The Sweet & Low Down

Davikd K. Leff
Cover Photo: Rebekah “Tiki” Leff  
In Depth of Field, his second poetry collection, David Leff ups the ante, allowing us ever more deeply into his private world: his sorrows, his joys, and his yearning. The book portrays a paradise that is both lost and rediscovered: in the midst of a synthetic civilization, the poet finds his havens in the natural world, in history, in relics of the past. And that is only half the story: the other half is told by Leff’s photography. The poems in Depth of Field are accompanied by splendid photos that extend and illuminate the words they join. The addition of one art to another creates a magnificent sum. Early readers of the book have extolled its poetry and photography. A. Walter Kendra, Associate Professor of Arts Emeritus at Central Connecticut State University, writes as follows: “David Leff is a naturalist and lover of history. His poems and visual images combine to create a tapestry rich with the patina of life and time. In Depth of Field, he has created a touching and sensitive work deeply in tune with the self and the sense of place. Each photograph and poem invites us on a personal journey.” And this from Marilyn Johnston, herself a splendid poet and the author of two recent collections: “In Depth of Field, David Leff’s startling framing and unusual perspectives work magic. His poems and pictures are equally expressive of seasons of elegy (both social and private) and ‘seasons of confounding hope.’  This book will lift your heart and open your eyes!”

Depth of Field cover
  Cover Photograph: David K. Leff
David K. Leff is a freelance writer from Collinsville, Connecticut. His essays, fiction, and photographs 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. His first volume of poems was released by Antrim House in 2008. A second non-fiction work, Deep Travel: in Thoreau’s Wake on the Concord and Merrimack, appeared in 2009 from the University of Iowa Press. He is a member of the Hartford Courant Place Board of Contributors and has been a newspaper columnist.

Leff is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law and 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 sits on the boards of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association and Audubon Connecticut. A member of the Collinsville Historic District Commission, Leff spent over two decades as its chairman. He is a veteran volunteer firefighter and has been a maple sugar maker, serving 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 children on the cusp of adulthood.

To read more about David Leff and his poems, essays and other writings, visit his website:

Click here to read a sample from Depth of Field
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Click here to read ancillary material in the Seminar Room.


ISBN 978-0-9843418-5-6

Copyright © 2010 by David K. Leff

6" x 9" paperback, 96 pages






I’ll hold your last words in a pill bottle at my bedside,
on a sticky note left on my darkened computer screen
reminding me to forget.

Ducks we fed in the park gobble bread crumbs someone
else tosses. The sad-eyed waiter seats another good-
looking couple at our window.

Keep my ring, the blue crystal vase. I want the dreams
enduring in the dark, and won’t surrender
what was left unsaid.


After salt air and French fries at Stillwell and Surf, I sent
you a goofy photo, my mouth hotdog-full, grinning
in a crowd among the clamoring signs at Nathan’s Famous.
Over three bucks for what cost you a nickel. Like you,
Coney Island isn’t what it was.

Memory abides in a breath-held rush down the steep watery
slide of Luna Park’s Shoot-the-Chutes, then darts through
a chaos of bodies, clashing calliopes and flashing colored
lights to the exit where girl-clasping soldiers gladly toss
tickets to a kid starved for speed and wind.

Today people still watch people while strolling the magic-
carpet planks along that remnant honky-tonk of whirring
rides, clam shacks and yammering barkers. But the idle
parachute jump looms like a lonely Eiffel
and apartment towers conceal elation’s ghosts at Luna.

Wheezing with emphysema in a world contracting
to a Parkinson quake, you know exactly what you’ve lost
and where you left it. Those distorted mirrors, rollercoasters
and ducks in a row you couldn’t hit now seem life’s true
apprenticeship. All you ever wanted was one last ride.


for Allan Williams

Down a grassy slope the casket rode a wave of clutching
hands, a gauntlet of grim-faced mourners facing each other
with moist, vacant eyes. Earth’s open mouth exhaled cool
and pungent, the dank humidity scented with freshly planed
pine. My handful of soil thudded on the box
as hollowly as the silence of your voice.

Wiping dusty hands, I stood shaded by an oak
whose bare branches months ago were nervous
with Pine Siskins clinging like living leaves
when the ground was sealed with frost and crusted
with snow. You should have been beside me, bent against
the stinging breeze, fingertips stiffening on cold binoculars.

Now you’ll always be here on the uneven verge
of this cattail-fringed pond where the rabbi chanted
Kaddish to the vibrato bass of bullfrogs
and springing konk-la-ree of redwings. “Here I am,”
they said, calling for love and space,
singing your song.

You’re too much the activist for this staid subdivision
of the dead with its curving streets and manicured savannah
dotted with columns, obelisks, and urns. Surely
you’ll get your neighbor Sam Colt tinkering, or J.P.
Morgan doing deals again. Maybe you could rouse
Wallace Stevens to a stanza or Kate Hepburn to perform.

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