Poetry by John Di Leonardo – 7/17


(Inspired by Goya’s La Maja Desnuda, Oil, 1799-1800.)

I ask them to take the model, hold her up by candle light
like a white rose with a pink blush
a Sufi image in bloom, of the lover and his beloved.
Caress across each mound and valley, kiss every hollow
of her navel, highlight all contours of her skin.
I want them strolling across the garden of secrets by star light
like a heaving lover, his heart pulsing moonlight
Before Goya’s La Maja desnuda, Tiziano’s Venus of Urbino.

But all they want to do is frame elegance beside flowers
pile beauty on beauty with plumb lines, model likeness
Like the face of some mannequin behind dirty glass
on a vacant street by the Left Bank
cluttered in plastic, flowers pointing this way and that.


(Inspired by Michelangelo’s The David, 1504.)

It might interest you to know
Michelangelo loved Lo Stinco
a roast veal shin dish
he relished while working
in Carrara

at dusk, after clouds of dusty
marble passed over his tongue
nose, aching shoulders, neck
eyes glazed over the aroma
of slow roasting shank
in Vermentino white wine, bay
leaves, juices,

hunger craving and carving
directly into his favourite meal
wedging a knife like a stone
pitching tool
and the four teeth of his fork
scraping like an Auriou claw

sucking marrow from bone
and ever so delicately rotating
in the mind’s eye
his terribilitá
how to tackle David’s left shin
at sunrise.


(Inspired by Alex Colville’s painting, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Tempera, 1954.)

A black horse hangs
fixed on a white wall
she is ill, gone wild.
It is Spring, past starlight
in Sackville
below an elaborate cobweb
of clouds.
A wild horse gallops
towards the steamy light
to a sleepless train.
In minutes the broken
mare will die
again –
With a kind of beauty
that invades our dreams
colliding each morning
on waking alone in the dark,
lower lip quivering
against the passage of light.

John Di Leonardo


John Di Leonardo is a Canadian visual artist/poet, past president of The Brooklin Poetry Society, editor of Verse Afire. He is also an Associate Member of The League of Canadian Poets, and a member of the Canadian Authors Association. He has published two award winning chapbooks Book of Hours (2014), Starry Nights (2015), and is the recipient of the 2017 Ted Plantos Memorial Award. His poetry has appeared in over thirty poetry anthologies, and in Canadian poetry journals such as The Banister, Verse Afire, and Tower Poetry. He writes and paints in Brooklin, Ontario. You can visit him at johndileonardo.ca.

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