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Sample Poems by Leatha Kendrick


pal comrade life
waiting in its sheath for time
to pull it out pet sweetie
doll you called me while
I smiled and hated it
kewpie barbie raggedy
ann baby baby I'm not your bud curled
leaflet blossom bit tucked in under
your cozy armpit my place I called it
purring burrowing like a root tip
my bestbudloverfriend oh
that sweet soil that is flesh that
penis budtip root unfurling hey
buddy watch out where're you're going
down the street the freeway yes it's my way
or the highway something we'd never
say oh bud
oh buddy if only it were easy if only
bud and blossom leaf-fall held
together every opening
cupped the tip protected
hey bud shut up I can't
hear the game all at once
I'm tired of lying
with you on the couch have
we grown too big belly butt heart
anyway we're busting the old sheath
oh sweetheart
I still crave the deep
peace of our feet touching
as we sleep.

How It Feels Now

It keeps burning, under the rubble
we all turn into. Chronic. Hot.
It eats the air, leaves us lightheaded,
heavy of heart. I'm talking
about attacks. About evaporated
towers, yes, and the white
dust of lives, the way those papers
flew out and became artifacts. I'm talking
facts here--what gets crushed when that much
paper falls out of the sky and then bombs fall and fire
and people. I'm talking, too, about aging and hatred
or even the way the year holds onto its cold
while bulbs splash upward, insistent green
fountains plashing yellow cupped faces into freezing
nights, the way the cold lays us (as heat laid them) down--
or even how I hold out against the tender growth all this
requires, so scared to move out of the rubble, to move
toward what I don't want to fail that
I sit still a lot or rush from job to job,
the way my belly burns all the time now
--the way we gasp for air.

Christmas, Adolescence, Yin and Yang

My first love called them Skeeter and Bite.
Equal, then, if small. Skeeter got most
of his attention. Now that right
breast's shadowed, a dark harbor
to what will not differentiate, but does
its incessant adolescent dance. Light
and unseen shadow. Eye of light in darkness,
eye of darkness in light--two nipples
staring from one divided chest. They'll lift
one out, the eye sewn shut by mastectomy.

At this festive time of year, God's breast
sees all, bears all. His eyes never
shut. Mary suckled Jesus, and
in some theologies, the milk
of human kindness flows
from His chest. At any rate,
that yearning to reach down and lift
someone to the heart does not depend
on breasts (I'm grateful to the man
who told me this, his eyes dark with grief.)

And yet, I lie abed touching the soft weight
splayed from breastbone to underarm and wonder
how we'd treat these dugs, these tits, if God Herself
floated forever and ever Amen in Heaven above
with lovely, heavy, downward-reaching breasts.