YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

November 2008

VOL XVI, Issue 11, Number 187

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken

Production Editor: Heather Ferguson

European Editor: Mois Benarroch

Contributing Editors: Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Oswald Le Winter

Previous Associate Editors: Igal Koshevoy; Evan Light; Pedro Sena

ISSN 1480-6401



   Sandy Shreve


   Heller Levinson
      with   alacrity
      smelling alacrity
      the road to apocalypse road
      smelling Oprah
      smelling Hillary                     
      with   adjutancy ...
   Christopher Barnes
      The Play
      To Let
      Trophy Wife (act 1)
      Twisty Face
      1. The Family Beaunier
   Jeffrey S. Correa 
      Red and White
      Play On
   G David Schwartz
      Ronna Rogers
      Girls  Playing Tennis   
      Only The Soul That Loves Is  Happy   
      Hello,  Baby, How Are You   
      I Shall Not Hold My Breath 
   Daniel Gallik
      The Stories In Later Marriages
      Old Gets To Her
      Children Meet A Mean Gate
      Linn Said To Linda, There's A Fungus Among Us
      When They Give Tips To Bartenders,
      All Men Start To Understand God
   Roger N. Taber
      Four kennings


   John Olson

      Review of Smelling Mary, poetry by James Heller Levinson. 


Sandy Shreve


Beyond a borderline of grass, and past
lilies of the valley huddled underneath the fallen
needles of the spruce and hemlock,

someone cut the brambles down.

Just yesterday, this space was air designed
for chaos, archways thick with leaves and warblers,
an untamed strip of land along a public path.

Perhaps some passerby complained

of wayward branches, thorns attacking ankles, or
an eyesore ... saw weeds and wildness where
more properly a city lawn should front the trees.

The ground is stiff and stubbled now

and without song
starlings poke their beaks at broken branches.
The unrestrained has met the blade.

Today, November rain.


Reprinted with permission from Suddenly, So Much, by
Sandy Shreve (Exile Editions, 2005). 

Heller Levinson

The poems below are from Heller Levinson's newly published Smelling Mary (Howling 
Dog Press). Smelling Mary can be purchased by contacting either 
michael@howlingdogpress.com or www.hellerlevinson.com.



alacrity, accrual ... augmentation
judgmental impositionals barely crawling
the oscinella pan roasting
transubstantiation aplomb
the miracle is

smelling alacrity ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ curvature optical longings hemispheric pastings petulant covets the road to alacrity road replete with innovation & caramel culled intervals cyclone thrush bushwhacking solidarity omnisciences long overdue smell Monk trigger incendiaries no wrong notes fireside remarkability exercises taunt the lameworthy egalitarianism is the skunk of baseball compounding recursion with stallion lunge in the heartland of a homeopathic diptheria provisions campfires
the road to apocalypse road ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ash winch columns of absentee drift clouds unbellying drums a battered bricolage spasticized bilious macadam mordant engine sputter shofars muffled glued intestinally from shovelfuls of outcry at extremity no vessel no lesions for passage food a ruminant a memory clause cantankerous outing hoverings before an unrelenting swallow before a monster chancrous tongue slicking the earth clean foot locomotive organ obsolesced direction insignificant when destinations triturated chiaroscuro sullied, ... bleached anthracite chrome gulley sonata (rind rift rake grackling hardscrabble & lime the road to no road a sprawling sepulcher avenue * ferret frost loam leak verminous heyday pestilential rickets canisters of brigandage imperiled by pallid matter indicates end is transition to end glaucescent retinals skid on foreshortening the remaining trade is wind soughing bedevilments of absolute of parliaments palliating ghost pulleys staked to a chalking concavity dialogue upchucks the concept deboned, enfeebled piles of correlative glare enunciate bleak is a literary word * truncheon tone displace arrival with bituminous pith pitched to the rub of insoluble crossroads crossroads masticating geothermal rapidity brachycerous launch in this no-scape this derrick drizzle of mechanical ephemera an abducted tuba tells of carp, mackerel ... perch, once flippy with circulation & torque, now slogging sideways through the drainage of world nightmare
smelling Oprah ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ozymandias, ... bounty purloined fire flotationals buoyed braise knowledge & cantaloupe capsize lugubrious motion portmanteau Languedoc & grape the tetherings surmise prior to slice lubricity hi ho the dairy-o this spotlight canisters the calm breeding of faces lost rites uploading clean sheets transparency transpicuity transport compost calliope celerity moisture
smelling Hillary ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ broth the tissue fibers radioactive loopy with stockings crater offal do you have a foot planted on each coast your feminine drip polishing the Midwest can you count the umbrellas in your hair do posses spray from your lavatorials plugged with alternating vipers which breeze do you prefer do poems enter you while boating if I were a harbinger could I calculate your ruptures
with ~~~~ adjutancy, ... testudinal dismissals flesh layering rich strips of interval dispatch those ceremonies that surrender us boast fugitives parking without meter discovery = savour caravels crabbed with complacency luff ambrosial broths amphitheaters empty of monarchy light analyzed as supine
Christopher Barnes The Play ~~~~~~~~ On stage they were bulrushes Hair-splitting illusionists, A twitter realised, Swivelling owl-light eyes Trimming faces with bonnets. Insinuated into abrupt hum-notes But the fill-the-bill incident Was that fever of lust on us. Rose bed and velvet plaints. The balcony tiresomes threw wrinkled necks, Sat up.
To Let ~~~~~~ No word of a creepy-crawly Under the banistered moon, Cake smithereens on a washbasin's skirt, All I read Are personal columns blindfolding windows. This address is thinking back To flesh-warm life Transiently rendering in strong relief Dogwatch dawns When overshadows of restless eras Budge into each other.
Training ~~~~~~~~ Far-fling stalks Can be knacked, An arm's length mirror On a fill-in No tenser than a punch bag. Step into an impression, A tour de force - Hands rag-flounce The belt knot. Fix the eye - Foot arch outwardly. Crump. A flush of sweat On his tight face.
Trophy Wife (act 1) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Monotonously it was footlights And a swipe-carded audience. Your supertwist eyes trawled The by-inches cavern-shrinking house, A conversation level hiss by the vee-jay... We kissed, main squeezes. First line. Fronting slip-streamed paint We were line killers Downcrafting a thrillstage. This was our life - how we spun out, For better, For worse.
Twisty Face ~~~~~~~~~~~ Index ligament Compresses Thumb tendon Lengthening, The palm veers To bludgeon A rival's titter.
1. The Family Beaunier ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cock-a-doodle-do the pale sun. One and one and one the arrondissement's Lost Tribe exotics queue. Square one's a cameo of Boulevard Raspail. Let us go... Not a cock-a-hoop day, no Degas. A shuffle of misput evacuees shooed-off, mooching to law courts. They crumple papers flickering grit under leather soles - I misremember the echo of feet. Square one's a cameo of Boulevard Raspail. Let us go... I am not yet born. We're leftovers in the rough-sketch outlines of a circle. Mama's a voice tu-whit-tu-whoo tu-whit-tu-whoo, spiked heels stabbing. She shudders, looks to a vim-on-mould horizon, refocuses, counting soldierly security checks. Square one's a cameo of Boulevard Raspail. Let us go... To Paris from the east dark rumbles of clouds. A choked gust lingers.
Jeffrey S. Correa Red and White ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ there are footprints on her face her sallow skin... a rush the force the cries he hears: "≠Viva la Rep£blica!" "≠Viva Espa§a!" images coalesce: fleshy lorries slack wired wrists at backs he shuts his eyes he shuts his eyes still they persist: blessed guns secular guns slowly they rise should be shouts only susurruses: viva la rep£blica viva espa§a
Play On ~~~~~~~ a crescendo (the crescendo?) as I stare static sucked Saturn's glare the blood his fingers digging into the back of his headless son Sophia is calm she contemplates I can't regulate the music
G David Schwartz Ronna Rogers ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ronna Rogers, Ronna Rogers Is hard to say your name Ten times real fast And have it stay the same So I want to change your name I'm sure that that would work Doesn't this sound pretty Ms Ronna Schwartz
Girls Playing Tennis ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Girls playing tennis May become a menace When they go a bopping With that massive chest
Only The Soul That Loves Is Happy ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Only the soul that loves is happy So said _Johann Goethe_ And I believe he may know He usual told the truth
Hello, Baby, How Are You ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Hello baby, how are you Tell me anything, but tell me true Where did you go last night And why do you not think it right
I Shall Not Hold My Breath ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I shall not hold my breath Until the owes come home They may be a long time Out in the roam May be looking for food and or drink Or may just be tumbling Up and down the sink I shall not hold my breath While singing a little tune Nor will I hold my breath While staring at the moon You know it would take a time A time a bit too long To hold all my breath While singing any song
Daniel Gallik The Stories In Later Marriages ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jill's husband pontificated, old man, God, has dealt me many blows. But summer is coming, is coming, and I must move. Go to the shore. Watch as life rolls over the sand. All these words as Jill read her morning paper. Mark never did. Just talked. Jill was reading a story about a father and his two sons being saved at Cape Cod when their boat overturned. Mark kept talking, in my later yrs. I want to see nature. I want to touch it, lie with it, even have sex with it. I truly believe the shore is a place to do that. I hope you don't mind. Jill never lifted her head. She was reading another tale - two men who decided to help their neighbor lady with her house. Fix it. And change the furniture around. The lady thanked them by raping them. Sticking her pistol up their anuses. The men later were found to be gay. The lady was arrested but proved to be innocent. Reasonable doubt. Mark finally said, love is what I am after. In nature. The sand scuffing my skin. The salt water cleansing my soul. God being manly.
Old Gets To Her ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Oh, the ills, said grandma As she took off her clothes For bed, I feel like I am Sick, and getting sicker. I feel like I can no longer Talk. That no one can hear Me anyway. That my voice Is silent as night. I want To meet you. Now, please. Just then the wind came up. The day got dark. Booms Were being heard way off. Grandma smiled. I am so Sorry that you took me The wrong way. I was only Kidding. I am fine. I Will be ready when you make Me ready. I am sorry for My humor. Now, let me go To (regular) sleep. Let Me kiss you while I rest. I am fine. Just a little Sick of breathing so funny. And feeling very funny.
Children Meet A Mean Gate ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The lives of doors, she said, again and again, as her hubby came in from work, went out to get the kids, came in to get his lawnmower key, then, finally sat down to have sup. All the doors in our lives, she said during supper as the kids listened to her. It was mystical, she always had their attention. Husband later that evening said before the kids went to bed, I feel I have many lives, many doors. The kids never listened to him. Mom said, nothing is better than doors. Or death. Kids got up the next day, and shot their dad. And then, the mom. And then, went to school and gave their weapon up to their friends along with their memories, their house, and the rest of their lives.
Linn Said To Linda, There's A Fungus Among Us ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Can you get the green stuff off my roof? Linn had real problems. She hated green stuff. Or yeast infections. And peptic ulcers. Or feminine hygiene. Her teeth decaying. Or when she bought "homemade" bread how it grew mold the second day she had it in her fridge. Linn was talking to the guy that came over to clean her multi-gabled roof in Buckeye. Of course, he got stupid and said, sure, honey, I can lick it off for you. If you don't mind. Linn told Harold, the Hurting Home? guy, why don't you come in for lunch at the appropriate time. Like now? Harold got the message, replied, I am a master of my craft, will do the job, and be outta here in an hr. Umpteenth marriage came into her head at the same moment she was considering a wet clitoris. These duals happened often for this lady. Like, new house and high mortgage. Or good food and a large middle-aged belly. Or sex and more sex every other ten minutes for men in their libido stage. Harold was green with desire, didn't charge her for his service, got rid of Linn's green gunk on the roof, and came back that eve to snuggle under Linn's green comfort.
When They Give Tips To Bartenders, All Men Start To Understand God ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Churches say lots about Jesus But also say a lot about money, You know, like expenses, new Additions, & giving to the poor, Jimmy was talking, and tired Of living his life in America Which is just south of eternity. Jimmy said a lot of things, lots To no one in particular. Drank Too. A lot. One day someone Heard him. He was over at Joe's Having Millers on tap. Mark Said, I agree. Jimbo turned and Said, who you? Marko said, just Some guy who listens. I work Over at Dick's and really listen To moms and dads, and the kind Of equipment they want to make Jocko kids better kids. So, That's me. Who you? Jimmy goes, I am a talker. No job. Drink A lot. Once was God. Definitely Will be God again in the future. Mark laughs, I know. Buds make ME believe. Once met a black Guy who said he was Mohammed. Shot at and missed me with his Glock. Since then, I believe.
Roger N. Taber Four kennings DEATH TRAP ~~~~~~~~~~ I lie in a pit staring up at the sky, wondering if cloud faces passing by can see my lips move (no sound) might even let someone know where to find me, so scared, frightened, unable to move, every limb refusing to answer frantic screams for help from a mind whose live connections all but severed by its distress Clinging on to a failing willpower, I feel my frail grasp slipping in this, what must surely be my coffin? Yet, it's not my past I see unfolding before my eyes, only blank sheets of paper_slowly coming to life, words I can't quite make out but vaguely recognize shapes comprising a prose and poetry ascribed to nature All my eyes cannot see, my heart begins to acknowledge as the words (now bombarding all my senses) demand entry at the doors of a mind shut by fear and excuses, forcing it ajar, piling in like old friends arriving at a reunion, faces in the clouds taking on human form, Earth Mother resolved to be kind but firm Prisoner, empowered to go free again from a death trap called depression
CHAMELEON ~~~~~~~~~ I am not always where I should be and sometimes you will find me wearing the face of human cruelty, lashing out at anyone who dares stand in my way, stamping on them as if they were but vermin, ready to excuse, even glorify the choices I make, supposedly for other than my own poor sake I do not always assume the part I am expected to play on the world stage or in such corners of the human heart that are open to anyone to view who cares to curry favour with me, though usually only to be rewarded, in turn, with such gestures of rank or position that serve best who watch and listen or be brought down again I am not always the villain of the piece, sometimes deserve applause, bowing with due modesty, accepting credit due for brave acts beyond the call of duty (includes acknowledging my sexuality) or services to humanity as nature meant me to provide, rejecting a darker side that still (I must confess) lurks just below an awe-inspiring surface I walk tall, head high, will not be denied the spoils of - pride
THE SAVAGE ~~~~~~~~~~ I watch you, though from shadows and you know I am there yet choose to ignore me, hoping I will go away but it's my choice to stay, observe the way you walk, talk, seeing how you react to what others do or say, assessing your hurt by scratch marks of the queerest designs you pass off as laughter lines I follow you about wherever you go and you would be rid of my company yet dare not face me with all the facts I have gleaned over years of grooming you for my own ends. Any resistance is futile, though I grow apprehensive when you mix with others who would usurp my place, take you for their own, share love's crown Years pass, and now we walk together and you dare not say `no' to passing into the shadows with me for have I not watched over you as I would a child? Where can the light of the world take us but among regrets and betrayal, along tracks made by paper tigers who belong here, where only leafy skies have shed tears for centuries I hold the hand writing history's page and am called Rage
PAR FOR THE COURSE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I go where wild things go yet few think to find me there, but among butterflies and birds of the air or in places that host the fairest flowers, lambs in spring, buttermilk skies, even among turning leaves, never dreaming I keep company with nature's hardiest I rest in a mother's womb, comfort as harm strikes home side-step recriminations, explain about love, sex and death to children who need to know nor reject those inflicting pain any more than their victims made to suffer and endure, par for the course Where angels fear humanity seduced from sacred to profane by its own greed and vanity, there, too, I'll never fear to tread once called upon for aid for mine is not to question need but answer its call, even though it come late, judged deserving or not Always on hand, my services for free, I am called Mercy


John Olson

Smelling Mary, poetry by James Heller Levinson. Howling Dog Press, 2008. 205
pages. $19.95.

Beginning most notably with Mallarme at the close of the 19th century, there
has been a fierce emphasis on the materiality of language in western poetry.
The subject matter melts into the medium itself, the language. The true
subject of the poem is the propeller that drives it: its torque, cough,
rumble and grease. Its amplitude is in its interplay, its syntax and words.
The words are everything. Multiplicities of sound and sense, microorganisms,
mad particles, a whole galaxy of sonorous energies creating and abolishing
their order in a semiotic field of hectic transformation. The mind of the
reader is, of course, central to this. Language is nothing without

Heller Levinson's Smelling Mary offers itself as an extreme example of
linguistic concretion. Each concrete assemblage is a multiplicity, a
pattern, a becoming, an actuality. The parts are essential. And it is the
smallest parts, prepositions in particular, that bear the heaviest loads.

Everything pivots on the preposition 'with.' 'With' is a hinge. It is the
device upon which everything is laid out, swings, depends, vacillates.

What we are talking about is something like the Contiguity Disorder Roman
Jacobson describes as a form of agrammatism, or "word heap," in which "word
order becomes chaotic; the ties of grammatical coordination and
subordination, whether concord or government, are dissolved." The hierarchy
of linguistic units is abolished and reduced to a single level. Words are
stripped of contextual encrustations. Metonymic bursts explode totalizing
structures into sumptuous volatility. Energies unbind. Particles collide.
This leads to what Jacobson terms a "telegraphic style" in which words
constellate higgledy-piggledy in a feverous blast of semiotic elation. But
this analogy is only partly true in relation to Smelling Mary. The word
'disorder' suggests a malfunctioning, a pathology, and that is clearly not
the case here. There is evident a lusty and radical proposal. There is
integrity. There is intent. While rapture and delirium are certainly not
foreign to Heller Levinson's poetry, there is an underlying objective that
has been scrupulously worked out and advanced within the pages of this book.

Heller Levinson describes his strategy in what he refers to as a "Hinge
Theory," and includes an essay titled "Hinge Theory Diagnostic: Whereby
Operations of Hinge Are Inspected In 'With Insinuation.'" "With," he
emphasizes, "is the pivot (in this case the prepositional pivot) whose
function is to spring (to unleash, to unmoor) the particle (in this case,
'insinuation') into a climate of free fall and unpredictability." "While
journeying through the Hinge Apparatus," he continues, "we begin dropping
the baggage of conventional definition and connotation, continually being
re-oriented with linguistic process, while orienteering through the
processional relationships. Thus, ensuing is a series of new understandings,
objectives, subjectives and complexities for the word(s) and the
relationships they engender."

The end result of Heller Levinson's philosophy of word assemblage, is a
sense of rawness not unlike the paintings and sculptures of Jean Dubuffet.
Dubuffet's primary thrust was to present images that gloried in their
eccentricity, their distortions and craziness, their flagrant derangement,
their wonderful hilarity. "There is no art without intoxication," declared
Dubuffet, "but I mean a mad intoxication! Let reason teeter! Delirium! The
highest degree of delirium! Plunged in burning dementia! Art is the most
enrapturing orgy within man's reach. Art must make you laugh a little and
make you a little afraid. Anything as long as it doesn't bore."

Heller Levinson's poetry evinces this same hectic quality, this urgency to
make things catastrophically raw, stripped of mediation. Remove any and all
inhibiting forces. Pertinent as breath, tart in its own logic.

Here, for example, is "with"

testudinal dismissals
flesh layering rich strips of interval
dispatch those ceremonies that surrender us
boast fugitives parking without meter
discovery = savour
caravels crabbed with complacency luff ambrosial broths
amphitheaters empty of monarchy
light analyzed as supine

I find the last line particularly fascinating. The image of light lying
supine is quantum, huge in evocation. We see light as a physical body, a
tangible entity, lying with physical force in what could be dust and stone
(the previous line implies a Greek or Roman ruin). 'Supine' suggests both
horizontality and vertebrae. A spine. The verb 'analyzed' takes us further
into evocations of spectral display, colors and waves mirrored in scrupulous
pools of luminous information.

Equally fascinating is the telegraphic style alluded to earlier, the
bareness of the overall structure, the compact aggregate of the line
"caravels crabbed with complacency luff ambrosial broths," with its jumbled
imagery of ornate ships and humor encumbered with conflicting descriptors,
('crabbed,' 'ambrosial,' 'complacency'), and the strange conjectural pairing
of "testudinal dismissals" with its reference to turtles (what is it to be
dismissed by a turtle?). "Luff," a nautical term meaning to sail closer into
the wind. This, it would appear, is what the poet is doing: sailing closer
into the forces of language, the vagaries of words.

With the equational line "discover = savour" Heller Levinson reveals another
quality pertinent to his writing which is its sensuality. The coupling of
intellectual knowledge, the act of discovery tantamount to a delight in
tasting something, to 'savour' (it's interesting that Heller Levinson
preserves the French spelling), clearly suggests an engagement with the
world that is as libidinal as it is spry, primal as a "philological claw."


All poems copyrighted by their respective authors. Any reproduction of
these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is

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Klaus J. Gerken.

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