'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.
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
amongst gravel yard
and gentle rain
nights well lived
when we went hard
we lay so languid
amid that yard
our death hath cometh
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
yet we part this sea
and so we see
those rays of light
of another day
yet oh so softly
the day’s caress
And overwhelming doubt
Rend my faith into stone.
That stone then moves
In perfect unity
With celestial bodies;
In illuminated blankness,
And empty spaces.
Why do we live,
When all life is listless?
In a stairwell,
Unsure of whether
to get up and leave;
The moon is high
On the mountain,
It overcomes me.
In this world,
Yet we still speak
The language of listlessness,
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
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'.
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
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
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.