His excuse is he can’t help himself, hers she’s heartsick.
To make amends he knots together fortune cookies with optimistic predictions
and fashions a necklace for her
but she is drunk with sickness when he comes home,
she slumped in the bath wearing her work clothes,
her nylons and heels,
rolling a rubber duck back and forth between her palms
like a link of lava.
“But I made this for you,” he says.
The paper jewelry pierces her, same as a sword,
shredding a sheet she’s been holding over her heart all this time,
the last vestige, the final hiding tool.
The air ignites,
whooshing up between them,
leaping tongues of fire now,
reaching for the truth
they both know
but can do nothing about.
The glass is like dirty lake water
yet he can see himself reflected in it,
little boy with the ugly face
though not yet scarred,
hip-high to the skirt beside him,
his mother bartering the clerk,
her fingers bare and trembling,
Inside the case are a collection
of things you’d find in a garage or a house
or a jewelry store.
None of them look new but there’s a glint of gory sin
in studying them,
the sight of all that secondhand loot,
the tarnish and worn spots of a woman’s hand mirror.
a musician’s harmonica,
a pistol’s trigger.
She says Babybabybaby.
She says Whyyouwanna.
She says Oooeeeyeahsirrr.
She’s got the radio up so that the wall clock pops and shimmies with the bass.
Luther rides the arm of the sofa and she’s all up on him,
horseback riding his knee
using her slapping palm for spurs.
She says Yippiekiyay-aye-aye.
My sister takes my hand and pulls me to her room and says she can’t get it,
So I tug back the latch and force the window open
even as scales of dried paint rip off the wood seams,
fluttering to the ground twenty stories below.
“What now?” I ask,
but she’s already leaping,
arms out like Superman,
mouth full of wind,
her journey just getting started.
Hold Me Hard
The world is an empty well and you’re welcome to it.
Dark eye dug so deep.
Drop a penny and hear it do nothing.
If we jump together, though,
We might not have to land.
Mistakes in Paris
In the sheet this morning I
found more evidence of you:
three strands of your
From there I walked out to the veranda wrapped up in your scent.
The baguette vendor shook his fist at me.
A flock of foreign birds, so tiny and severe,
smeared the sky,
so busy with their gossip,
and wiped out my apology.
A Fine View
I have a good view here, a fine view
of the lovers in their canoe,
her feeding him first a sandwich square and next her actual hand
which must have retained
some traces of condiment.
The young man looks famished.
He does not stop rowing nor does he stop mouthing each finger.
Her laughter is birdish. It echoes around the lake,
mocking the unloved
but most of all me who rises at last to draw the blinds.
Len Kuntz lives on a lake in rural Washington State with rural sea creatures. His work appears in places like Troubadour 21, Cricket Online Review and also at lenkuntz.blogspot.com.
Poetry in Aldeburgh 2017
6 months ago