by Tom Leonard

Volume 2 – Issue 3 – New Poems – Tom Leonard

October 28, 2009 | by Tom Leonard

Litany: Blair’s Britain

to seek the truth
is to foment terrorism

to call war state violence is to foment terrorism

to question the news is to foment terrorism

to press the mute button is to foment terrorism

to call Bush fundamentalist is to foment terrorism

to study Blair’s hand-gestures is to foment terrorism

to shout “Down with Castlereagh” is to foment terrorism

to think “the universal human” is to foment terrorism

who dines with Blair?
who dines with the journalists?

to play tennis with Lord Levy is a jolly good show

junk language surround us junk food comfort us

American foreign policy domestic monetarist policy

pray for us

CBU-72 cluster pray for us trident nuclear jolly good show

to be free from fear
is to foment terrorism

to feel free within
is to foment terrorism

to foment fear to foment fear to foment fear

is Blair’s Britain

Myths in these parts (2)

He’ll come down the chimney once a year and put presents

under the tree. Then he’ll have a bite to eat, before going off

back across the sky
in a big sleigh driving his reindeer.

When you waken up
it will be the middle of the night,

you’ll charge through to the room see your stuff lying there

and you’ll shout: Santa’s been!

The Eff word

I have always felt a great antipathy to the Eff word.


It really rubs me up the wrong way.

Wish You Were Here


not doing whatever it is they do
when they’re not here

as to announce
they are not what they are in their other place

and the glass bottomed boat leaves from the pier
in half an hour


nobody cares if
the moors or the martians

lived here
in the thirteenth century

somebody [they say] has been here

that morsel of history

comes with the chips and the pork chop

the young people here for their hole
and the beer

—they have the right idea


a local mother and her child
a local man smoking a pipe
a local dog lying in the shade
a local somebody going about their work

how authentic


never so easy –

having pocketed where you have been

wandering on
with semi-certainty to show in future

the particular place
you put your stethoscope to what it was

you had been told was there


only the children


where they are who they are

to tourist and local of tourist and local

and the function of the adults to give them all their time

The Thousand and One Nights

I told the genie of the lamp: “I have only one wish”:
I would like, before dying, to see the aurora borealis
and hear the music that precedes its coming
gallop with the Tartars across the infinite plains of Mongolia be shipwrecked for nights and days, lashed to a flimsy plank wake up in a forest full of water-nymphs
be a camel driver in Ishpahan and a prince in Istanbul, both in the same day
spend the entire night lost in the Congo, and find the magic plant
cross the Gobi desert alone, and map it precisely
be a schoolmaster in a hamlet in Siberia
travel with my favorite whale, either inside or outside
be a man condemned to death, against the wall or in the chair
be the Pope in Rome by day, and a whore in Singapore at night

feast on a missionary with my tribe in Zimbabwe
be the richest man in the world, and the most depraved live like a chandala in Bombay
be a black poet burning on the crosses of the Ku Klux Klan be the Grand Master of the Klan
live in a lovers’ colony on a coral island
paint a masterwork about nothing
have a harem with a grossly deformed Kim Basinger
be the mother of twenty illegitimate sons
live as an ascetic in the Sinai and discover there is no God own a palace of marble and live in a hovel
see earth from another galaxy
do lascivious things to delight an inflexible queen
be a boy with a kite on the slopes of the Andes
be offensive to God and know that he felt terrible comfort Him and make up, both of us happy
be a benevolent tyrant in a most fertile kingdom
be a trapeze artist and recite poems in the air
call myself Ashaverus

be a cobra with its dark wisdom, its poison
meet myself in the street, and follow me
see me as the one who hates me sees me
as she who loves me sees me, at the peak of love converse with Plato in his gardens
make love on a chestnut horse, at full gallop
invent an unimaginable, shocking flower and bird
feel what that man was feeling that night in Gethsemane know all the seaports of the world, tell theM by smell marry the most beautiful woman in the planet and be extremely poor together
be a salamander and live in the fire.

Later, I’ll tell you my other two wishes.

By Juan Carvajal

Translated by Alastair Reid

From this Issue

Wee Yin and Big Yang

by Hugh MacDonald

Kill and Be Kilt

by Hamish Whyte

Blog / Discussion

Rusticated… (II)

by Brian Morton
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