Two Poems - Leah Umansky

Leah Umansky

The Year of the Tyrant 

Follows on the heels 
Of a half-dozen passes. 
It could easily stun 
Any one. 
It could easily scare 
Away the would-be years 

Whatever fresh claim, 
Whatever new interpretation, 
Is an amazing grace. 
That titanic figure, 
Invents interpretation, 
But remember, we are articulate. 

Am I making my point?

Let’s assess his intrusion. 
Every aspect of what comes close, 
Is just his chosen narrative. 
All of our cranked tendencies, 
Are a cradle to the grave. 
There is no closer deity 
Then the devil before us. 
This is not hyperbole. 

We are standing up to the grand,  
With shoehorns of hope, 
And a future, 
Created by claim. 

We, the damned, 
Are more concerned about the people 
Selfless, unnerving,  
We are not flawless, 
And we are not  
Always good-hearted, 
But we are smart enough  
To not dismiss the lies. 

It is a true act of sorcery. 
Or secrecy. 
Only a tyrant insists he is right.  
Only a tyrant reaches the wide 
Without running, 
And without speed, 
Only to say his fall was measured 
And planned, but don’t believe your eyes. 
We are seeing this. 
This glimpse into a reality unknown. 
Praise what comes 
Because the impossible is possible. 
For only a tyrant feels they are praiseworthy 
This is nothing new, 
The year of the tyrant.

Of Tyrant 2

I heard the church choir 
on West 71st street. 
I felt: angels  
& then, 


Put on a happy face, Darlin, 
says a man  
while I walk  
with groceries in hand. 
I glare 
& I flare 
then I sooth 
my pocks & 
my strays. 
What do I have  
to hold on to, 
but hardness? 
The constraints, 
are open-mouthed 
with squawk.  
He is everywhere. 
thumbing hate into Sunday.


Leah Umansky

Leah Umansky is the author of two full length collections, The Barbarous Century, and Domestic Uncertainties. She earned her MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and has been the host and curator of The COUPLET Reading Series in NYC since 2011. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such places as Thrush Poetry Journal, Glass Poetry Journal, The New York Times, POETRY, Guernica, Ecotheo, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Bennington Review, The Academy of American Poets' Poem-A-Day, and others. She can be found at or @leah.umansky on IG.