Going to Cleveland for "levyfest"

                                             by Russell Salamon

                                                                                                                                                                                          photo by joanne cornelius


I am going to Cleveland, Ohio, for the "levyfest." I must prepare its existence. Present
time, must bring plenty of present time. I know it is the same kind of good time as we
had plenty of when we were young and the city was old and oppressive and believed
in the certainty and violence of its ideas. Death enshrined as policy, must be careful.
No living, no speaking: silence is golden. The golden rule of golden civilizations:
money absolves all sins.

I pull out my d.a. levy memories. The intense eyes, the direct look at you as
a spirit. Demand for your presence as an immortal being. Acts of City he was
committing: freedom of thought, freedom of literature, freedom to stand on the
corner and hand out the Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle to immortal
civilized spiritual beings. Oh, yes, minor point. Where are they? Where did they go?
Body farming, body breeding, body slaughter, medical body embalming. Ideas?
What do you mean ideas?
Third eye? Astral body? Past lives? Telepathy? Knowingness by permeation?
Fah, where do you get off speaking such of things to minors, who are not beings
but fragile bodies? North American Book of the Dead? Suburban Monastery Death
Poem? Rectal Eye Visions? You are contributing to the defamation of our fair city,
our fair country, our fair mausoleum.
And that highly corruptive, mind altering, intensifier which perfect beings never use:
"Fuck!" The mere sound of it destroys future generations and all past cities. Not evil
intentions by suppressive persons, not war mongers, bad news dealers, liars, thieves
and criminals whether in cassocks, uniforms, suits, big pants or shaved heads, bring
death. Communication is the source of evil, friends speaking, lovers embracing. That
is what must be stamped out to keep our cities perfect. Poets, unseen and unheard.

I prepare the city. The large Lake Erie spreads to the north. Maple trees blaze fall colors.
The stadium is empty, the team fell short at the end. Glass buildings rise with open eyes
to work. I prepare a living city, defamed as it is by unknownness of self. Who are you
really, City, Citizen? Moving to the east, we have the Art Museum, the Concert Hall
the Universities, the presidential Erieview Cemetery, then parks and beautiful homes.
Hidden in bodies earlier histories gleam out at each other. Some of the gleams are furtive
looks, do they know what I did to them in Auschwitz? Relax. Death is a forgiveness trick.
We do not die.
The pretense to new arrival at birth--it just delays our conversations by keeping us
estranged for some time until a war or some art form brings us together. And we are
together. Rain falls on dark streets. The coffee shop serves amnesia and good pie.
A hum of voices restores time to its proper location--right here in the mind--in the no
place where we wish for it to exist. In the place where Cities call us out of some deep
love to deep action. We prepare a City and we will celebrate one of our best poets,
and still living, Citizens. A soul, and maybe he will show up for his own memorial!

Saturday, October 22, 2005
From California we rise out of a bed of fog over islands edged in white, then higher
to sunlight meadows over white clouds. Then dunes, stone rivers, a ribbon of Colorado
River, its green blue water. Then more stones with a daylight half moon setting west.
After a plane change in Phoenix, Arizona, we see small islands of green farms tucked
in between ridges as we rise higher into choppy star streams, air saws cutting, rubble
of bumpy air over circles and pies of irrigated fields. Islands of towns huddle among
Texas flatlands.
Then cloud forests for a thousand miles. Small gap over Indiana, then as the sun sets
we descend into Cleveland through murk of black voices, gasps of sharp descent--ah,
here are the golden trees--down to light rain, wet runway. Yes, it stops in the rain!
There is a wall of history as we land. No new beliefs wanted. A rightness is absolute
and greets us. I can see your point, d.a. levy.

Sunday, October 23, 2005, mostly sunny.
Flames of colors, pale gold to yellow red to dark red, orange, brown. Sugar maple,
white oaks, and dozens more. Real trees, blizzards of leaf fall. I walk in a history
in Peninsula, Ohio, along Erie Canal into stone locks, blocks of sandstone marked
in Roman numerals, perfectly joined, still standing. Peninsula Ohio, a hamlet, two
churches, a scenic railroad stop.
The universe must be solid or it will not be voted into existence by herons, trees,
fish, Canada geese. The angels were outvoted. Philosophers drew a blank.
Absolutists have gone to warmer climates. This trail, these tracks of deer....
I think of d.a. levy. The world does not miss him. It reads the literature of daylight.

I look for signs in faces. They are all lit with smoldering beginnings under fall colors.
And winter. Time's winter. A teacher picks four great death novels as the highest
forms of creation. He works at a death university. But he is right. A dead rightness
conducts existence. levy, you should be famous now that you have achieved the
highest form of life: Death.
From RECTAL EYE VISIONS by d.a. levy 1966, published press:today:niagara
by D.R. Wagner 
                          ( 8)

                          part I
                     for w.e. wyatt
                                            Acapulco Lips
the dragon of winged lions & the ch'i-lin
racing in sum sort of mind game - i cant see this
the words are just falling out of the pen
the ch'i-lin has the body of a deer
     on my homemade postcard he carries a holy man
the ch'i-lin has the feet of a horse
     on my homemade postcard the words say
     CHINESE BRONZE MING DYNASTY     (1358-1644)
the ch'i-lin has the tail of an ox
     & and walks off the card into the living room
     carrying a holy man
it is ten years since the silence was broken
     like a bird that appears only in times of
           PEACE & HAPPINESS
We made our plans carefully/first in the 5th century B.C.
      and worked - making revisions in the text as time
      pretended to move around us/
in ceylon - the 8th century - we painted our dreams
      drank tea & and watched the oceans lap our shores
      no one knew or knows our number
when we moved it was mountain mist
      &  there were rumors that we hid in the valleys
      & and wore animal masks in death dances
      & meanwhile we planned the motion of fire in water
our motions in silence
a gesture at the sky to keep track of our years
      we didnt bother when they preferred to run from their
        shadows                                         i think it was the
11th century someone noticed 100,000 dead in a dream
& we knew that in their fear they would attempt to end all
shadows                      &                       we made out plans
when they invented the radio we laughed at how slow it was
& raced the waves as the ocean pressing our shores
the last i remember in 1890 we kissed the books and
smiled at the mountains moving away - not knowing what to say
                                  I was to be reborn here
                        & you were to be reborn there 
                        & that was that
Now in the 20th century there are many small fires burning
               what do you think they will do when they discover
               they can not destroy our light
and when we meet them at the gates
laughing/as the mountains move away.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Gloom. It is raining. Dark soul, wet bricks. Churches, darkened by years of soot
and sin, brood over brick brown medieval villages. Cleveland stands in middle ages,
in defeats of the soul. Black bodies, the pale skins, congregations of lie-worship.
The steel mills pour action, steam, smoke into the westering breeze. Black flag
steamy remains of violent smelters, huge trucks, rail-wheeled lifting cranes.
Limestone pyramids, iron ore, sand, coal, line the banks of the Cuyahoga River.
From this dead causeway, stopped at the bluff decades ago, I eat bread at the
edge of the Inferno and listen to the dark pulse of Cleveland's Soul.
Russell Atkins, poet, lucid at 84, hovers over this black guard army, a crow of
fine violin music on his radio, stacks of history and archeology of literature clog
his rooms--thought amassed in echo of slag heaps down there.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Of course they are not listening. We have all taken the vow of NOT-KNOW,
a denial of native state and total knowing. levy, you were fighting the desire
to drink beer, procreate and die--the highest forms of game still left. Everyone
is playing their few remaining cards of reduced intelligence and low ethics level.
The highest art form is death. Check your anthologies, museums, cemeteries.
Ask generals, patriots and medical sanctuaries where BODY WORSHIP, the
current opiate, dispenses miracles.
What? "one of the sons of light, reborn'? What are you doing here, d.a. levy?
That was an old game before Mankind darkened into small minds whose sacred
rightness requires dead boys and girls on the bonfire of feudalism. Not democracy:
not possible in the absence of knowing how to be truth.
I see your point, levy. You were a lone fragment of city looking for other truths
in the swamp. So okay. What else is new? No point in being insulted. We
are life.
I move in a murder mood of constant rain. Dark noon light and I see friendly
people willing to be someone and to do something useful. Maybe not literature,
but we are literature. Each act of life a living act. Each of us is three dimensional
and full blooded.
The poems are silent, not listening to the sneeze of a common cold, nor the
hum of voices over lunch. Poetry has ceased working its job of putting the floor
down for the city to dance on.
Instead, the nightly news poets, minute by minute, perfect their barking, yap,
yap. Bizarre, grisly, gruesome, blood curdling. Man is evil and you should
regret it. Do not touch that hypnotic dial, news of your death may be next.
Under time certainty of self sprouts oak roots in the black rain. If you come
immortal and do not enter the temptation to be an eternal body, if you come
naked and transparent with intelligence rain falls through you, and the curdling
black smog of death by profit and loss does not enter your lungs, because you
are not breathing time.
And you are not breathing time. It breathes without you. We come again
to acknowledge the purpose to find the free city.
"son of light, reborn" into wanted darkness. It hides sins against self. Each being
is cause of everything. This is a harsh light. It cuts lazy minds--"oh, groan, must I
rise from the dead, again? I have just perfected being human. Look, my new little
blond body annoys Dad. And I have learned to speak the limited Earth English
with 45 words for Yes. I am not me, and yes, oh divinity, you own the universe
and a little speck like me has no effect on the tides and soot crusted monasteries
of death thought. We pray that we may find heaven as we trample on its throat.
We cut throats of children, who, having been recently dipped in the waters of rebirth,
weep and squeal heaven."
The first thing to go is heaven. And hell is a slow acquisition, step by step. Because
at any moment, by some piece of music, or d.a. levy poem, heaven breaks in like
dawn. It is impossible to kill heaven. We are heaven, and we do not die. The game
must go on. Someone must be bricks, and someone a mansion, and another,
a dancer of time. And someone, dead enough to claim tyranny, festers decrees
from his Only Oneness--reduces infinite lives to one neat fairytale where you died
happily ever after.
Light? Which is the working light?

We step into Middle Ages. Dark cathedrals brood over hen houses, brick schools
and rain-slick streets. Clouds out of northern minds moil and grind black trainloads
on the verge of snow. One can lament great unknowns, but this is desired. Black
snow falling on fields of light. Immortality was a slow rain falling. Something to
recover from by living here near infernal steel mills sooting dark flags out of furnaces,
steam and despair. Poverty for bodies, deeper poverty for souls who have ceased
knowing. Now we scrabble among slag heaps and dirty rooms for a kind word.
Doors out of time slammed shut.
But look here! A great cup of coffee and family recipe for apple strudel from the
Old Country. Cobblestone streets and free land to stand on. Do not condemn
apparent unknowing. Spires of unawareness, dream icicles sprout out of dark
woods. (Angel thoughts?) Even trees flame with dances.

Thursday, October 27, 2005
If you are a wind show yourself on my hands that I may splash you on my face
and wear the scent of Eden in my spheres of light. Come see my supply of green
cities rooted in guffaws, feet on mirth bridges, green birds at the edge of a marsh
plucking the horizon out of the water.
It is perfect. The gray rain is innocent. The medieval thoughts are innocent. The
torturers were only trying to make you in their own image, an occasion for art.
Reality building by beheading. Freedom is what someone else is. The first mold
out of the hand of Life was infinite. Infinity had to be defeated. Camps of small
powers hold the master molds.
The grass in meadows, birds knocking on wood, this cool evening in red and gold
leaves is innocent. Agony weavers twine souls into ghost legions who fall as leaves
on the dark city, fall as minds into bottles of old wine and wind. Swept drifts of new
children. How far we fall in innocence even now away from being. Bodies mark the
spot of victory where infinity fades into an aging body with a voice of dreams.
From Suburban Monastery Death Poem by d.a. levy:
"...i dont want to die in Ohio any more!
    I am tired of watching my brothers
waste their lives fighting the draft
to die in illegal wars
i am tired of being torn-up inside
each time i see of my brothers
replaced by a gold star in a window
i am tired of writing & speaking
to television vegetables
immune to multiple-reality systems
inoculated via mass media propaganda vaccines
i am tired of reading about people
starving in china, india, the ozarks
in the inner city slums
i dont understand theoretical economics
my world is full of people & spirits
i want to go where there are still
some flashes of light
my world is full of imaginary women
with neon - electric flowers of love
i want to go where i dont have to
pretend i am not alone"
The blue sky above black navies of cloud moods. Steel stands in towers, bridges,
vehicles, in tanks along roads among forests. How innocent the gleam in your eyes.
After you get wind of heaven you can bring it with you like breathing. Look with forest
eyes and red falling leaves to the far north at the towers where pulses of human blood
beat, scorched souls whose spaces fall into books defining laws of amnesia.
Now we listen to each other; these trees and this mind wandering in and out of a tight
time clamped in by clouds and turning earth. A cut of sun-blades slants away, thin
silence covered by a blanket of crow cries. The air is cool, the bases of trees argue
with gravity. We are the somewhere of our exile.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
The rain stopped. All day the sun built infinite caves in the sky. The cobalt green
of dusk pulled the emerald Lake Erie over Cleveland. Buildings lit windows and looked
up at time moving. It pulled the east slowly toward western settlements, expansions of
victories and defeats slowly across minds, natives, the English plagues, slave escapes,
Irish whiskey toasts, songs brittle with mustaches and petty coats, apple girls.
Sunset now gone into the lake throws last bursts of red. Two girls breeze by with
dancing hair and ankles. We bring water to the dead. They drink and join us along
Euclid Avenue near the Cleveland State University. Not being and being--the usual
swing--freedom and unknowing.
Cooling daylight deepens into indigo plums, river curves of starlight ease over known
boundaries of an unknown city. In the edge of horizon blacksmiths pound steel armor
for the white horses.
We go in to speak for history. Pockets of future sit in the audience. Under cobalt blue
evening we meet in a glass building. Cameras record our presences for when d.a. levy
comes back from the dead, and we are gone loaded with mornings.
In life with each other, we tell of levy teaching telepathy by not showing up in class,
or walking in one side and out the other while an electrified class knows it has seen
revelation. And it has, the glimpse was of knowing. Art is a direct cut into creation.
Poetry rides our white flanks.
In our no hands no bottles we carry our vanishing thoughts. Parts of our bodies slip
into vanishment. Our eyes mark the future, which comes.


Sunday, October 30, 2005
Sunlight pours into the empty city. Cuyahoga River, instead of ore boats there is
a Phoenician trireme. Steel mills work alone, smoke currents write sunlit passages.
The symphony and counterpoint of bridges etches clear lines, rhythms. Churches
ring bells.
It is easy to read minds here. Bridges say what people think. This church is not
a cathedral for infinities, but for subjects. This bank receives blood flow. Babylonians
have an encampment on the West Side: red and green pennants flutter in the wind.
The city is highly portable in the mind. The south is warm and the east stretches to
the Euphrates. West is endless, and if you keep flying, you fall off the edge of the
earth. Monks, prophets, reformers, poets, keep falling in with the furnace ashes.
The roar of money drowns out the calm silence of the sky flowing in the river. There
is no need to think in words now that the city is listening closely. One can think in
trees, and roads, and a job. Our opponents live in our minds. City stands in ice-steeled
We have inherited Cleveland as we inherit the earth. But mostly we inherit states of
mind, conditions of existence in each person. And some people try to perfect death
as an answer to life. So we argue with them. Gee, why don't you try showing up for
the glorious future by bringing it in you? Pick up an art form and operate it to full
magnificence? Be the beautiful home ground that makes home worlds in eyes
of listeners?
Forms of existence and non-existence teem all around. Art forms such as beer drinking
and professional sports-watching thrive. We are partial toward literature and poetry and
classical music because we think those forms approximate free beings and speak to
them. But maybe the Cleveland Browns contact a parallel universe of battles and fighting
that people love. Warring of intentions.
Maybe literature does not show exciting war, does not destroy and punish bodies vividly
enough. But we think it attacks time, destroys ignorance of self, and restores ability to
communicate future states of being and erases past mistakes--those earlier scriptures
that record man's slavery. Poems are new ways to think and are something to think.
A vibrant mind is a victory for Mankind.
You being such a vibrant mind--Yum!--I am happy to know you. I add you to my treasure
collection of civilization points. And such fun! I think I have just stumbled on the definition
of what do we do now? We communicate with friends.
End, for now.

Russell Salamon was born on December 6, 1941 in Berkasovo, Yugoslavia as it was then, about sixty miles west of Belgrade in a hamlet of about 200 people near the Orient Express Line. Huge steam locomotives thundered through without stopping at Sid (pronounced, Sheed), a town of about 2,000 thousand. This life up to age twelve is recounted in Breakfast in the Twelfth Century, a book of poems. In October 1953 he came to Kent, Ohio, and soon after to Cleveland. This part is summarized in Descent into Cleveland, a poetic novel about events in the 1960's.

A prolific poet, Russell Salamon is the author of eleven books of poetry. His work has appeared in Passager, Sunstone, Uncommon Ground, Daybreak, The Listening Eye, Saint Petersburg Russian-American Anthology, Peckerwood, Puckerbrush Review, Retooling for the Renaissance in the Third Millenium, Trace, and Dare, among others.

He lives in North Hollywood, California. He may be contacted at:



Look for Russell Salamon's new book of poems, Woodsmoke & Green Tea, to be published this fall by deep cleveland press.




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