:: Article

Songs For Dead Children

By d.a. levy.

everyone pays their dues
& no one’s gettin the product
& i wonder if there are better schools
like birds who all die young
while riding on the wind
it’s all a weekend dream
and seems as if
only white sails
in the mind
the dream
someone and i
denied me
do i need amphetamine
to fall into my brain
like an old newsreel
it opens
in the daylight
the movie’s over
rolling out of bed
and sometimes rolling a joint
& the things i melt in beer
remind me
what i could have been
& now
the fire is spent in just surviving

rolling out of bed
i close my eye each day
there is enuf nothing
in the mind machine
to play the game
punching time clocks
on winter streets
it’s all the same
as you dance
to the tune of the twisted mind
& now
the fire is spent in just surviving

to walk the deserted wind
my memory trembles
at the dangers of silence
& the fear of love
and the sand dunes of anger
move me
as the hour of the jackal
in a bomb & i
stand there
with a frozen heart
& what did i own
as heavy as everyone cursing
when i looked inward
for the sun
& now
the fire’s spent in just surviving

& i’m told
to be real
as i close the coffin
on yesterday’s newspaper deaths
& the paper deaths
are wrapped
in the garbage
of fascism
the falling stars
are dead angels
drinking wine
in boarded-up garages
& i
like a roll of names
written in the sky
& all poets
the songs for dead children
& the dead dreams
of children

(originally published by Black Rabbit Press – San Francisco, May 1969)

d.a. levy (1942-68) was a poet, writer and artist from Cleveland, Ohio. Having been discharged from the US Navy for suspected mental illness, he travelled around the States and Mexico before returning to his hometown. There, he set up a hand-press publishing chapbooks and mimeographed editions of his own work as well as countercultural works by the likes of Charles Bukowski, the Beats, Arthur Rimbaud and Antonin Artaud. Having been repeatedly harassed, arrested and prosecuted on obscenity charges, he burned his manuscripts, gave away his possessions, told friends he was leaving the world and then shot himself between the eyes at the age of 26. The above poem comes from the superb d.a. levy Collection at the Cleveland Memory Project (run by Cleveland State University Library).

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, December 6th, 2008.