Donald Lev

Today’s Poem

…finds me walking on ice,
Hoping I have no reason to run.

The Bear

This bear
Came walking down the path
Leading into my backyard.

He had a plastic bracelet from some
Hospital around his wrist
And I could see he
Looked worried,
And not quite sure where he was going.

Still I ran back into the house
And went looking for my shotgun
Because that is what you do
When you see a bear
In your back yard.

The Day

The churches and temples were not
As thronged as one would have thought.
Bars and restaurants were doing nicely,
But nothing to write home about.

Woodstock’s pagans
Were beginning to gather
‘Round bonfires on Overlook Mountain.

Some of the poets preferred Shiv’s back yard,
Smoking up their weed and savoring the moment.
Others decided to take in the end of the world
In the guise of a sort of Superbowl Sunday,
Around their television sets
With nachos and cold beer.

I turned down a number of invitations,
Electing instead to stay at home,
As I knew we would have done
Were you still alive.

We would have held hands
Like children. You would have said something like
“I’m glad you’re here,” and I would have replied,
“Me too.”

But you’ve been gone over ten years now,
So I’ll just light a memorial candle and wait.

About the Author

Donald Lev was born in New York City in 1936. He attended Hunter College, worked in the wire rooms of the Daily News and New York Times, and then drove a taxi cab for 20 years (with a 6-year hiatus in which he ran messages for, and contributed poetry to, The Village Voice and operated the Home Planet Bookshop on the Lower East Side). His earliest poems appeared in print in 1958 and he started his first small press magazine, HYN Anthology, in 1969. Among his honors have been a Madeline Sadin Award from New York Quarterly in 1973 and a Life Time Achievement Award from the Catskill Reading Society/Outloudbooks in 2003. He was Distinguished Visiting Poet for the Northeast Poetry Center in Sugar Loaf, NY in July of 2012. In 2008 Outloudbooks brought out his The Darkness Above: Selected Poems 1968-2002 a sampling from the first four decades of his writing. A chapbook, Only Wings: 20 Poems of Devotion was published in 2010 by Presa Press in Michigan, and a new collection, A Very Funny Fellow, was brought out by NYQ Books in February, 2012. His most recent book, Where I Sit, was published by Presa Press in 2015. His brief underground film-acting career pinnacled with his portrayal (he wrote his own lines) of "The Poet" in Robert Downey Sr.'s 1969 classic Putney Swope. He lives in High Falls, NY, where he spends most of his time publishing the literary tabloid Home Planet News, which he and his late wife Enid Dame founded in 1979.

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