s a r a    l e v i n e

An Empire of Merely Selfish Things


My old lovers, they don’t exist anymore. There’s a bureau where they go to report their affair with me is over. Then they give up their shoes and their keys and are reassigned to a very constricted washroom where they can sit and think of me. Allan, look how his eyes crossed in this picture, fucked me over and said he was moving to Taos. It was the agency that found him. In the end the lovers are always found, cowering in some café, holding their shoes, protesting they are over me.

My friend Nancy said, How can I get in touch with this agency? I want this agency to work for me.

Candidates for the agency are selected through an internal nomination process. I said: Nancy! Unsolicited applications are not accepted!

Here’s the thing I love about poetry, Nancy said. I keep finding bits of it on the carpet. That’s Stan. He wrote a lot of poems before we split up. Now he’s sitting in a lavatory in Houston. What happened? I walked in on him sleeping with my— No, with the poems. I don’t know, I never cleaned them up. See for yourself, I drawled. They’re around.



SARA LEVINE's writing has appeared in Nerve, Fence, The Iowa Review, 5-Trope, Denver Quarterly, Web Conjunctions, and other magazines. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.