Vox Populi

Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry

Leonard Gontarek: Sanctuary

My name is Leonard Gontarek.

I survived the attack at the Grand 16 Theater where

Trainwreck was playing. I gave it 3 out of 4 stars.

I had cheese on my popcorn. It looked

in the dark like a bucket of tiny Trumps.


I survived the attack at The Pulse nightclub.

I love dancing. Gang of Four and Talking Heads.

When I dance I leave my body

like a ghost exiting a cemetery at night.

Sometimes it is good not to be ourselves for a while.


I survived the attack on the Amish school

at West Nickel Mines, PA. Often I can tell

if someone is a good person. I can see on their head

a halo. It is in the shape of the hats Amish women

wear at the farmers’ market. I see it on the heads

of women and men alike. It is accompanied –

the vision – by the singing of children, the beautiful

singing of children.


I say survive, but none of us survive

the strange miracles of this country,

where the ground leaks dried blood

at dusk, where people look at us strangely

when we kneel down on it to pray. People look at us


strangely when we lie down to kiss

the earth that we love. When we lie

down and disappear into the ground,

we can no longer see them look at us.

The bare trees fill with birds. They want

to be flowers when there are none for us.

Copyright 2017 Leonard Gontarek


Leonard Gontarek is the author of six books of poems, including, Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket, Shiva (Hanging Loose, 2016) and Deja Vu Diner (Autumn House, 2006).

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This entry was posted on June 13, 2017 by in Poetry, Social Justice, War and Peace and tagged , .
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