junkmail oracle

poem o' the week


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


dec. 31, 2008

don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out

so this is how the
year ends here in cleveland,
snow falling like stones
from the sky, the national
economy on the fritz,
like the engine of a ford edsel,
we've got no place to go but up,
right? but before you leave us,
2008, i have one thing i'd like
to say: don't let the door hit you
in the ass on the way out. happy
new year to the rest of us, it
can't come fast enough for me.



dec. 22, 2008


they’re still fighting the war,
these two drunks, arguing
louder & louder, they yell
words in serbian, swear in
english, stand face to face
as they gesture wildly, one
with a drink in his hand
that spills over the rim &
onto the floor of the bar.
the war ended years ago,
but one was a chetnik, one
a partisan, & they both still
think the other sold out the
country they both abandoned
to find peace here in cleveland
right here on dark american soil



dec. 15, 2008

Cleveland, bloated

what do we expect, man?
blow through Starbucks crème de la crème
in sour apple stratego khaki blue da bloom
one-two-three cars ain't enough no more
and we’re  crying 'bout  being poor??
the line between us all is wearing thin
who the hell do we think we are
knowing that anyone could have nothing
while we're bitching about
cutting out our mocha skim latte's
we've all been livin’ way too long on
excuses excess
bawling when the bill comes
from American Express
well fuck, I see this as good
slamming our heads onto Cleveland’s streets
slashing material absurdities to
raise human economies
ya see, most of us
have no idea
what nothin' is
it’s about time for a
humility bail-out (burp)
& then

-- joanne cornelius


dec, 8, 2008

santa claus arrives in cleveland

You’re right as rain Mark,
(and so was Abbie Hoffman)
now that
more and more
coffers are empty and
coffins are full of
dead soldiers and starving babies,
Cleveland no longer
warrants a laugh at anyone’s

it’s going to take a whole lot
of right to undo all that is wrong:
all those “us’s”
who didn’t really
“give a shit”
or at least much more
than a perfunctory,
“who gives a shit”
check sent, of course, with
calculations of a “good”
tax-write-off, pre-2008,

now that everyone’s
a bit compromised
though big wheels keep
on rolling…

Santa Claus is coming to town
pulled in his belt a couple of notches,
he’s not as fat as he used to be.

-- anna ruiz


dec. 2, 2008

steal this poem & eat it

they say the soup kitchens
& food pantries in cleveland
are getting mighty crowded,
their ranks swollen up like
a bad knee or bone bruise,
hundreds of victims of the
bush recession out on the
street & looking for salvation.
& donations are running low,
canned goods, lunch meat
& bags of potatoes going out
the door so fast they can't
keep the shelves stocked.
well it's true i cannot send
them money, i ain't doing
so well myself these days,
but i can offer up some words
on a plate of love & walk
away from it, maybe just
leave a note saying, feel
free to steal this poem &
eat it. it's not much, but
right now, it's all i got.

-- markk


nov. 23, 2008


where do the homeless go
on a cleveland afternoon
when it's 25 degrees
& the streets are not
friendly, the sky is not
blue, i saw a man who
looked just like electric
emmett, standing near
the old arcade, his hair
in dreads, wearing a
brown jacket, his eyes
looked like he left long
ago, & his was waiting
for someone to take
him home, somewhere
that looks like home



nov. 16, 2008


Unclogging the arteries
Keeping the heart beating
Putting in stints & temporary
Passage ways to keep the
Blood flowing transfusing &
Removing & rebuilding &
Detouring not an easy
Procedure why don't you
Make an appointment with
The nurse maybe we can fit
You in in 2010 meanwhile
Have another drink of
Christmas Ale & we'll figure
Out the bill later / next...

-- kevin eberhardt


nov. 9, 2008

been a long time

since the streets of cleveland
were paved with gold,
& the universe smiled upon us,
been a long time since
there was a spring in our steps
& a loopy grin on our faces,
been a long time since we
felt this way. we do feel this way.
don't we?

-- markk


nov. 2, 2008

obama comes to cleveland

we are 80,000 strong, united
on the mall in downtown cleveland,
as springsteen finishes the final
chords of "the rising" & obama
emerges center stage, a cleveland
of rock & roll & accordian music,
a cleveland of lost dreams & rust-
bucket jobs, a cleveland of torn-
up consequences & unperfected
transitions, united in our collective
history, we roar our approval, a roar
that is one part anger & one part
jubilation, barack obama has
come to cleveland to save the
country, & in case someone forgot
to tell him, this place needs one
hell of a lot of saving, raindrops
falling upon us now, we look down
on the grass and wait for it to grow

-- markk


oct. 27, 2008

the bridge to cleveland

It's not a bridge to nowhere,
it's a bridge to cleveland,
four lanes wide, two of them
shut down, rusted rivets
& support beams, crumbling
down upon itself, eaten by
salt & water, sun & snow,
when i drive north & see
that glittering skyline dead
ahead, i know the road
stops there, takes me
onward, takes me nowhere
but stopped in traffic on
the ugly beauty of a bridge

-- markk


oct. 20, 2008

Cleveland Chill

It takes a lifetime to
turn to dust
to travel far enough
to come home again,
and sometimes even i
forget that summer turns to fall
like broken promises
carved on Sycamore trees
and then the blue horizon
in a neon flash of zigzag red,
like a clap of thunder
your poems
break through me,
i bend over
gently pick them up
like freshly fallen leaves after
a hard night's rain,
supple and glorious mysteries
of love that never dies
even if the Cleveland chill
rains on this October day.

-- anna ruiz


oct. 12, 2008

money in the hole

cleveland is a crater
eating its stormy towers
& catch-as-can streets
sucked down like a whirl-
pool wondering where it
all went wrong, dollars
& greenbacks just money
in the hole, & me surfing
& circling through the
debris awash in a fairy
tale, lost like an old black dog

-- markk


oct. 6, 2008

fugitive cleveland haiku #121

it's getting cold now
the leaves are turning colors
cleveland says hello

-- michael gabriel


sept. 29, 2008

For Stag at Sharkey's

Another restaurant and I'm
in Ohio's' world again, but
this time it's nickels and dimes and
pennies from ashtrays that I'm
hunting. Oh, Mother says
we can hunker down at
her and father's compound if
things get too bad. And I'm sure we
could. Fifteen  bedrooms and 
an acre of green grass out back and
we could easily turn the fourth, fifth
and sixth garages into chicken coops.
But, what did I learn all of these things
for? The people of 
the FSA, gaunt and deteriorated, clear-eyed
and dirty, flat and wasted, on their iron and straw
beds with their shaving bowls and straw brooms.
They're gone. 
And I went to see Stag at Sharkey's
today and understood the painting, I think, and 
saw in it the future of the form and its demise. I
think this may be the greatest moment of my life,
looking at this oil, and laugh to think I may think such
a thing. Where would get chickens from, anyway?
Does anybody know that, something like that?
We can get tomatoes, for sure, but...

-- brian mcdonald


sept. 21, 2008

fugitive cleveland haiku #789

the browns really suck
and the tribe missed the playoffs
when do the cavs start?

-- michael gabriel


sept. 14, 2008

a pigeon shits on mayor tom johnson

mayor tom johnson sits
in his big chair covered
in pigeon shit, & i
wonder, is that any way
to treat a man of honor?
today as the rta flies past,
& working women in reeboks
wander to their destination,
cleveland's history is nowhere
to be found, cleveland's stolen
memories are there for the taking.

-- michael gabriel


sept. 7, 2008

Wrenching Poems from Air

hammered out of a blue-collared sun
thoughts turning on lathes of desire
your sculpted words are diamond ground
in smoky pools of filtered factory light
and burnished to trapeze the stars
in the hot breath of beauty's forges.
Amid stamping plant metallic symphonies
you wipe blood from your knuckles
and eat from your lunchbox of dreams
the energy for a new city with new lives
where there are no time clocks
and poems are the only blueprints.

-- dan smith


sept. 1, 2008

there are some things i'd like you to know:

mainly, that the khawadja is always assumed to be a doctor,
so people rush to them with children with bullets in their lungs,
but khawadja is almost always a photographer.

and that in the mornings,
families have to choose rape of their women, or castration and murder of their men.
so they send their wives out of the idp's to collect firewood and water,
knowing the janjaweed are waiting.

and that if you go south toward bath on 21 in ohio,
you can buy cherry juice and turnip mustard on the side of the road.
the man who sells it is a farmer, and i saw him there yesterday.

-- Rachel A. Smith


august 24, 2008

Ohio Sunset

You should see the Ohio sunset
my Beloved,
you should feel the cool evening
wrapped around your shoulders,
you should see our weeping purple plum
bent over to weep with us,
you should hear the
mournful cricket harp
chirp his litany
you should be smiling with love
at me
as the moon rises,
you should take my hand
and kiss me with the passion
of a hundred years of solitude,
you should open me
like a prayer book.

--anna ruiz


august 18, 2008

Dog Days

you are strange this day,
this night,
this long, dark night
of your insomniac soul,

heat lightning and
firework bursts
across your roiling skies,

your boiling river,
spicy as jambalaya,
sweaty as a cayenne pepper punch,

and you, City, in one of your moods,
creeping sluggishness of jobless morning
descending on verdant veranda walkabouts,

murder in your streets,
on your sidewalks,
behind factoried ruins and in the weeds,

you, City, groaning, on your haunches,
like an ol’ junkyard dog,
guarding our burning hearts.

-- miles budimir


august 11, 2008

Ohio Sleeps Yonder

yonder fonder
Erie shores
steel sheets
broken tokens
lines signs
East Coast dark
jack jill
fall call

break their crown
morning glory
silent scream
mirror moon
hollow sound
feckless echo

-- anna ruiz


august 4, 2008

Just passin’ thru

Travelin’ I-90 from the West
To the East listenin’ to the
Stones’ Satanic Majesty’s
Request I got one of my own
Watchin’ the different types
Of topography makin’ the big
Curve into downtown Cleveland
All the factories & tall buildings
& ball park & all the traffic
Whizzing by both sides now
Back & front dodging orange
Pot holes to another big curve
Dedicated to dead men with a
Grand view of Lake Erie on my
Left & I’m left with a sad feeling
That I hadn’t taken the Shore
Way ‘round
-- kevin eberhardt


july 28, 2008

Pump Jockeying

“Hey, buddy,
gimme 30 bucks
o’ reg’lar.”
Thoughts astray,
I punch in forty.
Soon as I realize it,
screeching tires
burn rubber
onto B’laire Road.
Working for free
the next two hours.
Three stickups
in six months.
Luckily for me,
all during the day.
Boom-Boom and I
share the graveyard shift.
As the sun sinks
o’er the wild, wild west
side o’ Cleveland town,
I begin to wonder.
Will the Clark Man
pay for
my funeral
if I get shot
for minimum wage?
--Brian Dorsey


july 21, 2008


They say there's dead air
in my city on the Gold Coast,
it hangs on for life itself
like rust
on Cleveland's steel graveyards

lead paint blistering
like purple thistles
and Golden Rod

but if you listen very carefully
you'll hear the seasons change
you'll feel Lake Erie
welcome you like a Mother
to her breast,

you'll learn to pick the dandelions
on your knees
you'll make the finest wine
the wonder of it,
you'll understand this poem.
 -- Anna Ruiz


july 14, 2008

fugitive cleveland haiku #356

cleveland is a flag
waving over lake erie
in a thunderstorm

-- michael gabriel


july 7, 2008

The Stalker

Like a stalker, Cleveland follows me
to a goulash communist
Budapest backroom,  
Bartók Béla út,
where demimonde cabbies
calmly smoke filterless Kossuths
and drink barack palinkas.

Laszlo pulls a crumpled postcard out of his overcoat,
Greetings from Cleveland, Ohio
hastily scribbled by his boyhood friend,
who fled Hungary in ’56,
seeking Szabadság
on Buckeye Road.

Cleveland comes hounding back,
stranger than paradise,
at Lifka’s Lichtspieltheater,
as Eva, Willy and Eddy
shiver at the frozen lake.

Before shoving off from the North Coast,
I soul-journ down to East 9th Street Pier,
surveying salty ol’ Captain Frank
and his gull-streaked Sea Food House
for the last time,
eutrophicated sheepheads
in Erie-brown brine,
how hideously beautiful
you are!

--Brian Dorsey


june 30, 2008

To Langston and Cleveland

you got the blues
in Cleveland.

Where you experienced
your worst Jim Crow humiliation
with your sarturial best friend Andrzejewski,
a classmate at Central High,
not as rich as Rockefeller
or Spelman.

lonely belfry owl at a school full of
Woodland Avenue socialists and Sarah Saphirs,
one generation removed from the shtetl,
teeming Bolsheviki refuse
on the shores of Lake Erie,
Slavic Village Mary Wisnoskys
and an auburn-skinned Chesnutt,
as a ghetto takes shape.

Dissed not by the jerk at the soda fountain,
but by the lady at the cafeteria cash register,
charging you
Eight Dollars and Sixty-Five Cents!
for four bits worth of grub,
for being black,
after you went to see wooden-legged
Sarah Bernhardt as Cleopatra,
asp stinging in her bosom,
golden voice ringing in your ears,
at the Hippodrome,
with your French class.

ruefully cellar dwelling
at 11217 Ashbury Avenue, north of Euclid,
in an attic room at 2266 East 86th Street,
a cramped apartment at 5709 Longfellow Avenue,
running track and field at Central,
running a dumbwaiter at Halle’s,
running out of money.

a man like you,
half-Africa and half-Kansas,
runs for precedent.
And Cleveland’s got
those Weary Blues

-- Brian Dorsey


june 24, 2008

100 proof

Cleveland’s a spot on the map

Like a drop of blood at a crime

Scene everyone notices and

No one steps in the evidence

That hearts beat here & stop

Some too ‘midst violence &

Excitement loss & recovery

Wheels turn round grindin’

Down the pavement crossin’

The river goin’ & comin’ a bad

Reputation always draws a

Crowd & music dreams the

Night away who goes home

With who & who don’t nothin’

Really matters leavin’ finger

Prints on a shot glass leavin’

Loneliness alone watchin’

Boats sail the Cuyahoga so

Much water under the bridge

The pictures in the gallery

Hold the walls together keep

The roof from collapsin’

Like blood in a vein keeps

The passage open while

Wagons circle the Indians

It’s nothin’ but a meat market

& we’re the butchered bones

Gnawin’ on another

Friday night

-- kevin eberhardt


june 16, 2008

cleveland at sunrise

sometimes when the
morning sun cracks
cleveland over the head
like a broken baseball bat,
& climbing out of bed
feels like i've been fitted
for concrete boots, &
the frowning face of the
clock is like an enemy
to me, & the wooden
door to the house seems
like a portal to the great
unknown, in one of those
vagrant moments when
i have nothing, nothing,
to offer the world, here
i am, breaking these chains

-- michael gabriel


june 9, 2008

steel fabricating & remorse

welding steel, like the pieces
of a torn heart, the way the
sparks fly & the metal melts,
a cleveland acid rain jazz riff,
the caustic buzz of the storm,
a head that will fill with wisdom
on a midnight run. i am the
last remaining charlatan on the
raw edge, the one they turn to
when the hours are long, the
sun has set & a black hearth
has found a place in the lungs.
tonight i will write an obituary
for those whom time has forgotten,
you will read my words, fingered
in dust on the factory window,
cracked like a piece of 130th st.,
leading to a river so many miles
north, left on the side of the tracks.



june 2, 2008

In the Gray Seasons of Poetry, Great Gifts Still Bloom

on the track at Rhodes High
levy runs on spindly legs
cigarette dangling from his lips
talking to Jesse Owens running backwards
still faster and further ahead than most
till they stop to sit in the shade of the old oak
to share the light of living poetry
that lasts longer than isms
longer than oaks
light that pulsates
rooted in the mind
floating like leaves
seeding the future
they pass the batons
wearing medals no city no nation can bestow
medals that shine and brighten in the greenshade
the people's gifts freely given.

-- dan smith


may 26, 2008

Even Flower Children Die

40 years ago, we were Jews
wandering in the desert of our youth,
we had no Moses to lead
us, to part the
path through water,
no land in sight from where
the dove with olive branch
could descend,

we were child-like,
children  bearing
daisies and bayonets
peace signs and arrogance
on the way to New York,
Cleveland and California,

we are finally
growing up
one last time.

-- Anna Ruiz

may 19, 2008

p.s.: don't forget the cheese

i have a bottle of wine
he said, i'll meet you
on the lip of the metroparks
where drinking is illegal,
seeing you is illegal,
there is no time for this,
each stolen moment a
cameo appearance, you
have this limitless life
and I am a wolf in sheep's
clothing, there may be a
ranger on a horse, a
bike rider fresh from century
cycles, three guys who just
left the winking lizard after
watching the cavs lose, i am
your trusted vacancy, a memory
in the making, but i'll meet you
on the lip of the metroparks,
i won't tell anyone if you don't,
this secret will last a hundred
years, the universe is now
open to us, and it starts with
this bottle of wine, p.s., don't
forget to bring the cheese.

-- michael gabriel


may 12, 2008


Cleveland, draped over dust and cement
you brought me to know discontent
over-grown vines
and rapid transit lines
graffitied fortifications
protecting cross country transportation

You smell like chemical plants,
abandoned warehouses, your bed's flat
your residential modesty
exponential honesty
classical tragedy
I wish you had the elasticity
to last for me

Cleveland, retired M.V.P.,
Steel mill champ of the world
Now reduced to obscurity
showing in tabloids
from time to time

Cleveland, your lake a green backdrop
evokes the mixed feelings of generations.
You're now being out-competed by pseudo-burbia

I cry flaming tears for you,
And the industrial scabs
That dot your now jaundiced hands

Cleveland, you jump with joy,
With all the excitement
An old decrepit vanquished soul like you can muster
When Trivisonno speaks of championships.
Inner-ring suburbs, be quiet, I'm talking to Cleveland,
The once majestic mid-west center of the universe,

I cry for you, flaming industrial complex,
Irish paradise
Once your voice filled with bombast,
Once concise
Now lost amidst time

Crooked city
You broke your back and skipped
physical therapy
the doctors are in it for the money anyways

Cleveland, I find solace in your
Somber soliloquies
To Lake Erie
Thank it for the breeze

Cleveland, thank you for all your reminders
of the worst capitalists in history
He gave us many libraries
Public School Safe havens
Children, they know more than I ever have

Cleveland, stop guilt-tripping me
You called me irresponsible
Is it so far-fetched that I am
irresponsible for your actions?

How do I answer for your call for Panacea?

I am your tired tenant, tentatively tearing through tenements,
Searching through the rubble

The product of the explosion the industrial,
That your skin shows scars from.

For intents unknown,
our city insists on living in abandoned homes,
Crevices from the turn of the century,
Cut into the sides of rivers,

The Irish searching for reconcile with humanity,
Jesuits searching frantically,
for Jesus-fearing catholic-brandished apostles to be,
coming on mission from Germany,
to the wilderness of mid-western metropolises.

Cleveland, call me cracker again,
Tell me I'm talking out my ass,
I flew through your transient
Truant children left behind,
Homeless singing songs of sobriety,
but drunk permanently, defiantly

I saw your deserters,
That moved into fungus sub-urbs,
And gave their children the best
While you received the worst.
I saw your old men in barbershops,
Recalling glorious livelihood
Throughout each of your now violent neighborhoods
Those men I've never understood.

Cleveland, God of Media Voices
My favorite Rican beauties
Styx's custodian

I cry flaming tears
For your empty store fronts
On your East and West sides'
Main streets
Contain the vacancies of shattered lives
Hollow forgotten pipelines
of economy
Whose stores used to supply
Now have no entrepreneurs
To supply the neighborhood with excitement
Now slipping down the doomed exits of highways.

Cleveland, burn neon blurs down
Lorain Ave., at midnight in February
onto my eyes
Darkness penetrated by snowy westpark bar signs
Arab barbershops, markets, bakeries and restaurants on 117th.

Cleveland work my classic romantic eyes until flooding.

Cleveland, disparate conditions, public housing, urban renewal,
gentrification, homeless shelters, charitable churches, White-flight
victims, violent youth, downtown distracts the crackers from the Man'
s plan being exacted.

Cleveland, Close schools, no text books, no teachers, no movement, no way out.

Cleveland, keep showing me your scars, keep plugging away at your art
keep blowing freighters
imploding bridges
collapsing gas stations

Cleveland, inspire tears from steel,
make stones bleed

Cleveland, change the Earth's rotation with pure elbow grease.

Cleveland, work your ass off some more,
Far from attractive, yet the most beautiful thing I've ever seen

Cleveland, dirty second grade epiphanies

Cleveland, slightly graze my forearm on the bus, provoke me to invent
futures we'll never have,

Cleveland, My Urban Legend, you are spelled out on my skin between the
freckles and sweat stains,
Heard in my voice's tweaking of both hard and soft vowels

Cleveland, consistent as always,
keep me in your motherly grasp,
Don't let me forget your diner's goddesses,
all night odysseys, gentle oddities,
Promise me, that you will always
astonish me

Show me love, Cleveland.

-- Brendan Joyce

(editor's note: the author of this poem is a 16-year-old St. Ignatius student. welcome to deep cleveland, the next generation. -- markk)


may 4, 2008

Kent State revisited

to this day,
james a. rhodes is a
cold-blooded killer,
four dead in ohio
& indeed he gave the
orders to shoot,
like the commandante
of a turn-of-the-century
mexican firing squad,
what a mockery he made
or our freedom. now 38
years later, george w. bush
doesn't stop at innocent
college kids, he's an
equal-opportunity killer,
american and iraqi,
it doesn't matter what
country, the blood of
the children is the same
color of red. we call to
rememberance this day
the innocent victims,
as shadows pass
over blanket hill,
my name is the same
as theirs was, & still is.

-- markk


april 28, 2008

The Poetry Dogs

howl from the hoods of Crown Vics
souls with no vin numbers
no license no registration
patrol the junkyard gardens
break the invisible fences
jolt into other realities
a timeless recycling
parts pieces peace.
The poetry dogs
guard every precinct
of the Holy City.
They vote with their voices
wild and free.

-- dan smith


april 21, 2008

earth day sonata for the planet

when i hear an earth song
it's a sonata, except there
are electric guitars & a moog
synthesizer, there is dual
percussion & a thumping bassline
we got a gospel choir singing
backup, & on the side of
the stage an organic ballet
being performed by 26
dancers from julliard,
there is smoke & strobe
lights, dry ice & balloons,
potted plants & the collected
works of william shakepeare,
the lead singer wears bob
dylan's rays bans from the
1965 european tour, &
slash's top hat, it's the
phil spector wall of sound
& owsley stanley's lsd is
in the fruit juice, the dead
is playing in front of the
great pyramid of giza,
except that now it's the
rock and roll hall of fame
& we're in cleveland on a
radiant spring day, it's
daniel thompson's birthday
& all hell is breaking loose,
oh baby, that's not a sonata
i hear, it's a full blown
catastrophic rock opera for
planet earth, & when the
last notes of the encore
have fallen away, there is
peace, once again, what
i hear must be the acoustic
remains of the coming peace

-- markk


april 14, 2008

high school losers of the 1970s

we were high school losers
of the 1970s, wearing levi
jeans & a concert t-shirt,
drinking hop n’ gator
in a plymouth duster,
driving rural roads,
throwing empty little
kings bottles at stop
signs, & wherever we
went & whatever we did,
wmms was on the radio,
& every song was a revelation,
& every dj was our best friend,
& we had nothing & we were
nothing, cleveland was in
default & the indians sucked,
& on summer nights as we
sat on the front porch, the
crickets sang a victory song
& i’m here to tell you that we
knew every. stinking. word.



april 7, 2008

a body in the water

they found a dead body
floating in the water
down in the churning
flush of the cuyahoga
river, in the remains
of the flats, the body
of a man like somebody
you might see on the
street, or combing the
darkness of the bars
in the warehouse district,
where people are alive,
& lights are bright,
& women are pretty,
& laughter is loud,
$ money flows in streams,
like it used to in the flats,
before it died, like the man
they found in the water,
dead as a lost cleveland dream

-- markk


march 31, 2008

chief wahoo must go

here he comes again,
it's opening day,
racist red-faced
caricature, the
aunt jemima of the
hard-hitting majors,
a lawn jockey in
the front yard
of the american league,
dear cleveland, feel
free to join the 21st
century, yr offensive
name & hideous mascot
must finally vanish like
a ball socked over the
right-field wall, like
a pitcher banished to
the dugout for giving up
the go-ahead run,
they talk about
the curse of rocky colavito,
they say it's the curse
of the death of ray chapman,
but we all know it's the curse
of buck-toothed chief wahoo,
play ball, & may you lose
until you confess yr sins.

-- markk


march 24, 2008

The Vulture Tour, Cleveland 2008

They ride chartered buses
to foreclosed houses
that once were homes.
Their eyes are greedy,
their appetites, insatiable.

Between the stops,
they listen to appraisers,
inspectors and realtors
with pens in hand.

They all know how it should be:
blood and flesh consumed,
bones picked clean,
left white -- and pure.

-- Preston Trotter


march 17, 2008

-- joanne cornelius


march 10, 2008

A Conversation

Hart Crane, poet and Bill Sommer, painter meet at the bookstore; they hung out at Sommer’s farm at Brandywine.


Bridges soar with song
Hart Crane told Bill Sommer at the bookstore
“it’s rock salt base beneath the riverbed,  mountain high, arched and scooped.”
Smokestacks are chords
the songs we sing
celebrate cocoons of smoke.


The color of the country is never far away
when the sun shifts in an afternoon
greenlands turn to reds and bronze
with sprays of meadow white and gold

I travel with the painter
fifteen miles east of the riverbed
ten miles south or to the west
a stone’s throw from the painter eye
standing in the grasses picking color for my song.


Coaxing us, Bill said he could see in color
To sing along . to sing again as he has sung.
I know I hear his words in color.

-- nina freedlander gibans


march 3, 2008

Rainbows Over Cleveland And All The Worlds Between

Drizzled city of waste
and abandonment
littered with detritus
of illusion
buried under
steaming slagheaps
of solipsism
your peripheral berms
your asphalt fields
your twisted metal flowers
evidence of the invisible:
rotting condoms
soggy cigarette packs
takeout remains
unfinished coffees
plastic six pack holders
we choke on you
submerged in our existence
riding the rapids
to cancerous terminals
viewed like ants
from tower windows
by the sign readers.
Framed by our constitutions
we flicker and blur
and never ending.

-- dan smith


Feb. 24, 2008

snow falling up

after winter in cleveland
the snow falls up, slowly
vanishes from sooty drifts,
rises from out of icy piles,
dissipates in miniature
increments, flees for the
heavens in a systematic haste,
we watch this without seeing
it happen, the way a branch
bends slowly toward the ground,
the weight of the world contained
in each heaving inch.

-- markk


Feb. 18, 2008

the city

looks in the poverty
Stricken window of a back
Alley bar / seems hope’s been
& gone but not forgiveness
Not when there’s money for
The next round & plenty of
Stories to be heard / wallowin’
In the bad luck of some poor
Slob blubberin’ in the corner
‘Bout how he lost his job / or
The old woman moanin’ in the
Booth by the mostly ignored
Pool table how she lost her
Kids / you can suck down their
Misery w/out battin’ an eye
Maybe even tell some of your
Own / we’re all willin’ penitents
In this shithouse confessional
Tradin’ soiled dignity for a shot
Of redemption / don’t make no
Never mind long’s it gets the
Job done / people traipsin’ thru
These revolvin’ doors all hours
Of the day & night / lookin’ for
Their fair share of salvation
Some find it on the cross
Some find it in the bottle
What’s the damn difference
I say / long’s it gets the
Job done

-- kevin eberhardt


Feb. 11, 2008

Almost Kathy

(for Joey Lhotsky)

47 years
since the
nuns at St. Alexis
scooped your
lifeless toddler body
from Mom's arms
the day before she
went into labor
& had me
[she who was to
be named Kathy]

47 years of hugs
around me, your namesake
hugs that should have
been  for you too
but no,
instead  Encephalitis
ate away your
tiny baby brain

I should be a Kathy
sitting here with you
my big brother Joey
talking about
whether or not
that crazy Cleveland groundhog
has ever
seen his shadow

-- joanne cornelius


Feb. 4, 2008

pain paints more real, alive in blood

a walk
to the store
part of a day
pointed out
my classroom
door slammed
on my finger
the sucker
really bled
a couple
stitches worth
me and my
old man anytime
i look
my right hand
ring finger
red brick school
white wood store
gray sky
( what did you expect? )

it's cleveland.

-- dan smith


january 27, 2008

refrain from the policeman's attic

i used to live
in the policeman's
attic in berea,
rented for $200
a month (no lease),
& at night i used to hear
the wind rip through
the willow tree outside,
or the slam of the car door
when the guy who lived
came home drunk,
& sometimes i'd fall asleep
listening to the album
"love over gold" by dire
straits -- i didn't have a
tv or a phone, but i did
have music, & sometimes
that (& just that) is
entirely enough to
see a man through.

-- markk


january 20, 2008

lines written on the roadside near lindale

i am yr worst enemy, a
cleveland jester with
a bad attitude, my pointed
hat sharp as a weapon, the
magnitude of my thundering
a roar of unseen proportions,
the way it sounds when lifeflight
soars over the roof like a yellow
beast on its way to the roof of
metro, let's just say the year
is not off to a good start, i
am ornery as a geauga county
bear & the floodlight from
the cop's cruiser is pointed
hard & oh so maliciously on me.

-- markk


january 13, 2008

fugitive cleveland haiku #s 256, 345 & 879

when the winter snow
falls like fly ash on the city
i miss the sweet stench

blood on Superior
i am walking from the house
where you lay like fire

a ghost in the flats
my odd shadow facing yours
this place will not exist soon

-- markk


january 6, 2008


for albert ayler 1936 - 1970

you were the howl and wail
of cleveland gardens
blowing on mt pleasant
backyards across
the cuyahoga dreamscape
your sanity of spirit song
a sonic moses
marching out of town
in metal reed vibrato
old school new direction
dictation from prophetic voices
a cleveland sun
free beyond blue
baptism awash in sound
drowning in an east river font.

-- dan smith

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