“The End,” A Poem by Max Ritvo

The More There Is, The More Loss There Is

September 7, 2016  By Max Ritvo

The following poem is from Max Ritvo’s Four Reincarnationsforthcoming from Milkweed Editions on September 30th.



The moon was dark
like it had taken too many pills
to produce light.

The earth fell apart
into pockets,
the many things in it
noticing where they were, and surfacing.

Heaven was a vacuum—
the earth, a dirty carpet.

What is there to say?
All the animals went blind:
the pigs out in the countryside,
and my dear dog who used to fetch.

I wondered, at one point,
if I had in fact killed myself—
if death just meant spending
all your time with your past.

The more there is, the more loss there is—
true not only of the world, but of perceiving it,
even of the imagination sizzling on top of it.

I have a dark bruise on my body
where a tail would come.
If I put pure water in my mouth
and cough it out, it’s mud.

Enoch has written
We are made in His image
but God may have many images.
He may want even more.

Perhaps He is using my body
to remake His
into a kind of thinking dust.

This is, however, an abnegation
of my choice. I am here,
no voices in my ear,
no madness but the one of life—

Max Ritvo
Max Ritvo
Max Ritvo (1990-2016) was the author of the poetry collection Four Reincarnations (Milkweed Editions, 2016) and the chapbook, AEONS, for which he was awarded a 2014 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. He earned his BA from Yale University and his MFA from Columbia University. Ritvo's poetry has also appeared in Poetry, the New Yorker, and on Poets.org. His eight poems that appeared in Boston Review, introduced by Lucie Brock-Broido, were named as one of their top 20 poetry selections published in 2015. His prose and interviews have appeared in Huffington Post, Divedapper, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. His radio appearances include NPR’s Only Human, the New Yorker Radio Hour, and The Dr. Drew Podcast. Ritvo was a poetry editor at Parnassus: Poetry in Review and a teaching fellow at Columbia University. He lived in Manhattan until his death in August 2016.

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