New Year At the Unique Motel by Joseph Lease

For Donna de La Perriere

That woman laughing
with her mouth full of pizza

sure looks happy,
a green dance, and I’m a

silver coin. Compulsion
was my wedding ring.

It’s a lot of crap: I can’t
imagine your life and I can’t

begin to find these words; I only
tolerate what I can’t

have: I want to feel
every word break.


Kiss me with your round sky:
strong and warm,

our bodies wade in mud
and snow. Above the Public Garden,

the moon, full, in a ring
of fog, lights mud; night, locked

inside, will awaken; night inside roots.
Gold on a fire-colored tree.

Give me the night sky to suck.
With our mouths

we create the night sky.
Through brown leaves

the river lashes its rope of water;
gulls work air, circling . . .

bounced. Restored,
nourished inside you, I am

a surge of heat on a horse’s
back, a salmon

climbing a tight stream.

The grass saves the shape of the hare.
Gray light, thunder, heat, butterfly weed.
What we learned together is real.
Clay, sandstone, reddog, shale.


A summer you could not breathe.
Old wind, tangled up.

You lay awake at four in the morning–
having cheated on Matthew. What did I believe

at the same moment? Keepsakes: tell me
stories–you ate laxatives to starve,

used a screwdriver
to break into your house,

looked both ways before thinking.
On family land near Hoschton, Georgia:

in the middle of a cow pasture,
oaks and pines, seven

overturned gravestones. A woodpecker
hammers somewhere. Broken columns,

a marble flower,
an arch on its side, an urn.

More: tell me stories, let your voice
stretch me in shapes of lakes.


Wind slides between
buildings’ concrete and glass.

Kids gather for ballet
class or hockey practice.

In the faded storm light,
running in snow

on a school ground toward
a chain link fence,

skating, stick handling a puck
on a small rink

in the center of a boulevard
lined with elms.


Each step jiggles green hedges.
Violet, blue wind covers
river light, birches.

Slick mossed roots cup a rain
pool; nurturing, your throat holds
cadences, unhampers song.

Spend an afternoon’s silver,
drying rain, wood
stacked in radiant sunlight;

ground catches. Air
lightens; unmoving, cigarette butts,
leaf shreds, float.

Sun opens an hour,
sandstone, a blue rag.
You come home and laugh,

buoyant as two hawks,
sun-warmed, ordinary; a nourished
clarity sings. A slow,

reliable embrace, mud-slick, salty.

by Joseph Lease

published in lingo 6

Books in print by Joseph Lease


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