Thursday, January 12, 2012


I awakened and longed with desperation
To return to Brooklyn.
I wanted to ride until dawn on a creaky
Ferris wheel left behind by a carnival and
To visit the still standing luminous
Chartreuse home of my grandmother.
Memories behind stained glass windows
Beckoned like some naked amnesiac
Who struggles to reach home.

In the air, I could still smell the fullbodied scent
Of burnt potato pancakes that wafted through that
House and I often glimpsed the ghosts of ancestors
Lurking and sucking juice from the backyard peach tree.
I longed with desperation to return to old Brooklyn.

At 5 P.M. I slipped into my car
And drove south through Manhattan.
The pink sun soon sizzled on the Hudson River
And set, to my right, in bright blazing Technicolor.
In the distance, one kittiwake
Seemed to have found the way.

I headed for the elixir of the spinning
Teacups: the kiddie rides at intoxicating
Coney Island... in the most haunted and
Haunting of places: Brooklyn.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine


I sat in the microforms reading room in the Genealology Division of the New York Public Library. My obsession was old Brooklyn telephone directories. I surrounded myself with hordes of microfilm and I was determined to put myself in touch with the past. The year under my analysis was 1952. I noted with childish glee that Barbra Streisand had indeed lived on Newkirk Avenue. I moved on to discover the exact location of the old Garfield Cafeteria, and then I verified the addresses of my deceased grandparents.
The woman sitting next to me did not hesitate to reveal that she was adopted as a child and she was looking through material that might help identify her birth mother. Another lady searched through a roll of film that contained a list of the surviving soldiers of the Civil War. She was tracing history in order to compile a family tree. A man, who looked like Fyvush Finkel, was somberly looking through the Census records of 1920. All the visitors to the library were turning the wheels of the microfilm machines in complete unison! Oh, the fellowship of spirit! I felt we should all stand, hold hands, and sing a song!
Memories of summers filled with kiddie rides came flooding back to me. I remembered the miniature boat rides, the little car rides, and the small pony rides near the boardwalk. When I left the library, I longed with desperation to return to Brooklyn.
I wanted to walk down Flatbush Avenue in 1948, to go to old Steeplechase, to have lunch at the Famous on 86th Street... and most of all I wished I could visit my long deceased grandparents. But instead, I exited the library and found myself drenched in bright hot sunlight and walking down a long staircase covered in pigeon droppings. I limped down Fifth Avenue because my heel spur was killing me and all the way home I disgustedly dodged the rushed Manhattan congestion.
I entered my apartment and immediately took a short nap. When I awakened, I did not know if it was evening or morning. It was still light at dusk, and I got into my car. I drove south on the West Side Highway and the pink sun soon sizzled and set to my right over the Hudson River. I was numb, and I headed for Coney Island. By 9:00 PM, I realized that the cure for my nostalgia will always be the smell of sea air, the sight of the Parachute Jump in the distance, and... Nathan's.


One hot sunny Sunday, in July, at Long Beach:
An amnesiac sat on the boardwalk watching
A strolling lady who was carrying a pearl-handled parasol.
A handsome soldier passed holding a love letter that was
Written on a faded lace white doily and a lonely spinster
Stared at vague images in the sand...
Lines soon to be scattered by an insouciant breeze.

An innocent, guileless, sienna-haired child
Paddled to shore in a teacup.

This is what happened on a hazy sunless Sunday,
In mid-August, at Westhampton.
A spiritual man, who once posed as an amnesiac,
Conducted past life regression sessions
In an old chartreuse theater and
A tattooed director, with wild cinematic aspirations,
Filmed the event in shades of mysterious gray.

Later, I rested on sands
And watched one lost kittiwake fly
In circles overhead while an organ played
Music from an invisible carousel.

I listened to the ocean and
Imagined mermaids swimming painlessly
In peaceful and seductive warm waters.

A sienna-haired child
Stepped out of a floating teacup,
And walked with sea legs
Along colorless sands.

Sometimes before twilight,
I think of those two days.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine


At dusk, a dream through stained glass:
In a hazy deciduous forest, I am almost naked-
Pristine gown clinging like translucent second skin,
Chartreuse satin slippers, cheeks pale porcelain rose,
And humidity turning my hair burnt sienna.
The scent of dried lavender drifts through trees-
“Alone in nature, by nature,” ventriloquists murmur.
Bejeweled spiders, resting on carefully crocheted cobwebs,
Melancholy widows, eyes green tourmaline,
A soldier seduced by indifference...
Haunted beauty washed forever in soft pink light.

A fading fragrant French cologne-
Earlier a sweet intoxicating elixir- melting and melted.
An elusive black-throated warbler,
Pausing on a great oak, bears witness:
An icon is shedding mellifluous silver tears,
Reflecting my grandfather, wrapped in his tallit
Stirring, turning, saying, “You look very familiar to me.”

A clammy breeze passes through Manhattan.
I awaken this time, awakened last time,
Acquiescent and still, not knowing
If it is evening... or morning.

© 2010 Marjorie Levine

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Wegman Dogs, artistic inspirations

from 2009:

Tonight, I interviewed the Wegman dogs. They are magnificent and they are owned by the artist, William Wegman. If you go to his website you can read Mr. Wegman's bio and see a wonderful gallery of photos.

I asked the dogs a few questions and they delightfully responded, "Woof." Tonight, the beautiful Wegman dogs helped me find my smile. Thank-you Mr. Wegman, for sharing some time with me tonight and helping to create photos for this blog.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Elisa Jordana, singer and songwriter

Elisa Jordana says: "I love to write music, play piano, and sing. I am a terrific dancer, talker and overall creative person. I love animals and the muppets. Some people even consider me a muppet." She's more than a "muppet." She is a very talented and beautiful singer who I think you will all enjoy.

You can hear her sing her original song, "This Town," at her website here: Elisa Jordana.

I think you will love the mellifluous sounds of Elisa Jordana! And as an extra treat, you can hear her sing a lovely song with her friend, Benjy, called: "Online Sweetheart." In the song, they both are excited and delighted as they look forward to meeting each other. The tune is very catchy and may inspire others to try online dating in order to find their own "bashert."

Monday, January 2, 2012

Jerry, the "Marble Faun"

bumped up, from May 2009:

I was more than elated when Jerry Torre agreed to be interviewed for this blog. Don't you know who Jerry Torre is? He's featured in the great documentary, "Grey Gardens," by Albert and David Maysles. You've seen it, haven't you?

Jerry is who Little Edie Beale called the "Marble Faun," in that "artistic smash." I always loved Edie Beale. I never thought of her as an "acquired taste," as Big Edie describes her in the recent HBO film, "Grey Gardens." She seemed to be filled with excellent wit and humor and she had such a great spirit. She actually is one of the people I miss who I never met. And I was thrilled when Jerry Torre met me for a late lunch on this Friday afternoon. I recognized him immediately as he crossed the street.

Jerry found his way to East Hampton from Brooklyn one summer when he ran away from home and was looking for adventure. He became an assistant gardener for Mr. Gerald Geddes, and he had his own little room over the kitchen in that home. And when he was on his bicycle wandering around one day, he found Grey Gardens.

We started talking about the mansion, Grey Gardens. Grey Gardens was quite dilapidated and Jerry said raccoons would watch from the rafters, cats would jump all over the room, and cobwebs draped the staircase... and on rainy days water would seep into the house through cracks. Jerry says "Mrs. Beale was very comfortable with the untidy conditions of the house." He never questioned the conditions because he did not want to be impolite. But one day, when a kitten died it took some time to convince Mrs. Beale that the kitten needed to be buried.

Then I asked Jerry what the Beales did all day. Jerry said that Little Edie dedicated her life to her mother and she was always in the house. He told me they had no television and just a small radio. Jerry said they would sing, and Little Edie would recite poetry and read to her mother. She would entertain Big Edie with little costumes that she created and run in and out of her dressing area. And they challenged each other in great debates about everything and that kept them going because they bickered all through the day and night. "They were like lawyers." The topics included the Kennedy clan and how to get through the winter. They would discuss men, etiquette, and have endless discussions about the environment. They often discussed the social politics of their East Hampton town. They "stayed occupied with their minds." Little Edie was an interesting woman filled with ideas. She was a very "complete human being" and she very much wanted to express all of herself. Jerry told me that Little Edie would often sit in the "forgotten chair" when she wanted to escape from "the scene." It was red leather and in a garden surrounded by overgrowth in the back of the house.

Jerry had great concern for the Beales and he fell in love with them and felt a huge sense of responsibility for their safety. He explained that Big Edie used a Sterno (which was next to her bed) to prepare the corn, and he wanted to be called over every time the Sterno was used. He had great fear that somehow that dangerous Sterno would cause a fire. During the interview, the deep love that Jerry had for the Beales was always very apparent and revealed in his thoughtful and kind demeanor.

Jerry lost touch with Little Edie after Big Edie passed away. While Edie was a very strong woman, she very much missed her mother. Edie stayed to herself and lived for about two years alone in Grey Gardens until it was sold. I felt overwhelming sadness as Jerry spoke because I believe that Edie had to be very lonely during that time.

We then moved on to discuss what Jerry has been doing all these years since his appearance as the "Marble Faun" in the great documentary "Grey Gardens." Jerry explained he has kept to himself because he wanted to own the relationship with the Beales and keep it private. Only in the last few years has interest in him and his time in the house become mainstream and at first he was not sure he wanted to share his memories. This is a renewed "avalanche of interest" in what Jerry calls a magical time in his life. He said, "after all, it is 33 years old." He asked me if that made sense.

In the years that have passed Jerry has lived and experienced so much. He is now a sculptor at The Art Students League of New York and one of his awarded works is "Confetti."

Jerry did openly speak about and share his memories and feelings with me during this interview and I was very moved. I felt an almost overwhelming general nostalgia and a longing for a time gone by. I was overjoyed to meet Jerry and very happy that he allowed me a glimpse into those few years of his life.

We left the restaurant and we promised to stay in touch. Jerry, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Lunch with Jerry, "The Marble Faun"

an encore, that was written on October 22, 2009:

Jerry and I met for lunch at a restaurant in midtown. We spoke about the Beales and Grey Gardens, and relationships, and where life takes us as we move along through the decades. It was wonderful seeing him again, and each time we are together we grow closer. Jerry is a very interesting man and he has many memories and it was a pleasure to spend part of the afternoon with him on a very beautiful day in Manhattan. Here is my interview from last May with Jerry, Edie Beale's "Marble Faun."

And this just in: Jerry, In Production! Jerry has had a very interesting life and I am thrilled, delighted, and excited... and I cannot wait to see this documentary!

And this, from June 2009:
Tonight was the reception at The Art Students League of New York for the 2008 Merit Scholarship Winners. The winners of merit scholarships from 2008 presented their work. Jerry Torre received the Martha T. Rosen Memorial Scholarship and he presented two sculptures: "Bohack Dorata," in Italian sandstone and "Confetti," in Spanish limestone.
I attended the reception and here are some photos of the event.

This is Jerry with "Bohack Dorata."

This is Jerry with "Confetti."

Albert Maysles arrived with his daughter, Sara, and I was thrilled to meet him. Albert Maysles is the filmmaker who, with his brother David, made the documentary "Grey Gardens." Sara and her sister, Rebekah, are the authors of the brand new book, "Grey Gardens." Albert Maysles told me tonight that it was thirty years after "Grey Gardens" was made that he was reunited with Jerry. He kept in touch through correspondence with Edie Beale, who had moved to Florida. And Edie had told him that Jerry was living in Saudi Arabia, working as a gardener for a royal family.

This is a photo taken tonight of me and Albert Maysles.

And this is a photo of Jerry (Edie Beale's "Marble Faun,") Albert Maysles, and me! How wonderful it was to see them together again, almost 35 years after that legendary documentary was made.

And here is Jerry with Little Edie Beale and Big Edie in 1975, from the original documentary "Grey Gardens."

Brian Gari, songwriter/performer/author

from 2009:

I first saw Brian Gari on October 24, 2008 at the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention held in Newark, NJ. He moderated a very interesting panel discussion with guests such as Lucie Arnaz, Betty Rose, and Ervin Drake. Joe Franklin was there, too. Brian presented a loving tribute to his father, Roberto Gari, who passed away in January 2008. I was very impressed with Brian's participation, so I went to the Drama Book Shop and I bought his book, "We Bombed In New London," to learn more about him and his career.

I sent this on April 15, 2009:
I am almost finished reading "We Bombed In New London," and I am loving it so much I am not wanting it to end. This is a fascinating story of a true journey... and I think what is so amazing is how the narrative is factually presented with visual memorabilia and is also written with layers of extemely dark wit and humor. It is hilarious! I am just astounded by so many parts. And it is so well presented that I feel as if I am actually watching the "vignettes" unfold.
The book has sort of Larry David "Curb Your Enthusiasm" moments:
p. 47: "(David Susskind) wasn't on the phone more than ten seconds when he screamed, "I'll never get involved in musicals again!" I guess he was right; he died a very short time after my phone call."
p. 115: "He didn't give a shit. He would report me. Imagine continuing to ride with this obstinate jerk."
p. 116 "I was flattered. My songs being bootlegged? What fun!"
p. 182 "Gee. I was shaking in my boots. I had incurred the wrath of the great Cindy Adams."
I think you did a great job showing in subtle ways how people interact and relate to each other. Brian, your book is just wonderful. Let me put it this way: it's a book that is the best independent film I have ever read.

Shortly after I sent the above E-mail to Brian, I wrote to him again and asked if he would be interviewed for this blog. He immediately replied, "sure," and we met on Thursday, April 30th, at noon... in the Key West Diner on upper Broadway. We started to talk, and right away I was impressed with Brian's straightforward, honest, and down-to-earth manner. He spoke about his musical, "Late Nite Comic," and he said he realized the show's "time (on Broadway) was short." He discussed, in a very forthright manner, how the last few days of the show turned into a "free-for-all" because the perfomers were not getting the response they expected. He wrote "Late Nite Comic" based on his relationship with his girlfriend at the time, named Janet. Janet never saw the show. Brian says in his book she blocked all communication with him. This was a huge disappointment to him that he lives with to this day.

We then discussed Brian's "Love Online," which is based on his real-life experience about finding love on the internet. He met a woman on AOL who answered his written ad. They had many E-mail exchanges and telephone conversations... and he fell in love with her "through her words." He fell in love with her phrasing, the depth of her conversations, and her life story. And after they finally met, the romantic relationship lasted two and a half years. He was strongly emotionally involved and their connection was deep. Brian insists it is possible to fall in love before meeting because... he "lived it."

Brian has an extensive list of accomplishments. He has a salute to Brian Wilson, which he will be performing at Don't Tell Mama and he has done a Christmas album as well as a Brazilian album. He did a salute to the music of Roger Nichols and Paul Wiilliams. Brian is still writing songs and doing speeches with his mother about his grandfather, Eddie Cantor. He is also working on a musical about his grandfather.
This was an enjoyable interview for me and I thank Brian very much for sharing his insights and pieces of his personal experiences. He is an extremely talented man and he is as heartfelt in person as he is in his writing.

Linda Richman, writer/lecturer

Here is an encore of an interview I did in April 2009 with my dear friend, Linda Richman.

Here is Linda's Proust Questionnaire:

Your most marked characteristic?
my irreverent sense of humor
The quality you most like in a man?
humor, humor, humor
The quality you most like in a woman?
her ability to nurture
What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty with a capital 'L'
What is your principle defect?
I don't suffer fools gladly
What is your favorite occupation?
authors and writers
What is your dream of happiness?
knowing who you are and accepting the good, the bad, and the ugly
What would you like to be?
an accomplished pianist
In what country would you like to live?
What is your favorite color?
white, even though I know it is a hue
What is your favorite bird?
the cardinal
Who are your favorite poets?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning
Who are your favorite composers?
Marvin Hamlisch, Marilyn and Alan Bergman; I'm a Broadway baby!
Who are your favorite painters?
Matisse and Monet
Who are your heroes in real life?
What is it you most dislike?
What historical figures do you most despise?
What natural gift would you most like to possess?
ballet dancing
How would you like to die?
in my sleep next to Antonio Banderas
What is your present state of mind?
I'm wistful
What is your motto?
I'd rather be kind than right

And this is how Linda describes me:
"Marjorie is complicated, brilliant, creative, clever, and impossible at times!"

Linda Richman is the author of the best-selling book "I'd Rather Laugh," and the inspiration for the "Coffee Talk Lady" on Saturday Night Live... and she is my friend.

The photo of the cover of Linda Richman's book is used in this entry with her permission.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Three Letters, Two Photos, and Two Days

I found two old long forgotten photos while rummaging through an old shoebox. I also found three letters from a summer of long ago.

August 3rd
Dear J:
I want to tell you what happened on a hazy hot sunless Sunday, in July, at Long Beach. A few feet from where an amnesiac sat on the boardwalk eating hot dogs-- a lady, a blue blood, and a wanderer observed in the sand a mystical image. Well, because they were frightened that the startling sight might rapidly disappear or be scrambled by an insouciant breeze, an attempt was made by the lady to photograph the sight-- to freeze and thereby validate the remarkable event. The lady put down her translucent parasol and a love letter that was written in Sanskrit on an ancient faded doily. And as a tow headed child paddled to shore in a teacup, a picture was taken and developed. It passed from the lady, to the blue blood, and then to the wanderer-- from whose tired, careless fingers it slipped. The wind carried the picture down and up, up and down; it danced the tango for a few seconds before it collapsed in my open right hand. I swear J, in that photograph I saw the transmigration of a soul!
Kindest regards, L
August 12th
Dear L:
I love you and want to marry you! Why didn't you tell me you were spending July out at Long Beach? I desperately wanted you to know that I enrolled in a film workshop and I will complete the requirements and be eligible for a certificate. By the way, the theme of my first project is the lost years of Jesus. I wish you were with me supporting my cinematic aspirations and visions. Last Tuesday, while I dined at an outdoor sidewalk cafe on Madison Avenue, a lady passed holding a translucent parasol. She was walking her Shih Tzu and when she paused, in front of my table, she allowed her thirsty pet to take a few swigs from a bottle of Evian. I took a picture of the lady and her dog, and I am sending it to you.
Love, J
August 28th
Dear J:
Your letter was forwarded to me from the Long Beach address. I am now staying in Westhampton. While I was having dinner at a restaurant in East Hampton, I was introduced by a blue blood to a group of young Buddhists. In the early mornings, I joined them at a mansion for the recitation of five prayers. I want to tell you what happened at the beach on a hot sunny Sunday in mid August. A dilettante, a pacifist, and a codependent led me to a spiritual man, who for a short time in July posed as an amnesiac at Long Beach. He now conducts a series of past life regression sessions and I was persuaded to participate. As I reclined on the Westhampton sand, a lonely seagull flew overhead and a tow headed child paddled, in a teacup, to shore. In time, I recalled a past life! I realize now, Jason, that we were lovers during the French Revolution. So, I will be returning to Manhattan at the end of August, and we shall plan our wedding.
Love, xxxooo


And soon thereafter, I had a dream about...


One hot sunny Sunday, in July, at Long Beach
An amnesiac sat on the boardwalk watching
A strolling lady who was carrying a pearl-handled parasol.
A handsome soldier passed holding a love letter that was
Written on a faded lace white doily and a lonely spinster
Stared at vague images in the sand...
Lines soon to be scattered by an insouciant breeze.
An innocent, guileless, sienna-haired child
Paddled to shore in a teacup.
This is what happened on a hazy sunless Sunday,
In mid-August, at Westhampton.
A spiritual man, who once posed as an amnesiac,
Conducted past life regression sessions
In an old chartreuse theater and
A tattooed director, with wild cinematic aspirations,
Filmed the event in shades of mysterious gray.
Later, I rested on sands
And watched one lost kittiwake fly
In circles overhead while an organ played
Music from an invisible carousel.
I listened to the ocean and
Imagined mermaids swimming painlessly
In peaceful and seductive warm waters.
A sienna-haired child
Stepped out of a floating teacup,
And walked with sea legs
Along colorless sands.

Sometimes before twilight... I think of those three letters, the two photos, and how I awakened from that dream about two days not knowing if it was evening or morning. I had a vague feeling I was trapped in an endless maze of smoky mirrors.

© 2004 Marjorie Levine



Via Comandante Simone Guli,
In Palermo, a street so old that
High above wives still hang the wash
Out over the black iron balcony gates
Next to green leaves and blue and white
Striped curtains falling out of windows.

Once children stood there with mothers,
Waiting for fathers to return home.
The red flowers now sit high over sad
Graffiti and a tobacco shop which
Serves as some reminder not
To obscure the view.


On Højdevangs Allé,
In Copenhagen, the flowers
That line the street
Are so fragrant that two
Women stopped walking.

They stood between two buildings
To look at small blue flowers on
One side while purple and white
Flowers flourished without moving
Behind them, on the other side.


On Edinburgh Street,
In Winnipeg, parts of the ground were still
Covered in snow under a crisp blue and
White sky that almost crackled with sharp
Definition and clarity.

It was there that I turned a corner
And stopped at a driveway and saw
In the icy cold snow carved footprints
That finally reached an almost
Tropically lighted home.


On Tazewell Avenue Southeast,
In Roanoke, some houses sit very high
Above the street under a bleak grey sky.
The trees are suffering and bent and leafless
And the air appears to be chillingly cold.

I wonder who climbs those long steep
Staircases to sit closer to that foreboding
Sky, where clouds cling together trying hard
Not to let thin patches of blue peek through
Because the view might be less mysterious.


On Coast Road,
in Larne, two people stand
Between the purple rocky cliffs and the
Pale colorless sea on the other side of
Yellow and purple flowers.

Cars pass by with drivers and passengers
Whose faces I will never see.
There is an open gate with a path that
Leads to an unseen place.

And soon, there is a sign that says,
"Boats," and then the sky turns magically blue.
But, in the distance the clouds are so low that
They touch the water.


On Beard Street,
In Kernersville, there are colorful
Wall murals which give glimpses
Into what was, long ago.

I saw ladies in billowing long
Red and white dresses standing
With gentlemen wearing tall hats
All waiting at the railroad station
For family arriving from faraway places.
Soon, they would all step into a horse
Drawn carriage to take a short ride home.

Nobody looked up to see the child
Perched high above who on bleak days
After school would climb to the flat roof
To wait for the trains to pass.

The trains were carrying weary passengers
Traveling to faraway places, and they were
Also going home.

Many years later, she would remember
The sound of the whistle as the trains
Passed and she would speak of the sound
As both sad and mournful,
Perhaps because it always
Strangely reminded
Her of all times past.


On Clifton Hill,
In Niagara Falls, there is a soft intoxicating
Smell in the air of sweet and heady nostalgia.
Walkers cross the street to a bright lush green
Park and the water is then behind them as a
Light mist sprays their backs and the
Visuals turn into blurred memories
Set in stone.

All the excitement is about to begin.
There is a turquoise haunted house,
A beckoning moving theater,
The wax museum,
And a souvenir shop:
It's a massive swirling kaleidoscope of
Dreamlike and almost surreal color.

Then, in the center of all this heady elixir
Is a glorious and perfect SkyWheel,
Where I imagine children sit with parents
High up above it all, setting the graphics into
What will years later seem almost


On Villa Silla,
In Scanno, the low and narrow street
Has a quiet outdoor cafe with tables
Covered in yellow tablecloths.

One man dines alone
Next to and under purple
Red and pink flowers.
Gorgeous proud balconies are
Set into buildings with old grey
Chipped and broken stone.

A little store down the path displays
Colorful children's clocks:
Bunnies and elephants and angels
Designed to make the children laugh.

From another high window, freshly washed
Towels hang and down below mothers
Gather to talk and soon walk with their babies.

Flower pots sit on small steps,
Leading up to a home where another woman
Is standing above the street looking down
From a wide open window near a bird feed
And she too is hanging the wash out to dry.

And then nothing moves and all is frozen.
Only the wash; the wash flying in front of that
Large foreboding mountain under a crisp
And clear blue and white sky.


On Gay Street,
In New York City, there are quaint
Red and white and orange houses that are
Intoxicating because they are so old and little.

There is a building with turquoise shutters and
There are pinks and red and white flowers in
Lovely window pots and green trees
To the left and to the right.

The facade is frozen, but not the living...
Or the dead.

It is said that number 12 is...
Haunted. Maybe so.

It is the house across the street where I see
A ghost.
She is peeking out from the second floor window
On the left side of an orange brick building.

She has bushy eyebrows and one hair roller
Sits on the top of her head.

Her mouth is open as if she is startled and
She appears to be more frightened than the
Tourists who down below night and day
Haunt the street looking for the
Ghosts of Gay Street.


On Aleppo Road,
In New Freeport, there are wonderful
things, rich and wonderful things.

Old houses made of dark crumbling
Wood that remembers what was,
A dry waterless sandy creek
And an old and tired bench
Where an old grandmother sat
And turned, with bent and gnarled
Fingers, the pages of a book
While whispering magical words
That filled a child's imagination.

Keep moving past a graveyard where
Old and broken and long forgotten cars
That yesterday were shiny new cars that
Once took children to faraway colorful fairs.

And past some jumping deer going up a
Steep hill to get back to the forest to hide,
To get back to familiar safe places.

A shiny white gazebo stands alone on
The grand grass where dolls sit
Wearing fancy hats and having sweet tea.

To get to this place you will need to
Go the other way, go that other way,
Go a different way to be taken away.


On Saatwinkler Damm,
In Berlin, I stood on the far sidewalk
And watched.

With lush green trees behind me,
No traffic in front of me, only parked cars
I gazed at the canal in the distance.

And the little white boat passed by
With a high carefree rider whose back was
To me, so he didn't see me.

I waited and watched and
Watched and watched for some time
Because I could.


On Sternwartstrade,
In Munich, there is a charming little
Flower shop in a tiny little building
With a green and white
Striped awning.

It was tempting to stand and
Gaze at the technicolor flattered

But, I spun around to also see
Red flowers on tall stems
In front of a house covered in
Gorgeous green ivy.


Between Muirfield Road and Culduthel Road,
In Inverness, there is a street with no name.
But, you can get there.

An old stone building is quietly hidden
Surrounded by a low iron gate
In a lush green fragrant forest.
All sad sounds have fallen away
The many footprints are gone
And all that is left is the still.

The now boarded up windows
Allow no lights from inside to
Show the way home
And I think
Nobody is home
In this long ago forgotten home.


At Plaja Jupiter,
On Strada Brindisi, look at the
Wonderful things and colorful things:

Rich green and pink stuff to take home
And even more stuff to chew and eat
So the sense of wonder is remembered.

Blue water on one side of the sandy heat
And huge proud swans wait on the water
On the other side, and never move.

Later, the day perhaps will become
Fragmented but the sense of wonder
Might never become blurred.


On Merrimack Street,
In Lowell, there's a signpost
That says: Detour.

Maybe he never should have
Taken the other road,
Maybe he should have gone
Back, gone the other way
And stayed on these roads.

The air at the end of these
Roads becomes thick and
Dense and there is fog.

Here, on lonely low bleak cloudy days
There are quiet somber and grey
Places: big old several storied houses
With many front steps and slanted roofs
And lots of windows for eye prints.

The houses on University Avenue
From long ago are comforting with
Stubborn intoxicating attics whispering
Secrets obsessed with what
Was, so returning to this street
Reveals air like a strange pentimento.

Old stores with faded signs, corner
Places that never ever yielded or
Changed and they don't bend, they
Remain strong, proud, and solid.

If he stayed for more than a short
Time he always heard the swing
Music; drizzling so he could remember.
At night, in dreams, when
The way became lost, he
Soon realized he never left.
All that time, all those years
His eyes were just closed.
The boarded up windows gave
Him reasons to cry.

Now, this is the end of the seductive
Road, his forever destination:
A place that always surfaced
When sad dreams and deep
Longing finally fell away...
And he had to return to this place
Like a traveler who finally uses his
Return trip ticket.


On Repatriation Road,
In Pickering Brook, I drove
For a long time
And saw almost nothing
Except the narrow road
Ahead and trees on both sides
With nothing behind me
And nothing ahead of me.
Then, I saw a tractor on one side
And a low gate on the other and
I knew I was reaching a place.
Some place.

Then, I saw a tiny little house
All alone there behind some flowers.
It had a front porch with old chairs
And some other muted things.
In front of the house was a tree,
Three times taller than the house!
I kept going.
I kept going
Chasing the end of that road.
Until I reached the end of the road.
And then I went back home.


On Cherry Street,
In Denver, I suppose nothing
Much has changed.

Maybe some things.
There's a liquor store on one corner
And a Mexican restaurant on the other.
With one breath,
The street is inside of me.

The beckoning street that held
The door through which he left to
Go up to the mountains, see an
Opera, and eat swell food:
The swanky place.

There is comfort in knowing
That not much changes:
In some places, time may indeed
Stand still.

The street is quiet now;
I think nobody is home.
And it does look like it will soon rain.


On Pineview Street,
In Rocky Mount, there is an old cemetery:
The place where the dead go.
One grave had nice fresh pink flowers
To whisper that somebody is missed.

Not many graves, but very old stones
Broken and chipped stones set in tired dirt
Seen through windows of houses that
Line that still street.

Some houses set way back
As if to separate the living
From the dead.

And then, I saw a children's swing set,
And the sun trying to peek through
To perhaps lift a sense of deep gloom.


On Main Street,
In Northport, there is a
Guy standing in the middle of the street
Wearing an orange helmet
And a lady, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk,
Wearing a pale straw sun hat
And two children walking home from school
Wearing book bags and carrying skateboards.

A beautiful house proudly displays the flag,
There are two churches on both sides
When you reach Church Street
And one has lovely pink flowers in front.
There's a post office, a bank,
The fire department announcing
The "Fireman's Fair"...

In front of pristine houses on a crisp clear
Day ordinary things are happening
Where extraordinary things happened.
Nothing remarkable here at all
To speak of the remarkable man that
Once lived here.

Pass through this town, keep driving
Keep going, don't look over your shoulder
Keep going until you read the end:
The water with the boats and the looming
Hill on the other side
And you know you can't turn back.


On Larimer Street,
In Denver, I went the wrong way
Because the sun was endlessly bright
And my eyes hurt.

So, I winced and decided to turn
Around and see a different view
And go the other way.
I longed for night, so the darkness
Might blur the vision.

In sunlight, there were too many new
Things and I longed for the
Old buildings; these pieces didn't fit.

This music is too now,
And the haircuts are too today.
These silvery parked bicycles
Have taken short trips.
The billiard club fills me with despair
For times gone by so I go over
And look at all the hanging beads for
Making necklaces, as if they held a key to
Some magical thinking and wearing beads
Could bring back what once was.

I wondered if this pawn shop
Accepts memories,
And keeps them safe
Until later when the memories
Are bought back.

Nobody finds places long gone.
But, taking back memories
Makes me smile.
On this street,
It would be fitting.


On East Guenther Street,
In San Antonio, I felt I should
Be wearing fancy ribbons in my hair
Because the houses are so pretty.

I passed by houses that are
Treasures with artistically sculptured
Facades and stunning lace screened
Verandas where guests might dine
On tea cakes spread out on crisp white
Doilies and later when the sun goes
Down, talk of small things that matter
And rinse their hands in dainty
Finger bowls to keep things fresh.

There's a place to stand to view the
Spot where the breathless
Flowing river passes through
Bringing a sense of sameness.

I got lost on this intoxicating street,
Longed to stay, and knew I could return.
There's a sense of serenity in this old
Comfort as the sunlight falls on this same
Street as it has fallen on this street forever.


On the Promenade,
In Blackpool, exquisite wonder
And bright colors create an intense
Kaleidoscope of magical fun.

There's a high tower and
Amusements and prizes and
Horse drawn carriages riding next to
Modern cars.

On the pier, there's a Ferris Wheel with
Rotating gondolas perfectly suited for
Grand and glorious views
Of luminous illuminations.

Luminous illuminations
All right by the sea
By the sea, so all the children
Who come here
Will remember these days.


On Main Street,
On Martha’s Vineyard, I am
Filled with bittersweet memories.
I remember Main Street...
I was there, so long ago.

I can still smell that ocean air,
So briny and salty and
All those summers come
Flooding back.

The day we ate in the diner
And how the jukebox blared all
The songs we loved.

In spite of all the quaintness
Of that lovely and charming place
I longed with desperation
To be some place else.

I suppose we are what we carry
Inside us and in spite of that
Heady beauty, whenever I was there
I longed to be somewhere else.

I suppose there are places that always
Make us want to go home.


On Roxbury Drive,
In Beverly Hills, there's an air of
Leafy radiance that settles in and
Lingers until the bewitching hour
When the dusk comes and trances
These special swells into some
Hypnotic splendor.

The dark arrives as usual
And everybody settles in as usual
And there is nothing unusual
In these perfumed rooms.

And then the morning arrives,
The sun rises on this street
Shining a sharp light letting
All those who live on other streets
Know they don't live on easy street.


On D79,
In Vichel-Nanteuil, I stopped to
Gaze for quite some time.
At this place, I longed
To stay longer.

I was outside on this road
But, I wanted to be inside:
Inside these quaint old stone
And very magical cottages.

Here, where there is a thick
Air of stillness and serenity
Across from a sparse forest.

These houses stay strong
They don’t give up
They remain stubborn and
They don’t change.

And there is nothing, nothing at all
In this beauty around anywhere
To remind anybody of
A passing of time.


On Vlissingsestraat
In Eck en Wiel, at the end of the street
There is a signpost with four different
Directions to point the way to quiet
Houses still standing alongside beautiful
Canals that take wanderers to places with
Other beautiful canals.

Go to the little graveyard, where people
Rest under the blue and green.
A place this beautiful might perhaps
Exist only in the imagination, in places
Where the weary and forlorn might go to find
Peace when breathless dreams fall away.

Keep going to arrive at a place to rest
And a place to go once around, go
Around and around and around and never
Leave because all here want to stay longer
Because this is a place so beautiful, so
Perfectly decorated with delicate and perfect
Brushstrokes, that nobody ever leaves.


On Lisick,
In Prague, there is a store with a wonderful wall
Decorated with a picture of a tree at the end of a road.
And sitting under the tree are pictures of dogs, birds, and a tiger:
Pictures to show the way when yellow sunlight hits the wall
And the glareless lines are not blurred.

Across from that store is a vacant lot, filled with
Colorful piles of stuff, there from perhaps forever.

I traveled down that road past a bright yellow house
With flower pots on ledges outside the bottom floor windows,
There to show a different way: the way home.
I traveled down that road past a short brown house
With only one floor and pale shutters and yellow flowers in the
Garden to show the way to a different home: this home.
And I traveled down the road past an orange house
With a tree near the gate to obscure the view of: this house.

All houses and homes on the same street and all standing so
Quiet and still and sharing the same sense of quiet in different
Houses and homes.

If a visitor were to sigh while passing through this street
The sound would shatter this street's tranquility:
Fracture the sense of beauty that lives on this street.


On Maiselova,
In Prague, so many people
Come to visit the long gone
And dead at the Jewish
Cemetery near
Staronova Synagogue.

These are the dead from
The ages: they were born,
They lived, they loved,
And what's left here now
Is the dust to dust.
Visitors walk slowly as if a
Mere whisper might wake
These dead.

All the many people tiptoe
Quietly around and around
The wall around the old cemetery.
They walk around to get to the
Other side where there are boats
On the still water and newer things.
And they speak, or speak not,
Of times long ago.

The clock in the high distance
Reminds that time always passes,
It passes and passes and passes
In time with the heartbeats,
And there is always a solid wall to
Separate the living
From the dead.


On County Highway 585,
In Newark, there's a seven story
That looks just like a basket.

I didn't want to be outside the
I wanted to be inside.

I wanted to be inside that basket.
And when I was inside,
I wanted to join hands with
Everybody else who was inside
And sing a song.

Some places are just like that.
They inspire singing;
I left this
This road
With a basketful of smiles.


On West 10th Street,
In Kansas City, there is a
Library that looks like

The front looks like
Big books all
Next to each other
All tall and proud.

Catch-22, Oh Pioneers!,
And Fahrenheit 451
To the left, and
Lord of the Rings, Truman,
And To Kill a Mockjngbird
To the right.

Take a walk through
The middle doors,
Right through the middle
And go inside, go all the way in
Walk right inside the books to the
Places the stories can take you.


On West 11th Street,
In Cleveland, I saw "The
Christmas Story" house.

The street is sort of nice
And leafy now, under a crisp
Blue sky peppered with
Billowy white clouds
Owning the scenes.

There's a sign that shows the way:
To the white picket fence,
That very homey touch,
And the leg lamp in the
Large and inviting bottom window,
Nice white curtains in the second
Floor windows, where you can see
The reflection of the blue sky
And white clouds:
I know I am there.

On this street, in front of this
House, every day is Christmas:
With one pure gasp you can still
Feel the sharp bone chilling cold,
And see the fresh pristine snow
Covering the ground.

And the day is yours,


On 2,
In Lucerne, there are old and newer
Things and all sort of things to remind
You of recent things.

A blue trolley, a grand stone hotel, a
Yellow casino across from a gray church
Where young men parked bicycles to go
To pray in the picture postcard.

There's a palace, and who lives there?
Then brand new buildings that are tiered
Like wedding cakes brimming with green
Shrubbery and a short little building with
Posters of Superman.

The bike rider passes the orange truck
And then the park, always a park so the living
Can remember these streets, these days,
And then keep going and move on.


On Second Avenue,
In New York City, I had dined on
Sweet baklava at Gulluoglu
Every week for years
Feeling this way... or that way.

On one cold January melancholy day,
Under threatening skies, I wore my balaclava.

And in the distance, I imagined or imagined not
That I heard Chopin's Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1.


On McDonald Road,
In Lovington, on the dusty
Road under the blue sky
There is an old wooden
House that is deserted.
There's nothing left of the roof,
Or the porch, or the doors.

I traveled down that lonesome road
And saw another house, also deserted.
And then another, set far back and
Looking all broken and empty, too.

I suppose at some time people
Played here, and danced here
Maybe they even sang here
In these now empty rooms.

But, they are all gone now
And nothing is left to hear.
Not the songs they sang or
Even the sound of the wind
That once was, once was
Right there and heard
On days long gone.


On Main Street,
In Chatham, there's a lighthouse
Between the red, white, and blue flag
And a white house with a red roof
All at the end of the street.

There are cars looking to park and
Men pushing baby carriages
And women with shopping bags
And everybody is going one way:
To the ocean, to the blue ocean.

There's a lantern there to light
The way back at night to other
Places: to other places near to here
So that the walkers can go
Back the other way to reach home.
And the way is lighted so the drivers
Who have come from far away from here
Never quite reach the end of the street
At the end of the day.


On Via Regina,
In Griante Como, I knew I
Was very far away from
My own home and
All places familiar,
All things remembered
And then easily forgotten.

This street with this view was
Created by some artist with sentimental
Sentiments and great attention to
Detail from his own mind's eye: the buildings
With arched entrances, the restaurants where
Diners eat outside under white umbrellas or
Under the clear blue sky next to the perfectly
Sweet green round trees near the boats
On the lake coming and going,
Going and coming.

The remote and fancy street looks out
Upon a gorgeous lake with mountains
High above in the distance on the other side
On all sides.

On the other side, there's a soft
Mist above those mountains with a
Tiny village sculpted right into the
Mountain above the view of the lake
Behind the red flowers, red flowers
On this side.

This place, where children grew up
And in later years returned to
The same place with the same view
Of the mountain under the mist
And the tiny village sculpted right
Into the mountain.

This might be a good place to stop
A fine place indeed, to stop.
Because after all, all journeys end
And where do I go from here?
Where can I go from here?

© 2010 Marjorie Levine