Keith Leonard


Keith Leonard is the author of the poetry collection Ramshackle Ode (Mainer/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016). His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in The Believer, New England Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. Keith has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the Ohio Arts Council. He lives in Columbus, Ohio. Source


I like the idea of a spratchet,

which today I learned

is the plastic divider

used in check-out lines

that says this is almost mine

and this is almost yours.

I like how it helps two strangers

not skinny dip in the reservoirs

of each other’s bank accounts.

There’s nothing rude about a spratchet—

it’s polite as plastic can possibly be.

Unlike the bolt click behind a door

or the whining hinge of a fence gate,

the spratchet keeps things

only subtly separate.

Gently, the cashier lowers

my oyster crackers into a bag.

He divides the dry from the frozen.

I nod my spratchet nod. At work

I shake with my practiced

spratchet hand. At home,

I put the groceries in the cupboard

and kiss my love, and even our lips

are little spratchets. I cannot know her.

She cannot know me. No matter

how intimate. Not really.

That’s what we have to agree on.

That's what I intend on forgetting.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:


Doubt & Fear

Poems of the Everyday

Literary Devices:

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem

Interrupted Clause

a word group (a statement, question, or exclamation) that interrupts the flow of a sentence and is usually set off by commas, dashes, or parentheses