Today we studied the ruins.

Your eyelashes were already a legend among the Byzantines.

Once, I believed you could read the stars,

perhaps even read your own mind.

Yet you can’t feel your own grave

rushing at you with its mouth open,

the branches of that place soaked in a green light,

the clenched teeth of the moon.


That was some of the work I did for extra credit.


Then they made me chalk your name

a hundred times on the blackboard;

but the thought of there being so many of you,

each one the same,

each dotting her “i” with a drop of blood…

It was too much. I flinched

and hooded the blackboard with a hospital sheet.



In the shorn fields

Death gathers a bouquet

of all the hands that ever touched you.



Ladies and gentlemen, my latest discovery:

the heart is a piece of coal.

Yes, a piece of coal in which the fossilized leaves

of an extinct fern

are just beginning to stir from a breeze that passed

centuries ago.

If you look closely,

at the tip of the branch is poised

an impossibly small bird, with hollow sockets that look

neither left nor right.

The bird, also, is extinct.

(First published in Phantom Drift)


Kurt Luchs has poems published or forthcoming in Into the Void, Right Hand Pointing, Antiphon and The Sun Magazine. He placed second for the 2019 Fischer Poetry Prize, and won the 2019 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. He has written humor for the New Yorker, the Onion and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as writing comedy for television and radio. His books include a humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny) (2017 Sagging Meniscus Press), and a poetry chapbook, One of These Things Is Not Like the Other (2019 Finishing Line Press). More of his work, both poetry and humor, is at kurtluchs.com.