Owen McLeod

The Path of Totality

Sometimes we see
in the arc and fire
of constellations

the outline of a map
with which to escape
the future. How weird

is this life,
this sum of sad movies
in mother and other tongues?

We find diverging roads,
stop by snowy woods,
but Frost feels so

irrelevant. Yes
we drink too much,
mostly in bars

of hotels where we’re not
and never could be guests.
We live

without insurance,
kneeling and keeping
eyes peeled for cops,

yearning for Pegasus
and Aquarius
above us—

but wait, love, till it’s time to go,
then fly
through the Dipper’s window.



Cloud of Unknowing

People don’t know what clouds looks like.
                     That’s what the nephologist—
                                                                                    a cloud expert—
says on the podcast I’m listening to.

We draw them puffy all around, she explains,
                     like a head of cauliflower,
but the underside of a typical cloud is actually flat,
                                          like a half-deflated basketball on the driveway.

                     It’s mid-July. I’m walking the wide
                                                               grass paths that cut
through fields of corn and soybean and everything
                                          is so green!—

                     except the sky, of course, which is blue,
and the clouds: fluffy and white and not quite

                                                               it seems

                                                                                    what I thought.



Owen McLeod is author of the poetry collections Before After (Saturnalia Books, forthcoming 2023) and Dream Kitchen (UNT Press, 2019), winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry. His poems appear in Bennington Review, Copper Nickel, New England Review, Ploughshares, Sixth Finch, The Southern Review, Yale Review, and many other places. He is a professor of philosophy at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.