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David K. Leff

Driven to seasonal frenzy,
alewives return year after year
in hopeful frustration
to the half-ruined concrete dam
that once turned turbines
and sped electron streams
feeding factories.

Harboring eternal yearnings
as deep as life, they leap
from the curling, frothing roar
like geyser bursts of water
dazzling with silvery scales
and large, unblinking eyes
forever falling short.

Each spring brings me an urge
to witness this miraculous persistence
exceeding and outlasting
withered kilowatts—
I inhale longing
and desire energizing my own
shape-shifting dreams.
© by David K. Leff.
Used with the author’s permission.

David K. Leff (1955 - 2022) was an author, poet, and playwright, the author of six nonfiction books, three volumes of poetry, and a novel in verse. His journals, correspondence, and other papers are archived at the University of Massachusetts Libraries in Amherst. David's 2016 book, Canoeing Maine’s Legendary Allagash: Thoreau, Romance and Survival of the Wild, won a silver medal in the Nautilus Book Awards for memoir and a silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards for regional nonfiction. In 2016-2017, the National Park Service appointed him as poet-in-residence for the New England National Scenic Trail (NET). David served in a multitude of civic roles, including Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and town meeting moderator, historian, and volunteer firefighter--for 26 years--in his hometown of Canton, Connecticut. Learn more about David at




Post New Comment:
Ginny C.:
A fine poem for the spring season. Some vivid imagery here. Thanks for posting this one!
Posted 05/23/2013 06:07 PM
A fine work. David shows a rare connectedness (is there such a word?) to things outside himself.
Posted 05/23/2013 09:00 AM
Very nice! I love the thought of breathing in desire and longing. Wow!
Posted 05/23/2013 07:30 AM
Larry Schug:
damn dams! good words.
Posted 05/23/2013 06:27 AM
Powerful imagery and oh, I love the end; shape-shifting dreams.
Posted 05/23/2013 06:21 AM
How fine this is. Indeed, I had forgotten my father taking me to the shores of lake Michigan, to the pier in Wilmette, Ill. to watch the alewives in their "hopeful frustration."
Posted 05/23/2013 05:59 AM

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