Don Levy has been published in Tenzone, Smashing Icons, and Think 3 and has read in such venues as The Albany Public Library, The Poets in the Park Series, Arthur’s Market, The Albany Art Gallery, Cafe Web, and The Woodstock Poetry Society. His work has also been featured on the Hidden City website as well as Volume, a CD of 27 Albany area poets. He was one of the editors of OpenMic: The Albany Anthology and was the coordinator of the Gallery Poetry Society reading series at the Albany Art Gallery.
Don was the host of the Live From The Living Room open mic series at the Pride Center of the Capital Region on the second Wednesday of each month.
- How Small Was My Big Eden
- Get Off My Damn Runway
- Poem For Tom Nattell
- Poem for Bigots
- How Can You Have Too Many Friends?
“Welcome to Big Eden, Montana,
out in the middle of God’s Country
with our beautiful mountains and streams,
forests and valleys and yet scosmopolitanpolitian
enough to attract
a number of ga…how shall we call them…
very artistic types of men
like Harry, an artist who used to live
unhappily in NYC, not at all like
the girls from Sex And The City,
living all by himself, even though
there is a large population
of equally creative young men
who know how best to use track lighting.
Henry recently moved back to Big Eden
to take care of his Gramps,
who recently had a stroke
and doesn’t know his grandson is artistic,
although he hassuspicionng suspision.
Then there’s Pike, owner of the General Store,
a man of Native American descent
who can whip up a gourmet meal
like Coq Au Vin or Beef Wellington
before you can say “Julia Child”
or “Martha Stewart, that alleged
insider trading bitch.”
Then, finally, there’s Dean,
Henry’s childhood friend,
a divorced father of two
and who feels the pain
of a straight man that can never
physically return the love
of his artistic friend Henry
until he is comforted out of his pain
by dating the single female mayor of Big Eden.
So all you men of artistic qualitGreenwich of living
San Fransisco, West Hollywood or other
cities where a large population
of artistic men seem to reside,
make Big Eden your home on the range
where never is heard a discouraging word
(All right, I can’t sayincorectt’s so politically
tendancies, if you have artistic tendances
and don’t mind wearing flplentyhirts
and are looking for pleanty of closet space,
Then Big Eden is the place fopansies
then Big Eden is the place for you.
and remember that the only panies we have
grow in our award winning gardens!”
I would love to be a Gap model,
swing dancing with all the cute
Gap model boys
and if I looked as good as that man
who dances by himself in a recent ad,
I wouldn’t have sex until
they legislate human cloning.
But I wouldn’t mind being
an Old Navy TV model
as long as I found some cute sailors
from the new navy to help me
pullover my fleecetheirover
and I get to play Marcia
in thier campy spoof of The Brady Bunch
and get to take Davy Jones to the prom
and become Morgan Fairchild’s
new best friend.
And what I wouldn’t do
to be a Victoria Secrets model!
Can’t you see me on the TV special
walking down the cat wtheir
wearing the white angel wings
while people in thier homes ask themselves,
“Is that Heidi Klum?”
“No, it’s that poet Don Levy.
White is his color, don’t you think?”
And it would be great to know
that as a Victoria Secrets model
Itheirmhomework countless of teenage boys
all over the world with thier homework,
although I have to wonder what they are
teaching kids in school these days,
The History of the Bustier
with a whole chapter devoted to Madonna?
theirt the phone never rings,
not from Target
to be in one of thier cool ads,
or K-mart to show off
the new line of Martha Stewart
inside trader bed sheets,
or Lane Bryant telling me
that Anna Nicole Smith is now
Kate Moss thin due to the Atkins diet
and there are no plus size models
to show off the fall line but me…
but I really can’t fly to NY or LA
at the drop of the hat anyway,
at least not until the next
American Idol is chosen.
You were the one
I lost my poetry virginity to
Before walking on stage
Of the QE2 for the first time
I only thought that my poetry
Would stay scribbled in my notebooks
And well worn journals,
Never to be read aloud
To the crowd of poets in the backroom,
Never thought I could make
A room laugh through my words.
And I will never forget
That tumultuous reading in Townsend Park,
Where a young homeless man
Wearing a dirty tank top
Wanted to beat the shit out of
Paul Wienman for reading a poem
About burning the American flag
And how the manager of Dunkin Donuts
Called the cops on us while Jil Hanafin
Was reading a poem about AIDS
And how crowded
The Readings Against
The End of the World was every year
Around six or seven o’clock at night,
A stream of humanity
Continuously running the length
Of The 8Th Step,
Stretching from the front door
To the bathrooms
While poets who came
From far as NYC and Boston read.
And I even remember
How every at The Poets In the Park series,
I’d Always hope I’d miss
Your obligatory explanation of why
There was a statue of Robert Burns
In our own Washington Park
But no matter how late I left my house,
I always heard the entire speech…
For these moments and more
We owe a large debt of gratitude to.
And even though I always didn’t
See eye to eye with you on everything,
I always admired your activism,
Your enthusiasm and the way,
As Mary Panza once said,
You turned making announcements
Into an art form.
And I know I am not the only one to say
They lost their poetry virginity too you.
Don’t tell me to my face
That I’m going to Hell
And burn for eternity for being gay.
Don’t leave me the passage from Leviticus
That says men can’t lay with men
As they do with woman on my Facebook wall;
That’s not cool dude.
Don’t tell me you are praying for me;
Save them for the people in Minot.
Don’t compare homosexuality
To alcoholism, bestiality or incest;
Alcoholism is a disease
And the other 2 are disgusting.
Don’t tell me you know for a fact
That your God does not create gay people,
That gay people choose to be gay.
First of all I NEVER went in a voting booth
And pulled the pink lever named queer
And secondly, did God tell you this over Sunday brunch?
Don’t annoy me with trite sayings like
“God made Adam and Eve,
Not Adam and Steve.”
You are so fucking clever.
Don’t say that you love the sinner
But hate the sin;
I give you permission to hate me.
Don’t mail me pamphlets
Telling me how much of a sinner I am,
Or send me literature from “ex-gay” ministries
And please don’t put your hands
On my shoulder to “cure’ me of the gay.
Listen, I’m no Biblical scholar,
I never read the book from Old Testament to New,
But isn’t there something in the Bible
About Love Thy Neighbor?
Last time I heard, it didn’t say
Love Only Heterosexual Neighbors
Or Only Neighbors Who Agree With You,
It says Love They Neighbor.
It’s the Golden Rule.
So if you can stop praying me,
Or verbally bashing me to my self
Or tell me that marriage only belongs
To a man and a woman
Then maybe we can really become good friends.
The first time I heard of Paul Weinnman
Was reading his brilliant chapbook
About the time he stole
A Greyhound bus and drove it
Into the Washington Park lake.
For this act of grand theft bus
He was institutionalized
And the doctors used
Electric shock therapy on him.
I remember he was featured
In the only reading at Townsend Park
Where half of the crowd was poets
And the other half were the homeless men
Who crashed on the park benches at night.
After Paul read a poem about flag burning
A young guy in a tank top
Threatened to beat him up.
Somehow, no poets were harmed that night
When he used to read his Whiteboy poets
He would scream each line even though
At the QE2 there was a microphone.
I remember he had this great series of poems
On how he would include his chapbooks
With his Niagara Mohawk utility bills,
Which the electric company did not appreciate
And Paul would read the stern corporate letters
He would get back complaining that
He was only supposed to send the bill and a check.
I also remember at several open mics
Paul would strip off his clothes
And read a poem naked.
I can’t remember the poem but each time
He read it he would strip,
With his cock staring back at us.
I also saw a chapbook of his
With a cover of him standing in a hallway
Buck naked except for a catcher’s mitt
Covering his face.
A couple of months ago
I was talking to Alan Catlin
When we were eating at Lazeez
Before Dan’s reading and he reminded me
That when Paul read for the last time’
At the Robert Burns statue
He read the same poem twice.
I should be friends with Charles Simic,
The famous poet and I get excited,
He’s one of my favorite poets.
I’m friends with a number of famous poets,
Not that I know them personally
But then you can get updates about
Their upcoming readings
And when their new book comes out
And what poems of theirs you can find
In which magazine. I’m already friends
With Anne Waldman, Bob Holman,
Mark Doty, Hal Sirowitz and Carolyn Forche
Even though it took her over a year
To accept my friend request,
Maybe my bushy eyebrows
And errant nose hair scared her off.
Or maybe she doesn’t check Facebook that often.
So anyway, I click on to the link
To be friends with Charles Simic
And FB tells me I can’t be friends with him
Because he has reached the 5000 limit
Of friends you’re allowed on FB,
Although I’m not sure what would happen
If you had 5001 friends.
Will his computer explode?
It’s odd the people who do have the 5000 friend limit
That I know of like lesbian comedian Kate Clinton,
Drag queen Lady Bunny
And lesbian news woman Rachel Maddow,
But Charles Simic? Really?
And then I think of all the cool things
I’ll never get to do with Simic
Like get invited to his parties
And make out with Marvin Bell,
Or play chess with him and order Chinese takeout.
We can tape a Kick Me sign on the back
Of Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin.
We can make crank calls to Sharon Olds
Or Diane Wakowski.
We can get into bar fights
With Billy Collins and Stephen Dunn.
We can even get drunk until 2 am
And braid each other’s hair
And watch Beaches until we fall asleep.
But Charles Simic has too many friends
And I’ll never know what it feels like
To be stranded and passed out
In an IHOP in New Hampshire
While Simic drives Rita Dove
To the nearest Motel 6 leaving me
No money for a cab ride home.