Seth Leeper

coveting colors

i mix them with
egg and bone
pour sheer might
into the base

i have to
or the hues
will die
without a body

when they emerge
from my own

ochre springs
from one nostril 
just in time
to burrow
into a tin can

crimson squeezes
free from a toenail
much too copious
for the available thimble

vermillion slithers
forth from an earlobe
to spiral headfirst
to the floor 

carmine careens
from a burst valve
in the wrist
to rest in a
hastily procured

chartreuse excretes
from follicles
in a convex spigot
spraying itself onto
shrinking walls

violent violet
exposes in 
toxic rays shattering
window panes
of unknown origin

i only keep
those i birth
locked in their
chosen homes

though at night
they beg
for a canvas

i can’t permit
to inanimate life
that which
sprang from flesh


poems are often brief so
i’ll engage with this briefly
and be on my way

like a reflection that
fills in to be a person
somehow i find myself

refracted on open doors
rolling down cracked wood
like my favorite slide

that burned my bare
cherubic thighs 
in the hot sun

as a child not yet
immune to the labor
of sunburn on hamstrings

the burning of the 
outer innocent edges
which is where i’ve placed

my heart for safe keeping
and it sweats in response
to the heat approaching

so even as it swings
and rocks back and forth
like the dazzling trapeze artist

that is every person daring
enough to salvage
their heart from the kiln

i have hope enough
to forget all the reasons
i placed it there
in the first place

Seth Leeper is a queer poet. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Coastal Shelf, Gertrude Press, 
Noisemaker Magazine, Xenith Magazine, Awosting Alchemy, and Mythic Circle. He holds an M.A. in Special 
Education from Pace University and B.A. in Creative Writing and Fashion Journalism from San Francisco 
State University. He lives and teaches in Brooklyn, NY, with his cat, Rocket.
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