Brian Leonard

two poems by brian leonard

Deflated Expectations (in the Age of Ashton Kutcher)

If only I could peel back your eyelids,
heap upon you One Man’s Humble Take
on an Apocalypse... images of violence
packed in tight to make you sick,
but in a cleansing way—spectacle lined with
a clever phrase that won’t betray the trick...
If only I were equal to such kindness,
like a blaring horn that forces you awake.

Tragically, I’m not, and that’s not this.
No, ma’am. This is me shaking my ass
for the jerkoff committee—dipping my sack
in a cup of tea to prove something obscure
about “society”—or as I now fear:
to demonstrate precisely what I lack.

Lines from diode*

Inaugurate elaborate act of self-contextualization
not with words, but a series of loops
No birds. No stars. No one remembering how they’re
watching each other
on a dying shimmer of light. I am kissing
what spot on the couch they’d claimed, 
modern languages fluent in their
plastic flowers. Every street is named
five times and still speaks
some notion of ‘life goes on’.

Sometimes, we enter a room and forget
& plow into bloodflooded paddies.
Her cherry bed, her paintings. Her chicken bones
come cratering into my arms.
and really, even today I’m shaped
in a half-flutter of lips and fingers, as if
our bodies lock & stiffen into
new artworks. We’ll have to sit and
ache for what is normal, what is
naturally expressive, but it’s not
you turned to me and said quietly:
I should have summoned a thousand turtles
set aflame by the sound of a doorbell.
and I can’t tell if this means something
human? i can’t remember
personality trait. i trespass in other people’s sunlight
to be easy to love. she medicates me
who is being born. I fall through a hole
onto the stiff and sweetened soil
as a chameleon

*Each line of this poem first appeared in diode, vol.14, no. 2, and links to each poem have been listed here, in order of appearance.

  1. Midnight’s Talking Lion and the Wedding Fire, A. Day, [33]
  2. The Poet Winnows and Sorts, K. Craigo, [2]
  3. Poem in All The Wrong Ways, S. Vuong, [1]
  4. It All Comes Out in the Wash, M. Douaihy, [12]
  5. Deadening, S. Ryan, [19]
  6. What I Regret, J.K. Glass, [15]
  7. Do You Speak Persian?, D. Atefat-Peckham, [9]
  8. Eccentric City, D. Curtis, [13]
  9. The Father is Sleeping or Walking, B. Cutler, [32]
  10. Winter Now, Hong Kong, Cheng, T.T., [2:9]
  11. Are Koreans Human?, Y. Lee, [18]
  12. Inheritance, K. Gottshall, [7]
  13. The Clapping Lights, G.R. Newman, [3:2]
  14. Dandelion, K. Craigo, [10]
  15. Seedlings, H. Zhang, [12]
  16. Blackout Nerves, A. Asad, [2]
  17. Chthonia Calling, D. Curtis, [17]
  18. Eccentric City, D. Curtis, [16]
  19. Performance Review: “We have some concerns about your character.”, C. Shipers, [20]
  20. What I Regret, J.K. Glass, [9]
  21. Blackout Nerves, A. Asad, [15]
  22. What I Regret, J.K. Glass, [24]
  23. Microfilm, S. Ryan, [9]
  24. Are Koreans Human?, Y. Lee, [10]
  25. i, too, would like a manic pixie dream girl, Y. Lee [18]
  26. i, too, would like a manic pixie dream girl, Y. Lee [20]
  27. Deadening, S. Ryan, [3]
  28. Seedlings, H. Zhang, [43]
  29. Conspiracy Theory 2, J.P. Dancing Bear, [22]

BRIAN LEONARD is a Baltimore-based poet who has been developing his work seriously for the past five years. He writes poems to work through things, but typically from oblique, ironic perspective; he is interested in poetry as an impersonal craft than an autobiographical document. He lives with his cat and seems to have a new day job every year.

© Maximus Magazine 2022

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