junkmail oracle

poem o' the week


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


nov. 9, 2009

A Cleveland Cacophony

Several days ago I listened to
the Cleveland Orchestra
and Franz Welser-Moest
play so well in Linz.

“One of the ten best orchestras in the world,”
“An extraordinary musical experience,”
“A wonderful concert evening,”
the local critics raved.

In the very same newspaper
I read that Cleveland’s
not doing so well at all
on Imperial Avenue.

Just another twisted movement
in a Cleveland cacophony.

-- Brian Dorsey


nov. 2, 2009

cleveland ouch!

ouch cleveland, hits me
where it hurts, ouch cleveland a
punch in the gut, the best of
times, the worst of times,
ouch cleveland, a knife
in the back, a kick in the
crotch, ouch cleveland
cleveland ouch!

-- michael gabriel


oct. 18, 2009


Just a pickup band,
after all these years
and countless miles,
back in the garage,
where it all started,
The only audience,
a handful of neighbors
twisting in the driveway.

But from the first drum riff,
as crisp as the October night,
the joker conned the thief
and it was four decades earlier
with the bass shaking the walls,
Tom howling tunes at the sky
and my antique Big Muff box
making my '72 Fender as smooth as ever.

And yes,
we're a bunch of old men now,
with bad knees, stiff fingers,
and smoke-graveled voices,

has-been's and never-were's,
purveyors of long forgotten songs,
but the moon was bright,
the beer was iced,

and there was rock
and roll
and rhythm
and blues
and even though there ain't no surf in cleveland , brother,
a couple neo-noir instrumentals
that we nicked from The Aqua Velvets.

What more could you want?

-- j.e. stanley


oct. 11, 2009

the jazz of it

the jazz of it,
the incredible
annotation of notes and
melodies and chords and improvisations
in the verticals and horizontals
and slant-wises,
the polished lines of cityscape,
bridges and midges,
and gulls and hulls,
buildings and shindigs
thrown together like
sausage and shrimp
and don't you skimp on that pepper
in the jambalaya pot at downtown
round wound fat fish blue
and the other restaurants
pubs and clubs and cafes gracing the hub
of a poor and sports-plagued and music-
graced city.
a river, a giver of commerce
and free verse and man,
don't you believe
this jazz was conceived in the deep down
guts of Chink Stevenson and Neil Creaque
and Dorothy Fuldheim and d.a. levy
and the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu,
and what would you do,
a poor boy from a rich past,
who works part time and collects disability
because he's half-crazed while
utilizing the sane half to make the world
a better place?
what to do but listen to jazz and tramp
the streets at night of this city,
this bebop of cool down-home, gut
and mutt cultural slip and slide into the lake
if that's what it takes to get some sympathy,
some recognition
for a town teetering on

-- marc mannheimer


oct. 4, 2009

fugitive cleveland haiku #679

what is the story?

downtown looks like a bad dog

pee on cleveland's leg

-- michael gabriel


sept. 28, 2009

Arc de Triomphe

the morning pounds its fists into my head
with the throbbing in my heart
colour drowns in the Cuyahoga
fall, lonely soldiers floating
in foreign lands
I walk the path of my Mother, silenced
for all eternity were it not for her voice
inside my head.
“Come, my daughter, see how I love
you still, let me embrace your suffering,
my birthing pain.”
I ride the currents of a steadfast wind
leading me here, there
an eager chevalier kisses my brow,
stars burn with fervor, passion and compassion
meld me into compromise
I remember no words of my Father
his book is untarnished
without memory, the sands of time
owe no apology:
life is death
and death is life
I live between empty pages
the fleur-de-lis
tattooed upon my breath
my back is just about out,
it happens once in a while,
I'm in pain, sometimes almost
excruciating, but not quite,
so I watch TV, not much else to do,
my concentration not exactly
in focus,
(it's the anniversary of Lehman Bros
demise, did you know?)
channel surfing, there's a lit bit (or a lot)
for everyone, depending, of course,
on what you're looking for,
I stop for a while, wondering how to wear white
in the fall, how to pair the summer threads
in the waning sun, even though it's after Labor Day
when white was banished by the fashion police of yore,
I can't lie down,
I can't sit,
I can't walk
it hurts no matter what I do,
I think about Laura Ling and her good friend,
Euna Lee,
(when you travel the world, there's more
than the eye can see)
I think about how frivolous life is until it isn't
when the trials and travails of life
bear down,
a missing bride-to-be stuffed in a Yale research lab,
a 31-yr old soldier from Lorain who comes home when his body
is laid to rest, a little ahead his tour of duty,
and the Browns lose again, disappointing loyal fans,
the heartbreak kids forever gone,
Leno will interview the American intelligentcia
the audience will laugh,
white is black sometimes,
hardly ever grey
and life is truly nothing
less than broken chains, links to one another,
more than
sweet, sweet comfort.

-- Anna Ruiz


sept. 21, 2009

walking on the cuyahoga

i walk upon the cuyahoga river
stroll the murky surface jesus-syle,
dance like the ghost of johnny castle
on a tree fallen over the water,
balance on a tightrope like the great
wallenda. lake erie carp sing a mad
chorus of scales, I can hear them
from that place where the drawbridge
see-saws up and down. can you tell me
anything about the way the seagulls
look at me, wondering whether to
fly or remain, scream or refrain,
gray as the waves scratching the
hairy belly of the wharf, moving
in slow motion like a waltz.



sept. 14, 2009

zen walking on Ridge Road

grey clouds hang low, mist the air,

i walk with purpose
a loaf of bread,
some half & half, tomatoes
and a senior coffee at Burger King
the cashier tells me her story,
I tell her mine, I notice the flag
of the United States of America
is dirty and ripped along the edges
tell her it's time for new one,
she says it's blowing half-mast
for Senator Kennedy,
now I know why I never noticed
the shape our flag was in,
I think about the stories of families
the hidden details, the pain no one sees,
the years that are stolen away but come
home to roost, sooner or later when the
years of the locust have turned into poems,

I think about how I don't buy anything I don't need,
walking, I have more than enough to carry with two green-bags
of anything,
I think about all the dress alteration shops in my square mile,
the two Polish stores, the Iranian one and how it doesn't
matter, really, if the women wear a Hijaib or Burqa, they're
just women buying produce,
like me,
I think about how some days I hit all the lights just right
and some days I wait along with the raindrops.

-- Anna Ruiz


sept. 7, 2009

Cleveland noir

Sittin’ in a room like a hotel writin’
Down words don’t mean nothin’
‘Cause I can’t understand what
I’m gettin’ at can’t read between
These lines holdin’ on ‘til room
Service gets here could be a
Very long time thank God for air
Conditioning & a bottle of some
Kind of wine thinkin ‘bout headin
Down south some place where
Nobody knows who I am & the
The ocean don’t give up its
Secrets & worry don’t swim in
Your head floatin’ on some out
Bound wave disappearin’ in the
Face of the sun lookin’ for a
Convenient excuse to put the
Bullets back in the gun

-- kevin eberhardt


aug 31, 2009

King James Version

Just a promo, a give-away
destined to fade in the dishwasher,
to be washed off, jet dried, and forgotten.
Lebron’s wide grin is a slam dunk
filled with 44 ounces of Coca Cola
or Sprite or Fanta.  You might collect
all six designs, keep them in your kitchen
cupboard along with the other plastic
promotions.  They’re great for rubber
bands and twisty-ties, sorting out
junk drawers, or little boys who like
to collect rocks.  In a few months
they’ll be traded out, thrown
from late-night car windows,
free agents on the side of the road,
pieces of litter whose recycling codes
are like Braille to the seeing.
                                This is where
he picks it up, this thrown-away chalice,
and where he holds it tightly.  He extends
it towards the passers-by, asking for change.
It can’t be enough, like a basketball jersey
against a Cleveland winter, especially when
compared to the millions Subway
must have paid Lebron for a handful
of snapshots and his endorsement.
He wraps himself in what he can,
holding on, applying this pressure.
But he knows this cup is no tourniquet
for the words he bleeds into the bottomless
grail of the streets.   

-- andrew rihn


aug. 24, 2009

d.a. levy

when you roll up the streets in greater Cleveland,
you just never know who you'll bump into late
night in the summer-city, with only the glare of
streetlights, neon signs and fireflies poking holes
in the darkness,
these lines criss-cross with saints, poets and bums,
some commoners smoking something or another
some blues brothers and sisters with or without
(and you never quite know who is who)
salty-sweet salacious appetites, the nearly-dead roaming
with the homeless, bloody in the head,
having tea
(in their imagination) with the rich and famous,
who by now, are a dime-a-dozen,
it all comes together in poem outfitted
in a second-hand seersucker suit
acrid of effigy,
burning like originality and chalk-art on her sidewalks,
thin red lines
between life and whiskey-breath
between the real-steel magnolias, and graveyards
with headstones toppled, broken into pieces
by youth too dead to speak
like d.a. levy, hankering for walk
about town.

-- anna ruiz


aug. 17, 2009

Arlo's not home

(7/18/09, Cain Park)

There we were
mostly white-haired
flower children
making our last stand
with Arlo
strumming his guitar
singing as if there wasn't a cloud
in the sky
and peace had been given a chance

but it's not Greenwich Village
circa 1960-something
when music was free as
love and we were hungry
Mom's apple pie
before the dikes burst
in New Orleans
and the economy
bit the dust
we were younger then,
young with arrogance
and defiance,
we lived,
oh, how we lived
before Alice closed the
doors, and we went home
just before the rain
started pouring,
40 years after
the original moonwalk,
when Dylan sang with Joan
in a field of dreams
Viet Nam, Nixon napalm
choked with bitter truth
PBS, Wall-Mart,
were born
with higher purpose
and the green heart of Ireland
was bleeding,
even though death was abolished,

we've come a long way, my friend
on this journey of self-discovery,
and we wonder what world we'll leave
for our children's children,
who will inherit the earth
when we're not home anymore.

-- anna ruiz


aug. 10, 2009

the ghost of d.a. levy

My city of ruins-
Grimy dirty sinful ugly,
But pure!

Dig the way this beast moves:
It speaks, it breathes.

Little girls, bows in their
Braided hair, heading to school;
Winos on the curb;
Irish blacks Asians Italians

City cops, prowling eyes;
Corner boys on the look-out;
Pistols and brief cases;
Bankers, lawyers and felons-
I want to run up and kiss them!

Beautiful is sad,
And sad is beautiful.

I'm racing spinning,
Whirling twirling .
Here here we go,

So high from urban decay.
Why is no1 smiling today?

I greet the sun
With dark teary Irish eyes

Wake up!
Grin wide!

We all have but one life

The city never sleeps.

So neither do I

--Aedan Cagney

aug. 3, 2009

2009 Light Years from Home

On a full moon night
2009 light years from home,
I’m Google Earthing down
Agony Avenue,
Buckled Boulevard,
Calamitous Court,
Devastated Drive.

I stop to St. Vitus dance
on the middle of St. Clair,
and search for the butcher shop
that no longer exists,
where Radovan,
“The Happy One,”
once stuffed sausages.

I’m on the lookout for
the “Elliot Ness for Mayor” sign
on untouchable Central Avenue.
Put out an APB!

There’s a lone little house
on the Longfellow Avenue prairie.
But the Tivoli Court jesters have vanished.
Even Kingsbury Run is torso-less!

360 degrees of full-color,
street-view blight.
And my only consolation:
No one can arrest me for jaywalking
here on Google Earth.

-- Brian Dorsey


july 27, 2009

who's looking over my shoulder on a rainy morning?

The coffee tastes like shit
this morning
two days after a miserable
bout with heartburn,
handsful of Tums
and a pocketful of promises:
no more Arthur Treacher's anything & chips,
no more ex-husband's gourmet cuisine,
thank you very much,
I'm going back to the drawing board
it's sunrise at the oasis,
and my camel is spitting mad,
I can live on figs and dates,
fruits & veggies
I'll forgo the rotting flesh

and if you thought we could
live together in our old age,
well, goes to show how wrong you are,
just like I was back then, when I
thought you were the answer to the question,
who do I love and where
do I go, if not the Jersey shore,

here it is after all these years
of a cock-eyed dream
and nothing has changed
it's later than even I would
the vultures of Hinckley
for my paprikash-flavored bones
and the ravens of Independence
seem even more argumentative
at 5:30 in
the morning,
it's raining
and my sinus headache
is gaining intensity
I'll make no promies
as I promised
I'll ask no more questions and
I'll wait for no lies, for no one
to take me anywhere

my wisdom teeth are finally growing in
this poem a fig leaf
to cover up explanations,
thought balloons bursting
like froth
like waves
washing rocks over graves

Bukowski's looking over my shoulder
whispering sweet nothings in my ear,
I see his sad-eyes,
his lips crooked with grief,
I see his glorious demented
once or twice,

and so it goes.

-- anna ruiz


july 20, 2009

what passes for love in cleveland

mornings, with the door slammed in yr face,
the smell of burnt coffee, one more day
watering the plants & taking out the trash,
best wishes coming in the guise of a card
mailed from san francisco, the shopping list
calls for pork chops, butter, spaghetti, grapes,
french bread, clothes pins & paper clips,
i am watching you from a vantage point
far beyond the snaking turns of river road,
two blocks over from where the first mcdonalds
was built in cleveland, back in the day when
sunsets were violet, birds imitated the sound
of yr friends laughing, i wonder about yr choice
of eye shadow, where you go at night when you
disappear up the sidewalk, heading in the general
direction of no one really knows (for sure)

-- markk


july 13, 2009

I Ku

I've spent all this time
Finding levys citys lines.
When will I find mine?

-- John Jesus Crisis Burroughs

july 6, 2009


I: Consider how well fog becomes Cleveland,
 how it hides the crumbled houses stripped of
copper, the haunted factories without windows
ghosts falling through the cracks in rocked roofs.

 II: Consider fog when it covers our diamond lost
dreams while layers of soft water cloak the lost
 Banshee groaning over Lake Erie.

III: Consider how in the past; fog hid dead hacks in
 our lake- Pinkerton men searching for union stewards
 hidden in the night.

IV: Consider the old orange crib where laborers
 underneath the old  water works suffocated 
and Garret Morgan trying to use his
 new gas mask no one believed would work.

V: Consider how we old ones  miss the foghorn  nighttime
calling  sounds of warning blaring through West Park, Buckeye,
and the lake. And oh, to have had that warning before
the corrupt sandbar years of silence.

Fog can
become frost,
 become rime;
frozen without
upward movement

But sometimes
on warm
July nights,
you can
see fireflies
dance twirl
in patches
of low
white mist,
where, when
green life
still blesses
the last
of Cleveland’s
frozen lilies.

-- Mary O’Malley


june 28, 2009


i was never shanghaied
i was clevelanded
moondogged by alan
stoked by carl
perked by ralph
singed by the cuyahoga
houghed by the riots
gouged by reddy kilowatt
big chucked & houlihan’d
as well as lil’ john’d
mr. jinglelinged
captain pennied
gomer hodged
10 cent beer knighted
pigeon married
ghouled until I turned blue
zingy zingy
to the sounds
of screamin’ jay
gabe balled
pete franklin’d
gary deed
flashed and jeffed
boned, thugged & harmonied
not to mention barnabied
impounded by kassouf
yes indeed

--brian dorsey


june 21, 2009

money is a three-headed beast

i have nondual coins
and acid-free paper in my pocket
and purse

i render to Caesar.
i render to God.
in the market
in the church,

distinctions are
a three-headed beast.

i ride back into Cleveland
on an ass,
palm fronds
stuck in my teeth.

-- anna ruiz


june 15, 2009

Parma: Spring 09

Sun glinting off a blue jay
gliding to a shady glade
beautiful as any tropic bird.
Such blue on Ames
to startle the Aztecs
or the Maya.
Like some suburban Quetzalcoatl
I rejoice amid the mailboxes and basketball hoops
the one on one of the grass singing its knowing song
and the trees flying their colors and drink
the breath, the eternal return.

--dan smith


june 1, 2009


I walk down to The Flats
with a book of matches,
light them, one by one
and toss them into the river
hoping for a fire,
a real one this time,

a fire that could conjure the ghosts
of ancient river sirens,
the hottest of flames

or one that will ignite the entire length
of the Cuyahoga's serpentine form
until it grows wings of fire,
soars like a dragon,
sears the rustbelt rust to dust
and leaves the city shining,
orange and bright
or an even hotter blaze,
eternal, chemically-fueled,
pulsing like a beacon
to let the universe know:
"We were here.
We were here once
and we mattered."

This night, the matches just fizzle out
leaving me alone in the dark.
But, I'll be back
and the next night
and the next. . .

if there is one.

-- j.e. stanley


may 25, 2009

The Usefulness of Rain in Cleveland Ohio

when it comes to rain you
can't hold a candle to the
boys and girls of cleveland
with great names like fitz
and truth and budamir they
run for cover they run for
cover and they wait until
the sunshiny day comes
back and they drink and
they grin like hart crane
wandering out of a movie
theater in his sweet rubber
boots with a sailor on one
of his arms he is enjoying
the sunshine like the time
he came out of his daddy's
candy store where his job
was to jerk soda water all
day and it was all he could
do to stay indoors so he says
to nobody in particular it is
springtime dammit i'm through
working for that son of a bitch
well old hart crane he wasn't
through working for that
son of a bitch at all no! he
took a good look around
at the scenery smokestacks
rubber plants brick walls not
to mention rain starting to
fall like cherry blossoms in
a black and white movie and
he says to his companion of
the moment my friend i do
believe it is time for us to say
farewell time for us to reconsider
this relationship of ours because
cherry blossoms may fall but it
doesn't prove the uselessness
of rain and just like that old
hart crane dumps the sailor
in his tracks and ducks back
under the big green awning
he came out from under
he returns to his daddy's
candy store like a dutiful
son and recommences
jerking that sodawater.

-- George Wallace

George Wallace is editor of Polarity, Poetrybay, and Poetryvlog, and is the author of eighteen chapbooks and two CDs. A frequent performer not only on the NYC scene but nationally and internationally, he has appeared at such venues as the Beat Museum, Woody Guthrie Festival, Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, Rexroth Festival, Insomniacathon, Howlfest, Shakespeare & Co and the Dylan Thomas Centre.

may 18, 2009


I can't sleep when the moon
is ripe with indecision
but it's Spring in my city
insatiable Spring
glaring at me
with moonglow and
strange persimmon eyes
charming me into
as if an act of contrition
for the dead of winter
when my city and I
lie buried

and I
like a penitent novice
promise to leave
before the last trembling
Sycamore leaf
shriveled and sorrowful

and I
like a whore
persistent and patient
needing a
sheltering embrace
in anonymous arms
am bittersweet with
signs and barricades
sifted measures
rocks and stars
early morning dew

you'll  be
the death of me,
I know nowhere else
to go
to fall in love
to rise above
your consuming temptation,
utterly crushed.

-- anna ruiz


may 11, 2009

if d. a. levy had the flu….

he wouldn’t be sleeping with his muse
that is certain
he’s thrown her out
valise in hand
blonde hair flowing
blue dress askew
put her out at W. 25th & Lorain
for her to catch the afternoon bus to Barberton
she’d already compromised herself
in his eyes
being more enamored with the 450-thread count sheets
they purchased as a steal at Goodwill
a real travesty in his eyes

more likely to find him at Adele’s Bar
working out the problems of the Universe
with a few mediocre teabags to sooth his weary eyes
a fifth of scotch to cool his fevered brow
Damn…. you KNOW it is a conspiracy
when they pack swine flu in on camel back
by  way of the Mexican mafia
rubbed  & mixed together
with a dash of mentholated hashish
most likely a message from  OSAMA

she’s just a fat-ass whore anyway
a fickle tantric partner
that just as soon go garage sale shopping
as write poetry
all she’s ever done is measure his poet’s worth
in dime store plastic Buddha’s
the only time she’d every really let him write
was if he’d finger her lips and made her come
then she’d return the favor
but she’d be gone as quick as that
Fuck she is just dangerously

at 3:40 am. draped in a fevered stupor
he might want more but wouldn’t get it
she is toga trailer trash
thru and thru
she’d return now
by crawling back into his dreams
through the side door that opened onto Savannah Ave.
the one that ran down the near side of East Cleveland
down to the railroad tracks
eyes glazed & mind reeling
mark of Shiva on his forehead
maybe it isn’t the flu after all
likely just a scorpion bite
a prick
delivered on the backs of the
suburban patrol
Cleveland’s wide-eyed wonders
clueless riders on the ghost train to nowhere
they’d run the Blues out of town once before
no wonder they’re under suspicion
the gestures of holy men
are always under suspicion in East Cleveland
seen cast in the street light glow of after hours
I don’t think now it is the flu
just some leftover 20th century karma
wrapped up in an old copy of the Cleveland Press.

-- c.m. brooks


may 4, 2009

St. Colman Church

"Beautiful and terrible machines." I once thought.
"Terrible avenues of indoctrination built in ornate towers"
"Whores." I thought.

And then he said, "Close!
Board your windows and empty
Your sacristies and sell to the highest bidder
And build gymnasiums or condominiums in
Their place."

And I was broken.
Lost. I never believed a bearded populist
Who got bored with his day job
And decided to preach his ideals
With practical parables
And instructional allegories
Was the one true God.

But I surely am quick to worship the
Words that emerge from
Her mouth
As we gather two hundred
Tired and broken and sweaty and smelly
Almost foreigners to have their daily

And I was lost. And many angry voices
(As is part of our American tradition)
Gathered around the simple principle
That long appeals always win something.

And there were letters and publicity
And more public outcry
And in the face of all righteous indignation
I was sure that these protestant words
Fit nowhere in the realm of
The idea of church.

And in spite of everything,
Two green capped towers
Remain lit and praying
On W. 65th
To not the bearded populist,
Or the simple mouthed bishop,
But to the simple idea
That feeding two hundred almost foreigners
Twice a month in close quarters
Is the closest thing to divinity
We can be a part of.

-- Brendan Joyce


april 27, 2009

night more precious than its absence

after markk

night more precious than the moon which defines it,
night more precious than the breath of stolen angels,
night more precious than the black river's steel reveries,
night more precious than the wild diamond mind,
night more precious than the sun's pyschotropic tempest,
night more precious than the third and final life,
night more precious than a non-euclidean prospect,
night more precious than a purple-hazed sky,
night more precious than a cloudless clime's infinities,
night more precious than blue moon dragon scales,
night more precious than grendel's sad lament,
night more precious than the blood of thirteen stars,
night more precious than the maiden's counted sorrows,
night more precious than the conqueror's honed blade,
night more precious than the songs of lost city sirens,
night more precious than tesla coils arcing through the naked abyss,
night more precious than these eighteen lines,
night more precious than its absence.

-- j.e. stanley


april 20, 2009

night more precious than yr orphan smile

night more precious than ancient gold, night more precious than a fever, night more precious than a rainbow taste, night more precious than a silver chalice, night more precious than all cosmic time, night more precious than an infant’s dream, night more precious than invisible wishes, night more precious than sweet cream, night more precious than vapor trails, night more precious than vast cuyahoga forest, night more precious than twisted riches, night more precious than a raft of freedom, night more precious than an offering of color, night more precious than yr orphan smile, night more precious than remarkable triumph, night more precious than an emerald fabric, night more precious than a shimmering wreath, night more precious than all timeless bringing.



april 13, 2009

factory job

nickola limps out
the front gate
of a steel mill
in cleveland,
his spirit
unbroken, his
pride intact,

friday night
& he’ll return home,
metal lunch
box banging on
the cold counter,
face burned
from the fire
of his living,

back in 1953
a factory job was
an honest dollar
& food on the
table was enough,
he tries to remember,
(to forget is
a knife in the back)

-- markk


april 6, 2009

Wine on a Rope ( the Tremont visions )

for Joanne Cornelius

Oh, strange city
filled with the sorrow of crazed balconies
take off your pants! say hello
to gypsy dolphins dancing
balustrade ballets down Bolivar
beyond floppy disc flop houses
of your futures past
whiz through the gates
petting petulant paradigms
extant exultation of inadmissible
prior convictions in confetti parade
merciless mannequins
window shop eternity
hackneyed expressions
haloed transgressions
spin nude the trampolines
bus smile!
airport kite!
walkabout wanderers
faint shadows fade
feculent air!
electric shower curtains!
forgotten elephant graveyards!
AWAKE strange city AWAKE
drink everyday sun unhypnotized
bathe in rain quotidian
eat clouds!
piss ecstasy!
kiss angels!
hear unspoken poetry
drown in pools of melody
murder melancholia
dinosaur trombones!
bonobo trumpets!
glory the light of unterminal towers
be lightning rods
be green arrow targets
leave your ghost trains
ride typewriter dreams
awake awake to feckless fecundity
all your mornings have begun
waves of being splash
sunrise aftershave
breakfast bowl of song
philosophy omlettes!
love toast!
smoke coffee!
atomic church!
turtle choir!
poem sandwich lunch
be devoured for dinner
every minute is an offering
to wakefulness
the unhazed face
glow flow ships
incandescent river
golden spider web
skein of thoughts
natural as desire
wild as love.  
-- dan smith


march 30, 2009

Blue Collar Man (my Cleveland)

my Cleveland, I don't mind him
being a blue collar, few dollar man

don't need him all prettified,
gentrified, riverwalked,
starched, pressed and lean
I like his urban sprawl
his sports bars, sports cars, Ford trucks,
Great Lakes brew and bratwurst,
his rib fests and bare chests
he can put on a suit and tie
if the occasion calls for it
he cleans up real nice
he's no playhouse "square"

he's a comfortable fit

I like his long hair, level stare,
acting like he doesn't care,
blue jean and boots swagger,
his never-say-die attitude,
his rock and roll hammer
I dig the pensive, ponytailed, punkass
poet in him

I like it when he shows his
ethnic roots
and I don't mind his often gruff speech,
his questionable grammar
don't mind his broken english,
city slang or down-home twang,
his sometimes breach
of political tact and cultural fact

we have an understanding

don't mind his tough sidewalks,
his callused highways,
the clumsy fumble of his
tumbledown neighborhoods
don't mind the times his rough
streetlighting catches at my clothes
in the heavy dark
when he's running his transit
through my hair

at least, he's reaching out for me,
wants to feel me close against him

I don't mind the stubble
on his troubled streetcorners,
cold Lake Erie steaming his breath,
his bleary neon eyes,
his wasted wallpaper billboards
too many nights of revel
after long days spent
in steelwork, car shops,
west side markets and east side offices,
orange-barreled highway construction,
Clinic halls and University malls
giving all he's got,
just making a living

I trust him; I know he has my back,
know he's looking out for me

he's an honest s.o.b.

my Cleveland, I don't mind him
being a blue collar, few dollar man

-- Dianne Borsenik


march 23, 2009

me against the word

when in cleveland, do as
the clevelanders do,
get drunk on poetry, steal
thoughts from unsuspecting
minds, jack up yr car on cinder
blocks in the front yard & drive
thru town, orchestrate a bilingual
revolution of the opposite sex,
tell me all the gory details,
i am like montgomery clift in
a place in the sun, set in shaker
hts., with elizabeth taylor reading
|the plain dealer and crying as
the verdict is read, today it
is me against the word, in
the beginning was the word,
& the word is not cleveland

-- markk


march 16, 2009

The Angle

Achill Island flotsam,
to Amerikay.
Not worth their salt,
but good enough to cut
Ohio and Erie turf
for thirty cents a day,
and a jigger of whiskey.
Irishtown Benders,
wagoned off
to paddied cells.
Cleveland’s Irish Angle,
home of the
world featherweight champion
Johnny Kilbane,
middleweight contender
Jackie Keough,
“Ice Wagon” Kilbane
school of hard knocks.
Great Lakes dredgers
docked in
flat-ironed cafés,
inns harboring
Mike the Russians,
Malachi’s cross
atop the hill,
glowing like Éireann herself,
in shades of
danny boy green.
Lakeview Terraces
Whiskey Island bootleggers,
Patton’s thugs shimmying
on their way to Leavenworth.
Hulett claws fondling
Mesabi’s lode to the west,
Downtown Cleveland,
towering terminally
to the east.
Listen intently
to those bygone
Angle tales,
banshee wailing
from Clew Bay
to Glenbeigh.
Soon there will be
no one left to tell them.

-- brian dorsey


march 9, 2009

hydrogen cl=v=land

hydrogen encapsulated, GIANT TIGER
hydrogen huh! ummmmmm dupe
THE CORRAL under try & his lonely coop
the real kid friendly chip chop LAWSONS
virtual tomatoes, the dance floor on
the third level of hell HALLES i went to
see grrrrrrrrrrr *8* movies @ the state
theatre when it was a movie theatre
yr trusted vigilante of love SWINGOS
hydrogen helium, hydrogen twisted
STERLING LINDER drink frank sink
my usual table at the corner booth
corned beef & vavoom DOOR MAGNET
hydrogen cl=v=land my lady of sorrows

--michael gabriel



march 1, 2009

blue galoot

bashing my head against walls,
the way the a door opens upon
the guts of the street, elevates
uneven memories, in the basement
of public hall, when i was a kid,
i watched the circus animals
laying on beds of hay, three rings
of chaos and mayhem upstairs,
there is a poster in the lobby
with a white-faced clown, a
red-lipped lady on the flying
trapese, what became of those
venerable ghosts, stalking the
corners of old brick and lead-
based paint, i never knew my
childhood would lead me to
here, wasted like copies of the
cleveland press, vanishing into
gloom & gust like a blue galoot

-- markk


feb. 22, 2008

The Ghetto Bible

For d.a. levy

We can no longer blame the government
It is our greed spoon feeding them barbeque
We can no longer blame the media
It is our perverted need for peeping keeping the television’s coffee filled with gasoline
We can no longer blame the devil
His existence is made up of nothing but our bizarre fear of beauty
We can no longer blame God
She is willing and able to take our place
We can no longer blame the artist
Our lack of wonder forces her to bleed creation
We can no longer blame our parents
It is our divine delicateness that overpowered them into a frozen state of poetry
We can no longer blame the kids
They are the apples falling from our skies
We can no longer blame the weather
We all have the ability to smile
We can no longer blame drugs
It is our psychotic desire for fame and fortune smoking social stresses in the collegiate alleyways
We can no longer blame nature
We are the salt challenging the sea
We can no longer blame religion
It is our horror of hell that created their heaven
We can no longer blame the corporations
Think about where you go when you want your family’s picture taken
We can no longer blame sex
It is our sticky pain that pays the powerbill for our oily obsessions
We can no longer blame the rich
Why would you want to hurt a fly?
We can no longer blame the poor
They believe our lies
We can no longer blame love
She is our only real inner satisfaction
We can no longer blame death
For we have always been and will forever be dead
We can no longer use the words nigger, faggot, redneck, kike, dyke, idiot, loser, bitch
Why criticize the place we hide
We can no longer blame the solider
He is at war over our ignorance
We can no longer blame the terrorists
They are clowning around in our classroom, crying into our arms
We can no longer blame the police
The only prison we can be locked in now is ourselves
We can no longer blame the murderers
They are after our blood
We can no longer blame our problems
For they are the valuable lessons we need to learn
We can no longer blame each other
We are the only ones who see separation
We can no longer blame ourselves
We have done nothing wrong we have only forgotten how to be honest

-- justin blackburn


feb. 17, 2009


i can't write haiku
about cleveland, i don't
understand anything -- 5-7-5

-- markk


feb. 10, 2009

the face of the wasted

they who sit in a litany
of despised emotions, tossed
upon vagrant waves of
faces in high rock, a man
in the doorway, the way
the past elevates to a new
dynamic, stoned on the
hip of the moment, stoned
beneath your own wasted
face, forbes magazine named
cleveland the fourth most
miserable city in the united
states, & it's taken a long
time to get here, my friend

-- markk


feb. 3, 2009

Who carves

Who carves the rivers
of silence through the
arcade of fire?

Who rings in the clarity
of truth as it meanders
through the body electric?

Who is wiser? The serpent
that crawls through the fissures
of Etna?
The owl with the ouroboros of time
in its talons of death?

I am Anna of Ohio,
our winters are the same ever-green water
Moses parted
we flow through the urban forest
into hands that dream

Yes to the love
that aches with being.

-- Anna Ruiz


jan. 25, 2009


the sky over cleveland
is a frozen lake
so perfectly blue,
a robin’s egg
already cracking
with the breath of Spring
i love you as the
sky fits the earth
i love you as the
dreamer awakens
and the ocean is near
and the river of dreams
winds around our fingers
like starlight,
like dawn.


beneath the ashes and the cross,
the crescent city,
we are beggars here,
emptying our bowls
of all that remains,

I am the Lover
You are the Beloved

the wind carries
what is
beyond the rusted heart
where the ruby of indifference


we are children here,

in the laughter
of the wind

-- Anna Ruiz


jan. 19. 2009

How Like An Altar Are Those Shining Moments

Your necrotic streets
with bail bondsmen
waving their pink warrants
and long barreled pistols
the homeless holding
their flower sweepings
like shields
or fighting each other
in the middle of the street
with sticks for swords
the gray light dull
on the dented pewter armor
of their withered dreams
everything submerged
in the arterial suffocation
the hydraulic push and pull
of a drowning in air
the weight of every lost particle
like the pressure on a bathysphere
in the Mariana Trench
this is the Cleveland
that can still accost your heart
and kidnap your soul
at every turn
( even after kicking you
in the nuts for years )
with the memory
of a perfect vision
in unfiltered light
when every flower
was a gift.

-- dan smith


jan. 14, 2009

and lebron james relented feats of magic

yes the air here is rarefied,
it speaks of twisted fallows
that will never bring forth
the sweet green of spring,
but there is pause for concern
in the houses of the maven,
our words fall onto scorched
parchment like the echoes
of the 1940s, the mist of
the 1950s, the final wedge
of the 1960s, we have donated
our time in return for nothing,
but lebron james relented
feats of magic, we watched
as he rose up like the headless
horseman of sleepy hollow,
careening down euclid avenue
in golden yarn & bear hide,
followed by carnivorous armies,
hell bent on trading dreams
for gargantuan diamonds &
pieces of sweet travesty

-- markk


jan. 7, 2009


there is no blue
in the dark grey and
solemn black of
winter just before the sun rises
in Ohio

some never leave,
these wandering minstrals
of living joy
announce their presence,
how sweet the sound
of drab sparrow
common house wren
past my window.

-- Anna Ruiz



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