Dominic Leonard – Two poems


We stopped up the hotel room keyhole
and I was roped up to the mast. This
is what we’d agreed. The goal
was not love. There would be no talk of bliss
just blood pumping in my ears and the hiss

of wind lowering outside the window.
An understanding of gesture was key:
a head turned slightly, or an eyebrow
raised in rowers’ harmony, so we’d never be
a note out of a sync. A routine worthy

of a king. She swung her watch to and fro
until I rode past and my men
untied me from the bedposts. I’ll go
as far as you need, she sang. Just say when.


x + y

[scene: late evening    small bedroom    moon full
     blinds down     half-empty bottle of wine to right
of bed     though two are clearly visible      you
find yourself focusing more on     the one over
there     on the bed     cradling the last glass
     until the one by the door suddenly shouts]

___[x] i cant stand it when you make me shout
like this     when you don’t listen     you fill
me with this terrible burning i want to throw a glass
at you / [y] thats unfair / [x] you always think youre right /
___[y] how do you mean? / [x] you tell me same things over
and over like im not listening     you make me

want to grab you and fucking scream at you /
___[y] why dont you? / [x] what? / [y] sometimes its good to shout
at someone / [x moves from the door over
to the bed] / [x] do you think?     just to scream full
in their face? / [y] hating me will feel just as right
as loving me / [x puts down their glass] /

sometimes i wonder if youre made of glass
and you just cover it up / [x] you turn me
into glass when you look away / [y] is that right? /
___[x] dont look at me like that     its like shouting
with your eyes / [y] sorry / [x] its ok     shall i fill
your glass? / [pause] / i only want this to be over

so it will be better for both of us __overall /
___[y] you don’t have to lie to me / [y puts their glass
down hard] / you deserve to be happy / [eyes filling] /
you deserve a lover that will look at you
like you cant even be real __ that will shout
at strangers that they feel like theyre finally living / [x] right

___im starting to think a sestina isn’t the right
way to do this / [y] im sorry / [x] youll get over
this / [y] i dont know why i have to be / [x] don’t make me shout
___youre making things worse __just finish your glass /
___[y] i know that this is as hard for you as it is for me
but you made me feel like my heart was full

of light / [no shouting __the sound of picking up broken glass] /
___im sorry i didnt get this right __let me start over
___say that you love me__ tell me im beautiful



Dominic Leonard is a 2nd year English student at Christ Church, Oxford. His version of Euripides’s ‘Iphigenia at Aulis’ was performed in Christ Church Cathedral garden in May, and his own poetry is published in Ash, Oxford Student, Cherwell and The Kindling. He was a Foyle Young Poet in 2015 for 10 minutes, before he was disqualified for being 4 hours too old.