h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s







It is the 12th century and you just got married.
She is your beloved, and this is your wedding night.
Everyone’s full of advice—is she menstruating?
Yes, stop it’s a sin.  Is she pregnant?  Yes, stop a sin.
Is it Lent?  Yes, stop it’s a sin.  Is it Easter week?
Yes, a sin.  Is it a feast day?  Yes, stop it’s a sin.
Is it Sunday?  Yes, stop it’s a sin.  Is it Friday?
Yes, it’s a sin.  Is it Saturday?  Yes, stop a sin.
Is it daylight?  Yes, stop, it’s a sin.  Are you naked?
Yes, a sin.  Do you want children?  No, stop a sin.
And no fondling, no lewd kisses, no oral sex, and
no strange positions.  Do it only once, and try not
to enjoy it.  And make sure that you wash afterwards.





Are you a secret Jew?  Have you ever wondered if?
Perhaps you’re just too clean, always washing and bathing,
brushing your teeth, especially over the weekend.
Saturdays, for example, always a new clean suit?
When it comes to eating, do you dislike your steak rare,
careful to blot the excess blood, drain it, cut away
the fat and gristle?  Do you ever rub the doorframe
on your way out, think of kissing it for no reason?
Avoided bread on Easter week?  Lit candles although
the evening’s not romantic?  Ever prayed in private,
The Interior Castle of St. Teresa?  You
could be a candidate, then, for the bloodless murder,
the Gospel command that you be cast into the fire.





Coleridge said he preferred to walk on uneven ground,
leaving the path to part the waves in a dense thicket,
moving along to keep from getting slapped by branches,
ducking when called for, tripping over brambles, traipsing
through fortuitous clearings and shags of pine needles.
Better to be orphaned by tendrils, widowed by shoot.
But Wordsworth liked a gravel path free of obstruction
where he could pace back and forth without interruption.
Actually “no collateral interruption”
is what he said.  No collateral damage is what
he meant.  Nothing encountered along the path to harm
himself or his willful descent backwards to childhood.
They would hike for days, brushed one time, recoiled in panic.





Whatever was happening on stage was beginning
to bore me.  I looked up to the balcony, and there,
not so far off to the side I had to turn my head,
I saw you.  You with your halting beauty almost spoiled
by your youth.  I remembered what they said about you
earlier, all those imponderable things, more things
than could possibly be true.  But something in me stirred,
something that all the activity on stage could not
settle—one stone after another tossed in the pond.
I kept gazing up, weary as I was with beauty,
weary as I was with youth, admiring your attire
and your ease.  At once I began to envision you,
depicted in all the ways they’d earlier described. 


BIO: Leonard Kress has published in Massachusetts Review, Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, etc.  Recent collections: The Orpheus Complex and  Braids & Other Sestinas.  He teaches philosophy and religion at Owens College in Ohio. These poems are from a manuscript, 13(13X13)13, consisting of 169 sections, each 13 lines of 13 syllables.

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