Leah Umansky

Love the Beast

Pain is temporary, for the body learns to handle more and more of it.
Pain treats the absurd, darting seamlessly, contending itself on the freefall from sense.
The beast in it is in the uttering, is in the wielding, is in the swath that is wide and tight.
The beast is in the noose that is tiresome and cutting. To be an expert in its monstrosity,
Is to be confident in the length of its hand, the devotion of its heart,
The tongue in the slick of its hearty throat. And then, in that exact moment, the thin way
The pain creeps back, the beast pilgriming into new territories, new impulses,
Giving shape to every becoming fear. There is a difference between difficult
And grueling
I tell myself, as I cut off the height of its lies, as I cut off
The jest of its tales, as I cut off the lap of that stride, and the turn of its hither.

Love the beast, I say.

                                                                                                    Love the monster.

                                                  Love the monstrous.

Love the fear.

                                                                                                                                            Love the aura.

                                                            Love the marvel.

Love the giant.

                                                  Love the dissent.

                                                                                                                                            Love the discord.

Love the alien.

                                                                                                    Love the chop.




Since no one believes anymore, I look around. I look to see the forceless, but just face what sits tight in my heart. I don’t know anymore. I just don’t know. This coming apart is more of a reconstruction. I want to relax, but I can’t. The embrace of time is a torture stuck on consistency. I am consistent. I am constant. I am concerned and over-concerned about the future. I am a given in this formula and the equation goes on forever: eternal, never-ending, exasperating, exhausting. If I could only exhume it; it would open space to lie still. I’m looking for the light, but it knocks the tightness thin. The light seems to come, but doesn’t. Instead, it tilts in cold-hearted raids. I plug in; I plug out, and I wait for a spark to scream, but it is all buried in ego.

I am waiting for the brightest light, but it is taken, stolen before I arrive. First, I am there in the dark. Then, I am on the side street. Then, I am draped in darkness. Then, I am the darkness. Then, I am the darkness awaiting the lightfall. I don’t even see the dark turn bright.

Then, I split the air with a thousand electrons. Forever, I am turning positive, then negative, in a cold flux of current and sheen.


On my walk home from the supermarket, I hear two guys talking about light.

One says to the other, “I thought LCD lights lasted forever.”

And the other guy laughs, as one moves his grocery bag from his left hand to his right. I laugh to myself, too, but for another reason. I laugh at myself. I laugh at this day. I laugh at this year. I laugh at this life. I laugh at this country.

I think, what lasts forever?

Nothing, I think,


Not even this heart.

Not even this poem.



Leah Umansky is the author of The Barbarous Century (Eyewear Publishing 2018), among others. She earned her MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and is the curator and host of The COUPLET Reading Series in NYC. Her poems have been widely published in such places as POETRY, Guernica, The New York Times, The Bennington Review, Pleiades, Salamander, and the anthologies, The Eloquent Poem (Persea Books 2019) and Misrepresented Peoples (NYQ Books 2018). Her Game of Thrones inspired poems have been translated into Bengali and Norwegian. More at www.leahumansky.com