I don’t care
what other people say
Or that they don’t like
my ideas
or my voice
or the way I don’t seem to hear them.
I don’t care that my words sound obnoxious
or self-important.

I don’t know why
I worry
so much about losing
people’s respect, my job, my life.

I don’t see the coyotes
howling in their night.
I don’t know why or how I came to care
so much
about them.
I yearn for the gloaming,
the bed beckoning me to sleep, to drift
under the covers
in anticipation of their
trilling howl,
conversation, planning.

Waiting at the window
I conceive
a sweep of coyotes
pacing down the street.
the shrieking motorcycles,
the assault
of cars roaring down the peaceful night,
I wish for the
peace of the night
not to be breached by us, only
by them
padding down the asphalt,
closing in
on their prey.

I don’t wish to lose
the innocent,
But I will not
to you
their wildness.

Author’s Note:
Today Leroy and I had our first “writing date.” After being inspired at a writing conference last week, we hurried off to the bookstore, something we haven’t done in a while since the Kindle entered the scene, to purchase a book of writing exercises. So in today’s rainy weather, we trotted off to Panera’s for lunch and a write. Using an exercise from the book Take Ten for Writers by Bonnie Neubauer, we randomly chose exercise 21. Entitled “Don’t” we explored different avenues the word “don’t” could take us down.  Then we each had to choose another number and turned to the next page. Leroy chose 8 and I chose 5. Number 5 had me hand write starting at the outside perimeter of my page and writing around the outside working towards the center.  I had to start with the words “I don’t…” I could not stop writing. If I ran out of ideas, I was to continue to write the last word over and over again until something came to me. We had ten minutes. As with other writing exercises I experienced at the Colorado Writing Project, the first few lines tend to get personal “stuff” out of  the way. Then some magic happened and a crazy idea seeped out onto the page. We shared our work with each other and both of us preceeded to edit and re-write. The above poem is the finished piece, for now.

A Twisted Poem
Leroy Leonard and Lexanne Leonard

I never eat cheese Danish in the autumn
for fear of melancholy
on my unfinished, frail, failing psyche.

Psyche sat unmoved in the autumn eve.
No dancing leaves past the glass,
The indolent nip of autumn’s breath through the sash.

I never allow the pleasures of my kitchen
to interfere with the colors of the seasons.
For this reason I also avoid
pecans in May,
pretzels in December,
and barbecue flavored Cheetos
in the black hole of January.

Unmoved by the chill,
She anticipates the fire of her Cupid’s passion,
the fire of their passion in the waning season.

I prefer my seasons bland and stand-alone.
I hold the hours of the day responsible
for their own happiness;
and to blame
for their own lack of flavor.

The Grecian urn unmoved by the
melancholic whisp of the autumn breeze
nor by the feathers dusting over it’s shape,
Psyche and her Cupid resigned to
the nightingale’s song closing the day.

If I were to consult a nightingale
on his indolence
or a Grecian urn
on her emptiness,
they would surely refer me to my own
half-empty pantry;
illuminated by the tick-tocking sunlight
that limps through the window
exactly this way, this time every year.

April 9, 2010

Author’s Note:
Leroy and I attended a writing conference this week. A panel on John Keats was supposed to use Keat’s odes to inspire young writers. It was very academic. Although I understand that the professors did have a passion for Keats, they were not expressing that passion with passion. It quickly became apparent that we were in the wrong place. We scooted out the back door and settled into the coffee shop to await our next panel. Being one to make the best of a situation, Leroy challenged me to a writing exercise. He dictated six words based on Keat’s odes: autumn, indolence, nightingale, melancholy, Grecian urn, Psyche. He directed us to write something using three of the words in the first sentence and three in the last. It could take any form – poetry or prose. We wrote for about ten minutes and then shared our work. We were going to hear a “braided” reading later in the day, so we decided to “twist” our words together into a joint piece aptly titled On A Panel On Keats. We were amused by the synchronicity of the “twisting.” Leroy’s words are in the black, mine in purple.

My Dogs, A Triptych

One: Pongi
Relinquishing his steed
on the congested corner,
the gallant bus driver
gently raises you from the curbed street
to eye level.
“How did you get here?”

Footing it to the glass doors
Of the gas station,
he pumps Gus,
“Does this belong to you?”
the faithful attendant counters,
plopping you into my garden.

From the timeworn kitchen
filled with breakfast bustling
my mom points through the sliding sash,
“Look. Under the tree. Go see.”

Reaching beneath the stunted pine,
The morning sun starting to kindle,
I lift you from the dusty shade,
“Where did you come from?”

Traipsing through the realm,
concealing you in my arms,
knocking on doors, but not too many,
I petition in a whisper almost to soft to hear,
“Does he belong to you?”
And the much anticipated answer,

He doesn’t belong to anybody!”

My mom, the seamstress,
Caressing soft, tan puppy paws,
“Like a dress I used to have…
Pongee. It was made of pongee.”
“How do you spell that?” I inquire.
“I don’t know.”
“P…o…n…g…i” I ordain.

Two: Wooster
You looked at me that morning
that moment
when time wouldn’t stop for us.
Those sweet, adoring eyes that once smiled, cajoled,
teased me into playing.
The clouded pools cleared.
Two deep black diamonds
penetrated my soul.
You sat so straight and quiet
searching me, then
you understood.
You knew.
It was time.

I heard the first cricket promise of autumn
in that lonely night
before sunrise,
before birdsong,
they welcomed you,
comforting me.

August will always be
the first early crickets
before dawn
before the song,
comforting me.

Three: Bremen
Bremen smiles.
He actually smiles.
Oh, to smooch that cold, wet nose,
scratch those noble shoulders,
rest my cheek on that silken coat.
How could anyone hurt you?

Bremen dances.
Two partners concurring
For a dinner or a cookie or a treat.
The tango begins.
Huge paw plopping onto a lap.
Tender mouth prodding a hand to the prize.
Joyful circles spinning through the room.
How could anyone not feed you?

Bremen races.
What does it mean to play?
Not toys, but running.
Across the yard, up the stairs
Skidding across on the deck.
Just out of reach.
Try to catch me!
How could anyone tie you down?

A bewildering word for one not yet rescued.
An overwhelming word for the lonely.
An expectant word when sweet words are spoken.
A confident word when paperwork is finalized.
Bounding through the house,
A wagging-tail greeting.
Bounding up the stairs,
An inviting nod coaxing a cuddle.
Bounding through the yard,
the chase is on.

We thought we rescued you.

Author’s Note:
I wrote these poems during the Colorado Writing Project in the summer of 2009. We had to put Wooster to sleep several years earlier. If there ever was one, he was my soulmate. I knew I wanted to write something to remember him, but I wanted something special. It took several years to be able to write without tears blinding the page. It is such a joy to look lvoingly at all my pups and see what each brings to my life. Bremen is very different. He’s not long-haired and fluffy like Poni and Wooster. He was terribly abused, so he does a lot of cowering unlike the uncontolled joy and play of the others. But he’s one of the sweetest, smartest doggies that ever was. I am so blessed.