2022 Contest

Making Work Visible

City University of New York / Labor Arts

Leo Kouklanakis

Poetry Second PlaceLeo Kouklanakis Creative Writing, Brooklyn College
Love Carefully

Savagely, tearfully,
tenderly. Brotherly love.
Mirrorly love. Summer
subway car love.
Orange slice love.
Central park love.
Held fingers and
fed spoonful love.
Two toothbrushes
share a sink love.
Don’t sleep in the same
bed love.

Listen closely:
(from a mother)
You are not who you are.
You play piano beautifully
in the living room, but you
pretend in your clothes.
Never have I seen
someone who pretends like you.
And I let you eat
from the pantry.

Look clearly
(from me):
Love became dark
like the turning moon.
Quick like a coin glinting
silver on the ground.
I loved so hard I mistook it for hate.
Hated so long I lost where it began.
Impossible to pretend a love this ruinous.

A body entwined.
A tangle of yarn.
Pull me out, get to the core.
Leave the rest on the tin
next to the operating table.
Peel an earthbound fruit
for the sweet inside truth.
Or slice it open. Sharp love.
Blood love. Stitch me back
together love.
Needle into thigh love.
Shirtless on the sand love.
Changing, changing, changing
love. Carefully,
savagely and tenderly,
make a self.