Leviathan is lonely

and he moans in the sea.

He takes no comfort

from the thought

that God made him,

that God framed

and fixed

and farced him

and made him

an exemplum

giving him great limbs

to thrash in the sea.


Leviathan is weary,

weary of grandiose music

of bells and gongs and organs

dogging his progress,

at any twitch or wriggle


and tolling,

weary of the blue

blue–black and black

fathoms God gave him

to be in,

the terror of them.


Leviathan is tired

of his job.

He would prefer

not to swallow prophets

anymore nor to

lift and crack continents

upon his back.

He is tired

of signifying

a power and a glory

not his

in his soundings

to do with as he pleases.


Leviathan is thinking

of losing a lot of weight

and beaching himself,

heaving himself up

onto the dry land.

He is thinking of taking

a vacation,


and to that end

on the dark sea floor

he practices upright postures

and stifles the impulse to sing.








everything is having its effects although some

are napping (things,

not effects).


even in a doze

they compose about themselves a scape

where the sky is white

and the clouds are blue:

where light glides silently overhead but

rubbing itself against the horizon

makes a noise,

a sound of slate slabs falling from a great height

far away

as if all the brown animals in the forest

wore bells.



where everything depends upon the weather assuming air's

perturbable possibility––


that's it––

where the wind has its way with the dust

(that old game)

waiting for something wet to happen,

explicating a manifold of fern–foils and robins

as if a fan snapped open

and a love letter fluttered out.

ah yes

isn't there every evidence angels

or bears

have been having a pretty good time around here:


confetti and streamers and sticky glasses,

and the furniture,

it's been moved!











The ghosts in the clouds are churning butter

and making cheese

and singing in their quaint dialects

the songs the cows like best.

If they did not do so

where should we find the strength

to bear up,

to press on?


Wearing the traditional costumes

of their crafts and counties

they go to market in the sun.

Even though they're ghosts their faces are ruddy

and their eyes are blue.

We are welcome

to take photographs,

and they are too polite

to point or whisper

at the shadows that we cast.



how we ache to go home with them,

to share their simple meal at evening

and the empty histories of the day

and then, perhaps, to spend the night

curiously sleepless while they sleep,

for as they sleep

they fade from sight,

their little house dissolves,

and we are

left alone to listen to the snoring stars.


Someday surely we will return,

we will come to stay,

relying on their natural geniality

and the advantageous rate of exchange.

We'll rent a little place and fix it up

and have our butter cheap

and cheese for lunch

and in the evening stroll down to the pub

and practice how to disappear at night.






AUTUMN NARCISSUS                    






Late autumn rain knocks acorns loose.

They fall a long way

For the big oaks are tall.

When they hit dropped branches,

Abandoned water cans, tin awnings,

Neighbors' decks, they make sharp loud

Striking sounds, variously pitched:

A recitation (in Chinese)

Of a poem first apprehended and forgotten

When you were nine or ten.




Ah, you'll let yourself off easy here

I can tell.  Next

The moon will be adduced;

Who last night gathered stars

In brilliant skirts tonight

Convenes her bright salon above the clouds

Where amidst a moony music

There will be talk of lucent losses,

And a shuffling sound under that chatter

As if of blood, or decks of cards.




You know, this clink and clatter

Of celestial cups and saucers

Some might consider a sort of

Moral failure.

Perhaps a vehement insistence that the sound

You hear is sound of rain and dogs,

Falling rain and barking dogs,

Only rain and barking dogs

Would be a clearer saying.

Or seem to be.





But then the sound of your own voice,

Your breath and breathing,

Mingles in the autumnal music

Giving it a rhythm rain and dogs

Have not, yet range themselves around.

And this is why it comes to seem,

And seems so easy,

That the night's yellow concubine appears

And fills your mouth with kisses,

Your throat with acorns and with rain.




O what a pack of foolish stanzas

Each with its clumsy sleight of hand

Revealing the card you won't remember:

Its edges dogged, its face

Caked with earth.

Looking like the ace of spades,

It might be an acorn or bulbed

Narcissus buried in the leafy deck

While you're distracted by the patter

Of the dull magician, the autumn rain.




Ask the oaks with golden branches

If they will lend a limb

To light the way out of this forest,

To free you from these stale manoeuvres

Of mere circulation and self-regard

And bring you where naked figures

Rise above their own effects

In the dark, rain-lacquered, yellow wood

Silently keeping silence as

Echo gathers and dissolves.




Blake Leland



Blake Leland has taught in the Science, Technology and Culture program of The Georgia Institute of Technology for many years. His poetry has been published in The New Yorker, Epoch, Indiana Review, Atlanta Review, Commonweal and other journals. His work has often been incorporated in digital multi-media pieces, including the “Irreversibility” series by Carol-Ann Braun.

A brief facet of this work is on line at : http://videochannel.newmediafest.org/select15.html



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