Martin H. Levinson
I have published nine books and numerous articles and poems in various publications. I am a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. I am currently putting together a collection of my poems for publication that I have tentatively titled Signal Reactions. Besides writing, I like reading the mystery novels of Georges Simenon and taking leisurely walks in the woods. Please visit my website at martinlevinson.com.
A Religious Epiphany in Queens
Jimmy Jurgens tells the
group he jewed George
down, turns to me, a
counselor, asks if I’m
Jewish. I am trying not
to be, don’t believe in
religion, just want to
do good. Jimmy sees the
Catch-22 on my face,
doesn’t understand it. If
someone called him a mick,
goodnight Irene. “Does it
matter if I’m Jewish, Jim?”
“Yeah, wouldn’t have said it
if I’d known.” “You shouldn’t
have said it anyway.” Says he
gets that, waits to see if I’ll
cop to my faith. I weigh the
pros and cons: sins of dogma,
obstacle to progress, accident of
one’s birth versus two thousand
years of slaughter, ghettoization,
being pushed around. The words
roll out, “Yes, I’m a Jew.”
The History of Rejection
When I was in kindergarten Mrs. Kaufman refused
to give me milk and cookies with the rest of the
kids. Nine years later Karen Codrington refused
to put out. I cried like a six-year-old.
“Stick to stickball” said Coach Carl when he
scratched me from the Erasmus High baseball
squad. My music teacher was kinder in his
negation, “The clarinet is not for you.”
I obeyed their demands but the boys of Beta Pi
blackballed me, final pledge month, City College.
The military was faster with their fuhgettaboutit when
I failed my physical, Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn.
As an adult, snubs über alles: relationships,
jobs, publishing prospects, cats.
So far no organ rejections but then
I’ve never had transplants.
The original meaning of rejection
was to throw or throw back. That’s
what God did to the First Couple,
flung them from Paradise.
Jesus was rejected in his hometown,
among his relatives, in his own household.
Mohammed was rebuffed when he traveled to
Taif to call on the people to hear his preaching.
Spielberg was spurned by
the USC School of Theater,
Film and Television, twice. I’d of
gotten the message the first time.
Do No Harm
so said Hippocrates of Cos,
“As to diseases, make a habit of
two things—to help, or at least
to do no harm.”
there is no single oath
all physicians take upon
there is no single oath
all humans take when
and that is a pity
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.
©2016 Martin H. Levinson