Two Poems by Simon Leonard

Making Sense of It

I watched the impact through a jumble of verbs,
scrawled on the glass classroom wall;
students bent low over grammar.
Bea blew out her cheeks and that was it:
silence on both sides of the aquarium.
She was the boss, as well as American.
I would have expected it to mean more.
Maybe it just took tools we didn’t have
to make sense
of all that dust and damage.

I tried with Brendan, my flatmate,
later on in the corner bar,
dull with cheap whiskey,
trusting peanut shells
to the narrow bar top,
on their way to the floor.
The bar woman swept through
whatever mess finished up her day,
Marigolds and housecoat shielding all
but the hated tangle of her hair.
Cleaning over clean, extending the stain
of bleach on life
with tired mop water . . .

As we watched a muddled celebration
on the streets of Ramallah,
I said it was the day Tom Clancy came true.
Going for clever, I missed.


A stubble of life appeared this week,
bristling tongue feeling its way
around the spring morning,
not quite trusting;
the wrinkled fields becoming waves,
as you accelerate, keeping pace
with the sparse expanse of wheat.

The way he rubbed the overgrowth
of his uneven chin,
with constant mock astonishment,
the fuzz of waistcoat
you dressed him in .  .  .
Who wears things like that? Just him, probably .  .  .
The rhetorical shuffle of his three steps,
arms and eyes
imploring heaven for an explanation.

The last time you saw him
some idiot had smeared his
little dance into a parody.
Something grotesque; so familiar:
scarecrow made in the image of your father.
You squeeze the image
out of your eyes; accelerate  .  .  .

All winter you have watched
this tree approach
then fade, another wild thing
flailing its abandon to the wind,
or a shattered
shadow of grasping branches,
illuminated by passing headlights.

Your eyes closed,
you are minimised
by its embrace: infinite, intimate.
A stray arm dangling
from a car window,
a shock of birds lifted
against the sky.


A poet and intermittent writer of short fiction, Simon spends most of his time teaching English in a Secondary School in Cologne, although he would like to escape back home to Spain. He has had work published in Envoi, Orbis and Ink Sweat & Tears, and been shortlisted in various short fiction competitions.

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