an online literary magazine for extra pungent poetry and prose

John Gallaher

On Leap Year Day

I bought some new hand soap and now I can’t wait to get my hands dirty.
The cattle are rusting in the field.
They’re cold, but they’re made for this.
I tell you I love you and we float around the trees.
We’re cold too, but made for this.
I take this as a positive sign, like all the puzzles made by the same company, with the
same cut pattern, so you can mix them together and it all fits perfectly.
Wait, what’s my motivation in this scene? the cattle ask.
And what’s all this about rust?
I thought this was a fantasy day full of cake and balloons.
It’s bonus day.
It shows up to your door wearing nothing but a raincoat.
But it’s not even raining, you say.
You’re missing the point if you say that.
You’re missing the point also if you have cake and balloons all the time, then it’s just an
unhealthy dinner and cheap décor.
The way water is lakes sometimes and sometimes it’s just places that get wet and then
dry up, though lakes do that too sometimes, and some lakes are made by people, and
often they look natural, like real lakes, but not from all sides, like a surgery scar, or
belief systems, all day long.
And people change.

John Gallaher’s newest collection is My Life in Brutalist Architecture (Four Way Books 2024). Gallaher lives in northwest Missouri and co-edits the Laurel Review