'Critics: Selected Poems' / Leo Mares

'Critics: Selected Poems' / Leo Mares

Leo Mares' poetry explores many themes in a manner which is above all else, peripheral. We wind the contours of his ideas forever on the brink, touching that which we intuit but cannot express. Although his language is frequently archaic and often verging on the arcane, Leo's ideas are undoubtedly of this time. Burdened by the limitless paraphernalia of modern choice, his character is charmingly indecisive in a way which often reminds interlocutors of a wind-up automaton. Yet behind this mechanical veil, as well as underlying his collection, we tread upon an all-too-human loneliness. Beneath Leo's verbose elocutions lies not the Apollonian language of the mind, but rather, the many windings of a passionate heart.



Glory to those pleasant lives

Of those who attended vibrant parties

And felt the spring of youth

Fresh against their cheeks.


Those who know the words to all those songs—

for I their lyricism escapes;

I was never torn away from pleasant afternoons by tolling bells,

For I went willingly into those rooms

of blue carpet and grey chairs.


Those pleasant lives and pleasant youths

Appear to us ethereal; a festival behind solid glass... An ideational figure;

Shimmering from above this lake—

Of which light confesses representation

But precludes all touch—

(Our arms do not extend beyond its surface).


Glory to — abstract glory;

Glory to us muted wanderers

Who tread the sands

In gentle deserts of distraction,

Who, lacking the anchors of the real,

Feel a pathos of distance

Unwarranted— yet felt (so still),

As a chasm of separation.


With black and white

Our speckled hearts take pilgrimage,

Upon the infinite staircase,

Receding from life we reach upward

Toward unknown heavens;

We reach backward to that which we so covet yet resent...

Asking, quietly pleading,

If we may bathe in that spring of youth…

(it doth not flow in lonely deserts, nor salty seas wherein we dwell).


Beyond the pleasant tolling of a thousand

Hellos and goodbyes,

And another thousand

'I haven't seen you in a while's'...

We reach beneath their temperate surface

— we men of knowledge;

(We seething serpents of abstraction),

Forging a gulf from our internal distance

Which writhes uncontrollably

And, sensing its own emptiness,

Sifts the sands and digs toward

godlike men that rest within graves.


The universe watches...

Dare we challenge its nebulous mysticism?

With a paradoxical search,

Seeking meaning in a system of meaning deferred...?

I dare not upset these natural circles — which spin between bicycle wheels and grind the world into chestnut shells…

(The only truth digestible to us women of knowledge)


I sit on the pavement,

I smoke cigarettes;

I smoke for the act itself — for this very act is an anchor that secures me within this theatre that we call 'world'.

I was never hired as an actor

For I am merely a critic,

Forced onto stage amidst chaos and confusion, as time and the universe smashed being into conception and existence into form.


And so, and so — I sit on the pavement,

I sit on the grass, smoking cigarettes;

Only tentatively I begin to ask a question

Pointing as questions tend

To push meaning to meaning's end —

With all the maudlin hope

Of simply finding — faith.


But we have no choice,

We men, and women of knowledge;

No choice but to listen to the players—

Learn the lines and play the game,

And ask those questions;

Struck lost for words

We fear and tremble beneath glaring lights

that bury us too, in ancient sands;

For we are lain bare,

Not before god,

But before man.


Precluding Soft

Precluding soft

her fettered feed

tap oh so lightly

on hard concrete

the curling plants

a poised repose

the swell of bass

so deep, so deep


our death hath cometh

retreat, retreat


scattered crates

amongst gravel yard

scattered ash

and gentle rain

nights well lived

when we went hard

we lay so languid

amid that yard


our death hath cometh

retreat, retreat


We walk at night

through crowded streets

and sleep amongst

those holy rains

We write the hours

in invisible ink

oh blood shall fill

our sacred sink


our death hath cometh

retreat, retreat


yet we part this sea

and so we see

those rays of light

of another day

precluding soft,

yet oh so softly

the day’s caress

on windowsills.



Mindless musings

On listlessness,

And overwhelming doubt

Rend my faith into stone.


That stone then moves

In perfect unity

With celestial bodies;


Bodies shift

And writhe

In illuminated blankness,

And empty spaces.


Why do we live,

When all life is listless?

Left waiting,

In a stairwell,

Unsure of whether

to get up and leave;


The moon is high

On the mountain,

The madness,

It overcomes me.


In this world,


Is obsolete;


Yet we still speak

The language of listlessness, 

and expect

endless understanding.



The Ocean

I walk beside the writhing sea,

And the enormity of the empty ocean,

Fills the iris of a single eye.

A candid smile

A woman's repose

A state of affairs--and one that pleases.


A quiet conversation

My interjections about ethics

Repeating lines

Of unknown authorship.


I have no opinions

I occupy no space

I have no place to sleep

Amongst the rain.


The rain runs into rivers

Which run into the ocean

It swallows me in its darkness

In the peace and the quietude;

A peace so deep and so dark.


I fumble with fragments

Of mornings nights and evenings,

But perpetually I wander by the edge of the ocean - it is never far away.


I run my toes through across its surface,

Flirtatiously, I pose the question once over;

Do I dare?


And what will they say?

'He was restless amongst life' is what they'll say - 'and he always loved the ocean'.


Friday Evening

Are you still thriving on thievery?

I can't bring myself to steal––

a skill you gave and took away

And which I have filed away amongst

Other motifs of that collective universe

Which we dreamed up

Such as that nasty rice wine

And those dinners we made easy

Your skin punctuated with ink

Yet impossible to read

Like an obfuscatory novel

Or a sort of cryptic scripture.


Your ink which bleeds forth

Those incessant tears

Gentle yet disarming

Like the rain we watched falling

outside your garage door

Permeating afternoons

As winter became spring

Tears ran between my words

and into bottles of oblivion,

trickling down my fingers

which still tentatively linger,

Over your message box,

Heart begging the question

Longing for–



Reason begs,

as does friends’ advice

and my mother’s deep disapproval

I see the logic but stop,

Stop! Think of mindfulness,

Think of ‘progress’

And think of the ducks on the lake.


So I try to stop and reflect,

I reflect passively on those

repressed, regressive expressions;

I administer that six dollar red

that helps to count the hours of

Another evening in my dusty apartment

Drenched in the ashen glow of lamplight

And feeling the rush of a paradigm shift

Arriving like the next day's Saturday train

Bathed in a blinding mid-morning sun,

This is the first ritual

in a day hungover

Teaching but knowing nothing

No sweetness at the day's conclusion

As I know that you won't be there

When I come home.

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