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By Hailey Leithauser

The heat so peaked tonight

the moon can’t cool


a scum-mucked swimming

pool, or breeze


emerge to lift the frowsy

ruff of owls too hot


to hoot, (the mouse and brown

barn rat astute


enough to know to drop

and dash) while


on the bunched up,

corkscrewed sheets of cots


and slumped brass beds,

the fitful twist


and kink and plead to dream

a dream of air


as bitter cruel as winter

gale that scrapes and blows


and gusts the grate

to luff


the whitened ashes from the coal.


Source: Poetry (December 2009)

Poet Bio

Hailey Leithauser originally took poetry workshops as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, but stopped writing for almost 20 years while she pursued a career as a librarian. Standing in front of a van Gogh painting during a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., she was inspired to return to writing, and eventually developed her own form, the small sonnet. Writing dense, compact poems packed with slant and full rhymes has taught Leithauser “to really exploit what you can do in a poem that is only 70 syllables long and that relies on rhyme to really carry it through,” she told the Takoma Voice in an interview. Born in Florida, Leithauser lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.

More By This Poet

Mockingbird

No other song
                    or swoop (part
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             plash) with
  tour de force
stray the course note
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   (its new,
bawdy air an
       aria hangs in) en-
thralls,
             trills, loops, soars,
                    startles, out-warbles,
out-brawns, more
       juicily,
                    lifts up
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By Hailey Leithauser

  • Living
  • Nature

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