The furtive, too-eager groping makes me feel
like an anatomically correct abuse doll:
“Yes, mommy, that’s where the bad man
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
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
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.
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,
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.