“Ain’t no end to the sands I been trying to cross.”
After the set, the singer settles
a pot of black beans to boil, then he dies.
The beans boil. A friend finds the apartment door
unlocked and Jason decorating
the kitchen tile. I am getting older.
I am learning to think before I unhitch my jaw.
What I mean to say, is no fossil-blue fire
could convince me the man died
with good grace on his tongue.
It’s got me worried.
Blue midwest moon,
what happens when I don’t get better?
When the doctors can do nothing but shake
and rattle like a satchel of teeth?
When the bloodwork stops returning results and jump
starts instead the dull, gnawing habit of death? Lover,
I have been working this crossroads for years,
digging my own grave, hoping
the shovel would break on its own.
It has not broken yet. Lover, this is my way
of telling you my body is breaking
like an old black hen, beak full of blood,
ribs arched like the hot and empty tent
of a pilgrim killed by wolves and never eaten.
John Leo’s writing has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry, Entropy, FIVE:2:ONE, and elsewhere. He is the author of two chapbooks: The Long Weekend is Over (CWP Collective Press) and Gulag Picture Radio (Ghost City Press). He is a co-founder of the reading series Poets Attack. He has an MFA from Butler University. Under the name John Eckerd-Leo, he also designs and writes about board games. His first game is Wolves of Mercia (2019).