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Poetry: Three Poems by John Kucera

Striking a Root

The shovel, striking a root, thunked

all the way down to my moist heart.

An acolyte, I knelt to bury the plant to

its neck.

Blame me for trusting coincidence

more than fate.

Hold me responsible for rose thorns.

The sloping yard


the memory of past glaciers. Have I searched within for the gravitational field

that holds me here?

Weeds take over the neglected bed next to the house.

Sharing the sun with stray

snapdragons and tomatoes.

That will forget their names by August.

If there’s a faint, high-pitched whistle

like a bird stuck in the night,

It could be the call of my own breath.


How to describe history’s grotesque

face, still half-hidden under a mask

of deceit. In some countries, hide

and seek is not a game.

In some homes, the bodies curled inside closets no longer contain enough space for laughter.

I want to nourish my children and also, I want them to hear the gnarl of a not-so-distant hunger

as they


their pile of snacks. Tell me what

greater joy than watching your


blow out her birthday candles? How

the flames are quelled in a single

wish without ever searing her skin.

Don’t think about it, they say. As if

our playgrounds weren’t haunted.

Voices encircled by a battalion

of bloodied dreams. The swings heavy. The wind pushing them from side to side, shapeless.

Just because we turn off the television doesn’t mean bombs aren’t falling on schools and


No matter how dazzlingly our children dance in their spring concert,

missiles will continue blazing through the bellies of maternity wards.

A family lies at the foot of the bridge we almost crossed next to their open suitcases. Next to a

bright pink bunny

squashed beneath the rubble.

Explosion after explosion, and we don’t turn away.

Look, I say. I need them to know what may come next.

Strange Horizons

In the second year of our relationship, the insurance company decides I do not exist.

I pinch my forearm: I am real.

My social security card remains unaccepted: I am not.

I go out to the garden to prop the seven foot tall American Giant scarecrow against the severing

fall winds.

It’s stalk feels strong enough to pin my body back to earth.

There is pain and there is stillness.

Knees up on the table shaking with both after the dark red clumps had stopped sloughing

from my heart.

The cancer-reducing procedures complications.

The clumps like raw chicken livers.

I once watched a man beat eggs with a quinoa in a silver bowl to feed his dog.

I would assume they understood what it meant to be real.

The distant windmills, tiny and spare.

A single cormorant standing and raising his wings to the sun, beckoning.

The sunflowers grow tall and stay standing long after the others fall the seed catalog singsongs.

Long after has arrived and gone without ceremony. Or as much as a hand squeeze before they

leave you, wiping the speculum and tossing plastic gloves in the trash.

Lying still I can see the people pouring liquid aluminum like the anthill in the video.

I know how they filled the empty space then pulled everything from the ground to show us a

thousand tiny lifeless metal rooms.

John Kucera was educated at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poetry has appeared in Silver Blade Magazine, Book of Matches and Selcouth Station. He currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.

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