Leonard taught me to write short and plain.
He could say more in a four-line poem
(“If only we could win/(One of) these wars we like to start,” ends one)
Than all the free-form, stream of consciousness
Poets in the world, whose books fill the shelves
Of Target.

He didn’t write anything as short as Ezra,
Who wrote a two-line poem about a station of the metro–
“petals on a wet, black bough”–
That serves as the very embodiment
(I learned in grad school)
Of Imagism.

But Leonard, Oh, Leonard,
Captured the mysteries of war in just four lines,
Not a bad trick if you can do it, but still–
He also penned a song that made the Shrek movie,
And that is commonly mistaken as a song about

How he must have hated that, I think–
The hardest thing is to be grossly misunderstood
(The man was Jewish, after all)
To write happy and have it heard as sad,
Or sad and have it heard as happy, or worse–

Leonard’s poems and songs play on now
(He’ll be gone five years in November,
A time I was hell-bent on destroying my life and (luckily) failed)
Leonard wrote short, but Leonard thought long,
Lessons of love and sin and atonement that I couldn’t hear
Back then.

Thanks, Leonard.