A Poem By Leonard Gontarek

by Mark Bibbins, Editor



Ladies and Gentlemen,
We don’t want the forms
floating out there longer than necessary.

It makes crazy sense to me.

Do not, do I, take pride
in the loss of paradise?

Your hair shone like the Seine.

I’m pretty sure it’s a demon, bye and bye.

What are we talking about?

I’m in.

First the city disappears, bye and bye,
then the river.

I don’t have that kind of power.

An exact science made of small inexact sciences.


So you can see the fact of violence
the fact not only outside
not in any time intervals.
We never listen to anything.


So I would understand,
so my life would mean something,
I read poetry on the elevated.


Not Found.


Praise the enterprise.
Praise the overdosed flies on the sill.
Praise the aroma of dress.

Praise the jade shade in tick-tock of glop the cook dished out
in our tiny tin prison cups in the crummy Mandarin Palace.
Customers knelt in rows.

Even as the last handcuff clicked shut,
a group of businessmen surrounded a table of remainders. Kingdom come.
Praise the firewall.


When crows gather they talk about branch will it hold me?
Crows are crazy I have no idea what they talk about.

Look when a crow escapes down a hole and clambers out covered in gold filings,
hear me the earth is divine, no wonder. Kingdom come.

Here’s what to do, open.
Lie down beside a deer corpse you found in the woods, six swords of sunlight vibrating in it.

Kingdom come.
You will then have riches, you will then have impermanence. The branches are silver with snow.

Cold down now.
I brought nothing, handful of food.

A book, that’s what the book tells me, I brought a book I bought on sale.


Praise If You Believe This Has Been Sent To You In Error.
In aftershave dripping of leaves.
Farther back, distance is moved.
Falling from great light. Spreads over war.

Your heart is gone. Maybe one arm by now.
Wait, I said. The automated chapel bells’ craziness crisscrosses like car lights.
Elaborate? I can’t, I said.
Follow the song from the radio. Give away and carry. When fumes touch. Summer in the mouth.


Lord, isn’t this what you asked?

The insects, summer after summer and the last west tree,

smooth, vertical. Half of the leaves in light, half in Paradise.

Buddha loads the gun with humanity, aims it at us.

Buddha takes us to work with him.

Buddha makes us work on his farms.

Buddha makes us fill out the forms.

We sell his snap peas and early pink strawberries at market.

The pennants are so beautiful. That is what has drawn us to him.

Much of the time is spent catching our breath.

The wind pushes the ghost boat tenderly on the lake

and ceases. This is the image that eats at us,

running to meet god at the door with gold scissors.

Leonard Gontarek is the author of St. Genevieve Watching Over Paris, Van Morrison Can’t Find His Feet, Zen For Beginners, and Déjà Vu Diner. He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press. He has been a cabdriver, movie projectionist, bookstore owner, and teacher.

If you should like to read more poems we’ve got quite a selection. Click here for the archives of The Awl’s Poetry Section. You may contact the editor at poems@theawl.com.