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Mark S. Kuhar

Mark S. Kuhar (markk) was born in Cleveland in 1958, and grew up in Hinckley Township. He was graduated from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, in 1980 with a degree in English. He is a writer, poet, editor, publisher, artist and songwriter. His poetry, fiction and nonfiction has appeared in many print and online publications. He has published three chapbooks: acrobats in catapult twist (2003); laughing in the ruins of chippewa lake park (2004) and e40th & pain: poems from deep cleveland (2006).

His work has appeared in the anthologies An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind: Poets on 9/11 (Regent Press); America Zen (Bottom Dog Press); Action Poetry (a LitKicks publication); Cleveland in Prose & Poetry, (League Press); ArtCrimes #21; Trim: A Mannequin Envy Anthology; Infinite Tide (Studio Eight Books); as well as in The Long March of Cleveland, Ornamental Iron, Macís turns a New Trick and Anthologese the Next, among others published by Green Panda Press.

He has read his work on WCPN, National Public Radioís Cleveland affiliate, and he is the founder of the deep cleveland poetry hour, a live monthly spoken-word event. He is also the proprietor of deep cleveland llc, www.deepcleveland.com, which includes deep cleveland press, a small-press publishing company, and deep cleveland junkmail oracle, a literary e-zine dedicated to the spirit of legendary cleveland outlaw poet, artist & underground publisher d.a levy.

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Poems:

dreamfever cleveland
by markk

I.
east 9th & euclid
in a towering skystorm,
windows rattle in cellophane towers
geometric freeform floating on ground zero
in spacy slo-mo whatnot something

bike messengers smoke camels
& pitch the butts into a garden,
inflamed & dispossessed,
a renegade bouquet of mishmosh flowers
on loan from heaven, leased out from god

two suited workdrones scurry past,
fork over pointless points
about the midwest territory,
the deal that fell through.
above in board rooms, bored,
i'm like scalding, rough fingernails
raked chalk-like across a blackboard,
there's no room for me in there,
banished not burnished, in the sooty gloom

there's a lady of light who walks these streets
at midnight, aquamarine eyes, pale smile
& until we follow the trails of her dress
to that place where only love matters,
the clouds will contain these sad pockets of rain

II.
in front of a deli
that sells greasy corned beef,
a building with steamed, streaked windows,
a homeless man sells newspapers, bathed
in blinking neon green, his hands wrapped
in the forlorn rags of fingerless gloves,
his shoes bombed black wingtip ruins
his hat full of holes, like target practice
i stagger out into snowy gloomlight
a beacon of fogblanket hung low, in swirls
on the horizon, beat sweet & fluffy,
like a gray mousse treat, a cigarette smog,
i buy a paper for fifty cents and move on
even if i'll never read its inky print
as the city drums its retreat, they head back
to the safe suburbs from which they came

III.
punk in a dreamfever
stoked on violence,
coughed up like rooty phlegm, a vagrant apocolypse
invades his skull, his wool hat, he crouches
near the cracked arch of a concrete stairwell
just this side of bolivar, near a rusted orange
handail, on the brick behind, a graffiti scrawl:
the latino ice boyz rool this town! he smirks
with sour breath, clips of lightening thought,
with a razor whisper, in a sinister cleveland,
deep in a dreamfever caustic like a chemical haze,
hazardous burn at the touch of a hand,
black & blue knuckles roughed over & peeling,
& when he touched her on the cheekbone,
in sane moments before he slammed the door,
it was the fugitive moment in a primitive kiss good-bye

IV.
he hears thundercrack radio
electric songs
inside his head, they grow, pound, drum,
he haunts downtown cleveland dime stores,
greaseball eateries, playgrounds & docks
covered with seagull shit, in a dreamfever,
foghorn boats in harbor listing to one sad side,
back alleys where crack deals go down
& motel dumps filled with honey lipped whores
in joints where sailors drink, laugh, fight
the penetating wool blanket of thick cigar smoke
lost in a language profane, ridiculous
thundercrack radio electric songs as he walks
sizes up helpless lost women, the bravado of young men
dark dangerous angel beauties alcoholic corner bar retirees
street kids roll pennies against black brick walls
white haired chain-smoking crones in bingo parlors
italian butchers gut beef sides & lebanese deli clerks
spread taboli on crusty bread
a croatian tailor threads needles through cotton fabric
black bouncers prowl the front doors of stud clubs
thundercrack radio electric songs play loud
in spinning twirling trance dance bomb parlors
where ecstacy flows & water is chugged from plastic bottles
& the corners are crowded with erotic throat whispers
puerto rican lovers on the make & suburban white boys
in droopy pants steal style from phony tv music shows
a woman in tight pants & a belly shirt up against a wall
gold chains draped around sweaty perfumed necks
he hears thundercrack radio electric songs trapped in time
doesn't move, smile, wish himself in passing
upon the wisp of the great magical wherever


V.
I look up cleveland sidewalks
all i need
is five minutes of the big man's time,
I wait beneath the overhang at euclid & the alley
coat collar pulled up against my neck, pacing
eyes dart left & right, nervous, edgy
a bus churns by spits diesel smoke, groans
faces in the crowd cast down, feet walk fast
breath heaves from safe office lungs
voices mutter insane & pointless work words
waiting on bleak sidewalks for a man, just five minutes
is all i need to explain, confess, open up in huge bursts
up in 10th floor windows faces offer trivial expressions
white shirts & colored ties, women in smart suits
i stomp my black boots my toes are numb
a commuter throws a cigarette on the sidewalk
i step on it as i pace, looking this way & that
a horn bleats from street urges the next car to move
i hear yells somewhere & the hiss of air brakes
trucks back up to loading docks in the alley
delivery stiffs run packages through revolving doors
I peer up the sidewalk looking for a man, just five minutes
sir give me five minutes, cold air in my nostrils
grey buildings, grey walkways, grey overcoats
3:20 p.m., thursday, eyes pierce waves of bodies
I look up cleveland sidewalks pleading for the man

VI.
guy named eddie
beckons me over
there in the city lot on superior avenue
his car smashed and hitbashed
drunk as a caveman teetering,
bowlegged leaning on the car door
he begs for help his metal cane poked
in the foul slush reeking of cream ale
& whiskey, paralysed and unparticular
"we all got to help each other" eddie slurs
with ominous snow falling
grey gunmetal boat skies
squeezing out snowflakes
ice on the roadside
as thick as ham hocks
eddie pulls on his old hat
wipes at his leaking nose
reaches out a frail elbow
drunk as a waterfall
plastered as a ceiling
"help me get home" he begs
as he takes a sliding step forward
i catch him before he
implodes in a pile of bones
fragile like obsidian glass.
a lady of light
looks on from the corner,
smiling, nodding.

VII.
you go to work
at six a.m. stacking
giant boxes on shelves with a lift truck
in one of those east side warehouses
the smell of burnt coffee gurgling
propane glow from the fuel tank
why do you work so hard?
ten years of yer life & what do you have
to show fer yer sweat and time?
a back brace, a smashed finger
and paychecks long since spent
day after day busting ass to put
steak and lobster on another guy's plate
diamonds on his wife's neck
& coke up his punk son's nose
jimmy boy the sunshine comes in
multicolor magical hues it waves
from the sky like a three-year-old child
the moonlight flows down like tapioca
& tastes like a melted creamsicle
love percolates up from the street
like camphor steam from mossy rocks
it's ten o'clock & yer still not home from work
i'm lofting butterfly beacons high into
the ten o'clock night playing catch with fogdreams
later i might just have a beer with god
i'd ask you to join me but i know
i'd knock on yer door & just hear the dog
bark back in mournful reply . . .

last time i saw you, broken, busted
hands behind yer back in silver cuffs
shirtless, stupid, hat sideways reeking
of bad beer & foul cigarettes
bent over the hood of a cop car
in the ohio city night, in a dreamfever,
the night humid heated sticky
as you crashed through the bar door
yer girlfriend pounded on my door
two a.m. in a tank top & shorts
crying like a burnt baby, wasted
make-up smeared like black mayonaise
across a cracked & puffy face
hugging me a little too tight
begging fer help, man yer job
is toast, yer life a mess
sitting in yer jail cell like
a harmless hungover buddha
while the clank of keys in cell doors
sound like baby birds as they fall from the nest
shrieking, furiously flapping

VIII.
at east 40th
& payne avenue
where i work on the loading dock
the delivery truck backs up squeaking
rattling shaking spitting lubed air
everyone stands in the parking lot
watching the driver in hercules sweat
muscle the rig back far into place
no one dares challenge his brute strength
foul manners & miserable grinding grimace,
a lady steps out of the cab, purse on her shoulder
walking out toward the sidewalk, ass swinging
she turns the corner beneath the railroad overpass
and heads off in the direction of the jewish deli
first time I've ever seen the driver smile
he asks me to join him for a cup of coffee,
i do & he drinks his steaming, with sugar

IX.
downtown on the sour fringes
in that crippled warehouse
by the railroad trestle, across from the creep bong distributor,
i cut through this alley littered with smashed glass
cigarette butts & malt liquor cans & crash out onto payne avenue
where i can see it all, like looking in a cracked picture window,
fat man in a dirty white undershirt, scar on his shoulder
selling vegetables from a cart, bag of tomatoes fer a buck,
the crazy lady with two different shoes & a wild orange hair
yelling about sassafras & fuck the police, cough hack cough,
black guy calling from a doorway 'hey man, you wanna buy
a leather coat? you'll like it, it's already broke in,' heh heh,
cadillac with a gold grille parked out front of the timberline cafe,
fat white iron workers stalking the windows of sad porn shops,
playground with a metal pole sticking up from weedy asphalt cracks
where the merry-go-round once was & only chains left from swings
& the teeter totter burned to charcoal & all the hamburger wrappers,
guy with a hand-written sign calling for leonard peltier's freedom,
on the corner the stringy street kid selling stolen newspapers,
the old croatian man with white hair in his bathrobe
easing his lame legs up the sidewalk, a cane in each bony hand
& every day a carnival of chaos, a dreamfever, a beatdown drama.
& every day i head for the crusty sandwich shop where
the man in the green shirt & droopy grey moustache
makes me ham & cheese on italian, tells jokes about the mayor,
i grab a bag of chips & a coke & head back out on the street
with its smoke & exhaust & demented lost denizens of wonder
searching every lost corner for all things that demand this love

X.
i hear the souls of poets,
they cry in a chromed rage,

oh cleveland, why do you kill yer poets?

hart crane is driftwood,
l. hughes harassed into exile,
d.a. levy sacrificed for our freedom,
a sweet holy bullet yapped thru his third eye.

i've seen yer judges banish the poets
to a pearl rd. junkyard where the word was heard,
before insane shopping centers
& highways cluttered the suburban wasteland

open yer heart to this raving
judge not, ye have been judged
you ought to know better, move faster

i see yer buildings rising high, cleveland
in the daylight the drunks in the flats
are cast off like a lifesaver wreath
& where are yer poets down there?

at the shoreline near riprap piles
with seagulls screaming & water gyrating
a murky dark gelatin mass sucks up the bulwark
at the end of a long pier two lovers pitch nut shells
in the oily harbor basin as the wind exhales
& a barge horn wails on its way toward the river.

spits rivet heads, falling splash & kerplunk
as the crossbridge cranks up in horror, dismay
off the beaten path a crane hoists a girder
to the side of the building, windows
unopened, not closed, unconsidered,
will you consider this cleveland?

for the cost of a cup of coffee
I will tell you this story, tell you your name.
& as i sit at the counter in the hanna building,
I smell the smoke from a foundry cloud
above the winding snake back of the river,
& from asphalt roofing tar fire machines.
hear the sonic blare of taxi horns on ontario.
smell rotting restaurant garbage in back alleys,
see the beauty of a blonde by csu campus,
metal formed figures on the side of a grassy hill.

in the cellophane towers no one is hip to this,
only the lowly poets in the prospect ave gutters,
writing ecstatic stanzas of light, lost in a dreamfever

standing on level three,
in the arcade i look down,
i want to spit, but don't spit, instead
I laugh like a holyman who knows
something more, not letting on,
& finally I hit the street again,
in a dreamfever, cleveland

this poem, this upheaval,
is a communique into your
deep teeming depths,
a place you can't
reach by yourself, where a
lady of light knows
all about love

& way out on lake erie
an ore freighter trembles --
rolling up the shoreway
an 18 wheeler
brings bread for the living -
they hawk vegetables
at the west side market -
street vendors sell hotdogs
& on public square a protest
goes on, poets scream
words aimed at cold hearts --
millions of people rush
along sidewalks sideways --
they're building a new hotel
over on carnegie, near the ballpark
& there's a man on the corner
at east 9th & euclid
selling roses with a smile
as big as a quarter moon