To Be Kissed
(For Constance Marlene)

My love does not want
To wait
My love wants
To touch

My love does not want
To yearn
My love wants
To be touched

My love does not want
To hurt you
My love wants
To be hurt only by you

My love does not want
To hear you are hurt
My love wants
To hear anyway

My love does not want
To loose you
My love wants
To be lost with you

My love does not want
To be sickly thus
My love wants
Your cure

My love does not want
To find you
My love wants
To be found with you

My love does not want
To stay kissed
My love wants
To be kissed

Better Than The Boy

Jack showed me how to run
Through the woods
Not necessarily along a trail

Not necessarily after something
Not necessarily toward something

Necessarily running
Stirring up the wood’s smells

Mushrooms rotting
Leaves rotting
Twigs turning into soil with the rest of it

Up the hill and down the ravine
The un-fresh stream
Behind the postwar suburb houses

This one with charred aluminum siding
Where the eldest son
Burning with some rage

Expressed himself
Then he ran off with Jack
Who knew how to be a dog

Better than the boy
Knew how to be a boy

Down and down
Toward the High Street culvert
Below Saint Michael’s

Where Catholic apartment dwellers
Walked their bully sons to mass

While Presbyterians
Sat their bully sons
In white painted more pure balconies

The priests at Saint Michael’s
Built a garden
Before the war

Low walls of circles and squares
Arches of bricks and stone
No longer in the maintenance budget

By the time Jack and I arrived
It was falling apart
The better for it

Not old enough for real old
But old enough for me

Old enough
Catholic enough
To keep me interested

We ran away together
From the home work
Impossibly charred family duties

Past my tree house
Past my dams
As fast as rabbits down the ravine

I ran through huge webs
With big yellow-coated spiders
Straddling the trail

Jack ran under them
It was his joke

Making my skin crawl
With life
And on we ran

He brought me again and again
To the unkempt Priest’s garden
Which got its magic

Not from priests
But from yellow-coated woods spiders

And from Jack
Who knew what was funny
Who knew what was holy

Down To The Salish Sea
(For Connie 10-24-2010)
(This day in 1998)

Gravity and centrifugal forces
Finally balanced

I met her by plan
By chance
In the old river town

Where Salish speakers once
Polled past standing
In their canoes up and then down
The river

This night
Candles in cups sailed down with them and

Women prayed
In thanks not requests
Knowing answers come
In whatever happens and

One man will imagine
Himself mastering
The art of polling canoes
And speaking languages
Unknown to him

Just to impress

She appeared on the bridge
With all the equipment
Knowing how to say NO then
Walking and talking and thinking
In grace

Then I stopped imagining and said:
I am ready now
I am ready now
I am ready now

For grace

John Leist, 2003

John Leist
(For Aaron David Britt)

And so it was
In the year 1969

No myth came out of pre-history
No legend came from oral history
No recorded history of these momentous events
No platinum hero emerged or chaste heroine
It was more than a football riot
But don’t try Google

There was an occupying army
There were attacks
There were counter attacks
There were sharpshooters on the rooftops
There was tear gas
There was intrigue
There were lovers
There was a Komarovsky
There was the knife
There was the daring flight
There was hiding

John was our rescuer
Tutti was his rescuer
He the mad doctor at the piano
She the passionate librarian
Who knew how to love through the decades
Making a music
That taught how music was made

For a time
After the rescue
We students made some music

It was you

photo credit

The Proudest Man
(For Charles H. Britt)


In the eighth decade

The LIST grows short

All the actions
That made me

My mastery of
Principles, machines, and situations
Goes wasted

The stains on my hands

The calluses

All the vehicles
That needed maintained

Don’t need

All the machines
That needed mastering

Don’t need

The friends
That needed loyalty

Don’t need

The tasks of seasons
Which could be counted upon

Are done
By others

My list grows short

I am left only
To care for my Beloved
To care for those who love me
To let them care for me

I am the proudest man
Doing the hardest work

(November 1998)
(For Connie)


I fear for

The need is so great
Waiting feels so long

Fear pushes us
Emptiness sucks us
Longing moves us

There can be no blame for
The mistakes of longing

The consequences hurt
Just the same

You smile and
Any fool can see
Anything is possible

You smile at me
Suddenly I believe
My most deep most black most infected
Wounds will heal

You reach out
Touching the hair
At the back of my

Suddenly I believe
My body is ideal
My youth restored
Love is forevermore

None of my
Hot house musings
Are friendly to friendship

I fear for


Your smile is more than
My eyes are more than
Your ears are more than
We touch deeper than the
Our yearning is for more than

You and I
Friends first

Find each other
Of value more
Than physical

More than

More than

More than

We do not complete each other
We do not judge each other

We cherish the
Shared life

Loyalty is no obligation or expectation
Sex is no race
Sensuality no parlor game

We cherish the
Shared life

Kindness first
The steel of honesty

All other dreams

You leave for the Holy Land
You will return to this Holy Land

In these feelings
We abide
Friendship is

All other dreams

Faith to Play to Heal
(For Grey and April 01-01-08)


A necessary game

Amongst the spiraling activities of safe adults

Play is not 
For family, cult, party, corporation, science or religion
Or for any idea or other person

Play is a necessary game
Using my capacity
To make a safe place
For me alone
Amongst the spiraling hot dust

To play

Intelligence is
Noticing you
In my play

Courage is 
Using my capacity
To make a safe place
For each of us together
Amongst the spiraling hot dust

To play

A necessary game

Amongst the spiraling activities of safe adults

Healing is not for
Family, cult, party, corporation science or religion
Or for any idea or other person

Healing is a necessary game
Using my capacity
To make a safe place
For me alone
Amongst the spiraling hot dust

To heal

Intelligence is
Noticing you
In my healing

Courage is 
Using my capacity
To make a safe place
For each of us together
Amongst the spiraling hot dust

To heal

To see the animated version go to :

Hugging a tree
As big round as a house
Is not me hugging the tree

I just lean with my arms outstretched
The tree notices me
Whispers its bending winds into me

Then draws me in
By some green gravity
Embraces my body
And hundreds of feet
Away at the top

Knows me
Down to its roots
Knows me

Not as human

Knows me as
Organism who lives in a wooden house but says he does not want to cut
Organism who complicates

And then names me thus

I imagine that I name Sequoia

I strain to think deeply

For thousands of years
Sequoia suffers two footed short-lived fools
Among rock, earth, wind, fire and fern

Growing old

Breakfast Birds

Chuck and Margie are sitting
In the tiny cold kitchen
Drinking cups of weak coffee

Warmed only by six decades
The birds out the window
Feel lucky enough

To scatter sunflower seeds
A dark radius on the snow
They may not speak or

Bickering or
Another cup without asking or
Dialing down the intensity for a moment


The lucky birds
Make it through
Another hard winter

We remember
We talk of them now



© 2013 POET'S MOUTH Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha