Hailey Leithauser


Bad Sheep

Midnight’ s merely blue,
but me, me, me, I’ m
and through
sloe, cracked soot-
nicotine spat, licorice whip.
You can scratch, scratch, scratch
but I stay underskin true
to ebony, ink, crowberry, pitch;
hoist me up by my hooves
and shake till I’ m shook, I’ m still
chock full of coke, fuliginous
O there’ s swart in my soul,
coal by the bag,
cinders and slag,
scoriac grit, so please
come, comb
through my fleece with hands pallid


Such green, such green,
this apple-, pea- and celadon,

this emerald and pine and lime
unsheathed to make

a miser weep, to make his puny
bunions shrink; these seas

and seas of peony, these showy
tons of rose

to urge a musted monk disrobe,
an eremitic nun unfold;

such breathy, breathy moth
and wasp, such gleeful,

greedy bee to bid
the bully hearts of cops

and bosses sob,
to tell a stubby root unstub, a rusted

hinge unrust, the slug unsalt;
to stir the fusted

O, She Says

O, she says (because she loves to say O),
O to this cloud-break that ravels the night,
O to this moon, its mouthful of sorrow,
O shallow grass and the nettle burr’ s bite,

O to heart’ s flare, its wobbly satellite,
O step after step in stumbling tempo,
O owl in oak, O rout of black bat flight,
(O moaned in Attic and Esperanto)

O covetous tongue, O fat fandango,
O gnat tango in the hot, ochered light,
O wind whirred leaves in subtle inferno,
O flexing of sea, O stars bolted tight,