Leveler Poetry Journal
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Standing Passengers


On a loop, holding

The noose by the pewter’s edge


Back bent & pendent

As the world turns


So many stranded seconds

Between each stop


So many stops to see

What happens, or what’s happening


Or what hasn’t happened

Yet, petulant


& expressionless, with an eye

For the details


Mutely unrolling

On each minute surface


As a rule of thumb

All it takes is one


To move between

Time & space


Harvesting memories

For a fist full of variables, valuables


Exchanged, change

Dangling in pockets


Of air-conditioned hum

The swift silent gathering


Of a cloud among many other

Clouds, an invitation to look


At objects which are closer

Than they might appear


In my prior life

I was a pair of jeans


So often put on

Or placed between


Sundry parts, articles

Of cloth or words


First one foot

Then the next


To slip inside me

Sequestered in denim


To live again

Or be repeating


To breathe & feel

On yielded knees


Consider algebra

Theorems you never read


Or half-remembered

How to be one


With yourself or how to be


Chris Campanioni

levelheaded: Standing Passengers


At the close of this week’s poem, the speaker comes to realize what may have been the purpose of the piece all along. The poem is an exercise in “How to be one // With yourself or how to be / Another.” What’s more, it shows us that by inhabiting other things, one can come to more fully understand him or herself.


From the outset of “Standing Passengers,” the stakes are high. The lines “On a loop, holding / The noose […] // Back bent & pendent” suggest someone approaching suicide, or at the very least, someone who feels continuously on the “edge,” near an intellectual, emotional, or physical death.


Upon presenting the close proximity to death, the speaker considers the “stranded seconds / Between each stop.” Here, the word “seconds” is particularly interesting, functioning not only as a unit of time, but also as a nod to the continuous “loop,” to “the world [that] turns” as one thing turns into another. There’s the first thing (“Back bent”) and then there’s the “second” thing (“pendent”) born out of it. There’s “What happens, or what’s happening // Or what hasn’t happened.” Fittingly, seven lines after the word “pendent,” the speaker arrives as the word “petulant,” further demonstrating the interconnectedness of all things.


Like the poem’s speaker, Campanioni has “an eye / For the details // Mutely unrolling / On each minute surface.” These lines also prove deceptively complex. While it’s “the details” that are “Mutely unrolling,” sight is a mute sense; eyes roll. It’s no coincidence that, in addition to serving as an adjective pertaining to size, the word “minute” is another time measurement. If Campanioni is out to show how life’s a loop, the phrase “minute surface” is a perfect precursor to “Time & space” a few lines later.


This method of linking one word or idea to the next drives Campanioni’s poem forward. It also make the piece especially entertaining and endearing. As readers, we see another mind at work. We appreciate the craft required to make something feel this spontaneous. And we feel the heartache and joy that come with making connections.



– The Editors