Cleveland poet d.a. levy lives through archived works

Nicole Hennessy

Poems and letters

can be found in library

Cleveland’s overcast, Rust Belt one-way streets, lined with businesses, empty store fronts and warehouses with broken windows are joined by bridges ranging from architectural masterpieces to the utilitarian structures left over from industry.

Not many people have realized and conceptualized this melancholy beauty.

Archived in the library are a few who did.

“Still doing it, but not to certain what it is,” begins a letter written by Cleveland poet d.a. levy.

A possible reading at Kent State is mentioned further into the letter.

“But i don’t like reading much anymore, audiences make me wannah puke,” he wrote. “Not very creative, someones got the animals in my belly tied up.”

Disillusioned with censorship and society, levy wrote from the bowels of the city. His poetry consisted of the cursing, unpunctuated, misspelled, un-capitalized manifestations of the world around him.

“I have a city to cover with lines,/ with textured words &/ the sweaty brick-flesh images of a/ drunken tied-up whorehouse cowtown/ sprawling & brawling on its back,” he wrote in his poem “Cleveland Undercovers.”

Levy, with other local poets like Tom Kryss and rjs, who are also archived, formed the “Underground Thought Patrol” as a way to escape the scene, which he viewed as an extension of the establishment.

In a letter to levy from fellow poet D.R. Wagner, he began, “man has the depression settled here in my head/took awhile but now I know what u mean-how sick-the entire scene-and the gleaners.”

Turned off by the drug use of the 1960s, levy was, nonetheless, associated with it, bringing unwanted attention from the police, which led to charges of obscenity.

Coffee or some unassuming liquid still retains its shape after being spilled by levy, so many years ago, on his poem “Cleveland Uber Alles, in folder number 52.”

“the old apartment/ where russel & i lived/ sat on a bluff/ overlooking the flats/ & you could see/ the city slowly/ growing taller/ across the valley/ the long ore boats/ being dragged down/ the Cuyahoga & a/ couple of bridges/ in the smoky distance,” the poem begins.

After his eventual suicide, (thought by some to be an assassination) Kryss and rjs announced his death, which was the result of a .22-caliber rifle to the forehead.

Ending the announcement with an ominous implication, the poets wrote, “it had become very tiring & boring for us HERE; now we have fooled ourselves into having a “purpose” for the present. our thanks to d.a. for his recent action, which allowed for this accomplishment.”

Levy’s dark eyes stare out towards something unknown, in a photograph, in a folder, in a box, which serves as his archive, among that of his colleagues and friends.

“I walked out the rear door of my mind/ the corridors are as bright as the outside world,” he once wrote.

Contact features reporter Nicole Hennessy at [email protected].