This bus stop has to stand in
For a holy place, in the suburbs—
It covers, shelters like a canopy
Its glass covered with advertising propaganda
But if you want, imagine stained glass and candles
And this run-down middle space
Could be quite tranquil, a respite
From the chaos unfolding around it
A place of quiet prayer
As we all wait on the arrival of blessings


You don’t have to understand the magic—
Flow with it,
Use it if you can
Make space into words, words into poems,
Poems into dollars—now that’s some magic
But you don’t have to understand the magic
There’s no need to explain how a rhyme can catch up with itself,
Or the freedom of free-verse, or how form doesn’t always have to be limiting—
How boundaries can give you strength and blueprints and plans
Empower you.
So you don’t have to understand the magic,
To write about places that have never been,
To take the familiar flame and turn it blue—
The familiar woods and fill them with creatures peaceful, terrifying, beautiful –
Maybe all of the above—
To imagine the sorrows of someone you see at a coffee shop—
Try to walk in their shoes for a while.
It’s all magic, my friends, and you don’t have to understand it all at once.
I’m only asking you to try.

Four Princes I’ve Loved: An Ode

The four princes I’ve loved, they were candles,
Alighting their steeds in winged sandals,
And I had for them such hope that they would understand
That we are all grail knights, and these are the Waste Lands.

Four princes set off on a warm summer day
Looking to find their treasure—
The demons who frolicked all around,
Tempted them with pleasures…

->The Prince of Shadows fell into the mist
->and the Ice Prince went into a stupor
->The Prince of Angst couldn’t say what he wanted
->And the Broken-Hearted Prince didn’t know who to root for.

They all fell into the Strand—
Time’s immemorial sand
And fight as they might, for a light in their plight,
None came back to their old homelands
None came back to their old homelands.

Momentum Trials

The world of writing
Is like the Hunger Games
So I might start calling it
The Momentum Trials
Because that’s the game,
Input, input, hope for output,
And so on, and so on,
Into eternity, more or less
Changing the formula—
More submissions,
More specific ones,
Honed in like a missile
Over the target, or waiting,
Taking more time, less time
And in the end,
A lot of it still feels like chance.


“Stand-In,” “Magic,” and “Four Princes I’ve Loved: An Ode” are excerpts from Leslie D. Soule’s new poetry chapbook, My Mentor, Death. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.