Literary as hell.

Poetry by Kurt Luchs

TSA

 

The furtive, too-eager groping makes me feel

like an anatomically correct abuse doll:

“Yes, mommy, that’s where the bad man

touched me.”

When they’re finally done with their fun

they send me through the terror detector,

shoes off, belt removed, dignity and pants

both ready to fall down,

and the machine beeps me back.

“Do you have any metal in your right calf?”

Well, yes, come to think of it,

that’s the one the great white shark

gnawed off at the knee.

These days it’s pure aluminum

stuffed with C-4 – perfectly harmless

without a detonator. Sometimes

I unscrew it and use it

to scratch my back or pound nails

or club baby seals to death.

Now Mister Happy Hands is all over me again.

“Thank you, you can go now.”

No, thank you, officer,

thank you for keeping us all safe

from ourselves.

 

Flying

 

None of us has wings, yet here we are,

higher than any bird and traveling

nearly as fast as the scream

of our own engines.

“Eight miles high” may sing better,

but it’s really 6.6 miles,

still an impossible-to-believe miracle

that never quite palls, because it’s true.

From here, at dusk, our human cities

pulse gently, luminescent jellyfish

spreading their tendrils into the dark

declivities between mountains.

Impossible to believe anything

too terrible could happen amid such glories.

Nonetheless, under every shimmering dot

lies a life full of secret grief, secret torment

that no earthly beauty can assuage,

and in each collection of dots

a murder here, a rape there,

a child struck for no reason.

Though my love for this world

remains unrequited

I will go on loving her

even as I move faster and farther away

over her unending curve.

 

The Sound of Water

 

Why this mysterious power to calm

the mind and lift the heart?

And why only in nature,

issuing from streams, lakes and oceans?

Why not the same power

in the kitchen faucet, the bathroom shower

or the garden hose?

Is it because our ancestors

were born in water, lived and died there

never knowing the sound or smell

of the air until one of us

first clumped ashore, gasping, on bloody fins?

Driven by what? Starvation or war

or that other mystery, the will to change?

Is it that we are all exiles

longing for our true home?

Because somewhere inside each of us

the waves go on breaking

in time with our hearts?

 

Two Giant Snapping Turtles Making Love

 

Like porcupines, they do it very carefully.

His claws are longer than hers,

no doubt so that he can cling more tightly.

Once attached, they rock and roll

gently in the swamp water,

scaring off the frogs and fish

that are their usual prey,

the waves disturbing the reeds and lily pads

that do not comprehend this form of reproduction.

Their murderous beaks and jagged green-gray shells

are hideous to look upon,

and they smell of the methane-infused mud

in which they hide and crawl every day.

Only the eight-pointed stars of their eyes

could be called beautiful,

and their unaccustomed tenderness in this moment.

Yet these wrinkled, leftover dinosaurs

give me hope that there is someone

for everyone in this world.

 

 

Primitive Instincts

 

The sudden crunch of dry leaves behind me.

In the fraction of a second

it takes to spin around

I become my ancestor,

expecting to see a saber-toothed cat

or the stone-pointed spear

of my human enemy.

Instantly I am ready to dodge,

run or kill.

But it’s only you, love,

and instead the rush of adrenaline

becomes an aphrodisiac

as I clutch and kiss you

with more force than usual.

In what inner cave

does this version of me crouch,

silent, watchful?

And how many times each day

does he seek to emerge?

There is no answer

as he continues to gaze

through the campfire with my eyes.

 


Kurt Luchs has poems published or forthcoming in Into the Void, Triggerfish Critical Review, Right Hand Pointing, Antiphon, The Sun Magazine and South Florida Poetry Journal, among others, and won the 2017 Bermuda Triangle Poetry Prize. He founded the literary humor site TheBigJewel.com, and has written humor for the New Yorker, the Onion and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as writing comedy for television and radio. In November 2017 Sagging Meniscus Press published his humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny). His poetry chapbook, One of These Things Is Not Like the Other, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in March 2019. More of his work, both poetry and humor, can be found at kurtluchs.com.

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