Leftovers and Gravy

Mid November, 2020, Ken Waldman received an email from a gentleman in India, Dr. Karunesh Kumar Agarwal, asking if Ken was interested in having him publish a full-length collection of poems. Ken went to the cyberwit.net website and found an enthusiastic publisher doing good work for other writers. Ken quickly agreed to the offer since he had an unpublished collection titled Leftovers and Gravy, which he hadn't been sure what to do with: lots of poems he'd had published over the years that didn't fit in other collections, plus others he liked, including the title poem. He also had a few dozen new ones he wanted to include. So he immediately set about putting order to the manuscript.

After a flurry of correspondence--and commendable work by the publisher--Ken is pleased to have this in his hands less than three months after the initial inquiry, his eighteenth book (and seventh in the past fifteen months).

Interested in a copy? The book is available world-wide (see the cyberwit.net distribution page). ISBN is 978-93-90601-03-5. Official pub date is March 1, 2021.

Below, the front cover. And below that, seven poems from the book, one from each of the sections.

Seven Poems from Leftovers and Gravy


My Philadelphia

Off the turnpike's cloverleaf,
Plymouth Meeting's busy spillage
of concrete ribbons tied Conshohocken
to Blue Bell, Germantown, Ambler,
Skippack, Lafayette Hill, a Wissahickon
of tributaries, bridges, drives,
expressways with names like 202
and 309. Home was somewhere near
the jackhammer of construction
off our Chemical Road shortcut,
near the Jewish country club's
golf course we carpooled by, near
the smoke of an industrial park
beside the abandoned limestone quarry
that told and retold our story.

                              originally published in CQ


             for Mark Neely

A basic
dukes, earls,
forgotten gods,
hard illnesses,
Jack Kerouac,
lost mammals,
noisy owls, pleasure,
quicksand, random
sophisticates, turquoise
underwear, vestigial
wilderness, x-rated
yammering, zippers.

                              originally published in Toad Suck Review


In Knowledge

Mother, you never liked snake,
porcupine, or skunk, strong wind
in your face, the rain, a beach
with no lifeguard, large parties,
intimate friends, chance. Mother,
you never liked grass stains
or sweat, the smell of onion,
redwood, dogwood, sap,
the smell of sex, my father pumping,
grunting, rumbling, coming.

Mother, I never realized how
you made me feel ashamed
to be seen, how I hated
your queer condescending grin,
your arching sneer, your whiny
self-righteous knack, your strange
lack of insight and fight,
your wasted life. Mother,
because I knew nothing of this,
I mirrored you to death.
Now look. I'm cracking glass.

                              originally published in New York Quarterly



Leftovers and Gravy

The end of May, a bright
late afternoon sun slow-bakes
a world hungry to use itself up.

See how we hurry to plant seeds,
build shelters, begin families,
move on. See how we add

an onion, a stairway, a child,
a self. See how we roast
into June, July, August.

See how we taste with gravy.


God Logic

They travel every which way--
toward, away from, circling,
zig-zagging, stuck, divided--
a dozen pilgrims en route.

Two work. One threatens.
Two host. One retreats.
Two build. One maintains.
Two keep. One desires.

Breaking out of solid fog
across the bridge, mixing
love with light, a thirteenth
survivor drinks at the well.


To My Love
                Part 5

Let's imagine
informing everything:

from our origin,
past eternity,
to this,

our infinite,


In Time of Pandemic

Make plans lightly--
be set to pivot
and slyly

change course. Nightly
re-examine all of it.
Make plans lightly.

mulling alternatives (likely
to sputter or stall). Sit
and slyly

meditate. Ruminate dryly
how we're all in infinite shit.
Make plans lightly,

repeating these are mighty
mystifying times. Savor your wit,
and slyly

(un)mask your own feisty
ways. No coughing. Don't spit.
Make plans lightly,
and slyly.