POETRY – 3 Poems by Peter Leight


Children are born brave, 

hardly a day passes,

wedged into the hood like a soft room,

deliberate but not-always-knowing,

she has a lot on her mind,

her body is another story. 

This is what she has: 

a growing mind,

knowing body. 

Or is it the other way around?

Hardly a day passes,

loosening her straps the way you leave a room without even thinking,

never wilting under cross examination,

she could have said

I don’t want any,

but she isn’t very good at word problems. 

Her body is smooth,

her mind is rough

the way oysters are slippery while toast dries out. 

Or is it the reverse? 

It isn’t really an emergency, but the hunters arrive sooner or later,

they always promise to take you away.


Please come in, we don’t have anything to hide, we’re not hiding anything, just the reverse, opening up like a checkbook, there’s no need to use your imagination.  Everything’s out in the open, just the way we found it, although there’s some packaging involved, I’m sorry if you expected it to be unwrapped.  We’re not interested in privacy or the type of confidence you’re not supposed to betray.  There aren’t any curtains to pull to the side, the light radiates all over like a tube light or a star rather than a spot.  Most of the time we stay in the same place, or move from place to place, it doesn’t change anything, when we sit down at the table we’re actually hungry, I think we’re close to each other, looking out for each other, everybody agrees there’s value in pooling.  Sometimes we stand behind each other or disguise ourselves as one another, there are areas behind the scenes, in the back, invisible areas, I’m sorry if you expected it to be completely innocent.  Of course, things happen all the time that are unimaginable, if we end up getting hurt, or hurting each other, we have bandages and the like, we’re treating it ourselves, sometimes what’s real is a safety issue.  And the dust kitties, we’re going to take care of them when we get around to it.  It’s better to pay attention, better if you look closely, better if you see, there are plenty of windows, and doors, we want to be able to come in when we need to, we need to be able to leave, we often think it’s falling into place, as if everything we pick up has been dropped.


Unexpectedly we find we’re outlaws,

reading our rights out loud like a children’s story you don’t stop reading when you don’t know what’s going to happen,

it’s discouraging without being informative, 

like a buyout where you contribute nothing but end up with more than you had before,

of course we’d like to find a way out,

but you can’t just disappear like a fire that goes out.

Do you ever really get out of what you’re in?

We have a secret hideout up in the hills, even though we don’t like hills or high places, and we’d rather not have secrets,

we’re not interested in holding out,

it’s a small room, empty inside, like a book with the words left out,

a book by Foucault on the lyricism of marginality, as if a portion of one’s life were beautifully out of reach.

At night we stay inside with the lights out,

eating out of cans,

there’s a lot of waiting time, waiting around, hanging out, waiting to paint ourselves into a corner,

outside the lookout lets us know when somebody is coming,

and we come out with our hands up, reaching up into the night sky where the moon is a sliver almost no longer with us.

Peter Leight has previously published poems in Paris Review, Partisan Review, AGNI, Western Humanities Review, Cincinnati Review, Seneca Review, The Southampton Review, Cimarron, Hubbub, and other magazines.

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