Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty
There was an error with PayPalClick here to try again
CelebrateThank you for your business!You should be receiving an order confirmation from Paypal shortly.Exit Shopping Cart

 Michael H. Levin: Poems and Prose  


(Anna Burstein Bieler, Pianist, 1908-2003)

1. Ernst (1926)

When I first came to Leipzig,

just eighteen, he shared

a house I played at for my

weekly meal. He had a sweet violin

when we danced easily

through Mozart chamber parts.

His scar from service at the Front

would glisten as he looked at me.

First love’s a rush where everything

contracts to hands and eyes. I’m still

amazed I locked my door.

In four years I convinced myself

that I was over him.

2. The Conservatory (1926 -1929)

They came from Russia, Queensland,

South America -- the prodigies

and floods of acolytes.

My master class

was something terrible in all

respects: to play a new piece

every week, with all that

competition looking on.

The first three months

I overworked my right.

The next three months

that arm was in a sling.

I practiced with my left,

so awkwardly. But learned

it's the foundation for the rest.

3. Johanna-Park (1935)

With my first-born we lived

on König-Johann-Strasse.

Our neighbor had

a son that age. Lotte

was full of life. Her organ-playing

brother left for Paris by this time.

We’d push our strollers to the Park

and let the kinder romp.

I walked that Park four decades on

and still could hear her voice.

4. Halina (1934 - 1999)

She was a wild girl, that one.

To her no normal rules applied.

They had a marriage open

as her creed. I ask no questions

or does he, she said. Why cast

a stone that hits you in the mouth?

She wrestled me to play those

two-piano concerts for the

Culture Bund. I didn’t want

my name so high on Aryan lists.

You’d disrespect Johannes Brahms

from fear? she hissed --

that’s what they want. Reviewers

said I stole the show.

Through exiles and returns and

all the detours of survival

by design and guile and all the

losses of the War and post-War years

we’re still each other’s witnesses,

still friends.

2019 Mizmor Anthology (Poetica Publishing, December 2019)