John Leonard

No one hears a word of what is whispered

into the bark of trees. All they see are names,

carved hearts, and special dates—curse words

that someone scratched into orbit around

a Gaelic prayer. But nobody hears the echo

of wood as it splinters into a distant meaning,

or the beautiful things a man once tried to

confess to a woman, long before the war

turned them both ugly.  Nobody hears the

Labor Days, or the small parades, or the

moments of nothingness that winter brings.

No one hears a beetle braving the distance

between two fading initials. All they hear is a bird

they can’t describe, scanning the bark and translating

one dead language into another dead language—

something that the world mistakes for a song.



John Leonard is a professor of composition and assistant editor of Twyckenham Notes, a poetry journal based out of South Bend, Indiana. He holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University. His previous works have appeared in Poetry Quarterly, Sheila-Na-Gig, Fearsome Critters: A Millennial Arts Journal, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Burningword Literary Journal. He lives in Elkhart, Indiana with his wife, three cats, and two dogs.

Find him @jotyleon on Twitter.