junkmail oracle

poem o' the week


"I have a city to cover with lines." - d.a. levy


2002 poem o' the week archive


december 30, 2002

For d.a levy *

to establish tranquility
in a sunburst
he leaves
cleave-land for
auckland island
or zambia
wherever his stamps
take him

-- Alex Gildzen
* this poem, written in 1968, is being published here for the first time. the author, who began publishing poems in the mid 1960s in magazines such as Quixote, Sumac and Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle, was also the editor of Toucan, which over the years published Gary Snyder, Paul Metcalf, Eric Mottram, Gregory Markopoulos and d.a. levy. "I recall doing it as sort of a private poem," he says. "It sort of got lost over the decades. . . it was written . . . while he [levy] was still alive." -- markk

december 23, 2002

d.a. levy lives

a poster proclaims, another one reads,
"legalize levy" but we all know...
levy is dead
They say that Britannia still rules the seas
That the neon lights are bright on Broadway
The future already old news
Moulin Rouge a silent movie nobody rents
How rare the times we live in
Here at Cabaret Dada levy's friends have gathered
A 60th birthday celebration of sorts, peachy keen
Microphone plugged in, there's the aroma of cheap cigars,
cameras rolling, absent the expectations of great poetry
The ugly stepchild of apathy the only
explanation for all these empty seats
dream a little dream of me
d.a. levy was plugged into the source
He knew the decades were poisoning us,
Not so naughty girls tricking us all
Markk is worried, Jennifer has put a white sock over
Her hand, says; Lamb Chop wants to read a poem
I'm having my own problems,
Pretending to be a missing person
An hour before I stood on the old viaduct, lake
effect snow erased the modest skyline of downtown
Dead man's curve a persistent voice, a cage of fire
Testing every fool rushing to beat the curfew
On the table an old mimeograph machine sits,
one by one according to his ability we crank the
handle, yet---d.a. levy's poems come out backwards,
mocking us like a third daughter, Les Lillis De Paper
Cleveland poets are a jackpot of lies,
Mismatched socks, coming and going
like the slow drift of apology
d.a. levy you old jalopy, the only miracle tonight is
that I haven't asked april baer to kiss me
Hey man! you told the authorities you made
89 cents a day selling your poems
Were you bragging?
Dude, hamburgers aren't sixteen cents anymore
You will always be the outlaw poet
The rest of us will remain dreamers, our
Souls trapped in some vintage photograph
The mills are closed
Nobody asks---"Mister, shine your shoes for a dollar?"
The drawbridges refuse to lift their skirts,
content to just pose for drunken artists
Nobody wants to write beautiful poems anymore
Nobody wants to protest the wars
I think it's so groovy now that
people are trying to get together...
d.a. levy I ride the buses to hear people praise Jesus
I've busted out the windows of abandoned factories
Cleveland, there is no love lost between us
So go ahead, steal this title
"Arizona Poems, and other things
that got stuck to the bottom of my boots"
This will always be a long poem in progress
High School kids are still waiting for Sappho's kiss
Friend, we can only guess about your madness,
the blessings of being harassed, jailed
Even ghosts sometimes are stopped by a brick wall
Grace Butcher is still running, bless her heart
Russell Salamon are you ready to
step off a cliff and start flying?
Let's return to the good old days of the Hough riots
We can throw a party, invite the police
The mayor can show off by
setting his hair on fire again
A brief note to the WELFARE DEPT.
This is not and will never be a get off
your lazy ass and do something poem
I defy you, stars---to tell me that Paul Revere's
midnight ride, Mrs. Butterworth and H. G. Wells'
War of the Worlds are mere fables
Native tongue--- the trappings of the old world
batteries not included....
a distant radio warning us of a killer at large
open road to/overtime---sudden death
Is all this a courtship song at journeys end?
Christopher Franke where are you?
call me, maybe you can help me find april baer
d.a. levy you and I are lines in the city, mischief-makers
Pigeons wandering in the Colonial Arcade
The movie we want to see starts tomorrow
Unemployment lines are too long, besides we've
Stolen all their pencils, so today
I'll teach you the safe way to handle a 22 rifle
Later we can write poems in our sleep
As we dream the usual dangers rush toward earth
The ghost train headed for that great
Divide known as Cleveland Heights
At the City Mission boy meets girl
Loneliness a cosmic song about
to hit the charts with a bullet
Ace of Spades Crows rape the silence of Autumn skies
Winter itching to get back on the highways
At what point do we fix the flat tire,
embrace the fact, that even at the speed of light
it may take a wild rose forever to find us

-- vladimir swirynsky

december 16, 2002

Winter in Cleveland

The birds have flown away
for the winter,
vacationing in Florida
or wherever they

cold winds

flocks of deserters

every one

-- barry phillips


december 9, 2002

Driving through University Circle, Little Italy and Coventry contemplating
the way we left each other

Your mama drives a Thunderbird and
Dreams of Bowie's diamond dog
She lets buses into her lane like
A bankrupt turn signal
Beth stepped into her s.u.v.
She looks pretty
You don't know her
And she hardly knows me
She cries a lot
I bet lunch is still warm and
That even now
You miss me
And true love is red
Did you know that?

-- Matthew Wascovich


december 2, 2002

the castle at the end of the world

when the bells of st. sava
peal against the august
morning, I see her sitting
in a back pew, her dress
the color of a sad grimace,
a babushka covering her
hair, she stares at the icon
of st. george, mouths prayers
in serbian, the lines on her
face creak like an attic door,
one too many days in the
sun picking vegetables,
but that was long ago, the
mud of a village street
tramped over by old shoes,
she made her way to the
place of her reckoning,
she came over in 1959,
still can't speak english,
the day she stepped off
the boat was sunny, &
cleveland was like the
castle at the end of the world

-- markk

november 25, 2002

d.a. levy is not dead

d.a. levy is not dead,
didn't die nov. 24
1968, his body not
ash & carbon flake
dispersed among the
fate of ages, his poems
not the stuff of newspaper
remnants & the genetics
of decoded war drums,
his sad sage face not
peering out from the bars
of a cell, his voice not
pieced together on
reel-to-reel tape
with the static of the
cosmos in orbit around
dire reflections, his
soul not unfurled against
the breeze like clean
white laundry, he still
stares out of that east-
side window like a tiny
immaculate ghost
(again, something he is not)
bringing civilization
to an uncivilized city
all good manners &
cool mimeo fluid dreams


november 18, 2002

silos, silver-topped

when the leaves fall off the trees
in those towns south of cleveland
you begin to see tall silos, red-
sided, silver-topped, stark standing
on the edge of the field, birds in orbit
around planeterium domes, absence
of any barn, it's just the old silos
maybe a half-wall of quarried
limestone blocks, the foundation
of something long since gone,
that which you can see in the
gnawing daylight, all right there


november 11, 2002

Ghazal with smoke

The mourning bell's hymns rise with smoke
while the swinging censer cries with smoke.

We will tattoo your flesh with lines of charcoal,
we will paint your weeping eyes with smoke.

The leaf fire seduces the autumn wind,
lapping the knots it ties with smoke.

The sulfur fumes reek across clouds
but the wailing angel still flies with smoke.

The hunter licks the blood from his nails
while the dangling corpse dries with smoke.

We sleep beneath Erie's vesper candles.
Our wax dreams slip to the skies with smoke.

The Prophet burns his hair with lilies
praying that he grow wise with smoke.

--joshua gage

november 4, 2002

beneath the stairs

in the basement,
beneath the stairs
on the walls pictures
of the beatles, elvis,
ghoulardi, his blue
face laughing at
me, cool it with
the boom booms,
norm sits in his
big chair, black
light illuminating
neon red posters,
welcome to my
world, he says,
wide-eyed, mad,
with a laugh as pitiless
as a rifle butt,
& no one to save
me from parma,
late 1960s, oblique


october 28, 2002

bright as october moons

d.a. levy arrives,
in crimson flower
necklace dreams
opaque in a cleveland
bright as october moons

breaks through time barriers
materializes in conjunction,
a solar spiritual vertigo, the
congealing of molecules,
like jackson pollack splatters
colors across a vast canvas

(we all float on cushions
of air, jump off the
detroit-superior bridge,
in suspended animation
over cuyahoga waters)

there are times when a
soul strikes a path through
the local reality, & arne
saknussemm carves his
initials in rock on the way
to the center of the earth

(upon these brick-buried
streets I recall the names of
days past, ontario, on
superior, on st. clair,
on payne, on chester,
on prospect, on euclid
in a row of millionaires)

these shards of crockery
are the archaeology
of wistful remembering,
our makeshift memory
this visual cartouche

d.a. levy arrives,
in crimson flower
necklace dreams
opaque in a cleveland
bright as october moons


october 21, 2002

yenresh (the panther people)

oh erie nation
the original people
long tail
yenresh (the panther people)
cougar, mountain lion
who the french called
nation du chat
the nation of cats
& enemies of
the iroquois
the mystery tribe,
sing awenrehronon,
the rhilerrhonon,
oh atirhagenret,
speak ye gaquagaono,
kahqua or kahkwa,
the praying rhagenratka
ferocious black mingua
these lands on which
i walk, this crooked
now cuyahoga river
in our midst, we are but
intruders here,
the kentaientonga
offer up the
incense beacons
to forgive in unity
to heave
a deep peace


october 14, 2002

i fight the rain

bursting coming out of my tree leaf corner
like a reuben wonder hurricane tide
flying out across the big ass lake
i fight the rain
like cormorant wings from out of the hill hugging trees
flapping i fly and then the rain
drips down, down, downing me, bringing me to this deep drowning cleveland town all
in nightthundersleep
it's October again,
and i recall in my bird ass weather
this town i cussed, a solemn town
yet blessed but cursed by a madman savior
that dh levy the king of the cormorants
greedy in need of the word, rapacious and mean
true and full of it trying his desperate wish
to cure a mean city's sins
this city it killed him
too many bricks and too much steel
and hearts full of lead
telling them yelling them
about all their fuck you money
mimeoing away splattered and astrolabed
yeah. levy, he lived here once, he stood right over there, that's right, in midtown
on da corner passing out his mimeo dreams
a fool a king in exile a lover a dreamer and one spouter
poet of lovers - and man, word, they shot him down
but he pulled the trigger
i miss him now, and
i stand here on this telephone wire
saying to jeckle, yes heckle
we's magpies now
we're long necked
we're hookbilled
and gluttons
i held levy's soul
wrapped in my beaky claws
and kissed him
as his spirit
rose on into the deep cleveland night
we're flying dreambombs
aching of love
let's go
let's go rain down heaven
on cleveland tonight
and afterwards,
we'll hit the flats

-- jota


october 7, 2002

five blurbs on shape-shifting


always clean the pot or leave two grains. had i named you grain, i'd expect foolish kowtows. ask dionysus where the temperance is at saturday 'round 11. he'll point ya down coventry road, where the minerals live. sometimes i miss them, and my bones ache.


she had a fat name.  german, maybe.  talked damn near five days, crunching up the undeclared's dogma like woodchips. i stood -- seemed a lilliputian scheme, a paralysis -- and painted rainbows to my door, arteries rooting the floorboards.


bathory, where did you get lost? sunday morning and there's no dog track around. no bar, no lint-covered overcoat. virginity's arbitrary here. paint a rubens somewhere they call minimal. where the galleries are white and store water. i want to be a corner piece. outer space scene. the dark part.


i've never been to a laundromat with the need. these poems are all about laundromats. these men, they are laundromats (cycle dryness, blue-black stains). change is hard to come by, though i'd still rather soak with them. if i have time i will buy some dirty clothes.


i thought for two hours about what to write. one word came, but i wrote a second.

-- Ryan Machan

september 30, 2002

for the local

keep those fires going, big river & bridge town.
the salt mine boys & the steel mill boys
blaze away in case you won't.
we die shift to shift
until the whole local gets no early retirement prize,
no cheap gold watch from k-mart.
we punch other clocks now:
hopkins security, e. 53rd machine shops, mechanic, mcdonald's
---------------so the bacon we fry is paid for,
corned beef costs plenty
when the buck is skinny.
burn forever. flame romantic.
pay tribute
to the spirits in our firewater.

-- matthew estvanic

september 23, 2002

Turn It Around Master Less

Timid spreadsheet sun falls across Lake Erie while
faulty wiring of electric chairs sparkle the state school
faculty. Barbwire dresses companies on Chester
Avenue. It is coming to a book like this, a disrespect.
A moral cave-in. A finger in the barrel. A bullet proof
shield in her head says, "South Africa be the hard brain."
As she counts her check less checkbook, she says that
she has a leg up on things, and sits in her house. In
plexiglas pants, debtless, creating her masterpiece.

-- Matthew Wascovich

september 16, 2002

The Rigor Mortis of Cleveland Ohio

Looming o'er exhausted flats
bridge steels river's delt

skeletons on golden ripple
burning river smelt

Eerie womb fish creatures
detrited and undead

smoke salts in our nostrils
lake bubbles over head

vaseline gasp breath
smother in feeble nerve

road has shed its signs
snakes past Dead Man's Curve

congealed arterial highway
gummed city's wrist

we took its dying pulse
at the Robin's Nest

carcass of its industry
rusts exposed and bare

finger splays to heaven
tower erect in air

-- kathy walker

september 9, 2002


Hey Dude
Chevy Nova Superstar
Eating up the road
robot smile radiator
blue and yellow circle chrome
chunk chunk wvvvvvvv
Rust belt dust in a puff
from your bust up car

Hey Dude
Fly  me in your Nova
Past  the orange Lake Erie sky
the sunglare off the hood
Caught in the film of my eye
Into the multiple panelled page
Where in one square lies the gauge
And the next the trail of the car

We fly our arms like birds
beyond the reach of gravity
Into hard-core cartoon land

We'll go beyond the
red sun giant
pock moon craters
splotted airbrush scene
rocket to space
nebula dream
Hey Dude, love ya dude.

-- kathy walker

september 2, 2002

hollow holes

machine guns are a thing of the past,
it's all assault rifles now,
tiny metal death machines
not suited for anything but the kill,
up rt. 42 into cleveland, i pass
dirty one-night hotels, burger joints,
laundermats filled with hollow faces,
cheap carpet stores, gas stations,
brown brick buildings
with boarded up windows,
used car lots, carry-outs,
tiny box barber pole stores
shut off like a black & white tv,
tool & die makers, appliance repair,
& in the front lot of an auto body shop
there's a black mercedes parked quietly,
like a patient in a charlatan's waiting room,
a shiny car filled with hollow holes,
or whatever you call them,
polka-dots big enough
for a bird to make a nest in,
no driver anywhere around.

-- markk

august 26, 2002

consecrated connections

as hibiscus is to this frequent armada
of my particular thought,
as juniper is to the yellow message
of these consecrated connections,

this concouse is wide --
a fitting vernacular for the
obituary of failure,
i cannot be responsible
for what i harvest

(that which is inverted
a host of galaxies
the dynamo
of wisteria

the homelessness
of my frequent

maximus redondo
maximus maple hts.
maximus freelander
maximus washington gate
maximus raintree hills
maximus reata beach

once i ventured into
forgotten bellowing
the class of grasping
the geramium moons &
magpie vines, the
myrtle beds
& blue bonnets
in windchime breathing

when i walk i don't
walk, when i run
i don't run

i am the monk of nighttime
i am the creature of laughing sorrows
i am yr luminous angel tenor
i am the guardian of crystal gates

that which appears in blind shadows
is only the netherworld of
the tapestry we reveal upon


august 19, 2002

chasing father midnight

the things i've seen
while chasing father midnight
along wild american roads
the fuzzy cosmos ablaze
in yr bombay blue eyes
two thousand miles
of hard pavement
in a black two-door
gas stations with palm trees
(& dirty windows)
a lone gunman
(& a bag of 20s)

the sweet music of riot
on city streets
with whiskey clubs
& freak havens
emptied of the drunk
& defenseless
(i've seen bullets fly by
as i crouched in retreat)

on starry beds
in sun-laced hotels
i've merged with the world
seen white light visions,
heard the sacred poetry
of yr peppermint mouth,
nothing to fear
complete surrender
(beautiful odd dreams
of sweet beginnings)

i've been in the bar
when the roof fell
the last dog hung
in musty hovels of the lost

-- then --

in pale mornings
on snowy mountains
in western skies
meditated full lotus
in cloudy rapture
the universe in hot hands
the silence godenergy
(pure response)

writing litanies among the lilacs
symphonies in church gardens
painting sparks & words
on a park bench
in cleveland,
in any city
awaiting sunset
waiting for locked doors
waiting on yr black leather smile
(disappears into foggy dark)


august 12, 2002

we'll always have cleveland

the road to cleveland is paved with our best intentions
.....(i hold this candle high fer you)
you wake me up in bed at two o'clock after working late
.....(i keep it in a place of glowing fate)
you drive through the small hours of morning laughing
.....(to light it is to cast remembrance)
drink black coffee until the mahogany sky breaks open
.....(what you gave me can't be replaced)
the jello red of sunlight illuminates the guts of the clouds
.....(you found that broken bone stick)
smoky tops of ancient mountains pyramiding into peaks
.....(& you knew just what cadence to create)
when the daylight is full bleed on & we switch places
.....(monumental claims to disregarded blame)
you fall asleep in the other seat, black-eyed dreaming
.....(nothing that pastes the skin can be related)
down curvy streets past metal mailboxes & giant shrubs
.....(i'm sorry i couldn't open the lock for you)
see-sawing back & forth, prowling the alleys & lanes
.....(glimmering water glides past pale canoes)
when we find the address the look on your face darkens
.....(you never told me your deep secret)
the place where the house once stood is buried & gone
.....(the past is a beacon fading slowly)
we get out of the car & stand on the rubble of time gone by
.....(i hold silver fingers touching lightly)
when you start to cry i have no solace for your sorrow
.....(star-crossed in lost time zones)
a train whistle in the distance is the only thing that remains
.....(we'll always have cleveland, won't we?)

-- markk

august 5, 2002

rain dance

the rain the rain the rain
brown grass in front of a
euclid bungalow the color
of frying sausage, streets
sprinkled with dust & dirt,
mill cinders & factory
breath huffing, the rain
the rain the rain rain
brittle yellow newspaper
upon vacant lots where
buildings once stood,
sad dry air that creeps
through university circle,
the rain the rain the rain
I stand in the empty place
between a giant statue
& a sidewalk where people
stride in a clammy sweat
& I begin to dance, a slow
movement, a faux tai chi
in response to an intricate
internal rhythm, sort of a
molecular boogie, a rain
dance designed to call
down the thunder of sweet
relief, oh the rain the rain
the rain the rain the rain

-- markk

july 29, 2002

jester plays bonzai guitar

when jester plays guitar at the pirate's cove
he flails his head in time, machete strumming,
like a hammer hitting a nail in savage fury,
raking at six strings. his cracked voice
careens from one mad howling stanza to another.
jester breathes poems & sets them to music,
calls his performanc: bonzai guitar.
surrounded by smoke jester looks like an angel
waving a naked sword inside a thundercloud.
jester plays for hours at a time, people sit
frozen by the voltage of it. jester laughs
after each song, speaks in bluish riddles,
calls for requests, for a drink,
for a joke, beautiful gone women are only
too happy to oblige, jester winks once,
launches his guitar pick into the crowd
like james dean flicking a cigarette
out the window of a 1949 mercury
on a lonely chickie run, rolling out, alive

-- markk

july 22, 2002

Thee Eleventh Craving

Officers in smiling smog
Sniffing brown frogs
Yesterday's lincoln logs
Have become Continentals

"Hand me that steering column, boy"

Upset doctor in the
Civilization Cafe is
Putting back coffee
Trying to be heard

I walk in
Grab a paper
And a bagel
And look at Tremont's dirt
On windows
On cars
On newspaper stand

Everyone here is
A hungry eye
A nutcracker
A bug out downtown clown
A citizen unaware of
Tent homes constructed out of
Newspaper and boxes
By the bridge near the
Post office
Close to the stadium

I don't want to work for you
I just want to steal your car

-- Matthew Wascovich


july 15, 2002


Out windshield
I see St. Clair
And Superior

We ride
35 miles per hour
Along this curve
Around dead men

They lend us
Tones and
Hurried words

Ride through
And Yield
To Broadway
To Ontario
To W. 14th
To Abbey

The cabbies
Gab and
Grab for their
Phones on
W. 3rd
Tires in holes
Bending rims

-- Matthew Wascovich

july 8, 2002

News From Nowhere

In the Middle West
News from nowhere
No time
Nothing but noise
Pull it together
And build Cleveland
Around a new sport
Of news from nowhere
No form
No sense of timing

-- Deborah Staab & Matthew Wascovich

july 1, 2002

a fence is a fence

the neighbor's fence
is completely symmetrical,
parallel boards all equal
width, length, spaced the
same. a bone white color
or absence of it. i decide
i dislike this aberration
of nature, this blasphemy.
i sneak out one night, tear
boards off, replace them
with odd sizes, paint a few
red, orange, lime green,
attach space junk & plastic
bowls to the posts, write
poems on the horizontal slats.
there are parts of the country
where they call this art,
but cleveland ain't one of them.
my neighbor calls the cops.
i plead the fifth, man, a
fifth of whiskey that is.
& when you really stop to
think about it, a fence is a
fence is a fence, right?
or maybe I'm just channeling
the ghost of gertrude stein in
the oncoming rush of a
fourth of the fourth of july


june 24, 2002

running on patchouli fumes

no wonder i missed you
you were in the
old erie street bookstore,
& i was getting coffee.
as the light turned red.
the traffic stopped
& a guy walked by
with his trenchcoat
& cell phone,
wingtips & rolex.
me, i bought this coat
at a second-hand store
over in lakewood,
i never use my cell phone,
i wear old black boots
& my watch needs a battery.
every spare minute
i burn like a spotlight,
expel full voltage
in every direction,
run on patchouli fumes,
trade in sweet magic,
juggle emotion & frantic desire.
what book didja buy?
my coffee was great,
black sumatran, thanks



june 17, 2002

elvis comes riding on 300-mph moonbeams

i consider him crazy, unhinged, unbalanced
damaged goods in mere human form,
crashes through the door late at night
in the policeman's attic apartment in berea
with beer, desperation, too much energy
for his mortal good, takes over my living room,
my tv, rants like an old testament prophet,
schemes gigantic spectacular con jobs
flavored with black licorice & kerosene
gone, leaves without warning or fanfare
returns unannounced, sideburns bulging,
dark glasses on at midnight like a bad elvis,
he comes riding on 300-mph moonbeams,
throws lunar sand across the horizon
offers medicine for the dying, laughter
for the downtrodden, miracles for the forgotten
hope for the lifeless, help for the weary
leaving carnage & popcorn for the mind
all along his rolling kaleidoscope path


june 10, 2002

a kick from a footless boot

waiting at a bus stop
the 76x is late
i see a man asleep
in the doorway
of an old building
i watch a woman with shopping bags
shuffle on by
i smell mothballs & cigarettes
on the lady standing next to me
a college girl with a backpack
sits down & sighs
i don't hop on
when the bus pulls up
'till i am startled
by a kick from a footless boot


june 3, 2002

poem for virginia dubose

virginia dubose wants to play the piano,
the black & white keys to east 84th st.
notes that carry the weight of ages,
music that rings timeless in spare truth,
brings peace to the clamor of streets --
a tailwind that carries voices along
to those corners where church choirs
sing out harmonies that tremble like
tiny flowers shivering, in her solitary
drift of gone ages, who will bring the
frail lily of dignity to virginia dubose?


may 28, 2002

drum bang suburban death march

dim shadows creep along tree-lined streets
dogs bark, wail, howl, yr name
the smell of smoke, burning leaves
bicycle dreams & mower blades
silent bodies on sleek beds
the poetry of child chatter
hazy rainy sprinkle of wasted water
on manicured lawns, on tulips that never bloom ­
in the west side suburbs of cleveland

you are dying

in the nuclear heat of blue-green screams
that roar from television, dig in shredded bark,
the idiot pounding of deck hammers
you are losing yr patience,
you are dying

calypso thinking & merry-go-'round words
on the box of a frozen dinner
on the back of a milk carton
in plastic trash bags where apples rot
& picked bones fester
radio jabber beyond language
you pace the floor brooding dark steps
tramping the carpet in three-four time
waiting for yr moment,
planning yr crash and escape

neighbors argue, hot taunts about leaves & dust
manure, vermiculite the night sky rolls over
like a down blanket no stars in limbo
planets align, the moon as white as a paper plate

you are dying there in exile in bermuda shorts & sandals,
shoe polish & sun block, a seething menace
in every action every broken window latch
& every paint stroke, dying there in exile
with only free words as a refuge

sing in the morning, sing loud songs, bang drums,
sing a thunderstorm bellow in four-part inertia,
sing as the ground swells, sing through broken branches,
the rattle of trash cans, sing over roof shingles
& chimney brick while streetlights emerge in the dusk
& crows circle tree trunks, spiders in shimmering webs,
cats purring on hedge rows

sing war songs
that shake the windows
& wake the neighbors
reverb & echoes of a futile beast-wail
that makes room light flicker, the final rattle
of a ranting hot kiss good-bye


may 20, 2002

jester on the loose

jester drives a yellow thunderbird
120 mph down lake shore blvd.,
you next to him
begging for your life,
jester smiles a
w. 25th st.
chile pepper smile,
sizes you up
though stolen silver reflective
ray bans
recites parts of dante's purgatorio,
meatloaf recipes,
monday at high noon
& jester is out for blood,
hungry, rolls up his sleeves,
one hand on the wheel,
one on his muscled arm,
jester knows what you
like to do for fun,
was right there
when you got pulled over
for speeding &
when you considered buying
steel-toed boots,
jester can't be fooled
by radiation & commercial hype,
he dreams clean,
wipes his brain
with fresh solvent,
the way you would
if you were jester,
(which you're not)


may 13, 2002

I love this town, brotherman

mista' slick santee is
be-boppin' hard as
he sweeps into the
luminous warehouse
on a sad monday morning,
wearing his floppy cap all
slack & a red silky shirt
buttoned to the collar,
he talks outrageous
flack about his sugar
puddin' baby doll,
the long weekend, hot
smoky summer nights
in the brick alley between
houses over near lexington
ave., a streetside bar-b-que
in a 55-gallon drum with
the temptations crooning
from the ruins of the radio,
i accuse him of making
it all up, he smiles, seems
taken aback, says, i will
not lie when the truth will
do me just as well, laughs
in a mad cackle, digs
his cigarettes out of his
coat pocket, I love this
town, brotherman, he says,
looks heavenward, a gesture
of benevolent pleading,
words meant just for me


may 6, 2002

the superior river

i watched it on tv, the
late news showed a
huge river running down
superior ave., the water
main in front of my building
ripped open like an aorta,
spewing liquid high into
the night sky, shattering
thick windows, drowning
offices in a niagara falls-
like downpour, my only
thought at the time a frantic:
omigod! I left the poems
in my desk drawer, floating
into oblivion a mad panic
tossed on the temporary
waves of the superior
river, take the ferry over to
the other side, driftwood &
debris, I can put all the pieces
back together again, if I can
just find them, can't I?


april 29, 2002

cuyahoga dog

winding river you are
now purified, a death
by fire, a cool rebirth,
the waters of yr mystery
flow unimpeded, immune
now from chemicals & oil,
scraps of paper & orange
peels, I have sat upon
yr lumpy banks & heard
feverish reflections yelp
out loudly to me, reaching
up from profound depths
to grasp a dangerous wrist,
oh cuyahoga river, the
omnipresent ganges of
cleveland, the thames
of the north coast, the
nile of mighty egyptian
fetish night, let me be
yr calm intermediary,
the fearsome artist of yr
tribal smile, a cuyahoga
dog running fast beside
yr waters synchronized
to the flow, four legs
loping as fast as the
pull of a full april moon

-- markk

april 22, 2002

cleveland opus maximus (part 1)

hop in, unreal city,
i'll drive you deep
into the ghost of
yr palm-reader
history, like a half-
cocked cabbie i'm
a memory reaper,
yr golden orphan,
the keeper of the
skeleton keys

---- i knew you in 1968,
a cleveland of foul manners
hiding behind
a window at 34th
& superior, at night
sleeping in that upper
room the horns & hollers
from the street were
chants & insults,
fabulous illusions

---- when you killed d.a. levy
you laughed about it,
the only one who made
you the acrylic of his
bone-brush art, it's a sin
from which you have
never recovered

---- when hough burned
it wasn't your problem.
was it? just the dregs of the
inner city & you turned
a blind eye to that pain
& refused to repent

---- as airplanes crisscrossed
the labor day sky you revelled
in a victory that relied on
cheap pyrotechnics &
objects you could not
touch in a distance of blue

---- i walked those streets
around e. 40th & pain (not
payne) waiting for deliverance,
when they pimped up that
alley looking for me, there
was no one there to see
my reflection in broken glass

---- cleveland i saw you
cheering, in municipal
stadium moments, the
caliber of yr energy
emerging from section 35
like cannon fire, the catalyst
of a personal doom
that still haunts you

---- i saw you
implode from the
dirty heart of yr
ore-piled chemical
riverbanks, in
the old fagens,
when it was an irish
bar with a fireplace
& cheap shots &
alec & mary sang songs
about drunk sailors
in a lilting wail,
before someone turned it
into a tinsel dance club

---- when you became
the national punchline
& yr self esteem vanished
you still held onto bob feller
& otto graham & the steel mills
of the 1940s, ford & chevy
the holy car makers driving
yr chromebumper sweat,
refusing to change
with the times

---- & that neighborhood
around w. 130th & bennington
i knew it well, heading
up the sidewalk to santa's
market i saw a man sleeping
in a doorway, wondered why
the left hand of cleveland
had layed him low, the money
in my pocket like a treasure-
chest proclamation, hiding,
out of sight, in shame

one night I watched trucks
drive over the hope memorial
bridge from a vantage
point reserved for drunks
& poets, madmen &
angels, & just like
that, everything was
perfect, waiting, waiting
in the wings, for someone
like you


april 15, 2002


when the city talks to itself
it whispers barely audible
curses, mumbled prayers,
words that sound foreign,
eastern ethnic african
dialects, the city talks to
itself & sings softly, a voice-
song of sad beautiful
things, of artwork slashing
across lake erie horizons,
a hypnotized reverence
for all things wooden, careless,
calm, restricted, uplifting,
the city talks to itself &
answers back in a yell
of clinging uncertainty,
a groundswell of words
that clip the tip of
the terminal tower,
swirl around the jake
like a drain, citytalk that
surfaces in waterbubbles,
bursting, cleveland,
just to say you're home


april 8, 2002

opening day

the cold start to
another cleveland
baseball season
raining again
clownish red-faced
smile of chief wahoo,
goes up against
those who
think he ought to be
relegated to the junkbin
of baseball history,
banished like
negro leagues,
batter up batter down
time to play ball


april 1, 2002

lazarus rides the phoenix back to cleveland in blue vapor trails

lazarus come forth -
phoenix, arise!

bust out of yr
rusty tomb,
shed yr white cloth
scattered molecules
congealed once
more into
a glorious &
panoramic whole

lazarus in an eye
blink, looks left,
looks right, a minefield
of missed opportunities,
fire in the city, the
farms plowed under,
advertising billboards
on every obscene
corner, the rags of
of yr riches in dirt
enamored of dust

lazarus resurrected
man in twilight, beat
a stone liberation
lazarus on streets
of asphalt & bone,
bathed in an ooze of
neon, an incense of
cut glass & glory

phoenix rising,
lifting into gray
clouds that explode
into sprinkles of
orangeish sun,
egg yolk thick
ostrich moons
wings spread
in a feather
feast of wind
that parts & bends
an acquiesence,
a surrender to
yr tremulous altitudes

this is the time
when lazarus
& the phoenix
meet, for the
mingling of
mythology &
high spirit, the
breach of all
the revolutions
& epogees you
create in the
name of sheer

lazarus alift
upon the wide
girth of the
of the phoenix

brothers in arms
sisters of soul
a speeding androgyny
of mutual energetics

lazarus calls upon
you to make yr
move, a flight
path of beauty
& all perfect

lazarus rides
the phoenix to
new york, lazarus
rides the phoenix to
dallas, lazarus rides
the phoenix to chicago
lazarus rides the
phoenix to los angeles
lazarus rides the phoenix
to miami lazarus
rides the phoenix to
atlanta lazarus rides the
phoenix back to cleveland
in blue vapor trails

my angle of yaw
perfect in giving
this arioso a life
of its own, oh
bo tree yr wisdom
flings on demand


march 25, 2002

cops w/guns in front o' the bar

on lost euclid avenue
there are five cops
with revolvers drawn
standing stiff in front
of the open door to
a crazy bar, all action
frozen, waiting, nothing
happening, nothing yet,
i have a canon eos loaded
on the cold vinyl seat
beside me, but somehow
i think it's a smart idea
to speed up, drive on,
go past, before the
they or i begin to shoot



march 11, 2002

Quality of Pointed Letters

His religion is trouble knowledge on East 30th Street
at Payne where he is building equity and the use of

foreign language. Drunk on metaphor and touching,
she looks forward to production numbers and

dancing nuns that claim proclivity for cavity, while
the neighbors watch. They want opulent skimpy cars

guided by whores and cheap is essence captain,
cheap is scout, cheap dumping down, cheap

dumping out.  A Cleveland height in isolation, she
whistles in her wrinkled panties, wearing the obtuse

nuke around her neck, around the piece of frowning
glass, a class of cassettes, collusion and clowns.  Miss

viking on top of a mountain, please underestimate
meaning, land the parachute wide open, lick the air

like a survivor while the motor turns over. Outside,
maids clean up the mess and she says that she is

nothing without him.  Her life, painful academic,
dinners and history looking for a power plant.

At Pat's in the Flats, she speeds up wisdom
teeth and calls the king of innocence to begin two

terms in Cleveland.  Numb and alone, tongues sliver
rivers, in an arm chair, distributing vowels and his

only assets, a bookshelf of rare reads and hard finds.

-- Matthew Wascovich


march 4, 2002

hooker w/a feather boa on carnegie ave.

early on a carnegie ave. morning
i brake & slow down, there's
a woman standing in the middle
of the road, a hooker wearing
a tight red dress & a feather boa,
she beams through the windshield
& directly into my eyes, throws
me a gesture of enticement, a curl
of that hand that says, come on boy,
i'll take you for the ride of your life,
i smile & wave, shake my head,
she smiles sweetly, clunking in
high heels across the avenue
waving that boa like a baseball
pennant, shakin' a booty in time



feb. 25, 2002

blues for michelle kwan

how hard that ice must
have felt, how cold against
yer paper thin outfit, the
map of yer skin beneath it.
when you fell the entire
city of cleveland heard the
sound & knew it by heart,
that psychic betrayal of fate,
the sweet victory that was
snatched away. the grimace
on yer face was our grimace,
the thunk of yer heart like
a giant boulder splashing
into deep water. it was
ugly familiar. you held yer
head high right after,
but much later, all alone,
when no one was looking,
those fat tears were ours, baby.
nowhere else but cleveland
could you hear the words:
we know how you feel,
& really believe it for
even a solitary icy second.
these blues are for you,
michelle kwan, tonight the
moon has been shut off, like
a porch light, & the drinks
with compliments are on us


feb. 18, 2002

Second Base

There's no time for politics
what with all we've got to buy and
sell your soul the economy's crumbling,
but we're winning the war.
i read my headlines.
i've heard the news, but
was more concerned when they sold
my second baseman
gold gloves and all, to the highest bidder.
So, he'll make out all right,
better'n his steel mill fans
who could hardly afford tickets anyway.

--Matt Jablonski


feb. 11, 2002

the cleveland (om kizmit) book of the dead

.......om kizmit died in tibet
cleveland's lost son of memory
........the fogbrother in wild array
last of the line, a breathing
........legend in epics foretold his
feast of northern lives a work
........of progress not designed to
end, complete in grumbling
........defiance to open parables

(he who recites the names of the
dead from memory in alphabetical
order backwards/forwards,
those who left here never
to return, to die on foreign soil
script entered into some
cleveland book of the dead)

om kizmit a myth ­

..the blinking ear
..sparrow wing
..orphan kinship
..woe of pleases
..curly neck
..resonance test

reverse poles
the totem frost
neglect remaining
the yellow dust
crater womb
plastic rennants
in one two threes

(reading this to you
in reflected sunlight
mirror convex
the curvature of
earth i hear you
utter, cleveland
voice on
the other
end of the
ore boats



feb. 4, 2002

cleveland ramble #54

hurtling toward cleveland, i71 north,
past old west 25th neighborhoods
past the onion domes of tremont,
over the bridge, the cuyahoga with
grey barges reeking of iron ore,
piles of limestone, sick slag heaps
beat brick warehouses & towers
stabbing into metallic cloudy skies,
clean toothbrush lights of jacobs field,
traffic stopped cold, four-car pileup
shots of whiskey at the harbor inn,
police cars cruise up east 55th
long black cadillac runs on fumes
panhandlers in front of the gund
fenn tower speaks strange languages
pyramid of rockbeat on the lakefront
walking along west 6th man with cell phone
disappears into a bistro, construction
workers dig up a street corner, iron girders
craned into place over a parking lot
boats rip current on the river, streaming
out into vast grey depths of lake erie
a man chained himself to the courthouse,
free stamp free stamp free stamp nothing
worth a damn ever comes free, he says


jan. 28, 2002

cat-eye tail lights peer through the fog

fog falls like an avalanche
over gray lanes on I-71,
where once i looked out
onto open highway, i now
see only a few feet in front
of me, & the tail lights
of the car creeping slow,
just ahead, are angled
up, they look like cat eyes
blinking in a smoky fog,
a cat backpedaling, moving
smoothly away as I close in,
a car tango driving south
toward far dark columbus,
nothing to see but each other
the miles we stare red & blue


jan 21, 2002

mlk jr. day 2002

martin luther king jr.
was arrested
& handcuffed
booked at
a police station
in a racist 1960s
amerikkkan south
where equal
was a white word

martin luther king jr.
was known as a
great orator,
but I call him
a poet, each
a poetry reading
each word part
of an epic poem
that rang through
hough even as it
burned, up scovil
down wade park

when in churches
they speak
the name of
martin luther king jr.
there is always
hope, something
james earl ray or
could not kill

bells ringing,


jan. 14, 2002

radio freak cleveland

time was when a radio
was my only friend
late at night
a small transistor
glued to wixy 1260
mike reneri or larry morrow
banging it from
radio freak cleveland
cklw out of windsor
about three million watts
of 1960s music
i'd lay in bed
listen to the
water from the brook
outside bop across
the pebbles
rain in the
drainpipe on the
corner of the house
trickling down
the creak of the walls
as the wind howled
rattled window panes
it was a different world
the soundtrack
of my life
played by the beatles
the who
a series of one-hit wonders
those1910 fruitgum
company bubble
pop bands
all of it offered
by a dj who's voice
made it sound like every
song was the most
important thing in the world
& each one was
now it's radio frequency
interference each day
mad static
clips of words
& audio bullet holes
notes recycled
& candy bar claims
a play for my money
in the name of corporate greed
they don't care about music
i know more
than i need to
head like an old


jan. 7, 2002

mercenary bus ride
in the direction of the bang stars

i get on the bus with no money
ask if anyone would cash a check
i'm a wayward nightmare in e-flat
dust-covered, bamboozled
headflipped & rainwatered
this insurance salesman says okay
& forks over the green
i buy a one-way ticket
to cleveland
find a seat, crap out
i wake up 200 miles north
sitting with an olive green
mercenary rifle nut
he tells me he shoots
into the sky at night
& takes out the planets one by one
dispatches aliens, 747s
bound for los angeles
the rings of saturn
have you ever heard of bang stars,
he asks me, they're the ones
that explode & reach you a million years later
i watch another gas station go by
dead, dreaming, desolation
mayhem on the fringes, oh
to be a lost boy in a
carnivorous america
so high in the sky
that houses look like match boxes,
rivers like ripped thread


jan. 1, 2002

the white light of a new year
rains down on cleveland

old clueless friend in yer lazy urban metabolism
there lives a blueprint for staggering change,
a genetic code devised to keep progress moving.
on the banks of the cuyahoga river the water moves
like a slippery horizontal meditation, smokestacks
belch not industrial waste but white light, thick fog
clouds of pure healing & remembrance creep
across the cold city. i see them float upon the spikes
of the terminal tower, 'round like a peppermint stick
a hovering barber pole, spinning faster, faster
explodes outward into a billion sizzling projectiles
& the white light of a new year rains down on cleveland,
feel the misted spacecough of spectacular white light
from the office buildings the monetary dream of white light
from poker-faced corner thieves the booty of white light
upon the sleeping carnegie ave. homeless blankets of white light
on public square soldiers & sailors the peace of white light
in warehouse district restaurants a hot meal of white light
upon the liquid of flats beer glasses the foam of white light
boats on lake erie waters motor through waves of white light
cars streaking across lakeshore blvd. in petrol fumes of white light
expelled from cleveland orchestra woodwins the music of white light
hanging on museum of art walls paintings of acrylic white light
sneaking around east 55th curbs a silent wanting white light
on lorain ave. pawn shops selling reinvented white light
ohio city telephone pole streetlights flowing down white light
in university circle hospital beds the healing of white light
buried deep in west side suburban lawns fertilizer of white light
in tremont parks sitting on wooden benches of white light
in little italy gigantic pastry plates glowing in white light
st. malachai rescue workers proclaiming the white light
in st. hermans glassy men facing demons embracing white light
east cleveland prophet music fire & ice dancing steps in white light
electric guitar propaganda chords flayed in g major white light
a city all at once engulfed in a frantic eternal snowstorm
of genuine metaphysical universal miracles yes this white light



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