Clade Song 9

Method of Metaphor

The car is not a fish.
To say it is

would be a mistake.
Stars are not salt.

Sometimes, however,
goals are best

achieved by error:
a friend who warned

a visiting Bulgarian
to avoid hostels

in New York City
because of—she meant

to say—dŭrvenitsa,
bedbugs, but instead

said putka-vŭshki,
“pussy lice,” thus

achieving, as so often
occurs in domestic,

foreign, and artistic
exchange, proper ends

by improper means.
The man, shaken,

flagged a cab for
the nearest Hyatt.

The yellow machine
gasped and splashed

into the dark,
leaving my friend

alone, behind,
below the salt.


Kent Leatham’s poems and translations have appeared in dozens of journals, including Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Fence, Softblow, Able Muse, and Poetry Quarterly. He received an MFA from Emerson College and a BA from Pacific Lutheran University, served as an associate poetry editor for Black Lawrence Press, and currently teaches writing at California State University Monterey Bay.