Poetry: Leda was a dancer by John Yamrus

Leda was a dancer

i think

it was 1969

and we were sitting on

the floor in the front room of her house,



records on the stereo.  


i remember

playing Steppenwolf

and Simon and Garfunkle.  


i remember

she had her shoes off

and was showing me her feet,


how they

were all messed up

(even at such a young age)



so many years

of standing en pointe

and she said she wasn’t any good


and would

never really get

anywhere at it because

she was too short, but she loved dancing


and nobody

was gonna see her feet, anyway.


at eighteen,

i thought i was a poet,

but i never read Herman Hesse


and only

knew Steppenwolf as

a rock band and it didn’t really matter,




there was Leda

who was right about being

too short to be great ballerina,



she was

young and beautiful


and had a

flower behind her right ear



she smelled like

just cut roses and fresh grass.


she had

real short red hair

and hung around with a

crowd who spent summers at the lake


and liked

to talk about their

new cars and all the money they had.  


i don’t know

why she went after me in the first place,


but, she did.  


maybe she

thought i was different...


which i was,


because i was

young and dumb and awkward


and when i

walked across a room, i could

feel my brain balanced on the top of my head


and it was a

challenge just getting from here to there,



i thought

i was different

and thought i was a poet

and maybe that’s what Leda saw.



Leda was a dancer and

deep down inside of her she

didn’t like the lake and she really

didn’t like talking about cars or money.


i only

knew her for

that one summer,



our “romance”

(such as it was) only

lasted a couple of weeks,



the play ended.




tell you we were

in a play together, did i?  


it was

a lousy play and

i was a lousy actor and


it only

lasted a weekend



she sent me a

telegram on the opening night,



i thought

was the coolest

thing anyone ever did.



Leda was a dancer



i was a poet



i finally did

get to read Steppenwolf.  


i thought the band was a whole lot better.

John Yamrus’s career spans more than 50 years as a working writer. He has published 35 books (29 volumes of poetry, 2 novels, 3 volumes of non-fiction and a children’s book). He has also had nearly 3,000 poems published in magazines and anthologies around the world. A book of his selected poems was just released in Albania, translated into that language by Fadil Bajraj, who is best known for his translations of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Bukowski, Ginsberg, Pound and others. A number of Yamrus’s books and poems are taught in college and university courses. His most recent book is Selected Poems: The Directors (Concrete Mist Press)



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