Monday, October 31, 2016

Suburban Monastery Death Poem by d. a. Levy

only ten blocks away
buildings burned - perhaps burning now
the august night broken by sniper fire
police men bleeding in the streets
a sniper surrenders (perhaps out of ammunition)
Gun Jammed?
someone sed he was framed in a doorway
like a picture - his hands in the air
when they shot him -

only ten blocks away
from my quiet apartment
with its green ceramic buddhas
& science fiction books
unread skin magazines to be cut up
for collages

only ten blocks away
from my total helplessness
from my boredom enforced by the state
they are looting stores
trying to get televisions
so they can watch the riots
on the 11 pm news

the national guard jeeps patrol
the streets again
the army-green trucks with the
giant white star on the side
moving in the summer lightning

i cd tell you partly
why it happened
but you wouldnt believe me

like in Milwaukee
during a reading
just after i said
"this is a paranoid poem - written when i was
experimenting with paranoid states of consciousness,
but im not there anymore"
& a young girl sat writing
"shows paranoid symptoms"
probably for her psychology class
not hearing me at all

i cld try to tell you
about the hopeless despair
ingrained in ghetto walls
& police brutality or police stupidity
or police reality is more than just words
to define situation
by students looking for a cause.
the situations exist & continue
quietly in the dark while the
protest goes on in daylight -
both unheard.

the police try to protect
the banks - and everything else
is secondary

during the riots
i watched the news
& didnt pick sides for a change

i just sat wondering about all
the living room revolutionaries
safe in the suburbs
who cheered everytime someone
was shot or a building went up
in smoke

ten blocks away
it was real
thousands of tourists

From one of the lesser schools of modernism, I enjoy The Cleveland Beats as I knew some of them and was once published in some of the same small journals as were they.   I also knew Levy's neighborhood well. It was the location of our city's counter-culture once upon a time and a place where I played the bass in smoky bars and recited poems in an over-lit library.  Levy is reacting to the Glenville Riots of 1968, which were part of the boiling race issues of the era.

More of Levy, not to mention a fellow Cleveland poet, Jau Billera, and another neighborhood "artist", Harvey Pekar, may be found in other portions of The Coracle.