Perhaps the color of your world was dun,
And you sank in your couch when work was done,
To calculate injustice, add the sum,
Saw all was brown, but rays of silver light
Which sent you out to locate evil, fight.

You were a fighter with a dark, harsh touch
That made you seem foreboding, grim, and gauche,
Though not in poems, where lines were limpid, light,
And meter carried you both day and night.

Disturbing thoughts had never helped you much,
Though poetry rang strong throughout the hush
Of evening, in the light of sunset’s flush.
Once you downed too much porter, this strong tide
Turned on you, to consume you; and you died.



A former Wilbur Fellow and six-time Pushcart nominee, Sally Cook is a regular contributor to National Review, and has appeared in venues as varied as Chronicles, Lighten Up On Line, and TRINACRIA. Also a painter, her present works in the style known as Magic Realism are represented in national collections such as the N.S.D.A.R. Museum in Washington, D.C. and The Burchfield-Penney, Buffalo, NY.

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5 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    Leo Yankevich will be remembered and honored when the poetic dwarfs and midgets who were his enemies are utterly wiped from the historical record.

  2. C.B. Anderson

    Thank you, Sally. I could not have said it better, and as another admirer of Leo Yankevich I am heartened by your words. Only a few of us gave him such roses while he lived, and you and Joe are certainly among that select group. I can’t imagine a time when when he and his trenchant poems will be out of mind for this adequate but unprepossessing poet. He paid me great honor by deciding to publish a good many of my poems. He rarely made editorial suggestions, but rather allowed a contributor to THE PENNSYLVANIA REVIEW to sink or swim on his or her own merits. If he had exercised the same rigorous standards on submissions as he applied to his own verse, I doubt that he would have published even half as many poems by other authors as he actually did.

  3. Sally Cook

    Dear Joe and C.B. —

    I have given a lot of thought to Leo and his thought processes, and this in turn has generated a few poems. Many thanks to all who have responding to one of them; especially to you, Joe, for introducing me to him.
    For a long time I have also questioned the unthinking rage constantly churned up by his inferiors. My conclusion is that it was largely political. As they are doing right now in Washington, these people could not accept that someone who was not in their narrow rut could excel.
    Whenever he saw something in the work of others, he encouraged it to our great benefit.. He had a flame, and never let it burn down
    .We were so fortunate to have had his influence.
    If poetry is nothing else, it is imaginative. I can only conclude that many pompous people are less imaginative than they assume.
    Leo, wherever you are, you are under an Angel’s wing.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      One thing about Leo Yankevich — he never failed to recognize poetic talent in someone else, even if that person did not share his social and political viewpoints. And yes, he did publish some persons whose work was not especially good, simply as a way to encourage them in the craft. He had patience with beginners, if their hearts were in the right place.

      But Leo’s real lion-like courage was manifested in his utter fearlessness in calling out rotten poetry written by persons with inflated reputations. He didn’t care a whit if you were some darling of the literary establishment, or if you had a network of groupies, or if you had an “in” with prestige journals and snooty editors. He’d flame your ass for your lousy work, and he’d throw in some savage personal insults to sweeten the pot.

      And Leo taught me something that I wish I had learned much earlier in life: If somebody hits you, strike them back so goddamned hard that they don’t get up.


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