Lester Graves Lennon


Man Falling onto Camelback Road


In memory of Kevin Keogh (1949 – 2004)
Finance Director of Phoenix, Arizona

The breaking news described his fatal flight,
not the brain lust of patient parasites
who infiltrated him three years before,
destabilizing ground as they climbed silently.
Reporters first ignored the jazz he loved,
the dizzying complexities of math
he tamed so Phoenix could finance its fast
ambitious growth as population stretched
for skyline’s reach near roads like the one he drove,
embattled, under a hot mid-life sun
on street turned runway. He was not the poised
keeper of arcane sums artfully balanced.
He was the blue-jeaned Icarus in loafers
prepared to surf on his Mercedes top.
With cruise control at forty, the sunroof’s
gate opened, which musician did he hear,
what music? Was it Cannonball Adderley
calling from “Seventy-Four Miles Away,”
or Bird’s bebop in “Dizzy Atmosphere”
sharing his rise above the concrete sea,
his arms outstretched on the wind’s troubling waves,
losing his site to mountain rebels chanting
while feasting on the brain-wax of his wings.



The Breaking Men’s Club


We find each other. We look, look hard and know
when we find those, like us, who know our bones
are made for willful breaking, purposeful
breaking by the hard hands of chosen men.
We walk moon-splintered floors through shattered buildings
waiting the orchestrated assignations
with pain, pure wrenching  pain that howls our fear,
pure perfect shrieking fear that sings with pain’s
pure perfect pitch above our bones’ new jagged
bridge that takes us to the death-black and back
to humming fractures and more x-ray trophies.
We are not broken. What breaks us gives us life.


What the Café Cosmologist Does Not Say


She takes an outside table. Her eyes are starless
holes staring over scarlet mouth’s small ‘o,’
between two too-rouged moons under black hair
with frost-white roots exposed above red dress.

She frowns. She does not say the Big Bang theory
says light first screamed from silence to eternity,
its beats unstressed and stressed like cosmic iambs
we measure and re-measure through each life.

She does not say the remnants of our first
intense light, the first cosmic radiation,
our hissing afterglow after the Nothing,
that is stretched and thinned as our universe expands,

has strung its humming curtains across space,
our firewall outlining eternity,
like her pain, humming, is strung where she moves,
her leaking firewall hung against the void.

She does not say she measures objects’ movements
over vast distances by reading small
shifts in the color spectrum from blue to red:
blue shift means moving closer; red shifts away.

She does not say all stars red-shift from us,
all galaxies race faster from each other,
that one night no star will grace a waiting sky
as all skies rush to purest cold’s last whisper.

She does not say the universe is filled
by substance dark to light she calls dark matter.
She does not say the universe is stretched
by force unseen she calls dark energy.

She does not say how much she does not know.
She does not say her theory of the cosmos
serves also as her metaphor for the darkness
sharp and immeasurable flowing through her.

She opens her mouth showing broken stars.
A fire engine races by. Its bending scream
reveals her voice as she studies her small mirror
rechecking her red shift. The sky loses blue.


Human Craft


How is it to be thought that has no thought?
How is it to be molded to be crafted
by unknown will not possible to know?

How is it to be here simply to be
used as a tool whose end is to be used
for reasons an unknown self cannot know?

How unlike us, explorers of purpose,
poets in quest constructing form from questions,
cartographers of silence and the void,

charting our edge, skillfully working fear,
making new maps, new markers as we makers
engrave our passage on eternity,

knowing that death will break us like used tools,
our parts reworked returned in ways unknown,
perhaps a thought a will knowingly turns?


The Price to Pay


We think there’s not a price for so long we
forget the price to pay does not forget
children’s smiles drugged to snarls to slaughter children
born to neglect in stunted nations born
straight lined for European ease of straight
access to diamonds, cobalt, gold in excess

riding our glittered path we have paved riding
our shock and awe relentlessly for our
superior needs our superior
arms guarantee to protect despite arms,
eyes, legs, lives innocents lose, finding eyes
seeing the innocence honed hardened seeding

school children filling magazines for school
killing we feed by easy grasp of killing
means we lament but blindly sell the means
battlefields need to clear the battlefields
we keep to keep empire, forgetting we
forget the price to pay does not forget.


Crumpled Socks with Lunch


Dark blue and crumpled under plain black suit,
his socks are slumping past bare ankle tops,
this white man who so clearly does not care,
could not possibly care with socks crumbling
so carelessly like his eyes mumbling gaze
towards the little colored balding man
who smiles with yellowish small squares of teeth,
"I love the money," he grins, "love the green,"
he knows this gray man making small meal millions
each year will not give him, not him who's mortgaged
his home to start his business, just a taste
at best, but not enough to force those blue
socks straight; and the hungry Negro man's black socks
are very, very straight.


Fantasy Football
a Lennon Lyric


My football team was champion in my
fantasy league; my star, my fantasy
league dream: a rookie running back, a league
leader in rushing making him a leader
in scoring. My undrafted find was in
fantasyland something fantastical.

Achilles’ Spear was my team name. Achilles
pain trapped my star tight end that gave me pain
deciding when to take the chance, deciding
when to sit him, lose his skills, risk the win.
His speed, his size, his grace were special. His
hands, so strong, were touchdown gifts. How he handled

affairs off field, night-cloaked, were his affairs.
Blood-bold full-inked large muscled arms were blood
signs scoring not just bad-ass choice, but signs
life choice touched-down cheering death over life;
spear throw from gun not for Achilles’ Spear.
Fantasy jail-bound is not fantasy.

      return to poetry

Lester Graves Lennon was born and raised in New Rochelle, NY. He is a poet and investment banker who, over thirty-six years in public finance, has participated in the issuance of more than $200 billion of municipal debt. His clients include the State of California, the City of Los Angeles and New York City. His first book of poetry, The Upward Curve of Earth and Heavens, is found in more than seventy public and university libraries including U.C. Berkeley, Yale, Harvard and Oxford. His second book, My Father Was a Poet, was published in the spring of 2013. Mr. Lennon sits on the Los Angeles Mayor’s Poet Laureate Task Force, is a member of the boards of directors for Red Hen Press and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and sits on the advisory boards of the West Chester University Poetry Center and the English Department of the University of Wisconsin where he received his BA in English. He lives with his wife and daughter on the eastern edge of the Los Angeles megalopolis.