National Poetry Month

April 4, 2016

I offer the following poem to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of National Poetry Month.

After Billy Collins

by Martin H. Levinson

Kudos to those

heroically manning

the ramparts of

accessible verse,

for clarity is courage

and efforts to convey

lyric thought with

coherent invention

and sharp intention

is a godsend, like

Billy Collins who says

poetry fills him with joy,

leading him to rise like

a feather in the wind,

and poetry fills him with

sorrow, leading him to

sink like a chain flung

from a bridge, and the

trouble with poetry is

it encourages the writing

of more poetry, which

is a problem I

can relate to.

 

Rally Round the Flag

February 17, 2016

 

Rally Round the Flag

by Martin H. Levinson

 

Let’s rally round the flag blowing larger than life

bigger than death in oil-engorged blood-swelled

desert climes far from the malls and stalls of

suburban America where teenagers worry about

dimples and pimples, Facebook and texts.

 

I’ll charter a bus from World War II to put us in a

patriotic, V for victory, we’re-all-in-this-together

frame of mind and we can croon America the Beautiful,

the Star Spangled Banner and Ninety-nine Bottles of

Beer on the Wall as we go hell-bent for leather down a

 

pothole, out of control, no goal highway littered with

wreckage from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan—

brutal futile feuds that looked aces at the start but

turned into fold ‘em don’t hold ‘em and let’s not

embolden the rest of the world from messing with us.

 

Don’t forget to wear your John Wayne Life is Tough,

Tougher if You’re Stupid T-shirt and your Love It or

Leave It baseball cap with the map of the USA sewn in

three-D Day-Glo way to go my country right or wrong

to the demonstration. And don’t forget war is hellacious but

 

goodness gracious it makes for dynamic discussions

‘round the water cooler and gives something to think

about besides a lousy economy, global warming, and

tales told by two-faced politicians full of sound and fury

signifying zilch.

Do No Harm

January 22, 2016

Another poem to ponder:

Do No Harm                          By Martin H. Levinson

so said Hippocrates of Cos,

“As to diseases, make a habit of

two things—to help, or at least

to do no harm.”

 

Nowadays

there is no single oath

all physicians take upon

entering practice.

 

Similarly

there is no single oath

all humans take when

starting relationships,

 

and that is a shame

because the world would

be a far better place

if we all vowed to

do no harm to friends, family

strangers, acquaintances, pets,

and other life forms, the rest

is just commentary.

There are Bombings in Iraq

January 4, 2016

Below, my poem on news overwhelm.

 

There are bombings in Iraq

 flare-ups in Afghanistan too,

a tsunami is hitting Japan,

a lion just escaped from the zoo.

 

Three killings in the Bronx,

two more murders in Queens,

a riot is raging in Brooklyn,

they’re calling in the marines.

 

The Democrats say they were wronged,

the Republicans say they feel tricked,

the President says his hands are tied,

the Congress does not contradict.

 

The climate is getting real hot,

the gun debate getting real cold,

student test scores are falling real fast,

the Supreme Court is out of control.

 

My walk is covered with snow,

loads of dishes lie in the sink,

haven’t done laundry in weeks,

haven’t had much time to think.

 

There is so much in the news,

don’t want to miss a darn thing,

the chores will just have to wait,

I’ll get to them in the spring.

At the End of the Day

January 3, 2016

Below, my poetic take on clichés:

At the End of the Day

Some folks strut their stuff

line their ducks up in a row

step into the sunshine

and feather their nests.

 

Other people are always at loose

ends, backs against the wall, dealing

with one damn thing after another with

no light at the end of the tunnel. Well,

 

life may not be a bowl of cherries but

the show must go on, the game’s worth

the candle so eat, drink and be merry,

but moderation is the best bet in health.

 

Don’t eat like a horse and drink like a fish,

that will make you as big as a house.

Please don’t grudge me my platitudes,

long story short, I’ve been up to my neck

 

in alligators and its been hard to maintain an

even keel, still, my father didn’t raise any

idiots and I want to age gracefully so I will

try to be cool and go with the flow. At the

 

end of the day that’s far better than getting

bent out of shape and popping one’s cork.

That’s probably even true at the end of

the night.

Say What!

November 27, 2015

Below is my latest poem, a satirical look at some pitfalls of communication.

 

Say What!

By Martin H. Levinson

 I

Say “Have a nice day” you’ll be taken to task

for not saying a great day or one that will last,

whatever you say may be misconstrued

so say precious little, merci beaucoup.

II

To put words in writing is palpably worse

than talking to people and here is the curse,

when you write something down farewell the excuse

you misheard heard what I said, j’accuse! j’accuse!

III

Nonverbal messages shun and negate

they confuse other humans which isn’t so great,

stay stiff as a board when speaking with others

except in the case if those others be lovers.

IV

To downgrade the chances of being misread

die and have people connect with you dead,

but beware this device is subject to fail

for they say in forensics the dead can tell tales.

Vive la France

November 15, 2015

Vive la France

By Martin H. Levinson

 

I’m a cartoonist, a rocker

a petit bourgeois

in the Bacalat Theatre

with je ne se quoi,

opposite moi, Charlie Hebdo,

Jean Jacques Rousseau,

enjoying an evening with

Gallic bon mots, a

glass of Bordeaux, over

one row, Denis Diderot,

telling another Enlightenment Joe,

enough is enough, you got to

get tough on those who

play rough to get what they

want. Albert Camus says

they must be on meth if

they think we will bend

think we will break.

Vive satire, Voltaire is

on fire, penning Candide,

an irreverent read, do you

think he should die for

the merde in his screed?

The Marquis de Sade

who is taking a soak

says pain can provoke

orgasms in folks but

shooting’s no fun when

it’s done with a gun, we

beat back the Hun and

we’ll defeat you.

Veterans Day 2015

November 11, 2015

Below is a poem I’ve composed to honor those who serve and have served in America’s armed forces.

The vets are all gone

who fought the Battle of Saint-Mihiel where

the American Expeditionary Force captured

fifteen thousand Germans and D-Day and

H-hour entered the military lexicon alongside

shell shock, synchronize your watches, and

camouflage, a term practically unused in

English before the war but soon bested by

whatever English had to offer as doughboys

prayed they were invisible to German snipers

with their scope-mounted Mauser rifles and

far from the frontline when the mustard gas came

slithering across no-man’s land through the

barbed wire into mud-spattered craters seeking to

kill and maim those in its chemical path, a road

not traveled by American aviators who dogfought

their way to glory engaging eindeckers and

dreideckers in rat-a-tat bullet-filled French skies as

the meat-grinding slaughter went on unabated

below among Heinies, Tommie and Poilus in

trenches from Switzerland to the Channel with

no room to maneuver but lots of room to be massacred

by machine guns and mortars when you went over the

top to face the enemy who would later counterattack

and become snacks for maggots as the only way

forward was to charge automatic weapons and heavy

artillery pouring down shrapnel and high-explosive

projectiles from heavens switched to hells above

and it would have gone on forever but Woodrow

Wilson got us into it and we

went over, to make it over,

spelled the difference

over there.

More Special Interest Groups Required

January 20, 2015

The poet Juvenal (2nd century AD) said, “In times like these it is difficult not to write satire.” Two millennia later that’s still the case. See: http://thesatirist.com/satires/More_Special_Interest_Groups_Required.html

A New World Order

January 14, 2015

My poem, “A New World Order,” has been published in the online journal Poets and War. To read the poem and leave a comment about it go to http://www.poetsandwar.com/the-new-world-order/