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Poetry by John Leonard 

John is a poet and poetry editor of Overland.  He lives in Australia.




© 2004  John Leonard

more information on John





When Barabbas took his leave,

Knocked the dust off his feet,

And found a new country as

Far as might be from his past,

What did he feel, and what

Did he think?


Did he acknowledge blood-guilt,

Think who had died in his stead,

Or thank God that the cup

Had passed from his lips?

Or was all this now part

Of another story?


Was it not enough to have

Escaped, to have shrugged off

The name that was not his?

Having cheated death, was life

Not sweet enough, and filled

With new-found duty?


And was it not the case that

Having escaped, he saw his life

With new eyes; its trials over,

It now belonged to others,

To have their say, to prepare

Their true versions.







If the work is without loose-ends,

The rhetoric faultless, audience assured,

Then what is said is said

For that day, and ends with it.


What is impossible, unfinished—

Paralipomena to nothing—

Is, by all accounts, the essence

Of the human, or the divine.


If every 't' is dotted, the clues

Fail to add up, if the words seem

To say what they cannot,

Then all best guesses are grist.




All work is copyrighted property of John Leonard.



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