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1. Leo Yankevich - Heraclitus

  • Duration: 90
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Heraclitus

'a dry soul is wisest and best' Biographers write that above all men he was a lofty and hubristic spirit. A walking contradiction, he would shout that Homer should be turned out of the lists and beaten, and Archilochus as well, since better to extinguish impertinence, than to put out fire. He felt that men should fight for law as much as for their city. Yet, when requested to make laws for them, he turned them down, by arguing their city already had a faulty constitution. Besides, he had important things to do: a game of dice with children at the Temple. (It was there his magnum opus lay.) Turned misanthrope, he headed for the hills where for years he fed on grass and plants. Only when afflicted with edema would he come back down, asking the physicians if they could bring drought after heavy rain. When they said no, he smeared his trunk and face with ox manure, and dried out in the sun. He was discovered dead the following day, his parched lips now two gates to the sahara, the river in his veins not quite the same. Leo Yankevich

2. Leo Yankevich - Swallows

  • Duration: 66
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Swallows

It was once thought that swallows wintered on the moon, or morphed into field mice beneath the autumn swoon of clouds, or slept beneath wavelets on the floor of shadowy ponds and lakes until the sudden lure of springtime roused them from the kingdom of the dead. Early Christians believed they swirled around the head of Jesus, giving comfort as he bore his heavy cross, or they were harbingers of heaven after loss. Today I look above the eaves as autumn blooms in the deep well of the sky, my house’s empty rooms echoing only wind, the memory of their song. They have flown south for winter, which here is dark and long. Leo Yankevich

3. Leo Yankevich - Garbage

  • Duration: 34
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Garbage

One rarely finds just wholesome scraps: a slice of ham, potato rinds, a glob of jam, beer bottle caps. Inside this drum there’s other stuff: a blouse that’s torn, a hiker’s thumb, two clips of porn, hardcore and snuff. Leo Yankevich

4. Leo Yankevich - The Cat

  • Duration: 57
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - The Cat

I’d pass it on the mission trail—             half-decomposed, green burr-like eyes beyond my thoughts or pity, tail             curled into questions only flies would answer, as they staked their claim             to rotting tissue. Food for worms, and mocked by summer’s honey flame,             it had no choice but come to terms with piecemeal dissolution. Those             loud buzzes echoed in my ears until it circled and then rose,             converting me—some thirty years since—into the lone passerby             and witness, ever on my way from daily service, like the sky             itself on resurrection day. Leo Yankevich

5. Leo Yankevich - Old Meerschaum Pipe

  • Duration: 46
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Old Meerschaum Pipe

A friend sent a pipe made from petrified sea foam, froth that was life’s first home. A bearded craftsman’s blade carved it into the face of man: the progeny of an amoeba, the image of his race. It sits for all to see, like a bust on the shelf: in-cognizant of self, yet part of the same sea, its beauty and its scars, its yellow stain and reek, the wrinkle on its cheek: the stuff of dreams and stars. Leo Yankevich

6. Leo Yankevich - Crow

  • Duration: 46
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Crow

Crow, the doves descending on the square have sullied your name, cooed gossip to wealthy tourists, their gullets stuffed with handouts, while you soar over the oaks with dreaming clouds, with the glare and glimmer of the distant but holy sun in your misunderstood eyes, your paeans one with the wind. Yet it was you who, perched on the shoulder of Jesus, watched him suffer and heard him cry, and it was you who saw the enormous boulder moved, and you who saw him enter the sky. Leo Yankevich

7. Leo Yankevich - Metaphysics

  • Duration: 54
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Metaphysics

This is the last goodbye, the final salute. From beneath the cover of a flag the ensign is assisted down the chute so neither flank nor limb can catch a snag. Then at last his sunken eyes see light, and he sets foot into the promised land. Effulgent plankton there redeems his sight, Elysium of bright seaweed and sand. How glorious his underwater grave, even though above, the stone-faced captain sees a guilty spectre in each wave, and dejection overwhelms the chaplain. And the crew? They’re busy swatting flies, the smoke from guns still burning in their eyes. Leo Yankevich

8. Leo Yankevich - Veterans’ Hospital

  • Duration: 44
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Veterans’ Hospital

Some nights are never-ending hells for these old veterans in our care. We do not hand out pills, but shells, as out of battlefields they stare from over sixty years ago on far-off Guam or Guadalcanal. With trembling hands they try to show how the bravest or youngest fell. We console them with a cold cup, and a tender tap on the shoulder. What haunts them, though, will not give up, nor the fallen boys grow older. Leo Yankevich

9. Leo Yankevich - Onion Snow

  • Duration: 56
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Onion Snow

The peeps you'd bought were chirping in the box. The groundhog lied again. You'd left to buy beer, bread and chipped ham. It was Easter Sunday. Bells from a dozen churches filled the air in this small steel town where the unemployed perpetually keep beer gardens open. You'd yelled: 'Yunz better worsh them dishes and redd up things before yunz go outside.' You said you'd had enough of eating jumbo and food stamps didn't make a difference. We didn't know you'd go by way of Altoona, that you'd go ghost on mommy and us kids. You left behind a bloodstain in your truck, the lasting memory of onion snow. Leo Yankevich

10. Leo Yankevich - Baroque Nativity Scene

  • Duration: 54
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Baroque Nativity Scene

Malachite of tower and dome, clatter of sabots, creaks of wheels, neighs of horses headed home from a market where smoked eels glimmer in the October sun. As merchants hawk their sundry wares an English poet, squire John Donne, stands by a basket full of pears. Clad in a purple gown, a tart straight out of Caravaggio offers smiles for the sake of art, and rubenesquely curtsies low. She is the virgin mother of Christ, albeit in one timeless pose. Pious, but easily enticed, will he kneel to take off her clothes? Leo Yankevich

11. Leo Yankevich - Babcia

  • Duration: 64
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Babcia

Milk curdles in her jar, mould forms on her black bread. She’s come so very far, but her blue Polish eyes no longer see the flies buzzing above her head. She does not hear her friend knocking at the door. This is her journey’s end, the faithful silly dear. Christ does not shed a tear, not for the meek and poor. He looks down from the wall, with both arms open, heart sacred, eyes blind to all, truly not of this world. He does not see her curled- up broken flesh depart, resurrected by the hour towards the skies. He won’t feed her a lie, nor redeem a bone. He will leave her alone in the kingdom where she lies. Leo Yankevich

12. Leo Yankevich - The Familiar Night

  • Duration: 30
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - The Familiar Night

You leave the dive, the din behind the doors forever shut. You stagger in the light and watch rats bear the moon and stars away into an afterlife of steaming sewers. Face baptized by the quiet, hell to pay: there’s only you now, the familiar night. Leo Yankevich

13. Leo Yankevich - Crossing Geneva Marsh

  • Duration: 74
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Crossing Geneva Marsh

Mist lingers on the surface of stagnant tea-brown water. The flat bridge spans a mile, a sea of spatterdocks. Tangled stalks of cattails and swamp grass reach up towards the underside of the deck, the chalcedony of cloud. My father’s at the wheel of his coffin Cadillac, following a wayward crow into the depths of autumn. His headlights gaze into the Nietzschean abyss. And then the same abyss gazes back into us. Rear tail-fins cut through the snapping-turtle air, past the scarlet oaks and shagbark hickories. Smoke from his cigar drifts out his cracked window, heavenward, as we head towards the exit at Mercer. We turn in the direction of Farrell, Sharon, Youngstown, and pass the furnaces of purgatory and hell. Leo Yankevich

14. Leo Yankevich - When Nothing Remains

  • Duration: 56
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - When Nothing Remains

(for Kasia) Today, I think, I’d like to have you pose surrounded by abundant store and riches, surrounded by elaborate head-dresses, water-heavy pearls and silken hose. I want you in the dark, holding a rose, among bronzes, candlesticks and vases, vases from which a balmy steam arises into a Great Dane’s dilating nose. Rembrandt, doubtless, must have felt this way when painting Saskia in a velvet gown as she approached her death before his sight— as if with grapes he could prolong her stay, as if he wished to weigh her beauty down with the luminescent heft of candlelight. Leo Yankevich

15. Leo Yankevich - The World to Come

  • Duration: 43
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - The World to Come

(for Michael Axtell) There is a glimmer of the world to come in the ease of the eyes of the homeless woman decked out in rags, and there's a hint of glory in the castaway leaves lying low in the gutters amid smouldering fags. For I've seen Christs climb out of the flames of icicles clinging to the rusty pipes where the forsaken dwell, and I've seen the saved herded in suits before steeples delighting in daybreaks indistinguishable from hell. 1998 Leo Yankevich

16. Leo Yankevich - On the Lynching of Saddam Hussein

  • Duration: 75
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - On the Lynching of Saddam Hussein

“To die not knowing why is to die like an animal... To die like a human being you have at least got to know why it is done to you.” —Ezra Pound You hear your lungs begin to rattle. This is the rattle mother told you about: it comes before your death           as vital organs fail. It is the end of agonizing suffocation, when life puts a pillow on your nose and mouth.           All death is suffocation. Indifferent light penetrates the jello in your bedside bowl, and hell absorbs the fluorescent bulb’s           impalpable low heat. You died with tubes inside your mouth, gasping for one more breath of air, your fragile fists still clenched in fear           before almighty Allah. No mercenary’s noose was placed around your neck, as round Saddam’s. You did not chasten craven tormentors,           falling through the gallows. Leo Yankevich

17. Leo Yankevich - The Moth

  • Duration: 58
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - The Moth

Although they’ve much in common: fear of night, fear of the hour-glass’s falling sands, he traps a fleeting moth inside his hands as it departs the darkness for the light. It beats its wings in an impassioned fight to force its way out, willfully demands its freedom. But the power that commands his own will—is unmindful of its plight. He holds it fast, as if intent to show that all depends upon the power’s whim, that if he dares to squeeze, or lets it go, no wrathful god will judge or punish him. Yet when his hands unfold, his conscience stings: the powdery, white flakes—were once its wings. Leo Yankevich

18. Leo Yankevich - Hank

  • Duration: 58
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Hank

He finds himself alone again, pig-drunk on the third planet from the sun, his thought maudlin, stale as umpteen years ago, but fresher than the whisky in his mouth. Through failure he finds solace in the funk of 10 o’clock. The Nashville moon has not yet touched him like the talons of a crow. One with the evening, he will not fly south, guitar strapped just behind the sprawling wings of a misunderstood angel, cough and voice inspired in the wake of careful choice. He’ll linger in the drawling words he sings, the hero of this blue and lonesome story while love moves on, and basks in all the glory. Leo Yankevich

19. Leo Yankevich - St. Martin’s Cemetery

  • Duration: 57
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - St. Martin’s Cemetery

(New Derry, Westmoreland County, PA) Grandfather Lawrence, whom I never knew, I wonder what appeasing light, if any, may have eased your pain and strengthened you as blind and bleeding underneath the many winding caverns of the hellish earth, your starved lungs gasping for a final breath, you prayed for some miraculous rebirth to justify the agony of death. But what your friends could rescue from the ground resembled only contours of a man. And none dared utter words or make a sound when Hilda (mother of my mother) ran and tried to recognize your blackened face, then covered it with light from her embrace. Leo Yankevich

20. Leo Yankevich - Journey Late at Night

  • Duration: 47
  • Channel: music
Leo Yankevich - Journey Late at Night

My little boat unmoored, I’ve drifted under stars, but do not see the Lord, just Artemis and Mars. Above the deep, dark lake, the moonlight’s never said: 'dawn is about to break and heaven turn bright red.' Across the waves, an owl has borne away its prey, and something on the prowl blasphemes the light of day. The hope a mooncalf follows is sacrifice for slaughter, and yet the wings of swallows still skip across the water. Leo Yankevich