Antrim House is proud to present David K. Leff’s first collection of poetry, a group of prose poems whose moods and subjects run the gamut from delighted description of the natural world to lament for the loss of traditional ways in our man-made world. Leff asks, for instance, if flooding townships to create reservoirs may make water a bit pricey. These poems are informed by love of small town America and regret for all it has lost. By turns lyrical, angry, and philosophical, the poems are always elegant in language, accurate in observation, and passionate in point of view. They are prefaced with an eloquent defense of the prose poem as a means of bringing the joys of poetry to readers rightly suspicious of overly ornate, obscure and academic poems posing as the real thing. Leff comes to the world of poetry as an exceptional linguist but also as a man who has worked as a newspaper essayist and a defender of the wilderness. There is a freshness to his work that is invigorating. Pre-publication reviewers agree. Dick Allen writes, “The Price of Water is a shimmering collection of prose poems/mini-essays—lush, simile-rich, image-dense close lookings at light, water, shadows, cemeteries, and all manner of other things. The poems are best read slowly, maybe one or two a day, with lingerings on each phrase and word. One of the book’s sections is ‘Always Watching,’ and that’s what Leff encourages us to do. So, with him, we savor and remember how a windy ‘harbor is herringboned with whitecaps,’ an airport is the ‘air-conditioned purgatory where no one comes to stay’ and orchids (in my favorite poem of the collection) are ‘bizarre science fiction shapes of butterflies, winging birds, and dancing women.’ ” And this from Bruce Pratt: “In The Price of Water, David Leff has married lyric and narrative poetry and prose into a series of lush reflections and musings that entertain the heart and eye while edifying the soul. More than simply ensnaring revelatory moments, these prose poems illuminate the world through precise, acute observations in a glorious tribute to the power of words to dazzle. “

David K. Leff is a freelance writer from Collinsville, Connecticut. His essays and fiction have appeared in newspapers and magazines, and his non-fiction work, The Last Undiscovered Place, a Connecticut Book Award finalist, was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2004. A second book, Deep Travel, will be published by the University of Iowa Press early in 2009. He is a member of the Hartford Courant Place Board of Contributors and a columnist for Imprint Newspapers. A graduate of the University Of Connecticut School of Law, Leff was a Deputy Commissioner with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection until his retirement in 2006. Earlier, he worked as a researcher and legal advisor for the Connecticut General Assembly’s Environment Committee. He currently serves on the boards of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association and Audubon Connecticut. Leff is chairman of the Collinsville Historic District Commission and a veteran volunteer firefighter. He is a maple sugar maker and has served on the board of directors of the Connecticut Maple Syrup Producer’s Association. He is also a volunteer high school tutor and a Boy Scout merit badge counselor. In addition to being an avid hiker, canoeist, and fisherman, Leff enjoys hunting, gardening, and cross-country skiing. He is the father of two teenagers too quickly on their way to adulthood.

Click here to read sample poems. And to hear David Leff read some of his poems, visit For a televised appearance on SCTV, click here.

Click here to view David Leff's upcoming events

Click here to read ancillary material in the Seminar Room


ISBN: 978-0-9798451-9-2
62 pages, 5.5" x 8.5" perfect bound

$15.00US per book



The dark stone canyon walls of Hell’s Kitchen are fractured horizontally, in cracks that grin and leer at hikers. Laurel clings to life on the precipitous ledges where plump mosses drip alongside the last fading tusks of winter ice. Water seeps invisibly through the jumbled rocks beneath the trail, briefly revealing itself as a sparkling stream and disappearing again. It echoes in rocky chambers, trickling and percolating in multiple voices. I bend and listen to the liquid speech suddenly joined by the melodic weet, weet, weet, weet, tsee, tsee of a flagrantly yellow warbler perched in the leafless brush like a light bulb. Other birdsong and the hum and buzz of insects will soon harmonize in an accidental orchestra prophesizing a season of the migrant, temporary, and intermittent.


At ninety miles per hour, Schafer’s fastball slams with a pop into the deep leathery mouth of the catcher’s mitt. The scent of grilling sausages hangs in summer’s searing heat. Brooklyn’s Bouchard grounds to shortstop, and cheers rise like smoke into the cloudless sky from this cozy concrete horseshoe of a stadium.

Over the outfield wall, massive tankers and container ships carrying bright steel canisters pass as silently as icebergs along the Kill Van Kull. The harbor beyond is herringboned with whitecaps and busy with tugs pushing barges and fishing trawlers with their nets reeled on deck. The boxy ferry crosses and recrosses past the grand green lady as she stands sentry before the City’s shimmering cliffs, its mesas and buttes of masonry, its columns of glass and steel that are filing cabinets of humanity. But the twin towers of dark glass still haunt like the pain of an amputee’s phantom limb.

Anxiety spread like flu on that day when the sky was an azure arc in which a centerfielder could lose a fly. We gathered around televisions repeatedly watching the cartoonish unreality of the plane, the explosion of flames and slowly coiling gray smoke. Fear-contorted faces filled streets darkened by the black rain of debris. Bridges filled with pedestrians. Tearful men and women held pictures of the missing.

Jostled by catcalls and shouts, I’m back with Lovett at the bat. On a hit-and-run he puts the ball in play, allowing Grote to slide safely at third. Tie score and I wonder if Brewer can bunt, can execute the suicide squeeze. He’s an unknown on a roster filled with untested names like Cuello, Nutt, Granke, and Gonell. Any could be the next Ruth whose legendary bat will lift a nation. But Brewer’s caught looking at a pitch on the inside corner, and I get up to grab a sausage against the uncertainty of extra innings.


Facing east toward redemption, monuments mount a terraced hillside of carefully manicured lawn. Gray slate slabs and reddish sandstones peer with dire death angel faces. Large chunks of sculpted granite are proudly emblazoned with names and dates. Slices of marble boast meticulously carved willows and urns, while obelisks and columns reach without reservation for the firmament. Shaped and engraved, chunks of earth’s hardened crust aspire to immortality.

These honored dead have eternal last looks at the village that sustained life. They share a view of battered wood-frame houses cradled in low green hills, and huge mills that once weaved woolens and spooled cotton. A restless river glistens, threading through the valley for which it provided power and purpose.

Hidden in scrubby woods across the street and just over a rusted guardrail, a narrow slice of land is squeezed between the pavement and the river. Almost lost in years of brittle leaf litter and tangled brush are the broken nubs of headstones, rough pieces of schist that might have been exhumed from the very earth dug to inter the dark-skinned slaves and sons and daughters of slaves resting here. In this unkempt ground the lives of the anonymous dead remain invisible, left for eternity to feel the cascading water’s vibration as it cuts ever deeper into the bedrock.

Back to the TOP of the page