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Sane Places: Seven Poems
ROBIN’S EGG BLUE                 

here is a moss-lined pool at wit’s end.
a gingko lime green with august burning with october.

I have a pistol in my mouth and dare not load it.
my ur-friend feels unsafe with a gun in the house
(so: I keep it in my mouth). danger reads the sign on the cliff;
they put them up everywhere. police flash their lights

for the fun of it. maybe they aren’t having fun
without their sirens. they can’t work from home.
even the experts are experts these days. who wants
a pain of pumpkin pickled peppers—I do, said Gertrude—

not me. swallows and finches, finches without islands
use your words, big boy, cut to the chase, take your first steps
then nine thousand more for your goal, your buzz—grow sour cultures
from thin air, hatch flies from meat, train your neighbor’s dog to drool,

write a new manifesto. let time, then history, repeat itself. don’t forget to
pick up some lysol, a sponge, and the clove cigarettes.

tobacco sure smells good.



Chlorpromazine comes from antihistamines, yes
blue in blue places. The groundskeeper cleaned

the ball jar with lavender soap, a pot to piss in.
Heavy water, heavy water  he muttered with

the snow  slush, slush  gray-bottomed and cement-
stuck scraping with the shovel. He dreamt he met

the teacher, this concept, his gesture, her syllabus
and lecture, her summary, his word, a pause, a

question:  If I don’t go to hell, who will?  said
Odysseus. Cowboy up  said Laertes.  Oh, I’ll

eat you alive  said the table  I am a medium
said the psychic.  Each house has its acres

he mused  I guess that’s why they’re neighbors  but
still  the insides of their bodies  have become  soft white

paper. Taking the rabbit to the warden, the keeper
thought hmm, sounds like everybody is alone

in their own way. I guess it’s ok to be ok when you’re
ok. Looking at his sore thumb and the game’s torqued

neck he told the warden dogs laugh did you know, it’s a
pant, a quick pant  like infants laughing  You! Me!  Cats

laugh all the time, with their eyes. Yes, he thought,
this fellow is a man you could give kittens to.



Pull up the peonies, plant a new red
stake. Tie it off, twine to corner twine

with urine on the border, fish flayed
into fresh, dug holes. Let the wind whip

the dandelions, let the four-by-fours
decompose. Move the garden to the

light; leave the tree to its shade. Let
the browning blossoms be, let them be,

let them curl and pucker and burrow
in swollen, fleshy fruit. Carry his body

to the bed, remove the growth, and try,
try to leave in the life. Find the root

that got in the way and touch it.
Where the spade cut its groove.                    

Rip a new bag open, pour the soil; taste
the air. Forget gloves to tamp the earth,

wet earth, using the heel of your hand.



red no parking, no parking even sundays.

white no entry, yellow no outlet, green western,
green jay. black arrow, blue snow, bare gingko, dripping
bud. fir writhing, silent scissors, wet people, gentle folks,
flat comb. long handle, cadillac hearse.

vibrato spurs, masking tape in corners, dogs done worse;
a man lingers at the lamp-post, the woman
breaks the glass. red-white (in case of fire), black permit,
mauve toes, pink hose, lime bonnet, blue fleece, wool socks, grapevine

totter, a daffodil, a stroller, cold rain, a yawn. bruised brick,
frozen caulk, down top, stop talk, stop shape, gray back,
april shower, white wreath. coupe rouge and blue recycling,
empty compost, coca cola, fun home, jay and river, river

and western, lightless posts, neon trousers, breathing pine—
howling oak. solar panels, buried wheel, eight spokes; everything
but the bagel & the egg & tomato & cheddar & rent. faded
rainbow; disc, circle, rod, spear. worn marble, public library, orange cone

black, an epitaph,  [the]  yellow bush.



The trees conspiring to create eternity again.
Our bodies with every tendon, sheath, and auricle
intending to grow old again. Breath finding wings,
lungs, skin. Hearts becoming rooms, again.

This overland march tends, though at times purple,
to the south again. Falling repeatedly from the ceiling
of the children’s hospital, these broken foam panels trip
shufflers. Again. The trek is up and over

another funeral the color of armageddon, again.
I think my son slept in my arms and we were on
the same plain again. His father came by to lord
over our losses and said he knew the big blind man

who passed and he wasn’t and I wasn’t speech
-less again and gargling tears and clenching
his hand listening to the roots work up
through his toes and out his mouth.



that’s not my name, that’s
my mother’s name my grand-
father’s name. I don’t want
to hurt you either so I say I
don’t want to hurt you  and
leave the seatbelt unbuckled.

I do not want an ice cream
cone without ice cream at
the bottom, that ruins every
thing. every happy memory
ends in sugar bees and warm
soda and ambulances some
stomach pumps and air

guitar or whatever it is our
uncle plays without his fingers.
I want an iris you said, and
I want to stop listening to doctor
oz but can’t, I can’t be
the ped-x-ing sign anymore,
I can’t be the telephone, I need

a willow a winter a wake, I
need to cross the street.



rolling, date me    put me in my skin.
snip the threads tying my chest to your floor
so I may breathe, or choose to. let my lungs
fill with a lake, suck me out, pull me
through my through my nose, my soul

through your masked mouth, your teeth
gritted, dirt beneath your nails from digging
digging into dinner and barking at dogs
and me your mongrel, running home
pouncing through the kitchen door

holding bags of mud on high—look!mommy
for you triumphant as a pig, triumphant as
the time I brought back a toad wart-free,
like the morning the cat left us guts
because she saw how much you liked to read.

chew me up, spit me out, keep chewing
but never swallow—your mouth makes bile
of mine. I was never ash. I will gnaw, will
gorge myself to return the favor, your cheeks
in my mouth. watering. please don’t die, kid,
please just don’t, you say. cross your arms
for yourself, don’t make me. you pray, I eat.

snatch me, snatch me, snatch me, snatch
me slobbering fast and floppy rag doll
staining the fiberboard porch kicked-off
the welcome mat, tumble-dry only now
sopping purple red wet each drop

of rain on my forehead, each drop pushes
another out. I’ll keep my open windpipe.
yes. beat a rose into my breast. tap out
its thorns. cover your gloves with gloves.
take any rib you want and                     it.

plant it. clip the bone, suck the marrow.
give me a night, and keep that light on
between your eyes. you’re wearing me out;
snarl if you like. roll the marble on your tongue.
I don’t need to be awake for this.

Timothy Leo (née McGinnis) lives in Baltimore. His work appears in or is forthcoming from Peripheries, Lana Turner, Narrative Magazine, and Of Latitudes Unknown: James Baldwin's Radical Imagination