How Deep the Night and Other Poems

Leland Jamieson



Leland Jamieson Reads "How Deep the Night"


How Deep the Night!


For G.K.J., on December 27th, 2005, the 50th Anniversary

of our meeting and the beginning of our courtship, on the

campus of Ohio University, Athens, on the occasion of a

quadrennial world conference on a long-forgotten topic.


First Dusk — Registration Line


You, your friend, and I:


Dark clouds, no sun, too cold for snow — egad! —

we stood in line on Athens’ windiest hill,

you bundled to your cheeks in black-watch plaid,

your blue eyes watering in the zero chill.

Your female friend (with fish-eye contacts), shrill

in her appearance, manner, and her voice,

imposed herself on us, gave me no choice.


Addressing her as well as you, I spoke.

I listened close and hard to her remarks

(while you stood patient, stolid as an oak),

until your name, sweet as two meadowlarks,

escaped — black V’s, gold breasts in gliding arcs . . . .

To you: “Could I meet you for supper . . . ?  Six . . . ?”

(How haltingly the second hand now ticks . . . .)



First Date




The bitter cold of howling night’s north wind

blew through me on that backless bench of stone

for sixty minutes — now I felt chagrined!

Chilled to my bones’ deep marrow, I felt thrown.

I’d left three queries with that Dorm Cop crone —

Our dinner date, is it still on tonight?

(Perhaps you’re saying, Scram!  Go fly a kite?)




The rail coach fare from Boston (it was cheap)

meant we’d no sleep.  So cold in that long line!

So warm, this sudsy tub . . . .  Was I asleep?

Who bangs my door?  This water’s cold, malign.

I hear my name.  “Some boy wants you to dine

with him but wonders should he fly a kite?”

“Tell him I’m coming — I’ll just have a bite.”


I spotted you hunched over on the bench

and braced myself to tell the simple fact.

“I’m sorry I threw you a monkeywrench.

I sat down in a nice hot tub — and sacked!

Fell sound asleep.  Woke up when someone whacked

the door, read out your note.  Forgive me?  Please?

It’s so cold out !  I hope you didn’t freeze!”




“I do. . . !  Thinking of you I’m warm.  Let’s eat!”

And arm in arm against the cold, we two

strode down the hill and stepped across the street

where J’s and K’s stood in a short neat queue.

Inside, deep warmth.  Broiled chicken-halves!  Beaucoup!

You looked dismayed.  “Too much!  I just can’t cope!”

“Let’s cut — remove . . . .” I said.  “That give you hope?”


I hailed a waiter for an extra plate.

“Prefer the breast and wing, or leg and thigh?”

“The breast alone, I think, would be just great.”

I took your knife and fork, aligned my eye,

severed the thigh and wing, and put them by.

“Perhaps, now, this won’t kill your appetite . . . .”

How late we walked, and talked!  How deep the night!




Archimedes' Second Thoughts


A quick take on Pappus, Collectio, Book VIII, Prop. 10, Sec. XI. 


“Sure.  Give me where to stand.  I’ll move the earth,”

said Archimedes, searching for a bar

to prize it with . . . .  “Said what?  And not in mirth?

Sure?  ‘Give me where to stand, I’ll move the earth . . . ?’

How place a lever against her spinning girth?

Who, me?  Said that?  I need some wine.  A jar!

‘Sure!  Give me where to stand, I’ll move the earth’,”

said Archimedes, hitching stool to bar.




The Bridge, 1940


In Memory of E.T.P., 1904-1981,

and for S.E.O., whose gift is healing.


The smooth LaSalle made shorter their long route.

The towhead, five, diverts himself — now plays

at the windshield’s center post (whose angled “snoot”

divides the wind) — now tries to count the jays

in passing banyans, feeding limb and root.


A one-way bridge.  His mom now slows, delays,

stops — on a down-sloped ramp beside a spruce —

to wait their turn in the sun’s hot wilting rays.

The child regards the swollen water’s sluice.

It churns with limbs, debris, and river clays.


An orange moving van, marked SYRACUSE,

flickering through shade of truss beams skittering by,

makes all the deck boards rumble — some real loose.

He hears a piercing screech.  Where’s that?  Nearby?

His seat-back whacks his head, and he burps juice.


His mom’s whole seat is squashed beneath her thigh.

The windshield smacks his forehead like a stone!

He clasps his head — big zig-zag cracks now wry

the glass — his head rings like a telephone.

“Oh, Mommy!  Mommy!  Look!  I didn’t cry!”


Her eyes, so blue, are huge!  A guttural moan

escapes her throat.  She reaches, pulls him near.

She strokes his head.  He sniffs her sweet cologne.

Her glistening eyes are brimming — a huge tear

cascades her cheek, and splashes down his own.


Leland Jamieson, a performing arts center manager for most of his working life, is retired and lives in East Hampton, Connecticut, USA. His recent and forthcoming work appears in Bellowing Ark, Blue Unicorn, Neovictorian /Cochlea, Raintown Review, and 3rd Muse. He has gathered a number of published formal poems, some with streaming audio, under the title Needles in a Pinewood at He is hawking a 60-page book manuscript by the same name.


Photo Courtesy of 123rf.




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Poems Copyright © 2007 Leland Jamieson. All rights reserved.