3 Poems
by Mark Leidner

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When I was in business we used to do this trick. We would tell other people in business we had a secret. We would tell them that if they paid us, and paid us well, then we would show them how to do highly efficient, targeted marketing. We would tell them that with our way of marketing, you could invent products and put them in the hands of consumers mere moments before those consumers even realized they needed those products. Imagine a brand new VCR, we said. Now what we can do is tell you exactly who wants that VCR, and we can show you how to deliver that VCR to that consumer with precision timing. I’m talking about timing so precise, one second the consumer has never even heard of a VCR, and has no use for a VCR, and if you ask the consumer what a VCR is they just stare at you dumbly, then the next second the VCR literally materializes in their hand, at the exact moment they learn what a VCR is, want a VCR, and want to buy a VCR. Often they will be holding the VCR under their arm, and will be waving cash, fanned-out, in the opposite hand. That’s what we told these business people, anyway. In reality we didn’t have any great secret to impart. Actually, we did, we were just using it on the business people. We had access to highly efficient, targeted marketing. It was telling them what they needed, and telling them that they needed it in such a way that it made them think they did need it, and had always needed it, all in the moment we were giving it to them. I’m not saying it was a scam. Because maybe they did need it. And maybe we needed to give it to them. You couldn’t be any good at what we did without believing that. Hell, I believed it then and I still believe it.



Lily Pad

I love the lily part
and I love the pad
part of the lily pad.
I love the low
and I love the pull of the low.
I love the round green fad and the low blue fold.
I love the long white leg
of the green bullfrog
and I love the folding of the lily pad.
The long green fold is when
the long, unfolded legs of the white bullfrog
and land on the round blue pad.
The fold is love
and love is rad
and I love the rad gray fold of love
as well as the round green pad.
I love as well as feel
the pull of the low
when I fall on the pad
with the frog, and I love
the dark blue pillow of the low
and I love the long green fall into the rad black hole.





Memoirs of a Secret Agent

Once when I was undercover
my contact in the NSA
was this cocky black guy
with scars all over his face

and one day I was feeling insolent
so I called him Scarface to his face
after he had given me orders
over the videophone like, Yeah
I got this mission under control,

He eyed me for a second
and then hung up.
He didn’t seem impressed. Anyway
looking back I wish I would’ve said
Scarsface, with a plural on scars
because he had multiple scars on his face
not just one. Also

I wish he would’ve had
multiple faces, to match his multiple scars
so that what I should’ve called him
could’ve been Scarsfaces—hypothetically
rocking the double plural
for once in my life.

Later on during the mission
I was shooting druglords in a cavern
which was really just this vast
subterranean complex
of corridors and laboratories
full of scientific-looking things
(though it did still have stalactites
hanging from the ceiling)

and accidentally some of my fire
struck a cast iron pipe
running behind and above the heads of the druglords,
which ruptured, generating steam
in gushing undulations
billowing down and around everything
and filling the cavern.

The druglords were dead
but the steam kept coming
from the bullet hole in the pipe
and as I watched patterns
forming in the steam, I forgot
who I was, and what I was doing
until suddenly it struck me
What if that NSA contact guy
had only had a single scar
but many faces?

Like, he only had one scar
but it was in the exact same place
on each of his faces?
and if he had all these faces
each with the exact same scar
in the exact same place
what should I have called him then?
Scarfaces, where the scar
is singular? or Scarsfaces
where the scar is plural?

It lasted a really long time
staring into that effusion
of steam
and thinking that.
Also I remember thinking
whatever drugs these druglords are selling
their manufacture sure requires a lot of steam.

Later I was trading quips
with a beautiful woman
who used to be the mistress of the main
druglord (but who was now good)
during a car chase.

She was in the passenger seat
and I was telling her to use
the rocket launcher in her lap
to shoot the rear half of the car off
so that it would spin away, blocking
the car of druglords chasing us
like a spinning, fiery roadblock

while she and I would glide to safety
in the front half of the car
into the massive bank of snow
we were quickly approaching, and she goes, What?
Are you crazy?! And I said,
without even taking my eyes off the road,
Yes. But while all that was going on
still I couldn’t stop thinking
about what I should’ve called Scarface
if in a different world
he would’ve had multiple faces.

Later after the mission was a success
Gabrielle and I were lying around
in our hotel room in the Caymans
revealing our secret identities
and telling each other our names
when the videophone on the table
began to ring and rattle.
It was Scarface.

He was trying to tell me about
this other, second mission
that I had to go on now
now that I was done with this one
and while he’s going on and on
Gabrielle is behind my back
trying to pull me back into bed
calling me a workaholic
saying hadn’t I earned a holiday?
but I was tuning her out

because I was watching Scarface
who was watching her behind me
and sort of slyly winking at me
and nodding

but while he was doing that
I had crossed my eyes about halfway
so that I saw a host of Scarfaces
spread across the videophone

and in that moment I decided
that what I should’ve called him
would’ve been Indeterminate
Blur of Scars and Faces
like an Native American name. Yeah,
yeah, yeah, I waved him off.
I’ll get to that other mission later.
First I have to make love
to my former enemy here,
gesturing to Gabrielle
then back to him, Indeterminate
Blur of Scars and Faces.

I let my eyes refocus
as I closed the videophone
and unplugged it from its charger
since it was fully charged already
and I had heard that with certain
high-end electronics
if the device is fully charged
and you leave it plugged into its charger
that could damage the battery
and lower the overall lifespan
of the device.

Then I turned around
where Gabrielle lay naked
smiling, and spread-eagled
and I climbed back into bed
(though only as a joke
because she was so beautiful)
but she didn’t laugh.

I doubt she could have,
even if she’d wanted to
not for lack of a sense of humor
(she had a good one)
it was just that our romance
had been brewing for so long
she was too ready for love
to laugh.

So then I made love to her—
and did so with a clear
unmuddled mind.

Although, perhaps she was the one
who made love to me?
It’s difficult to say
who makes love to whom
in these times.