it was: a big rip at the crotch.
A month ago my friend Nick
walked off a racquetball court,
got into his street clothes,
& halfway home collapsed & died.
Take heed, you who read this,
& drop to your knees now & again
like the poet Christopher Smart,
& kiss the earth & be joyful,
& make much of your time,
& be kindly to everyone,
even to those who do not deserve it.
For although you may not believe 
it will happen,
you too will one day be gone,
I, whose Levi's ripped at the crotch
for no reason,
assure you that such is the case.
Pass it on.

—Steve Kowit

from The Dumbbell Nebula, 2000
Heyday Books

Copyright 2000 by Steve Kowit.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Heyday Books from The Dumbbell Nebula. Copyright 2000 by Steve Kowit. For further permissions information, contact Heyday Books, P.O. Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709, phone 510-549-3564, fax 510-549-1889,

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Steve Kowit (1938-2015) was a poet, essayist, teacher, and workshop facilitator. Kowit was born in Brooklyn in 1938. He is the author of several books of poetry and has published a guide to writing poetry: In the Palm of Your Hand. Kowit received a B.A. degree from Brooklyn College, a Master of Arts degree from San Francisco State College, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Warren Wilson College. He taught at Southwestern College in Chula Vista and lived near the Tecate Mexican border until his death.

Learn more about Steve Kowit.