by John Kucera
Drums How many elegies are enough— the tone, the muffled drums, the heart pressed to dirt. The leaves, having ridden the grass so long lies mulched and mounded over the beds. The guy down the block who hasn’t spoken to me in more than twenty years, said his brother has pancreatic cancer tumors everywhere. Holding out his hand he said Parkinson’s. The tumors start when it gets cold Gale warnings and snow. He stands at his mailbox in shorts and a t-shirt, socks, slippers. He’d watched the hearse carry off the old man across the street. He guesses he’ll be next. Baggage Claim Freshly lopped off like prey I’m stopped once again at the baggage claim and searched like I have a mark on my forehead saying, “stop me.” I can hear the engines roar, picture my plane like an owl trying not to be seen it will carry me to the island. I have nothing to declare except the loss of my mother. Stomach turbulence as the employee pulls out packing cubes trying to locate an offense. He zips open my toiletries kit. “What’s this for?” he asks of the face cream. The one my mother used. I need to make the connection. The whole day flying over the ring of fire as if each volcano will reawaken. Dow Jones Dream Someone is tossing fish from the roofs and you swim the violent current down Broadway towards Central Park past steel hot dog carts and rusted fish caves once garbage bins brimming with takeout boxes. Perched behind a drowned oak tree Alice and the Mad Hatter ask about the state of the markets. When the helicopters shred the sky they will ask if you are here for the light show and for proper identification cash is also acceptable. The annual burning of the older houses bring the wealthier crowds on their fancy foam noodles, rubber hands built with waterproof cameras they only like the old houses, those rusted gates and outdated number plates when they burn. Here come the sirens, those jazz songs that warn of the waves, the breached seawall Sinatra always plays on payday. The tourists are never ready for the skyscrapers, their windows crashing against rocks until the shoreline dots with gray sea glass the marble stairs to the library a hill of preening seabirds. When they invented the boats, we knew the worst was over, it had to be. So, what more could we do but celebrate? a body that no longer needed to swim. John Kucera was educated at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in New Reader Magazine, The Sandy River Review, Utopia Science Fiction, Slant, Connections Magazine and Friends Journal. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where he writes and teaches.