Don't forget, you were warned!

I make no claims to greatness.

This is a collection of some of my poetry...certainly not all of it. On this page is the stuff that I think is halfway decent, or even good. (If you want to read my embarrassingly bad poetry, click here.) These poems are in rough order of composition, from most to least recent. Enjoy!


November 1998

Sometimes I think I see
this hapless world more clearly
in the light shed by the eyes of my ancestors,
whose incredulous memories speak to me
in tongues so old they presage Babylon,
leaving me to understand imperfectly,
to translate in vein.

Sometimes I think I feel
the fingertips of tragedy against my cheek
like a lock of hair, so easily swept aside
till it returns biting and stinging,
leaving me blind again.

Sometimes I think I dream
of answers, crystal transparent
like water, magnifying, deceiving,
washing away the ash of doubt for an instant
but turning always to steam,
drifting away a misty mystery.

Sometimes I think I know
something, anything, the rhyme
or ancient reason of cloudy eyes
the perfect spiral braid that tells
my future in gentle whispers,
like a lullaby
or a curse
on the lips of my mother in the darkness.

I sit and think
I breathe and eat
I sleep and wake
I live and die.

Follow My Heart

April 1998

follow my heart
   whence it flows
and you will find yourself
   at the wellspring, but weep not, my love,
yet let me embrace you
   and be cleansed by the raging flood
even as it gentles.

follow my heart
   where it leads
and i will find myself
   on my deathbed, but weep not, my love,
yet let me embrace you
   and be cleansed by the summer's rain
even as it stills.

follow my heart
   while it beats
and we will find ourselves
   in the dance, so weep not, my love,
yet let me embrace you
   and be cleansed by the passion's flow
even as it releases.

Natural Laws: a poem in three parts


I: Motion

And you see her walking on the grass:
she wants to be all things to all people,
she wants to be your universe,
but all you can see is the wisp of hair the wind is playing with,
wrapping it around an empty finger.
So you just smile
and wonder why she avoids the pavement:
her feet aren't bare, but they might as well be.
When you speak she watches you, as her lips form lyrics of love
that her breath cannot voice and your ears cannot hear.
If she takes her eyes from you you might vanish from her
and find yourself in an undulating crowd:
you have more friends than she, and her aloneness is more profound.
And you find that you've never known her,
though you watched her mouth move and thought of an ocean.
But now you see that her rippling words don't flow,
rather they drown in the salty leakings
from the corners of her eyes.
You see that her tongue twists in rhythm with the breaking of her heart.
When you kiss her you close your eyes as her tongue twists around yours
and you taste the love on her lips.
And you see her walking in your dreams:

II. Stagnation

Destined to be an afterthought:
you tack her on at the end of your sentences
like a whisper in her ear under a star-strewn sky
that stirs her hair but not her heart.
She wishes you would think of her more;
instead you think more of her without missing a beat.
You prefer her a presence to tease and caress
with your thoughtless words of friendship:
she prefers you a memory to caress and adore
with her painful unspoken love.
A tide of regret bubbles between her breasts.

III. Resolution

A word soft-spoken,
a look,
a fluttering of lashes,
the glint of a pupil
in whose depths
a word becomes a world.
A word not spoken,
" "
shaped on lips,
tasted on tongue but given
no breath.
A touch half-felt,
fingertips brushing skin,
a sighing waterfall of hair.
A meeting, an embrace,
a smile.

World Dream

I washed my feet in a mountain stream
that carried me down to the sea,
although I climbed the mountain to find the stream's source;
but instead I became an eagle and soared into the sun,
until its bright heat seared my stolen wings
and sent me plummeting back to earth.
Next I thought I might be a snake, or growling panther,
but instead I found myself a snail,
sliding through life with my everything on my back:
The world is my oyster, I shall not want.
I think of all the meadows and deserts yet to be crossed,
oceans to swim, hidden caverns to plunder, and I feel tired.
I am awake, but not yet ready to open my eyes.

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D. Joan Leib
Last updated 10 February, 2000