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Sample Poems by Leonard Orr


You skimmed my long, steamy letters,
the creamy portions floating up with the froth,
the spices revolving with the bursting bubbles,
separating from the dark and tangy chunks,
the slow-moving orange slices and chewy first-person.
You just dipped in your long-handled
bamboo skimmer with its wide mesh,
checked it was done, thoroughly done,
pulled out the sweetest verbs and most
pungent adjectives, added the tapioca flour
and left the letters to thicken and cool,
poured the purified notes and poems
into elegant ramekins whose surfaces
you scorched until they were brown,
brittle, smooth, disemvoweled.
Break through with your spoon and taste only
heavy softness and sweet vague memory.

Strong Measures

I inject you directly into my heart
whenever I want to live. My cells
unfold their membranes to lip
your sweet fluids, to curl
black furricles into your pinkness.
You scrub me down with apricot seeds
crushed into thick cream.
I flow, I flower, I bloom.

I sip you softly and deposit lameds,
samekhs and ayins inside you,
the frisson of the shapes thrill,
the tip of my tongue curled,
the length of it bowed and bent,
a brave diver poised, long toes
ready to push off, to push you
into breathing a line of alephs
into feeling my triple-crowned shin
you sigh shhhhhhhh

Stubborn Soul

When they approach dying in their mountain fastnesses
the exiles from Tibet have shamans reading urgently,
from long, loose woodblock printed pages, passages
urging the soul not to cling to the useless body, to
give it up, to accept the next phase, the new life. Then
after dying, they keep reading around the clock
until the funeral date set by the astrologer, while
the soul reluctantly moves out by stages, first
leaving the feet, then the legs, and gradually up,
finally popping out of the top of the head, leaving
a tiny spot the watching shamans can discern. The
body is cold and empty and ready to be dust.
Now that you've left, you must hire counter-shamans
to surround me and perform the opposite rituals.
They will have to read in urgent stereophonic chants
from The Kennewick Book of the Dead, from the Pasco Sutra,
those passages meant to persuade the soul to stay
corked up in the cooling body. Blue jump-suited
monks from Colfax and the hermits in Palouse caves
will take up the cause, if you give them donations.
But it will be useless; my feet iced at once when
your leaving washed through me. I know
my soul will set a record for skull-exiting, popping
exuberantly from its cold shell. It will move with you,
it will inhabit you, it will wrap you in warmth in the west.
My spirit-tongue will lap at you while you are in need
and you will knock over your mug with happy recollection.
You will curve your hands and feel my ghostly lingam.
I will always be with you in every mirror you see,
caressing and kissing you while you say without conviction,
"You would have been fine without me. . . ." You,
in your new town beyond on the mountains,
wearing me always beneath your clothes, under your blankets.

Staying In, Blinds Closed

I cannot take a walk today while you are away;
the dullness of the town and the heat or even
the jostling rhythm makes me think of you
so succulently, inside my shorts my body riots
anxious to get out and follow your scent. I'll
find you and lap you up. And I cannot sit
on my balcony without wanting to shout out
to the sky to the sun to the grass to everyone
how it feels to kiss you when you first step inside
hot from the July days, your shoulders and neck
somehow accepting the adoration of my wild lips.

Cold Outing

The next rainy day I should return
to where we were last together. There
was that enormous black wild turkey,
calling and calling while walking in
a perfectly straight line below where I
waited that bizarre hour. Its neon red throat
bobbled and glowed as it called for its
hidden brown mate that flew suddenly,
striking invisibly into the trees. I watched
its fruitless searching and calling without
knowing what was going on with you.
And now, at this moment, I don't know
what's going on with you, I stare at the phone
I check the empty inbox on the hour.
I don't know if the turkey ever found its mate.
But I thought on this possible rainy day
I should take off my clothes before
leaving my car, keeping them dry and neat.
I should walk out along the muddy trail
letting the rain, just before Spring,
freeze my nerves and close my pores,
deafen and blind me. I will lie down
naked in the muddy road, collapsed finally
from lack of you. I will sink down slowly;
the imprint of my body will be permanent,
it will perplex archaeologists of the next century.
I will open my mouth and let the rain flow in
and shout your name in gobbling calls.
Then perhaps when I am hoarse and breathless
you will suddenly be there, lying on top of me,
(what a coincidence, let's coincide!), we turn
over and over in the rain, trying to keep the other dry,
trying to keep the other out of the mud,
trying to breathe deep into the lungs of the other.
How I love you! How I miss you!

Note From Exile

I didn't hear from you;
fat bumblebees entered
both of my ears and tunneled
racing to meet at the pineal gland.
The sensation was either
tickling or torture. We
haven't spoken for so long
my words stuck in my throat;
I swallowed bowls full of
boiling vinegar and kim chi.
I doubt if my words are audible now
but I hope you'll listen closely.
I didn't pick up your musk, your
unscented soap, your aroma, my
muscular olfactory uselessly aflutter.
Cotton balls steeped in absinthe,
soaked in laudanum, now fill
the caverns of my sinuses.
Since you are afraid now of our touching,
I have my skin surgically removed,
shaved and tanned kid-glove soft;
I send it to you to make into boots.