junkmail oracle

poem o' the week


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


2003 poem o' the week archive

december 29, 2003


black river rust belt city blues
city of entropy
city of erosion

but, consider the bricks
laid by my grandfather
in decades long past-
still standing

consider the steel
worked by my brother
and father before him-
still strong

steel that no "super" man
could ever hope
to bend
or break

--J.E. Stanley

december 22, 2003

ladies night at Video 42

Parma ladies
10% off all magazines
thursday nights
at Video 42
on Pearl & Ridge
afterwards you can
howl at the moon
above Walgreen's,
right across the street
now a tombstone
on the site of the old
Barron's Restaurant and Bar
where mom once
crushed cockroaches
and served 90% whiskey
to ladies at night

-- joanne cornelius

december 15, 2004


Coming away from a stare-down with a buck
I feel somewhat the loser
Though we parted like gentlemen,
Each in his own direction.
The wind favored me,
Walking the Metropark trail from his rear
And ruminating, I had walked quietly
Until twenty yards away from him -- then froze.
Shockingly, Dog did the same, remained motionless.
For a time, the buck pretended disinterest,
Lowering his head, although his eyes remained
Locked on my silhouette in a fixed brown trance.
Twice he made his move before we made ours.
We advanced another five yards before a twig
Betrayed our presence and there we froze
While I counted the points on his rack, getting eight once
Counting six the second time.
Determined to resolve the question, I moved forward
And right placing him between me and a patch of sunlight
That sprinkled down through the hickory and beech.
"Four on my left, his right; three on his left."
I must have spoken aloud for his hind leg kicked the dirt
In a way unnatural to humans since the knee bends backwards
From the way we're used to seeing.
Yet I remained still and he could no more pick me out
Than any tree in the forest.
Clearly worried, he began to sniff
With the air of an Italian grandfather
Turning his nose up at an unsatisfactory plate of pasta,
Perhaps questioning the quality of the sauce
Or whether it had come from a jar.
So we stood for perhaps ten minutes,
Each feigning indifference, each observing, each alert
For the slightest change in demeanor.
Then I chose to move off to my right toward the down-cliff track
And he stepped slowly to his right, headed to The Point.
We both stopped in the same step and checked our opposite.
He tossed his head ­ showing clearly the seven points
And I moved lower and away.
Since a gentleman never gives offense, except on purpose,
I felt it improper to impose any longer upon his time.
It was only then that I noticed the doe
Hidden by brush in the ravine behind and below him
And somehow felt the interloper
On some private scene, the third wheel at a woodland lunch,
A Peeping Tom at a Fall day's tryst.
So Dog and I dropped down the cliff
While buck and doe excused the intrusion
And I tried to feel again
Like a gentleman instead of an trespasser in the woodlands
Which I was gently reminded really are not mine.

-- curt harler

december 8, 2003

5 haiku

Smelling arctic icefloes
On gusts across Lake Erie
Here in mid-July
Ohio coalbarge
Kids jetski over its wake
Going with the flow
First time lovers lulled
By Erie's last waves of summer
He lets them sleep in
Headlights on snowed street
Near edison's birthplace
AKRON 61 miles
I shovel snow
from Cleveland front lawn
just to see green

--Ray McNiece

december 1, 2003

Answers Were Nevertheless Implied

She smelt the flowering currant;
passed it and headed to downtown.
Linn was crying, as she usually
did, at least, once a day. Said,
he is just legs and trousers.
What does he want? Hell, it's
spring. I'm losing another love.

In a moment a paltry significance
hit her between the eye lids.
The words: He has seen a paltry
meaning in you and is still here.
What do you have to change him
for? For another of your projects?
Damn, let spring spring. Linn's

crying continued. Mid-age was
making her see her ending. She
yelled to no one but the noise
of downtown Cleveland, I am an
unrolled sequence of incidents
that knows her end is nothing
but the whirring and humming

of a frictionless engine. And
I want him to know this. Before
he decides to stay or leave. The
voice said, ah, this is good,
and you will see he will stay.
He likes gears. And you, you
like obscure flowers and fruits.

-- Dan Gallik

november 24, 2003

d.a. levy obit (nov. 24, 1968)

gunshot reverb
echo energy
the way it sounds
when the doors to
the ultraworld are
pushed open in
heavy wind, those
ancient vibrations,
you merged just like
a thousand times
before, behind you
1744 wymore, a
mess of human
hum & battle,
cleveland in ruins,
ahead of you
nothing but
white light,
yr obit another
mystery i know
like a beat heart

-- markk

november 17, 2003


hey d. a. --
something happened today
that i thought was funny
and i want to share it with you
your friend joanne
(you died before you
got a chance to meet her)
made a big poster of you
because you're famous now
for all the right reasons
and above that poster
was a poster of mr jingeling
and somebody saw the two posters
and not knowing who you were
(i said you were famous
but not everybody knows that yet)
thought that the poster of you
was mr jingeling without his
happyface xmas makeup on

(i guess maybe you had to be there)

-- vern morrison

november 10, 2003

Drunk on art, I blame Cleveland
( Cleveland Art Museum, October 2003, rain fell hard )

The voice
"Renoir must be found."
But wait!
Monet's careful color
softly loving the canvas
The canvas feeling like wind
if wind could hold paint
and if paint gave a hoot about wind
laughing it dry the whole time
frightened of Pollock's violent brushes
bescattering bristlettes
that drink too much
but offer "sorry" to the madman
who does his best to stay insane
And he knows not
the simple
Mesoamerican wish
that shares his roof
although incredibly deceased
each earthen creature
can find a reason to call itself God
and God just may be another word for art,
the two things Christopher stated, which provide the differential gorge
between cognitive man
and the muscle footed mollusk
Christopher being a friend
a neuron firing madly
a mind reflected on itself
the only man
who fully appreciates
the science of art
and the art of science
and I know well
that what he sees
is not what others feel
but is, in fact, the closest thing
to the greatest secret ever known

-- dexter zirkle

november 3, 2003

I Am Down With You Crooked River

as huge machines dredge up heavy metal sludge
awash in your waters all the way to Eddy Road
your workers strung out high on the fumes
spellbound somnambulist
gas flame shadows of industry
that will return no more flicker across
the spent shell army of the damned

i am down with you crooked river
on your suicide mornings bloated
with an occasional reveler
when it seems the sun itself is retreating
from cancerous mists and acid rain falls
to your depths

i am down with you crooked river
when moonlight glints off your knife blade face
and darts from gun barrel blue black eyes
stabbed in the back by politicians
shot down by bankers your blood
on their hands that rarely, if ever,
sweated always striving to stay well greased

i am down with you crooked river
as hearing the church bells
you churn on relentless as an
unanswered prayer.

i am down with you crooked river
as you drift past salt mines
and ore boats slide into port
you kiss zebra mussels
that now ring your mouth
like syphilitic sores of robber barons past

i am down with you crooked river
in the shadow of Industrial Rayon
which occasionally belched
paint searing blotches chemicals
that ran off and mated with paint thinner
titanium dioxide, pesticides, fertilizer, ketone
hydrochloric acid, strontium 90, and DDT
to roil up from your depths
coating Cleveland in oily hues

i am down with you crooked river
with the junkies, winos, huffers
parking cars, panhandling day and night
wearing their scars defiantly wrestling
industrial junkyard demons daylaboring
past present and future wars

i am down with you crooked river
scarred used but not used up
your glittering refinement glistens
like too much lipstick on an old whore
as night blessed night softens pock marked
edges and bouyed by dreams
even worn out hulks can pretend love

i am down with you crooked river
on the float with your illuminated banks
bridges all tarted up for some ghost
of a real river festival when your
beauty unadorned was enough
to make us weep

i am down with you crooked river
rockin and rollin crazyman
alan freed blues for the red boy
record rendezvous house of the howlin hounds
rockin river spawning the blues for unsung
heroes of railyards and bridges
the blast furnace blue collar epiphanies
of lost days and nights
that jetties of air hammer into iron work hearts
and light streams through lattice work of girders
cathedrals to the real and imagined flow
stained glass fused river unto us

i am down with you crooked river
you hearing our prayers and screams
knowing you will abide in some form
even if Perry Nuclear slides off
the fault line
you can soak in the knowing of it
the sweat, the piss,the blood,
the excrement of bone
the foetuses
the oil and gasoline
rags of riot to rage in timeless soup
sterno kitchen hot dogs and fries
bottles and cans cats and dogs
paper, soap, booze
vomit of ditched dope, hot cars and condoms
gallons of spit, coffee, tires, butts and tampons
rock on crooked river
girded up spanned over
splashed by the soup of decay
from graveyards of the living and the dead
I welcome all that you are and shall be
my crooked river, myself
secure in the knowledge of your
necessity and mutability
flowing home flowing home
trudging up the hill
I know it's you crooked river
that I hear lapping gurgling
"screw 'em if they can't take a joke.".

-- dan smith


october 27, 2003

For Shakira Johnson

Again, I find myself grieving for someone I know only
From the evening news & ask why?
Why do monsters emerge from the shadows of a childs'
Monsters have no place in real life, just in
"B" movies & in the end the monster is destroyed
Returning in a sequel to be destroyed again.
Little girls half watch in horror, cupping their hands
over their eyes
Between crunches of popcorn & sips of soda pop/ Then
Fear disappears at the end of the film & the lights
come on.
How do we keep monsters in "B" movies & childrens'
Nightmares where monsters belong?
How do we keep monsters off the streets?
(Another childs' smile has been snatched away.)

--barry phillips

october 20, 2003

Confessions Of A Coffee Cup

A drop of rain
divides its army
when cursed to pour
from home

Silence is too loud
when minds create a fury

Thoughts play horrible music
an idea could never sing
nor hold a single note
but action is a fire
that makes
the world
turn red

A crowd gathers
because no one likes to get wet
but watch
they love
not feel
a shadowed sky gain friends

We all drink amphetamines
out of jittery glasses
so we can say we're not addicted
to the junk you hustled on 25th
and while I attempt to dilate my aorta
with the heavy, heaving, anxious, terrible rush of black invocated slop
I think of 50 things that are only loosely connected
to one another

And staring at this beast
called "hand"
that writes like others orgasm
in precious, tortured waves
I see
my pen
is shaking

Looking back,
the prior night was terse
at best
as bells rang too late by accident
sounds rang too fake by occident

All I wanted to do was forget

She carved her name into my chest
then politely asked if she could leave
then politely I said "please"
"Your chakras are too bright
you are too perfect for my world"
And if "please" is a word that good people say
then "now" is a word that makes one a saint
in a land where seconds are the new days

With hair quite long
as flaxen fallen waters
her weight shifted from shoulder to hip
pronouncing something I had already known
that she could move planets
with life giving loin
that she could kill stars
if trouble remained
in our wholesome
backyard galaxy
that has been the blood
and spoil of every birth or war
that has been an honest rendition
of a creators final work
her milk
her honey
her tummy tingled sap
her winter grieving flock
that with a gaze
of a deep, lost cobalt
began to master
why our eyes speak the way they do
in holy roman poems
which scrape our skulls
in thin lament
of land we could not conquer

And before I'm through
I must confess some history to you all
the biggest lie I ever told
was to say
I didn't care

-- Dexter Zirkle


october 13, 2003

August in the Valley

Canal by-way screams past the tow path
crunchy cobble cinders swim in my shoes
oh this lovely Ohio valley in August
I need you now
I am thirsty, I run south to quench my thirst
I'll take your slow trickle- a tickle-- my ticket
oh Canal!
beside me and gazelle dreams
you've been on the this dry run too
first come the relentless rains
swelling bursting to surrender of
teasing sympathic suns that warm
and bake you dry and boring
your thirst never quenched
now parched
you find cinders in your shoes
and keep running

-- joanne cornelius


october 6, 2003

Spice Island

you see I wade you walk through the river my tired feet bound
our fibers irreverent anymore as muscles pull and my city tips

uncomfortable still spreading about our bulging noisy tablecloth
within the earshot of dreamers of the first of the months to come

stranded on Spice Island over barren waters open mouth
what to do what to do with this trivial overabundance

for what can this simple lonesome one do but shake words
infuse use her muse abuse until the painful clues are news

nothing's fair here where peppercorns multiply and sleep heavy
on lone loins feast for a few

the the abyss is here too
in worn shoes they mingle beg with guzzlers and roast on the banks

on the condition of my mission, I buy their free marigolds for a dollar all the while I belch fives
there are times I wish I could be them and they could be me

so grand it could be if everyone would jump in the river get wet
emerge on the banks of the Cuyahoga evenly tenderized

fakes take on lake sleepers waiting on grim reaper
toggle peepers perpetuate misunderstanding of the wanting

choices scents and tastes
nothing is bland on Spice Island; it's mad on Spice Island

-- joanne cornelius


september 29, 2003

Lake Erie

(after William Carlos Williams)

so much depends

the black leather

frozen in winter

so far from

-- J.E. Stanley


september, 22, 2003

Cleveland Hopkins Airport 1972

The certain blindness of the powers that be
hijacked the music after a gig on Euclid
and there weren't enough horns to save it

"All secure, Chief, we locked up
another blind guy.Yeah, we're going
through his luggage and taking apart
his instruments. I'm sure we will find
the bomb sooner or later."

Rashaan, who I'm told had a wicked
sense of humor, may well have been
fond of saying Cleveland blows
not always meaning the music scene.

-- dan smith

september 15, 2003

Deeper Blue (for Tony Levin)

In the crowded club,
midnight jazz.
A deeper blue
flows, pulses from Tony's bass,
and Chris's plaintive trumpet,
anchored by Bill and David on earth and

And from the SRO Beachland Ballroom,
a deeper blue emerges and reverberates,
echoing through downtown skyscraper canyons
to the steel Cuyahoga and beyond.

A cobalt communion
transcends the urban loneliness
and for a brief, rare moment,
the city stops,
listens past the beat
of its impervious, dark blue, tempered-steel heart
to hear the voice
of its deeper blue, still profoundly human soul.

A deeper

-- J.E. Stanley


september 8, 2003

slouching toward cleveland

like a black & white
negative, his aura a
rainbow of scattered
red & yellow acrylic,
a rucksack as big as
an elephant's ass

-- markk

september 1, 2003

Los Viejos

Dennis Hopper  a medley of wrinkles
makes movies invoking James Dean
Grace Slick  gray hair cascading
paints portraits of Janis Joplin
Gildzen  scattershot with age spots
writes poems abt d.a.levy
is it guilt for lasting this long
or wistful wish for return of the lost?
to flirt with angels of death
quickens the breath

-- alex gildzen


angust 25, 2003

electric emmett

electric emmett
always said: it don't
matter if they eight
or eighty, blind, crippled
or crazy, you gotta be
like jesus & love 'em
all -- electric emmett,
with a beat sweet doe-
eyed criminal smile,
his rasp & cackle,
mad street preacher,
& con-man, master
of verbal pyrotechnics,
leans on the counter
in the warehouse at
40th & payne, throws
out obscure references
to astral physics
& the peloponesian
wars, smoke rising
from the corner of
his mouth like an
ethereal secret, oh
where in odd remains
of cleveland does
that man sleep tonight
(if indeed he sleeps at all)



august 18, 2003



                 the sky above Lake Erie
is an angry gray mouth blowing smoke rings
into the eyes of Cleveland. the lake will not
reveal the crimes concealed below her waters.
buoyancy cannot outwit the laws of gravity

                  the stars above Lake Erie
are not themselves. tinkling a mournful hymn
for every dream aborted. for each voice stilled
too soon. the melody is a mystical revelation
the harmony is the embodiment of Cleveland

                  the moon above Lake Erie
is a cosmic balloon full of himself and telling
a tale dragging on for centuries. began before
we were born. continuing after we exit. a tale of
Cleveland a city forever turning chaos into order
a kick in the face into a wide tooth grin.

-- Barry Phillips

august 11, 2003

cleveland Indented (the air)

indented in the air to stand
in it, in other words to situate
the silhouette against the red
and blue flashing lights
of riot murder police cars

the bent sounds from
broken windows stirring
the discarded wall street
of scovil & buckeye

call & post
journals carrying pigeons

footprints and other
odd designs so rare
a mosaic of pakistani
carpet dhurries

all that
green shiny glass
at the edge of the road
where rta buses collide,

like a compass stuck
out of a sore thumb

i am dethroned, cleveland

-- andrew lundwall & markk


august 4, 2003

Cleveland Prospect

Middle aged black man tried to ice-pick my stomach this afternoon
one block off Public Square at Ontario & Prospect.
"How do you want your prospect today sire, medium or serious damage?"
The bus had almost missed him in the rain
so he loudly abused the driver all the way to town.
I got off behind him and accidentally nudged his heel.
He snarled: Next time you step on my heel I'll hurt you.
Me: Why don't you shut the fuck up?
He: What did you say?
Excuse me sir, I said why don't you shut the fuck up.
A lot of sputtering (this is a man in a business suit)
muttering about shutting me up when suddenly
he's stabbing at my stomach with an ice-pick
well used, with a red handle, he'd taken from his briefcase.
I can't help myself as I automatically out dance his thrusts
(I was on the fencing team at Annapolis)
I laugh and say "you're something else".
This infuriates him more so he shoves his briefcase at his daughter
who's been trying to tug him away and starts slashing at me.
I was wrong.
I should have apologized when I nudged his heel
or at least kept silent when he snapped.
What I did was dance backwards across the street and call out
"You're one sick fuck, old boy"
and run down Ontario street, he & his ice-pick chasing me.
The man's going to explode with hate
and I fuel him further.
If I were black, I'd hate white.
Of course he was an equal hater - the bus driver was black.
I've got to slow my tongue, fasten my brain
walk with compassion, cause less stress, not more.
I am happy. I should share.

-- steve smith

july 28, 2003

cleveland in pure words

on my holy bookshelf
a copy of 'chicks up front'
sits next to a copy of 'neon,'
that's the way it ought to be
in cleveland -- the collected
poems of langston hughes
next to the neglected poems
of hart crane, daniel
thompson spine to spine
with d.a levy, 'break the
slow kill' right there with
the road that carried me here.'

there are days when the
words come as fast as
blood from the skinned knee
of a child, days when the
words sit all rock-like,
a whiskey island in foggy harbor
(that i can't reach by boat
or bottle,) days when silence
means more than any word.

poems in superconsciousness
that fragment & shatter
across frozen pavement,
which itself shatters, the
cracks in the concrete
swallowing up the fragments,
filling in, clean again

cleveland these words will
mean nothing to you in a
thousand years but
i'm going to write them
anyway ­ i hear you
when you speak to me,
and sometimes, sometimes
i even answer back.

-- markk


july 14, 2003

--Downtown Arcade --

a mustached lady
with her red-tipped blind stick
is kicked
by the dome haired asian kid
so heavy in her pink moon boots.

-- sean wheeler

july 7, 2003

_imaginary cleveland poem_

in cleveland i watch / butterflies devour / their tails head-lights on /
tuned out on a thorough vibe / something delivered here / in cleveland
it's all valves / and cheap plastic machine guns / the sound of
bling-bling prances / all throughout each classical night / the stayers
and the goers all in trances / enough candles now to turn out the light

-- andrew lundwall

june 30, 2003

Jumping back

can these new downtown facades blanket
the warmth that was ripped from me
years ago by contrived ping pong directions
of east west that made too timid
our sexy bridges?
They're still there you know, outstretched and ready
alluring layers still hosting suburban bungee gurus
who jump for the excitement of something new
but always come back home to her

-- joanne cornelius


june 23, 2003

Shaw Road

in the twilight's Cutlass, Northeast Ohio in June
looks better than any eurostylish movie,
driving up or down maverick Shaw Road
for the 1thousandth rural mediation time.
bluegrass rhythm to the whole thing baby,
not Motown, or country on CBS Records,
this is soul on Stax, Johnny Cash on Sun,
76 m.p.h. in a 50 looking for county law,
Spencer Twp. cops are good & smile at me
because I played two years of football
for coach Al Young, so Iím listed as "alright"
even though my name's Estvanic
not Smith or Clark or Lee or James
(my family's obviously Catholics on the Protestant prairie).

this is syncopation that American black music,
or the American white music that imitates it,
will never reproduce, never master...
humpback ridge / farmsweat's creek
humpback ridge / farmsweat's creek
humpback ridge / farmsweat's creek
humpback ridge / farmsweat's creek
Black River...
running from these dying wheat farms & dairies,
from these old soybean fields that now grow ugly houses,
from the White Elephant bar & Farmer's Savings bank,
from McComas' gas station & Spencer Elevator,
from neighbors named Hershey & dozens of teachers,
from small town idiosyncrasies & smaller town gossip
into the steel & unemployment & capitalism infected
where every night a line forms
behind Bricker and Voinovich & Taft
so they can drop their matches,
let the river burn again, scare off the rubes
but firebox in every single captive
in a city spiritually waterlocked
by plagued, toxic, rustbelt streams,
cleansed only with history & culture
& old world ethics & blue-collar romance.
it's a fantastic orange show in the midnight sky
that can be observed every single night
35 miles to the Southwest
in sleepy little Spencer.

my dad got out (L.T.V.) cleaner than most...
semblance of a full pension, wife with good benefits,
& a life far outside of the city...
leaving me...child of neither city nor farm
to drive up and down Shaw Road
& make sense of it
without daylight.

-- matthew estvanic

june 16, 2003


I should have better secrets.
(Lip twirled)
The hiding spot:
You can't even imagine
The grass curling into
straight bottle green.
You can't
When the sun comes up
As a clean porch.
Guess the weather.
Kentucky furlough vs.
West 10th, baby.
I have the dust
Under my tongue
To prove it.

-Jesse McGuinness

june 9, 2003

Riches, Cleveland 1968-1975

boot hopping babies slide on the tails of beaters from winter into spring then
roller skate free on smooth slate walks down Montclair
cash in dirty used pop bottles for dough at Sally-Anns's on Broadview so we can
load up on penny candy from Kenny's or Lally's on State then
on to Mooney where we dodge used airplane glue tubes left to evaporate in the end death in
plastic baggies tripping over the burnouts
we the kool-aid entrepreneurs
Al's brother is back from Nam ñ\-- doesn't do much but sing real loud
hillbillies are at it again, rolling under car houses with knives but you see
the PD's published the names of local busted johns and seems neighbor man's on it
up the road the greasers just set a guy ablaze at Memphis school
sweet kid in Cleveland
welfare mama's got me sitting for her kids again while she's at another rights rally
I stare at her posters of anguished students leaning over wounded bodies on streets they
haunt me while
I greet her strange men all night
Dad's thinking we should adopt that little black kid Tony
I like him
friend Trina's mother doesn't want Trina to hang out with us
wonder why
on West 14th Street munching old chili dogs at some little diner and meet really big women
with funny noses who offer up free hugs
and I'm
the richest poor little kid in Cleveland

-- joanne cornelius


june 2, 2003

Cleveland ala Mr. Potato head

confused blobs of prefab dome and chrome
bent over steel stuck upside down sideways
right on top of its own cranium architectural apparition
like some wide-eyed wild child with slippery fingers
and too much sugar we eradicated then resurrected
a hodge podge plums with dislodged eyes
the prize
this evolution
this city
we tossed its pieces parts into a big toy box
and slammed the lid shut
until tiny little soldiers kick it open once again

-- joanne cornelius

may 26, 2003

Letter to d. a. levy in Existential Heaven

d. a., you were four months older,
yet I've outlived you by three decades,
and you know how hard that must have been.
You broke yourself for us, man, left us
to find our own songs for it.
Half your ashes at Whitehaven Cemetery,
the rest with family and friends,
your spirit spread over this cold city
that you loved more than I,
yet hated about the same.

West Side kid off Lorain Road,
father a shoe salesman who
never measured your feet.
When you graduated from Rhodes High,
you wanted to kill yourself,
but found instead real books and art,
friends inside the darkness.
And you kept saving yourself with words
until you couldn't anymore.

Rebel artist, without a cause,
outliving James Dean by two long years.
You renounced everything, even yourself.
Your titles ring through my head at night:
"Egyptian" and "Tibetan Stroboscope"
"Junkmail Oracle," "North American Book of the Dead."
Did you confuse Buddha's emptiness
with the existential nothingness, that night
you put a bullet through your head?
We need no martyrs, now, only friends.

Whitman lover of the streets and coffeehouses,
the bars and book shops, beloved Asphodel,
leaving your tired and lovely DagmaR asleep in East Cleveland
to walk down to Euclid and take the hungry bus
to University Circle. It was a scene you made
and watched, writing the long nights
covering the cold city with your lines,
pumping the days away on your letter press,
spinning the mimeo machine, breaking yourself
to get the words out to a city that turned its back.
Judges and lawyers and real estate men
cutting up the scene for themselves.
Police banging on doors and heads,
busting you all for contributing to
their own delinquent kids.

You were slight in the city wind,
blown in off Lake Erie. With Levi's,
motorcycle boots, and dark beard,
you found comfort nowhere in myths and lies.
Stood in Trinity Cathedral at "The Gate,"
and opened the hearts and minds.

You kept happening, broke yourself
a thousand times to keep us alive.
But then you couldn't. And you passed
quickly through a cloud like Hart Crane
or Sherwood Anderson, or Kenneth Patchen,
offshore somewhere in the Ohio night.
Your life was a book you wrote then erased
leaving us to survive without you.
The year after you died they closed the Palace
and Euclid Beach Amusement Park,
and then the Cuyahoga River caught fire.

--Larry Smith


May 19, 2003

Waiting for Wasco

there's a Cleveland that only lives in memory
Santa Claus at Higbee's
the tallest xmas tree in the world at Sterling Lindner's
Vera "the hat check chick" at a hotel that keeps changing its name
there's a Cleveland that only lives in memory
Bob Hope telling jokes at Cain Park
d.a. levy reading poems at Western Reserve
Judy Henske setting fire to a song at La Cave
there's a Cleveland that only lives in memory
the Asphodel Bookshop is now a hotel room
the Hippodrome Theater is as dead as Rock Hudson who I saw at a premiere there
China Lane mov'd down the street & into oblivion
but this morning I'm back in Cleveland
older than a ghost I walk down wet Euclid from Playhouse Square to Tower City
in the bowels of Terminal Tower
I buy another book abt the Black Dahlia
watch water play in fountains
a man passes with bags of balloons
I consider seeing a movie that spoofs those Rock & Doris pictures of my youth
I follow a handsome man to Caribou Coffee
I'm back in Cleveland
feeling as young as that school boy from Elyria getting off the train
details change as often as hemlines
but this city outlives torso killers & burning rivers
& I'm still here & still writing abt this city
& waiting to meet a new generation of Cleveland poets
-- Alex Gildzen

may 12, 2003

is poetry dead (for da levy) (another mangled, hopeful form)

Clear the streets. 'Cause DA is dead!! - Looking for poetry
Loop. Is poetry dead? The jury's out and the challenge is real. Take
Word a living, breathing thing, or is it dead? - stead
The World's Favorite Literary Website.

Loop. Is poetry dead? The jury's out and the challenge is real. Take
Has always been to convince people that poetry is, and -
The World's Favorite Literary Website.
Main - More -A Comment; Heaven; Menelaus

Has always been to convince people that poetry is, and -
2001 Electronic Poetry Review Poetry.org
Main - More -A Comment; Heaven; Menelaus
Over the rich Dead! There's none of these so lonely and

2001 Electronic Poetry Review Poetry.org
Word a living, breathing thing, or is it dead? - stead
Over the rich Dead! There's none of these so lonely and
Clear the streets. 'Cause DA is dead!! - Looking for poetry

-- John Stickney

may 5, 2003

the ride in

drug head pot head greaser preachers
dudes and bangers
losers and dreamers
funked out funked up tired wired
mothers fathers sisters brothers friends teachers
inward outward systematic plan that blew out blew up
fucked me up and sent me sailing
in Parmaland where I'm for awhile funny
head still in Cleveland but
I won't travel to my town by highway
I'll miss Fulton Ave.
and Monroe's big ass trees that
point me to the West Side Market and
onto the
Lorain Carnegie bridge
where the pylons hide dirty little secrets and
play funny little headgames
worlds torpedo above me
below me
around me
luscious concrete towers
steel ooooo steel
criss cross commotion
vreen vreen
zig zag
wasted old men lost in bridges
offer me plates of smoke and I'm
I wonder if vindictive lift bridge operators take
dives in thick water while
dreaming of
monster options for their liquor licenses
and blink at I-90

-- joanne cornelius

april 28, 2003

Mills Sunset

Oh sky explosion lava wink lines rock flick spark
Silences beg, every blood moment walks into the next
hues burn blur
treats threaten vertebrate drunk
doesn't matter
squirt ooze matter
pit aluminum drink plutonium
scent shoe farts late at night
puffballs billow towards my walls
absorbing it all from the little house
above the mills where
centurions with metal lunch buckets
and their babushka clad stadababas
still rock on my front porch

-- joanne cornelius

april 21, 2003

cleveland in rapt discovery

crouched over at the intersection
of e 9th & prospect, nothing
to place a match face down
on the road with a magnifying glass
in hand directly aimed waiting
as windows pass by swirling

vehicles bellowing of over-
exhaustion and dogs yapping
loose gums looking away
the street signs have left
and the road bends to the right

where it vanishes above
the I-71 overpass (abstain)

-- andrew lundwall & markk

april 14, 2003

cleveland in optical limelight

a chorus of broken steps
litter euclid avenue, spin
the bottles the hubcaps
of vehicles parked further
up long superior, a city lot

beginning to bloom
in full swing between
the tall windows above
in the eaton building,
and feet march below

towing books and brief-
cases between thoughts
of the body becoming
an autonomous vessel
filled with lake erie air

cutting paths jumping fences
full of air propelled forward
of the steam blown
from rusted-over vents
homeless man sleeps

upon these sad & lonely
salvation army streets

-- andrew lundwall & markk

april 7, 2003

west sider...

burning river
river styx...
drop a coin in the blind man's cup
(penny for your thoughts Teiresias)
ferry me past 25th from
west to east
suspended by steel
and belief
I await your embrace
dear girl
fair city

-- denali sexton

march 31, 2003

a night at la cave

down the long steps
& into the smoke of
la cave, subterranean
1960s euclid avenue
night haunt, full of
scattered tables
& the refrains of loud
music, phil ochs is
on-stage, his acoustic
wail, singing 'i ain't a
marchin' anymore,'
this soldier of columbus
calling out dark generals
& old men that lead the
young to death, the
corporate profits that
remain to be made.
oh cleveland you did
yr part to save the world,
while yr world burned all
around you, there will
be times we'll have to
save it (again & again)

-- markk


march 24, 2003

the summer i worked with joe

the summer i worked with mr klenkar at that house on w. 130th & bennington,
he said to call him joe -- told me mr. klenkar was his father's name. together
we scraped old paint off of outdoor window frames, sanded & painted them
(although he redid every window frame when i was done.) he told me i
did a good job anyway. that summer he said three things i'll always
remember: 1) you don't catch a cold from getting wet, you catch a cold
from getting cold; 2) if you do a job right you won't have to do it again next year;
& 3) he said he never understood why two countries go to war, fight & kill
each other, then when it's over, they have a big party together ­ why, he
asked, don't they just have the party, & forget the war? his knowing smile,
head cocked on a cool perfect angle. i'm drinking one tonight in the hope
that there's someone, anyone, in iraq doing the same. thanks again joe,
(the window frames still look good) light it up wherever you are, old friend.


march 17, 2003

love & drunks

love & drunks,
we are all of that.
the yellow frisbee
of my imagination,
i watch old movies
late at night, i reach
back into a wayward
cleveland era past
that i haven't lived
yet. what is the
name of yr old
whisper, what is the
color of my skin
at night, where do yr
underground energies
vanish, what soil
does the liquid of
our communication
permeate? you old
deep candlemaker
when wax becomes
solid again, all of my
neccessities will
follow like the tail
of a purple snake


march 10, 2003

My City

My city
is the back broke
twisted metal
of old forgotten men
that bled into the river
for wives that bore strong children
bred to put more muscle behind a shovel
and yet to understand the ever more delicate needs
of a pretty young lady.

My city
A gray landscape
that has the look
the smell
the feel of hammered steel
after it cools and grows out of its hot, tangerine stage
where it can be pulled, flattened, bent, infuriated and insulted
into any number of peculiar shapes
that fit the mindscape
of a blue-collar artisan
with heavy, swollen hands
and scars that mark each work.

My city
slow and dark
reaching out of rubble
up towards the sky
where all true towns grow
where all blue towns cry
and can't be seen
by the beggar who calls home
the relentless arches of Superior bridge.
It is the end of everything he ever thought would occur
It is being manhandled by our great and growing Cleveland
Hopes dashed
Wishes smashed
in his head
a car crashed
into something that resembles a machines aborted fetus
He is a king
He is a victim
He is a man without a home
He is lost
He is lost
He is so lost in my city

-- Jay Zirkle

march 3, 2003

free d.a. levy *

It's like this I was a kid driving round with a six-pack looking for action
I turned on the radio but all i got was amplitude modulation

Suburban girls look for something to believe in
And businessmen blow dried their hair and grew their sideburns

Under the gray fascist skies of Cleveland
the poet begs for paper to print on
And free love conquers

Well the blacks set fire to the east side streets that they lived and worked on
The National Guard drove around with jeeps and machine guns

All of the mystics came down from the heights, thin and unshaven
Seeking enlightenment under the gray fascist skies of Cleveland

It was over my head so I went home, drank beer, and turned on my TV and i was glad
I was free, white, and young then

The procedure is this, lock & load, one round of ammo
Aim at the target; unlock the safety and fire when ready

The blind Zen archer, poet, bullet, target become one
Good thing we didn't need a poet

-- Terry Hartman

* this lyric was written by the guitarist/vocalist for the backdoor men, a cleveland band with a legendary history. check it out. -- markk


february 24, 2003

Madman of West 28th. St.

we called him the madman
clink clink clink
went the manual typewriter
high above the old colonials on West 28th St.
clink clink clink
all night long he'd pound those keys
he slept little
spent his time exposing capitalistic society
dismissing most of us as morons
he believed we believed anything we were told
everyone was not a free thinker
everyone should be a free thinker
he'd make it big some day
then we wouldn't have to worry
he'd get his great work published
Marx would be king
we'd move
we laughed about him behind his back
afraid of him
peeked at his work
didn't understand it
garbage, garbled & goofy
adolescent ignorance
piles and piles of words
we'd find them everywhere
all around the house
words like
he wrote high above us on the third floor
in the attic
by the window
which he kept open
and we'd hear
clink clink clink
as we played ball below on the brick street
and argued over who'd go to the store
with the food stamps
below him inside
beautiful, dutiful good Catholic mother
and us ten kids too
he ranted regularly to anyone who came
even called Dorothy Fuldheim and insisted
a college educated man like himself with a brood
of ten deserves a decent job in this country
and she obliged
he was resurrected to
work out the rest of his life
for the County
helping babies who had babies find their
daddies and make them pay
now I sit in my basement
clink clink clink
on the keyboard
and pound out words
d.a. levy is king
no one understands me
but someday I'll make it big
and we'll move out of here
maybe to a big colonial on West 28th. St.

--Joanne Cornelius

february 17, 2003 -- NO POEM


february 10, 2003

Forest Creatures Have Overtaken This City

2 small deer on Larchmere
early Sunday morn/ together
they are not alone
Tapping asphalt
The 2 realize that they
are far from home
Forest creatures have overtaken this city.
The other week, I saw a large gray raccoon
Strutting boldly down 123rd Street

As if he owned it/and the skunks
Ask me about how they spray mists into
The night breeze, causing my stomache to

Flip-flop in somersaults of nausea
When I go about the business of breathing.
But it was that giant of a brown buck, his antlered

Head poised in attack mode, who chased me
Across Buckeye Road, and has persuaded me
It's time to move to the country

-- barry phillips


february 3, 2003

Ryan's Boots

(For dad, d. a., and most of all, for young Ryan, poet gone away, hanging in his closet at 29)

Opened notebooks words fell out crashing
Unpublished penned pure pleasing words
Released boom I sit in a desk

And wait
And wonder

Need to write have to write it
Back flip life kick in the ass

Coughing bloody sentiments out of my empty mind

A vague uneasy morning it was
Voyage started with pen typewriter man short jot it down


Pure straight life melts down fell down
Kid and funk

Night and day relay

Renegade insane

Tortured summer
Son in trouble
Friend is dead

Hanging high gone

His boots staring at me


Got to write got to talk about those boots
Sitting at the desk at CSU
Contemplation write hanging heavy how
Russell Salamon walks in

Never met the guy

Opens his book to homage to d. a. levy
Who the hell is d. a. levy?

Renegade gene insane hanging writing

air all around

Lurking smothering me squeezing me

Being out there with all those insane poets

Dime falls out of the book
Dad used to spin dimes
Dad and dimes and poets and time and books and d. a. and Russell and Ryan and boots and contradictions and coincidence and karma and this is all fucked up

Writing about Ryan's boots

-- Joanne Cornelius


january 27, 2003

Headphones, Cleveland

Like a hollow tipped
bullet train, melody
promised the only real tunnel:
Tick. Enough variation
to repeat the day if I recover
slowly. I hoped
to find my bones in here.

A nickel strip show's
what I get:
Apartments full
of homeless.
Floating timber, phosphate streams
potbellied, purging on my lawn.

Just a guitar leaned up
against the smog-washed rocks
of Cedar Hill.
Just a thankful man
wrapped in sheets & packing tape,
thinking 'bout Strongsville girls.
Just the black key of Hopkins,
the next ticket.

it's one neo-bluesy stumble:
city, friends, names,
memories, regrets,
papers, kindling, city.

-- Ryan Machan

january 20, 2003

.in a world where.

We have more here in America, more than is needed
and plenty who will build the shelf.

But outside I watch the waterline paintgraphing time
And Now.
Politics crashes against the sure
and again
I turn the spigot off>> o trigor me,
and an
automatic sense for what is night!
enables my ink jet to print
several reams past
capacity>> waved on
into the present more anchors
= than I need =

,,,wings,,, o necessary things now cover me.

Ganged up on by the orderly I
look a mess.
Sit crying in the Lizard before
a soundless CNN> seems crazy;

and why the sense that measly I should act

except for oceans gaping mouths in black gorge

screams as if from down the hall
in a ward where drink and
drive the conversation's par
.in a world.
where across the ocean fires are planned
.in a small world where.
.in a world where.
and which will grub the money
for a distracted and much sped grazing

auroras or the boreal
like missionaries shall succomb to >primal

}primal is All Now
as it never will be
forever More. { More. } I pledge allegiance
to a gagged spending.(Turn on the heat before

and never mind
the shiftsand unsettling
(wink.) wink, wink,the revolution.

Ocean's eleven and older than humans, primal channels
the steeple in a blind, sped grazing
spend it all Now and on a bended need
receive a shock from waves
that travel over world
to leave you
and expel your sorry doubt

more than you need.
more than you need.

I know its sounds like I'm complaining
well it should, I shake! I bleed a nocturnal in the
and when it is dark I dream the drinker's dream
as if
by mere association with the poet's moon
I were a paper hanger
---wipe the extra glue
on unwashed pants and pocket my pay.

all in a day's worth.

get high!

get loaded!

we will fight a winning lotto
monopolize the bingo


get laid!

I mean don't come back until you're clinging to your
dress dismantled!

there are leaves pressing now
into the checkered past of my oldest pair of shoes--it
smells a maple!

there is paint furling out from the bricked walls of
a church on Euclid----
come and see it
for yourself.


Paint watching
or hanging an ivy
on the slack breathing of the sick fish erie reek!
or christ, sign it away
like a wrongful woman
or a tragedy.

-- bree

january 13, 2003


Part One


da levy's

Third Eye

what did he


on 24 Nov



oldyoung poet


e. cleveland con

sumed you

from the in

side out


from the in

from the side

from the out

om he out


Part Two


I think of you

when I don't know

what to do with my anger

Studded with diamonds, emeralds

gold chipped from the teeth

of the poor

The Emperor has fine clothes


Banks, bellies fat, vomitorium


It is better in toronto

than it was for you in



but things are getting worse

Mayor Lastman's bulldozers

destroy cardboard box homes

while people in rags run

for their lives &

he smiles like a mad imp

for the cameras

The cops killed another black man

he stole a car

Two cops

seven bullets

My white skin won't protect

me forever



Did your Third Eye see

this future?

Did the vision make you long

for .22 transcendence?

or were you sent?

You did worse than steal

a car

Your Oracle revealed

rotten e. cleveland &

you knew

the disease was spreading.


A war was fought

in the 1960s

The Viet Cong didn't win &

neither did you



-- Vincent Ponka


january 6, 2003

An improv on holiday death

The fields are full of
your striving attitude. Behind every
piece of dead grass, I find atoms
from your blown brain.
Rain on the ground looks
up my suit.
Hampshire Road is demanding.
I am inclined to dropout, and
even today, the propaganda is stronger
than usual.
If I decline to belt it, will
you check my mail when I am gone?
Should we move to a house in
Cleveland Heights?
Am I man enough to handle
the property tax?

-- Matthew Wascovich


2002 poem o' the week archive

2001 poem o' the week archive

home page


copyright deep cleveland publishing, all rights reserved
comments: deepcleveland@hotmail.com