Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Leonard Gontarek: Sentinel On The Edges of Light and Shadow, Substance and Ethereal



All I know is each year
there were ducks on the iced tea of the lake.

All I know is I can reach God
as easily as a stone through stained
glass lit from inside at evening.

How long does it to return the dead from a crash?
How long does it take to make our way back?

All I know is idiots are trying to
steal the moonlight, and by idiots
I mean one or two, and that is
in the world of letters alone.                                                 

Windows, floating, shake like laundry on the water.

Terraces were never meant for this.
He was never meant to be a terrorist.


Sandy the fireworks are hailing over Little Eden tonight.
I like my fireworks filmed with a drone.
American Apparel issues
apology after posting picture
of Challenger explosion
as fireworks, apologizes
for posting Challenger
disaster as clouds.
Hey, Sandy, my, my, my.



We buried my sister in secret.
We mourned in secret.
We mourned at night.
In nasty sunlight, too, we mourned.

We walked slow, but the slowest
was a stranger, and she was weeping, and lost.
My sister was just ashes in a beautiful box with two stone angels.
She was brought to church in a silver BMW.

We ate miniature cakes and coffee that was too hot,
and that was right.
We listened to Longfellow Serenade.
I don’t remember if it rained.

Someone asked if it rained because rain
is good luck at a funeral.
I don’t remember.
What kind of good luck can the dead have.                          


The relation to death
regardless of being and nothingness
is an exception,
seeing as in Plato,

toward as in Heidegger,                                
is not made up
of an uneasiness with regard
to the unknown.

Death is empirical.
I must answer.
The Other was a sign
one will never be even.

Today I draw from all this
that sadness must shy away from everything.


The source spoke on condition
of anonymity
because they were not authorized to discuss
the investigation publicly.



The light spills from place to place.
The children ask why aren’t there any dinosaurs?
The children ask why are there so many languages?
The children ask why is that man homeless?


The light spills from place to place,
among flowers and stones.
What can be done?
Fences. Tall, gold, glittering, barbed.


The children ask why do people get sick?
The children ask why do grown-ups sometimes cry when they’re happy?
The children ask why do the kids next door have more toys than we do?                       
The children ask why do I have to invite that girl to my party?


The shadow of a cloud
passing like a plane
penned in the field.
Alive, light returns.

The light is hungry.
The light needs us.
Light is huge, an issue,
in the united hate of America.



For the past hour,
war and peace for beginners, for you.

In the pane of late light, metal, pointillist,
if the book is called Predestination,
precede to the last page, lick your fingertip.

Everywhere, face in pool, clear, laconic.
Everyone died in this pond in the nineteenth century.
I accept that.

Out the window, wouldn’t you say in the middle of that
uncontestable joy, is sorrow? Makes you sad.
It is sad. I can’t explain. I follow the lovely wild horses
with my eyes. They become lost in the shadow of mountain and then, darkness.
I love the way that happens. But who can be certain, when it comes to imagery.

I have problems with everything and it is deep-seated, you say.
I have problems with you, you say. That has always hurt.

Afterwards, a mist comes off the body. A process we constantly interrupt.

Your mother sang spells.
The light – it was artificial and inappropriate – mixed with the powder in the limbs.
Your father put his head down on the sofa and wept.
You referred to truth as intel.
That seemed inappropriate, to reduce the findings of the world to slang.

For something like a second, cold sandwich.

My face in the mirror, strange and blue, fluorescent.
The reflected trees fill in with graffiti. What am I getting around to, loneliness.
For something like a second, of the passengers, faces.

I read the titles of the novels not the text.
No way, you said, not you of all people.
What makes you hyper? That makes me hyper.
The highway is for blurry trees and blurry stars, tonight.

Everything is out of reach. Everything is too high.


It is love and pain, baby, I would think, the shining within the mist today, that signals it will be
a good day, we understand, when we assess the figure in the mirror in the morning, who we concede,
has looked better, has possessed more contentment, the bones hidden in beauty and clothes demonstrate
taste, or a sense of it, is what we are given and it is enough, illumination, that is what it is about,
the feet glisten and become light, soon the body follows and with that the head which equals heart,
what we see in the glass may appear like a tree burning, this, I suggest, is joy, rushing to meet up with us,
whether at the end of a summer or an unforgettable snowfall, whether standing outside the fence of the
cemetery you passed every day on the way to school, the ghostly shape in the window of the closed
caretaker’s house, whether sitting in the square wading, like everyone, in six inches of shadow, waiting
for the dark birds to drift and spark, the coming evening tingeing the sculpture orange, low metal clouds,
it is all right, this is x, the beginning of wisdom or knowledge or something closely approximating it,
as close to our liking as we can expect, we conclude, everything from here has a chance to stand in the
soft light, or be moved into it.


I read about disappearing, a long time.
Notice, you don’t see passengers drop to their knees on the subway at 6 PM.
Notice Alaska’s republican senator wears an Incredible Hulk tie. I’m sure I don’t understand.
Sometimes they just make the hands of writers disappear.
Other times, a boy saves up his money to be with a prostitute.
Your poetry must not be greater than your doubt.
I hear the carnival music on the earth. Oh, lost, shiny objects.
Seconds on the chocolate cake. It’s like 452 degrees in here.
There’s nothing, the next morning, but holes where they drove in the pegs.
I thought they would thank me for writing about them.
I thought they’d be grateful for chronicling their terrible fortune.
Brings forth, next morning, a froth of scum and sweet leaves on the river.
The death of the novel and God suits me.
The ladder is too small. The post-modern art, too high.
The snow is blue acrylic, you may as well paint over this night.
Your car, never what has been hijacked. May not be stolen.
Which is the point. The dots reassemble.
You may initially experience resistance, this is normal.
If it persists, you should see someone.
You could see who I’m seeing, but I don’t know.
Light is a slave trade, clobbered with nightsticks.
Take this on faith, not mine. The earth is tiny demands.
Under the sycamores, under the burgundy Japanese trees.
The dogs in the garden and the statues don’t ask for peace.
What will it take to get you to hold me like a marble Madonna, like the wind holds my cats in summer?
The wind goes through like something invisible.
You can tell it really knows how to die, the wind.
A real God would understand.
Cosmos, snow-drop, wet tulip, broken film, time-lapse borealis. Colorful lumber fallen in the field.
This can’t be the world we wished for.
There is much I don’t know.
There is much I don’t know about myself.
Does that make me imprecise? Make this less true?
I am an incomplete idiot? Almost total failure?
Both wings never work at the same time. Of this I am pretty sure.
Longing is vague and it is long, almost a lifetime.
There is much I don’t know of how the world works, I am the first to admit.                                              

The ship is moored to August.
They are crowding the ship.
They have carried chests
of ice and cartons of bourbon
that tastes like southern dusks

leaked through leaves and branches
because that is what they
have been told.
The bourbon will make the tears
come easier and when they come,

it will make the sorrow of those tears
easier to bear. They will not
weep only. They will dance.
They are bad dancers, but they
are dancing with death so it doesn’t matter.

The trees will bleed. The future will appear empty.
It will be difficult to say if they are sad or happy
and they will have whiskey on their breath.


Do two things ever come together,
like the virtual joy and the real bourbon above?
Probably not,
but it is not a thing we can ever know.



When I looked out across the sea of death
against a littleness
myself.    Gilgamesh


Attention please.


When the soul lies down in the grass.


When the soul lies down in moon slide & Philadelphia,
eerie, lit paulowania, strange moths in lonely trees,
Iraq will be dark.


When the soul lies down,
a scythe fills the field.

It snows through the bars of the cell.

The cup I drink from tastes like zinc.                       

I rattle for the guard for I don’t know what.

I would not be alone if he were here.

What endures is explanations
& beauty, epitaphs on a scrabble board. My crown rusts.

In the world of trees, the birds squabble & make up,
I can only imagine.

Maybe War is not the answer.

A lumber truck, speeding downhill, overturns the Northern Lights.
God & dusk dismount.

When the soul lies down in the grass,
one taps a glass over & over on table top.


The Speaker obviously believes
the use of those words
was inappropriate,
as is trying to raise money
off the situation.


He's being absurd. But that's, you know,
an entertainer can be absurd.


Katy Perry, she’s kind of annoying, right?
Yeah, but I’m kind of in love with her.


It's not the language I would have used,
but I'm focusing on the issues
that I think are significant
in the country today.


Show a little faith.


Not to
tell lies
steal kill
not to
& so forth.

Try telling that to the woman you are pulling toward your body.
It is the perfume that is the appeal.


In God’s case, it is the perfume that is the appeal.
Light deranged in His branches.
The will of love is never empty, the call.


Show a little faith.


Evil can be scooped out like bacteria.
There is, of course, changing it.

Making a banner that flows, you can follow.
Ah, there is a reason to press your lips: her ring, her knuckles.


Show a little faith,
there’s magic in the night.

Leonard Gontarek’s recent books are He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs
and Déjà vu Diner. His poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry,
Joyful Noise! An Anthology of American Spiritual Poetry, The Working Poet,
American Poetry Review, Fence, Field, Verse, Poet Lore, Spinning Jenny, and as a tattoo.
He coordinates Peace/Works and hosts The Green Line Reading and Interview Series.
He was the 2011 Philadelphia Literary Death Match Champion and recipient of the
2014 Philadelphia Writers Conference Community Service Award. His poems have

been translated into Italian and Romanian.    www.leafscape.org/LeonardGontarek

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