Here he dances with death.

The dance is quiet and slow, stately yet affectionate.

After all, they know each other well.

An orphan at ten, his own children

dropping like flies, then his beloved Maria,

and he himself shortly to be murdered

by the same quack eye doctor

who would also get away with killing the other

genius of the Baroque, Handel.

In this mesmerizing middle movement, though,

the body count falls away as we count

notes and steps in a progression

that is at once inevitable and surprising.

My heart quakes at the impossible

beauty of it, and even more at how easily

this could have been one of the many scores

lost forever after his passing,

one-third of everything he ever wrote

sold as scrap paper to wrap fish.

His own sons, not one of whom was fit

to empty his final chamber pot, thought their

father’s music was overwrought, turgid, passé.

Death politely disagrees. And so

the dance continues, with Glenn Gould

and numberless others cutting in to give the cantor

of St. Thomas Church a much-needed rest.

(First published in Clover, a Literary Rag)


Kurt Luchs has poems published or forthcoming in Into the Void, Triggerfish Critical Review, Right Hand Pointing, Roanoke Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Antiphon, Emrys Journal, and The Sun Magazine, among others, and won the 2017 Bermuda Triangle Poetry Prize. He founded the literary humor site, and has written humor for the New Yorker, the Onion and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as writing comedy for television (Politically Incorrect and the Late Late Show) and radio (American Comedy Network). Sagging Meniscus Press recently published his humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny), which has been nominated for the Thurber Prize for American Humor. His poetry chapbook, One of These Things Is Not Like the Other, is forthcoming. More of his work, both humor and poetry, can be found at