Five Poems

Ezra Pound Enters the Tent

No, this is not a station in the metro,
this is an open cage outside of Pisa. 
Ezra Pound now sits inside of it, 
his beard a burning bush of grief made new.
Gazing at the moon, and looking retro,
the better craftsman grins to bars, and sees a
night of stars implode, his touched eyes lit
and posed for labour. If not he, then who
will scribble truth into a timeless croon?
Twenty-five days will pass before the good
guys offer him a tent, his face now wood,
his psyche worn by rain and sun and moon.
He leaves the cage, and is assisted in,
his mouth ajar, his grin not quite a grin.

first appeared in Contemporary Sonnet

 

After the Old Masters

The father looks up to the sky or ceiling
(beyond the grey scale of the photograph)
with his son wrapped inside his cradling arms.
An orderly obscures the boy’s midsection,
with silence says he is beyond all healing.
Outside the frame in colour copter strafe
restokes the ire of Taliban gendarmes
who soothe the mother twisted in dejection.
We do not catch a whiff of her pained retching,
catch sight of their clenched fists or hear their words.
We see the father’s sorrow-stricken eyes
in what could almost be a Rembrandt etching,
his pitch black pupils focused heavenwards
to where God’s justice or His mercy lies. 

first appeared in Chronicles

 

The Condemned House

After a Black & White Photograph by Jared Carter

Who alive remembers who lived there
seventy years ago? A family
of WASPS set in their ways? The leafless tree
in front was just a sapling then. Despair
did not weigh heavy on the owner’s brow,
a man who paid his taxes, loved his wife,
and who in ‘44 gave up his life
for freedom. Who today cares or knows how?
And now the house is boarded up, its last
tenants peddlers of cheap crack cocaine,
its naked boards exposed to elements,
its roof’s tar-paper caught in the grey blast,
around it dirty snow, above it rain.
The photo knows itself what it laments. 

first appeared in Chronicles

 

The Cat

I’d pass it on the mission trail—
          half-decomposed, green burr-like eyes
beyond my thoughts or pity, tail
          curled into questions only flies
would answer, as they staked their claim
          to rotting tissue. Food for worms,
and mocked by summer’s honey flame,
          it had no choice but come to terms
with piecemeal dissolution. Those
          loud buzzes echoed in my ears
until it circled and then rose,
          converting me—some thirty years
since—into the lone passerby
          and witness, ever on my way
from daily service, like the sky
          itself on resurrection day. 

first appeared in Washington Literary Review

 

Passenger Pigeons

I’d lift my forehead from the book and see
a flock consisting of a billion birds,
like a river in the heavens, three
miles wide, and forty miles in length. My words
never pierced the shadow they cast down.
Born more than eighty years too late, I could
not warn them of the threat of each new town,
of hunters waiting in the underwood.
For hours they were sovereigns to my eyes,
passing over Mercer County. The sun
gilded their feathers in the bloody twilight,
and when they vanished over the horizon
towards Ohio, Michigan, and the night,
what I heard were not coos, only cries. 

first appeared in Iambs & Trochees

 

avatar

About Leo Yankevich

Leo Yankevich’s latest books are The Last Silesian (The Mandrake Press, 2005) and Tikkun Olam & Other Poems (Second Expanded Edition) (Counter-Currents Publishing, 2012). His poems have appeared in Amelia, American Jones Building & Maintenance, Artword Quarterly, Beauty for Ashes Poetry Review, Blue Unicorn, Candelabrum, Cedar Hill Review, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, CounterPunch, Disquieting Muses, Edge City Review, Electric Acorn, Envoi, FutureCycle Poetry, Harpstrings, Iambs & Trochees, Iota, Ironwood, Kimera, Lite: Baltimore's Literary Newspaper, Lucid Rhythms, Mr. Cogito, New Hope International, Nostoc, Parnassus Literary Journal, Pennine Platform, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Poetry Nottingham, Psychopoetica, Raintown Review, Riverrun, Romantics Quarterly, Ship of Fools, Snakeskin, Sonnet Scroll, Staple, Sulphur River Literary Review, Tennessee Quarterly, The Barefoot Muse, The East River Review, The Eclectic Muse, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, The London Magazine, The MacGuffin, The Monongahela Review, The Neovictorian/Cochlea, thehypertexts.com, The Pennsylvania Review, The Sarmatian Review, The Tennessee Review, Tucumcari Literary Review, Trinacria, Visions International, Weyfarers, Whelks Walk Review, Windsor Review, inter alia. He is editor of The New Formalist. More of his work can be found at Leo Yankevich.com.