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Levine says that his poems "mostly record my discovery of the people, places, and animals I am not, the ones who live at all cost and come back for more, and who if they bore tattoos—a gesture they don't need—would have them say, 'Don't tread on me' or 'Once more with feeling' or 'No pasaran' or 'Not this pig.'" It is not simply that he discovers these figures, but that he assumes their stubborn roles; his poems never really provide moderating or intermediary voices between the reader and the survivors they describe. There is no protection in "Animals are Passing from our Lives" from Levine's famous pig on his way to market, the pig who already smells the block and the blade.

[quotes ll. 15-24]

We are, of course, put in the position of that boy driving him to market, whose metaphors are from the world of typewriters and TV. What we finally have to admire is the way the poem recoils from us and tries not to use our language.