Jennifer Michael Hecht

Leopard Goes Through Hell Villanelle
September 6, 2013 Hecht Jennifer Michael

Leopard Goes Through Hell Villanelle


When I am sober my brain calls me names. 

It lends me no graces and rates me no wage.

I’m a monster of menace who’s blocking all lanes.


Leopard swears solemn she’s paced herself sane,

then eats keeper and leaves. Spends nights in-cage.

When I am sober my brain calls me names.


Some smacked-pups go junkyard, or else break tame.

A leopard is spotted just under the sage.

Poor menaced monster, blocked of brick-lane.


These exotic ether feasts and home-blitz games

are safaris I embark on with my mad dog Rage.

When I am sober my brain calls me names.


In the forest of the night the cat spots flame,

a pass in the mountains lights the voltage of our age.

Such a tense monster, barred of the yellow lane.


Set out a tight monster, get to stone’s yellow vein

leopard-blocked, then locked off the yellow-brick-lane.

Such a tense monster, barred, spotted and strange

as when I was sober and my brain called me names.

Jennifer Michael Hecht is working on a new prose book on poetry, The Wonder Paradox, with Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her third poetry book, Who Said, came out with Copper Canyon in 2013. She is also a cultural historian and the author of Doubt: A History (Harper), and Stay: A History of Suicide and the Arguments Against It (Yale).