Poetry from John T. Leonard

Photo: Umberto


There were shards everywhere for a while
but then I forced the nausea down and crept
my way to the front door, hands shaking as I limped
across the neighbor’s lawn and tapped on their door.

Picture frames, road maps from the 1960’s, our parents’
wedding blanket—children in a sea of things unwanted.

What you and I resembled was a fistful of urchins—needles
that people forget are alive unless they’ve spent a month under water.
The entire town, deaf and devoid of voyeurs. Erase the air and pick up the phone,
We’re calling to tell you about back pain or some type of new dish soap.
Always during dinner, and the vein in our father’s temple would scream.

The damage happened quickly, like the first line of a song about drinking.
He got right to it with the plate smashing, the drawers sailing through
our kitchen window, crushing the neighbor’s petunias. White wine
and whiskey spilling down the fishbowl. We wanted to hide our heads
in the oven, to crawl into the lie of daylight. A week later, you whispered
something about placing a canary bird in our mother’s casket. Now,
blue curtains hang in our memories and we never pick up the phone—
even if we want to call each other. We fall asleep like acid.

John T. Leonard is an award-winning writer, English teacher, and poetry editor for Twyckenham Notes. He holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University. His previous works have appeared in Poetry Quarterly, december, Chiron Review, North Dakota Review, Roanoke Review, Punt Volat, High Shelf Press, Rappahannock Review, Levee Magazine, Mud Season Review, The Blue Mountain Review, Genre: Urban Arts, Stonecoast Review, and Trailer Park Quarterly. His work is forthcoming in The Showbear Family Circus, Passengers Journal, and The Oakland Review. He lives in Elkhart, Indiana with his wife, three cats, and two dogs. You can follow him on Twitter at @jotyleon and @TwyckenhamNotes.

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