Leveler Poetry Journal
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Michelle said, repeating

herself, you can’t

repeat this


as if words won’t exist

for unknown



And though soothing

a taxonomy only

obfuscates the truth


days keep calm, rain

wanders in, and the courtyard

is speechless.


Your mom thinks,

let’s get it – this

one thing – straight.


It’s the loose, soft stuff

that connects

that hurts.


And like a wall, we’ll

believe anything.

I try to remember


my refrain, my fear,

better than hers.

What won’t hold water?


A leaky ceiling, a tiny

baby. Close the door.

Take a seat.


Hooty hoo.

Andrew Weatherhead

levelheaded: Deadass


Urban Dictionary tells us that when a person is “Deadass,” they are completely serious. And yet, we can’t help but read the title of this week’s poem as a little tongue in cheek. The repetition of “repeating” and “repeat” and “unknown unknowns” reads playful.


The speaker goes on to inform us that classifying—an effort to use language to make things clear—leads to less clarity (“soothing / a taxonomy only / obfuscates the truth”). The world doesn’t seem to care (“days keep calm, rain / wanders in, and the courtyard / is speechless”).


This fourth tercet causes us to reconsider the poem’s title. The environment presented is bleak. While language humorously failed Michelle earlier in the poem, its shortcoming here creates a feeling of defeat. The mom’s attempt to “get it – this / one thing – straight” in the subsequent lines sets up more failures of language and experience: loose and connecting, connecting and hurting.


When the speaker says, “like a wall, we’ll / believe anything,” are we convinced that there are ways in which walls can believe? If so or if not, what does that say about us? What does it say about us when we attempt to remember what won’t hold water, when we compile our own lists, or evaluate someone else’s?


At times, thinking about such things can feel like a total waste of time. What Michelle says can seem like a waste of time. What our mom thinks can seem silly. Our deadass serious existences can seem most worthy of a sarcastic howl: “Hooty hoo.”



– The Editors