Three Poems

by John Kucera


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 

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those rusted gates and outdated 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.