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Jake Leonard Jul 2014
There’s an old Christmas tree—
dead, without its needles—
floating in the pond.

I remember the first
warm day in February
when my uncle dragged
the still-green tree
to the center of the ice.
He thought it would thaw
within a week,
and the tree would sink.
Minnows could find
safety from the big-mouth bass
and bluegills while they hid
in their buttress of little branches.

But it got cold again,
and the ice didn't melt
till late March. The green
needles persevered,
preserved by the frost,
the branches blanketed in snow.

The needles browned
and fell from the tips
when it got warm.
Now the tree’s
cocked  awkwardly on its side,
and the very top—
the part you might place a star
or a little cherub
as the finishing touch
to a Christmas tradition—
scrapes the dying and decomposing leaves
on the  muddy bottom.

The tree, the trunk,
that erroneous spot
drifting near the edges
of the blue-green water

—it floats aimlessly
as the minnows are swallowed whole.
Jake Leonard Jul 2014
I caught a tremendous fish
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
And I let the fish go.
—Elizabeth Bishop

All the people are old people.
Older than me.
Granddad took me fishing
with one of his friends.
They said we’d catch flounder.

They killed the engine
near the bridge pilings.
The lines stayed slack
until a red and white
floater fell below
the bay’s polluted waves.

I thought I felt a flounder
heaving on the hook.
I reeled it up—
a fish,
cylindrical and silver.
Alert, black eyes peered
at me. He floundered
against the skiff’s side
with a barbed hook inside
his young, unscarred mouth.

The old men laughed:
flounder are flat
and brown.
He was small
and nothing special—
not a flounder.
But they didn't let him go.
They ground my catch up
into a pink paste, spotted
with specs of broken bone.
We threw the pieces off the boat
to chum the water.
Jake Leonard Jun 2013
One day I lost my shoes,
so I always walked barefoot.
I was  terrified
to step on something sharp,
so I always had my eyes
locked on the *****, ugly ground,
always looking down.

One day I became lost
in my thoughts
and stepped on a rock.
A pang shot through my being
and looked up.
And I found the sky.
Jake Leonard Jan 2013
I have been one acquainted with the night,
But darkness gives me peace not often found
On summer days.  I look alone to them,
But winter winds, the moon, and shining stars
Provide companionship to men like me.
I dance around the dark and think they must
Consider me to be a lunatic;
The moon always befriends a crazy man.
But loneliness reminds me of close friends,
And cold revives the thoughts of pleasant fires,
And darkness hides the stories of low liars.
I might not like the night itself as much
As I adore the memories it brings,
But I still find a beauty in night skies
Because it blocks my poor, imperfect eyes
And gives, in darkness, a new light to things.
Jake Leonard Sep 2012
I stood in the pouring rain—
Marveled at its beauty,
And I thought of all the times
I cursed it and called it ugly.

I sat in an empty room—
Cursed her and called her ugly,
And I thought of all the times
I marveled at her beauty.

— The End —