top of page

John T. Leonard

Falling Forward

The night ruins my love of sheep;

much easier to count by daylight

going 60 miles per hour, more brown

than white as we pass them on a hill.

I estimate 30 and you say no more than 15.

But who is really counting? It’s only noon!

We’re not even midway through summer

and the sheep are 3 miles behind us by now

and you’re seated there beside me, blushing,

and there is nothing in Indiana more rose

colored than a rose, but you would have it

no other way. Honey lips, wild hair, eyes grey

when the sky is grey, and all of your laughter

fills me with an almost light—a glow that

pushes me the way you push your hand out

the window and fly it through the air. UFO

or magic carpet. Zeppelin falling forward.

I do not ask you which, choosing instead

to orbit. Orbit is all I do.


Covered in hell—

this morning’s newspaper

this exodus of earwigs

from your poison-soaked lawn.

It’s not healthy to stare at one color

for too long—these endless seas

of green, these dry gray rivers

that take you from one place

to the same place.

There will be another eclipse

tonight, but nobody will see it.

Every couple of weeks it seems,

a brand-new reason to stand

barefoot on the cold grass

and wait out the darkness,

wait out the slow, heavy taunts

of midnight clouds,

wait out the ego,

which takes the shape of an anvil

whistling ten feet above your head.

Late to rest your body. Early to rise through

the miniature constellations of skin dust that

float in the dawn-lit air.

From your bathroom window, you watch

as a blue 1971 Buick Skylark blows

through a stop sign and vanishes

like cotton candy past the lips

of your first date in high school.

You hear a seagull screaming,

though you are far away from water.

Something with twenty eyes crawls from the sink drain.

It turns your reflection against you. You wash your face.

You prepare to walk the streets

that you once would stagger.


John T. Leonard is an award-winning writer, English teacher, and poetry editor for Twyckenham Notes. He holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University. He is fortunate to have works published in Chiron Review, December Magazine, North Dakota Review, Ethel Zine, Louisiana Literature, Jelly Bucket, Mud Season Review, Nimrod International Journal, The Indianapolis Review, Genre: Urban Arts, and Trailer Park Quarterly among others. He lives in Elkhart, Indiana with his wife, three cats, and two dogs. You can follow him on Twitter at @jotyleon and @TwyckenhamNotes.


bottom of page