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

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Anima / Benediction
(10-14-48 / 10-14-81)

Oh God
Nurture me
That I may not love what I was given
That I may not hate myself
That I may destroy with less inadvertence
That I may create with less inadvertence
That I may love what I was given
That I may mother the resurrection

Connie’s Song

What meter?
What melody before my beloved?
Only some Cosmic Hiss

All trees fell without noise
Or music


You sang me your song
Measure by measure

Each chord discovering
Itself in the last
Then strumming
Unique into another

Your magic
De-waxes cosmic ears

Suddenly songbirds fill the forest
New trees grow along fallen trunks

You plunge my cool toes
Into the hot summer mud

You paddle me down the
Rushing river
Your body a current

Your mouth forming love words
Your hair flowing behind
In the wind you stir
Timeless songs

My eyes on you
My back to the rocks

The rhythm of your tune
The plunge of our boat

Opens my mouth

Your solo
Becomes a universal chorus
The beaming baritone in the back

Firmament Street
(From Lewis Center To Finding Her To Van Nuys To Losing Her To Finding Me)

They came from the loins of pioneers
John Calvin came along to protect them from savages
Too much freedom is a sin
So all feeling is suspect

You can say what you feel
But don’t want to be heard
You can have your needs
But don’t ask me to

Asians and Caucasians and blacks and hispanics
Killing each other in rice patty and jungle and ghetto
But in a basement just off campus
One Caucasian smoked, ate Reeses Cups and read Shakespeare

Criminal led governments and other
Raging maniacs vying for my body
Big ideas bandied by mere humans
Babies and parents and grandparents die

I learned rage first in a suburb
Rage grew in the middle of a corn field
The middle of me husked over
Unable to feel either sun or rain beating down

The best of me demanding to burst out
The best of me forgetting who I might hurt
The Guard and Martial Law husk the town
In a sugar, tobacco and dramatic haze murder appears an option

She came as I knew she would
Just in time to save you all from me
Pulling me into humanity
Then whirling off to another scene

Left before I knew to predict
Little did I know what was good for me
I was meant to be with her
We were just as meant to end

There is a blank space
In the middle
Behind my eyes
Where some hope-boy used to be

My room in a crumbling wet house
Smack in the middle of an over sprinkled dessert
On Firmament Street where nature pretends not to rule
Walls welcomed nails with wet crumbling embraces

I bought ten sawdust and glue boxes
Filled my room up with them
Painted them white
Then painted them black

I filled them up with all my stuff
Filled my empty brain with who I am
Walked out into the Withoutyou Valley
Naked but for my sawdust and glue boxes

One sunny day
I took my mother
To the beautiful little country church
That’s the last I’ve seen of her

Death is miscast as the predator
We are meat to the living
I have gusts of sorrow
Sometimes twisters

Imploding memories
Carrying off babies
Destroying whole trailer courts
Of brain cells

Hoping for no weather at all
I must find a new way to a new home
The Celestial Firmament will contain me
Dead or alive or wet

Land Of Loss
Land Of Gathering
(For James)

Oh in that Land of Gathering
Where together we will be
I will find that light
In your eyes so bright
And I will finally see

In this Land of Loss
We say goodbye
We touch one last time
We rock
We rain

Right in the middle of us
We learn to loose you
There is so much to loose

I remember that
Every day I stay
In this land of loss
It means

I want to be here to know you
I want to be here to loose you
Each one of you
I don’t want to miss
Any agony

You go on
To that Land of Gathering
Where we will follow by and by

Now you will loose
Nothing more
While we rock
We rain

Oh in that Land of Gathering
Where together we will be
I will find that light
In your eyes so bright
And I will finally see

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


The dry delusional sun of quality
Revolved around me

Like a mummy in a desert
I used to expect eventual notoriety
And believed notoriety
Was a magic of quality

Willing the gods to notice
I waited eons for success


All the un-mummified
Pyramid builders

All the un-published

Finally taught me

I now believe
Quality is a magic
Of function

Beyond the stringy shrouds
Of human manipulation

I wait no longer

I am swimming in an ocean
Of billions of souls

Mouths I can not see
Speaking the words
That float me

I am dancing on the ground
Of billions of bodies

Feet in their old dust
Allowing their physics
To lift me

I am breathing in the air
Of billions of ideas

Lungs once filled with hope
Willing their spirits
To animate me

I am burning in the fire
Of billions of passions

Eyes obsessed with visions
Growing in their deserts
That singe me

Without Intention
(For Connie)

You are
Half a stride ahead
Reaching back with your hand

Knowing I am there
We touch without a plan
Without intention

You would not credit the thought
But it feels like God
Reaching for me

Reassuring me
Reminding me that
Time strides for us all

Whether we know it
Whether it feels like growth or development or alienation
Time strides for us

We need words and deeds cleansed of intention
Reaching for us
As do knowing hands

I feel God
When you touch me

© 2013 POET'S MOUTH Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha