Formula 4 Animals
Found On Napkins

past = rationalization
future = speculation

just the moment

no more,
no less

Hollywood, CA - 4/28/07


A Primate's Last Sigh (revisited, revised)

Playground of pleasure
you never remember visiting
yet excavated,
again and again,
considerable will
inconsiderate willingness.
Receipts from guest house camouflage,
and trails of bedrooms' lingering perfume, 
openly and defiantly recite the lettering 
for you.
Of all the things you have known and mostly not,
the all but silent taste
of forgotten generations 
pleases you most;
but, somehow,
the echo still
finds a way
to inflict
with the silence
of corner store
Language is seductive,
and so deceitful,
for it no longer sketches with blood:
long ago it bowed
to the mercy salesman
with their electronic ink, 
held together
by no more
than dried up,
school boy
Of all the things you have known and mostly not...
Of all the places you have journeyed and will never go...
Simple dishonesty
Like the banished child staring through the fence.
Like caressing night staring through the window.
Like sleepless dawn staring through the clock.
Like the sound of rain without the sound of them.
Whoever they once were. 
Whoever they might be.


Korea Town, Los Angeles - 6/27/06


Joanne's NYC

Outside the apartment,
On the street below,
You could still hear her voice:

"You don't want me,
You want the
Whole World,

In one sentence..."

New York City - 9/21/01


Poet Laureate Of The Blogosphere 2007

Dear All,

It's been brought to my attention that I've somehow been nominated as the "2007 Poet Laureate of The Blogosphere." I'm truly honored just to be counted among these other fine poets, and I am as surprised as I am humbled to receive this news.

If you'd like to vote for me or any of the other nominated poets, cut and paste the following address into your url:




The Sound That The Heart Breaks

As we drift through
The years
Of our maybe...

Wake up next to her
Suddenly with a title:

"the older man."

It's like the first time
I ever saw
A priest smoke,

No guilt.

Those who make art and those who sell it.

Those who want nothing to do with it,
But talk about babies
And taxes
On real estate

Not very smart,

How many
Business opportunities
Have I passed up

Because I'd rather
Try and
Speak with the voice of the dead,


Of the intimacy of animals
When they wash each other?

I might be quite boring,
But at least I know
That children
Almost always
Make love
With their

It's not the eyes,
Or the lips,
Or the hands:

You can tell people,
Their years and moments,
By their shoulders.

You can read shoulders
Faster than any other part
Of the body.

There once
Was a boy
Who mated
With a butterfly,
I swear it.

It happened in the woods behind his house.

Again and again,
No one ever knew
The beautiful depravity
That he lived.

Returning home
He was asked where he was.

"Smoking like a priest,"
he would tell them.

"Where do you get your ideas?"

"Have you noticed, the crows are taking over,"
he replied?

Protect her from the depths
So she doesn't have to fall alone;

That's how it starts.

A shark cage being dropped...
Orange bars,
No hands gripping:

Fearing teeth hands.

And wanting
To go all the way,
Follow down
To the
Place of no light,

Of blood
From all the slit
Meat in the world.

And finding out you can't,
You don't have the stomach
For it,

And never did.

That picture by George Grosz
I found In the book of drawings,

It was like opening
A page on my dream...

Only George,
In the picture,
Is painting
The hole,

Filming it
Like dreaming me...

I guess
There were
No video cameras
In Germany
In 1934.

Let me tell you something:
The surface was artifice, but the artifice was necessary to cover the truth.

Almost everyone I know, almost everything I see,


All built on bones and blood and amibition
And pretense,

But who can tell the difference anymore?

And yet,
Every day
She used to pack my lunch for me.

I was 27.
My whole 27th year.
365 days of

Chicken and soup and peanut butter and jelly and cake and cheese and yogurt and fruit and...


Note: I convince them that mine is the gaze of no other...

And I have no idea how.

That's what I give:
Almost enough.

Don't worry,
Gravity gets everybody,

And it's almost enough.

Los Angeles - 4/18/07


To Virginia Tonight

Don't Go Dark.

The Dreamer - Spring, 2003

The Dreamer - Spring, 2003, originally uploaded by levari.


Portrait of the U.S. of A. - 11/02

Portrait of the U.S. of A. - 11/02, originally uploaded by levari.


The Mystery Of The Plastic

In my hotel room at 6:54 a.m.

I'm buck naked and sick, fighting with the busted curtain and losing, trying to figure out how to keep the sun out, and that’s when I get caught staring out the window…

There's nothing particularly interesting about the view, I'm just staring at the long since deserted cityscape, at the alleys, the trash strewn gutters, and the highway running north and south in the far distance. I can see a couple cars traversing the back streets at this early hour. They’re all busted up and rusted up sedans driving real slow like they might stop at any moment, like they’re there with a purpose. I wonder what the purpose could possibly be at this hour in this heat, imagine a couple reasons, but they all seem to be inspired by the miasma of B movies I’ve been watching all night long on basic cable.

Then I notice it: this city has some strange, inexplicable fascination with plastic. From my window I can see that there are huge wads of it attached to every other building on this side of town. Hunks of it are stapled, glued or nailed into brick and wood without any reason or pattern I’m capable of discerning.

So I'm just staring out as the minutes slip by, trying to figure out who attached this plastic to the buildings, what purpose they thought the plastic would serve, or if it was purely for decorative effect. I can come up with no plausible answer and remind myself to ask the concierge about this if I ever get the nerve up to venture into the lobby.

In the distance, there's a river/ocean/body of water running along the side of the highway, and though I think I might have driven through this city before, I have no idea what body of water it is. Could be the Atlantic, could be some river, could be the Gulf of Mexico for all I know. I also know if I was truly curious I could probably look it up on Google Maps or World View or whatever it's called, but I guess I prefer my geographical ignorance of this part of the world, so I file it with the mystery of the plastic...

There are lots of Seagulls here: Ring Billed Gulls, Herring Gulls, and Great Black-Backed Gulls (these I did look up on the internet.) "Rats with wings" my Zeyda used to call all of them. My Great Uncle Sam used to say that dead ones made good bait. My Zeyda would then nod at this sentiment, cast his line into the Atlantic while lamenting in Yiddish that there were no dead seagulls around to cut up. It was a little known fact that Flounder loved raw Seagull meat.

There are also a lot of American flags hanging here, all of them waiting for a breeze, any breeze, maybe because it's close to Independence Day, but I don't think so, seems like an American Flag kind of town. And there are parking garages, four on this block alone, most of them empty; and perfectly faded, industrial stenciling on the side of a lot of the buildings calling out to a past long since rusted away:


This is a very tired city. Its streets look tired. Its trees look tired. The sun looks tired just having to do its job and beat down on this city this morning.

Then I think of my favorite Great Uncle Sam again. He now lives emaciated with shriveled up tattoos in a nursing home and couldn't be here this weekend, couldn’t be anywhere, really. I think about how he used to take my brother and me fishing with my Zeyda off the pier at the farthest southern tip of Atlantic City; this was just before they “developed” the land. The Borgata Hotel and Casino now stands where we once used to cast out.

There was nothing out there then, just the disintegrating dock disappearing into the ocean and the trash-strewn beach. I have tried but never found any place quite as beautiful.

They say Uncle Sam still talks about fishing all the time. This makes me happy because it means my memory is not a dream I made up. These days, as I descend deeper and deeper into summer with no way back, I’ve been beginning to wonder...

And then I think of the last time I was in a hotel room like this, at a wedding like this, of someone vaguely related to me I'm supposed to know like this…

It was somewhere in Iowa, I think, on another body of water I can't quite remember either…

And how that hotel room, made to look like someone's idea of a riverboat gambler's paradise…we simply destroyed it with our love and hate within the twenty hours we were there.

And I remember the whole room smelling of her weed, and my family calling again and again trying to get us to come out to lunch, and my brother and father smelling the womb of our lust on us when we finally did emerge. And then there was the envious look as they stared at her, at me: the look of a king and his prodigal suddenly dethroned, the look my mother noticed but tried to ignore as she made polite conversation with her. I wanted to tell my mother not to worry, that she had this affect on every man…

I remember there was the hail storm while driving in from Chicago that almost killed us (she woke to my screams as the window cracked against ice,) and, afterwards, between my complaints about the car rental agency, her stories about her ex-boyfriend, her first love, her first great disaster, her own memories about him she couldn’t quite say like mine now about her I can’t quite remember.

And I remember how she told me I was innocent, it was right after we somehow survived that drive, stripped each other down, crawled into bed and, clutching, got high before telling anyone we had arrived...

Didn’t matter though, somebody spotted us by the talking parakeets; the phone started ringing as soon as we pulled the covers over our head and lit up…

And then I remember how later, years later, she cried when Peter Jennings died, and wouldn’t let me hold her…

…and this cough, and this morning, and all these medicines for my body and my brain after years of none.

And should I start to run at 31?

Finally, I come to, find myself still standing there, transfixed, staring out the window at the plastic. That's when I realize that I have been in this city before…

Yes…I stopped here once before when I was a kid with all these memories ten years in front or behind me.

That day I was on my way north to a job I didn’t want much less know how to do. I was alone and freaked out with anyone I could call long since gone, banished or alienated. For some reason, like a last gasp, a dying swing, I stopped in this city and, for an afternoon, pretended that I went to college here, that I belonged here, that I had a place here, this city was my here…

In a rush I ate slices of pepperoni pizza like I had a class to get to, a carved out future to get to, and, for a moment, I believed it.

It was a future that would one day ignore the breeds of Seagulls you could look up with one click, ignore the bodies of water you, for some superstitious reason, didn’t want to remember, ignore the memories of fishing off docks long since disappeared, ignore the mystery of the plastic you knew you would never know, ignore how her pain and laughter were irreplaceable, and ignore all the tired cities of this world whose fallen beauty won't let you shut the curtain just yet.

New Haven, CT - 7/2/06


The Song Of Concrete

You lie in bed
to the sounds
of the children's games
suddenly erupting.

You hear
the screams and shouts,
bouncing balls,
teacher's whistles,

even a fist fight,

moments later,
they are separated,

the gawking crowd
to their opposing

You sometimes think
you can hear
invincible friendships
being born,

master escape plans
being laid,

the most delicate
alliances sealed,
just as quickly,

Fast footsteps...

And you know
the boys are chasing
the girls,

(wanting to own
all their mysteries,
once and for all.)

Fast footsteps...

and you know
the girls are chasing
the boys,

(wanting to tame
all their violence,
once and for all.)

Each and every morning
you wake
to the sounds
of this small schoolyard
across the street.

It's just

one of hundreds
in this city,

one of millions
in this world:

Black top,
brown ball,
brick wall;

for weeks now,
every morning,
upon waking,
there is that

single moment between
sleep and dream

when you lift the curtain,
the light pours in,
and you believe
you know
them all

the unending


to the song
of concrete.

Korea Town, Los Angeles - 2/06


"Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt," or Rest In Peace, Mr. Vonnegut

You gave so much,
made so much

of the

tragic opera
that was the
20th Century.

Your little bird once sang.

Your little bird once asked.












Kurt Vonnegut
November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007


L.L. Sleeps - 4/06

L.L. Sleeps, originally uploaded by levari.


Impermanent Graffiti (For M)

Your restlessness
Is the only thing
About you.

Your spinning

Towards and back

In desperation
For something


Always something

That their nothing
Tries to destroy
Without ever touching.

They hate
They hate
But they call it

Your you
That won’t ever
Be contained
By you

As you dance
On the rocks

And pretend
To paint
The horizon
With your
Index finger.

Pointed, purposeful
Gliding through

Impermanent Graffiti
you call it,

With no thought

That even now
They are watching

They hate,
They hate,
But they
Call it

Your sleep,
Your bed,
Your theories,
Your head,

Your knowing
But you don’t know
Can’t ever know
What you know…

The closeness
The distance
The gait of your
Walk to nowhere
In particular.

Once you drifted out to sea
Only to be rescued
At 2:13 a.m.
Against your will.

How is it you always
Have so much
To do?

Your only fault:

That you never
Realized that
you breathe
More in spaces
Then in the lines
Of their form,

And now
you pass
Through these
Useless hands

Then disappear again


Atlantic City, New Jersey - 7/15/05


Boudica - Spring, 2003

Boudica - Spring, 2003, originally uploaded by levari.


Night Figures (Druids for Boudica) - 12/02