John Kucera

To My Darling, In Flames

In a random act of evil, someone set fire
To the two of us, and we wander the streets
Like torches, separately, scorching things we pass.
Choking heat beats out from us
And people draw back from it,
But I want you to know that yesterday,
When we happened to stumble past one another
On Main Street, scattering the shoppers and sightseers,
You were magnificent, my darling—
Resplendent in your flames.
Your oranges and yellows were so vivid I could taste them,
And the way they stroked up your sides reminded me
Of your fingers on my ribcage. Yes,
Most of the faces wore horror.
But know that at least one
Was looking at you with pride.

She Wanted to Go to the Sea One Last Time

I have been insensitive to delight,
Too busy avoiding stones in the road to notice
Icarus falling from the sky—or before that,
His flying. I have stoppered my ears
To the singing as I worked out some problem
In my head, I have watched others speak
And thought only about what I would say.
Swimming in the ocean I have seen pelicans
Coast by on cupped wings and looked over
At my sister, her eyes closed in pleasure,
And in the midst of sun and breeze
And the shifting embrace of salt water
I let my throat close with the knowledge
Of her dying—great gods of the otherworld
I almost let her see me weep. I have so much
To be forgiven for. I am alive
Still, and the dog resting her chin in my hand
Gives me the whole soft weight of her head.

John Kucera was educated at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in New Reader Magazine and Philadelphia Stories. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
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