from Issue #4: Poetry by John Leonard

Photo (CC) David Masters @ Flickr

Photo (CC) David Masters @ Flickr


A second exile

Into exile again—after months
Of darkness and fear in the dungeons,
The brief clamour of the trial,
Then the endless, jolting cartride,
Cursing of the guards’ detail, the freezing rain,
The helpless poverty of the flat,
Treeless land, dusty towns,
The shouts of the children, mocking
The criminal in his wooden cage,

And after the sea-crossing, bright sun,
And scudding wind on the island,
Heather and thrift bending on the slopes,
Larks rising from gorse, Atlantic storms
And calm, the kitchen garden
He must tend, with welcome greens
Harvested in any month, the slow,
Aged talk of the veterans of the guard—
He had never left this home.



A reviewer

He owed no favours, and called
On none; he had no axe,
Political or religious, to swing:
He reviewed because he had the knack.

He could take a book, skim it,
And from any angle tell where
And how it failed the way—
This, without knowing the way.




John Leonard was born in the UK and came to Australia in 1991. He has a PhD from the University of Queensland and was poetry editor of Overland from 2003 to 2007. He has four collections of poetry, the most recent being A Spell, A Charm (2014). His book The Way of Poetry (2010) considers poetry in the context of Daoism.

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