University of Southern Indiana

Ramshackle Ode to Two Syllables

Keith Leonard

I say hooray to whatever inspired Ashley
to say Ashley was her favorite word
in the whole damn language—
the gumption to dredge up
a little self-praise there,
to toss aside the complicated lexis
chiseled into a fat book of English
over all these hundreds of years. Because
what would it be like to taste your own name
like sugared green tea forty-seven times a day?
To sit by a brook and probably hear
Ashley squeezed out of each
foamy bubble? Ashley in the willow wind
and car horn just the same. Poor Geraldine
and Bartholomew. Poor words
like “pulchritudinous,” which, I’m told,
means “beauty” but hides that meaning
like a single blue bean in the goulash
of a soggy burrito. I say hooray for anything
as simple as two syllables. To the ease
of the early light kittened
through kitchen curtains,
and the Zamboni slow
in the buckwheat grow.
I say hooray to Ashley,
and to the vigor of joy
sequestered in my palms
that tingles like a star
when I clap them together.

Leonard-Keith.jpg Keith Leonard was born and raised on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. He has held scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Indiana University, where he received an MFA. A recipient of an Academy of American Poets prize, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2009, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal, Mid-American Review, and Washington Square Review, among other journals.


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