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Sample Poems by Leonard Orr


My fingers are in mourning;
they are encased in the black gloves
thick and soft, that loved to feel
the heat of your hand through
those thin brown gloves you wore.

I listened to the radio when I drove
and thought of you hearing the same stories,
your smile and your gloved hands.
You were warm in your white layers
and I projected your face on the sky.

I picked up a piece of pumpkin loaf
to have something sweet to share with you,
and I picked up coffee because we might not meet,
because we had no more meetings set,
because it might be some time.

The starlings signaled for you to arrive,
they did their air show, turning as one body,
as one mind, forming and reforming, landing
in this group of bare trees, that patch of ground,
flying apart suddenly, coming together suddenly.

Morning Snow

Sometimes it is so cold
everything has blue shadows
and I think of your small footprints
left in the snow by your black
fuzzy mukluks with the raised seam,
the dark, deep-ocean blue, dahlia blue,
your small feet next to my large feet.
I look for you then to arrive
across the snowfield, seeing to the horizon,
I am so exuberant, I cannot wait,
but I tuck my head into my chest
and hold my deep-carved soles in
gloved hands, bring my shoulders up,
fall forward on the ground and roll,
roll, roll towards you, a bright
white reflecting moon of snow,
tumbling towards you and growing larger,
larger and brighter, so you can see me
from miles away, see me from space,
see the groove I leave in the snow,
a canyon, and I am a gleaming cueball
in the pool-blue shadows, I stop
when I reach your feet, silent, spherically,
and you open your lips with surprise
and melt me with your pleased O!


I search for telltale signs of your approach:
the horizon brightens and the river calms,
the seagulls stalk about and mockingbirds
wave their semaphore wings, quails bob past.
Then at last, still apart, closer, then the moment
when our shadows coalesce, when we pounce
and hold, and could kiss for a week at a time.
Two days without meeting is far too long, a time
of gloom and tedium, two days of lower back pain,
a period that seems boring and bereft, like
two long days in the dental chair, days of talk radio.
Two hours without meeting is too long,
a time of restless, high-tension nerves
strung dangerously in the electrical storm,
imagining unaccountable delays, or that you
find you must leave too soon (any time is too soon).
Two minutes without you is still too long;
when we meet, I don’t even want to blink
because of the seconds I lose sight of you.


Remember the ways in whatever season
the ground beneath the trees formed beds for us
and the leaves and twigs pressed beneath our rocking?
Remember how we once had hastily
washed ourselves with cold coffee so we could get dressed
having heard the barking of dogs and the noisy
pickups and laughs of the approaching hunters?
Remember the stag that jumped over us
and the voyeur owls? Then there were the tiny
black and orange four-legged clinging creatures
we couldn’t identify that clung to us when we
forgot everything but each other in the soft mornings,
and we made a game of searching for them,
before we resumed clothes and returned to the world,
whenever we said, “We’ll have to get dressed soon,”
made us start all over again.

Leaving Town

It’s always so freeing on the fringes.
We pass certain imaginary lines,
arbitrary marks, the border guards
asleep at their posts; holding hands
we limbo to liberation, then lie low.

I hold you with my cradled hands;
you stand in mountain pose, tree pose,
and the earth erupts into the Cascades,
the pines, those cottonwoods, seeds
floating puffballs in these shafts of light.

Bouncing tails of the squirrels are
necks of swans gliding on the water,
and before your breasts butterflies
flap their art nouveau stain glass wings
cooling us, quail coo and grosbeaks hoot.

I Wouldn’t be Distracted

if your legs were not directional arrows, the bright, bold meeting
of two parallel lines from way over there to the distant horizon,

if your hair was not an inescapable skein wrapped around my back,
silken cords tugging my brain cells, the sharp static charges buzzing,

if your elbows and knees were not hinges supporting and opening
the worlds in their elliptical pathways, the curvature of time through space,

if your navel was not the center of the universe, your flat, soft stomach
not my golden plains, windswept deserts, gently inviting slopes.

First Day of Spring

Perched on my legs, weightless,
you leaned back as far as possible,
stretching your spine to heaven,
disclosing a welcoming gap,
smooth skin, a country to explore,
then you pulled my hands up
to your belt and said, Undo me. . . .

Never the Same

We were caught in a summer thunderburst
far from shelter, out in the open,
the rain soaked us, it was a deluge.
Impossibly, bravely, you tried to cover me.
Our clothes dried through the breezy afternoon,
only to be soaked again on our hike down from the height.

My new shirt bled and its back was stippled green
and it was never the same after that.
My notebook, its covers newly marbled and wavy,
the pages wrinkled and curled, the neatly written lines
fuzzy blue shadows, blotches and blurs;
it was never the same after that.

And me, too, as I have only now realized,
so many years later,
I was never the same after that.