Friday, April 29, 2016



 
 
--YOU LOOK LIKE I NEED A DRINK

 
 
Another Way To See Me

Another way to see me
Is to take a potato peeler
Strip away each layer of flesh
Don’t mind the blood or mess
Just work your way to the marrow
Through the lungs and rib cage
And find my still-beating heart
Its fisted hand and
Upraised middle finger
Waiting for you

 

A Kind of Eden

I find you where
Water comes together
With other water
Where there is no tide
Only a kind of Eden
Verdant shore side foliage
Smell of mango in the air
Midstream eddies swirling while
Egrets hike up their skirts
Like skinny nuns afraid of getting wet
And then you  
Lazy as lost feather
Floating naked on a raft
Sun striping skin
Eyes to the sky
Asking, “What took you so long?”
 

 
Makeshift Merchants

We were the two white kids
Burned brown by the sun
Selling cucumbers outside of Albertson’s
Permitted because Mom was doing
The manager
If not half the clerks, too
We had cukes and zucchinis
The size of rolling pins
Heaped in a red wagon
Sometimes a granny would buy a few
Once or twice we ate half the wagon
Skins on, no salt
But what the hell
We were young and poor
But our bellies were full
And tomorrow was a moon away

 

Too Young To Ride

The man at the bus station
Said I was too young to travel by myself
Though he had no authority
He said, “I’ve got a car if you need a lift,”
Tried to take my hand, tried again
I was on my way to live with grandparents
I’d never met, my own folks dead
The third time he grabbed
I reached inside my boot
A knife attached itself to my hand
And went swinging like a whip
I didn’t know there’d be so much blood
Didn’t know I could kill someone either
Me just nine years old
And wanting to be left alone
Wanting a decent future
The same as anyone else

 

Blow-back

He is sticking words in you like
Hatpins through an eye
There is no air
The light is too bright
Tomorrow could be a hoax this time around
You’re thinking, Mother was right
He’s never used fists before
But here you are again
Enduring another blow-back
For whatever reason
You find the clock, hold your gaze there,
Wait for minute hand to twitch,
Begging it to
Thinking to yourself
Move.  Move now.
Nothing to do now but
Wait and see if midnight comes


Wednesday, April 27, 2016



 
--SOME THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT UNFINISHED

 
…April’s almost gone.  It went by fast, but it was a very full month as should be May.

…Here are some random things I learned recently that you may or may not know yourself:
 

The Monarch butterfly can travel more than two thousand miles, from Canada to Mexico.

In a recent survey, traces of cocaine were found on 99% of UK paper money.

One in eight American workers has been employed at McDonald’s at one point in their life.

The most stolen book in the world is The Bible.

A herd of rhinos is called a Crash.

The number one importer of slaves in the world wasn’t actually the US, but Brazil.

It takes 100 years for a metal can to disintegrate.

A whale can grow up to 100 pounds a minute after it is born.

Falling coconuts and vending machines kill more people each year than do sharks.

Van Gogh created over 900 paintings and sold 1 (for 44 francs).  (After his death, the highest paid price for one of his painting was $87.5 million)
 
Only 4% of women think they are beautiful. 


62% of adults say they exercise enough;10% actually do. 

Last year, ten Americans died from terrorism; 34,680 died in car accidents. 

74 vs 686: Los Angeles’s Air Quality Index versus Beijing (500) is considered near lethal)

45% of Japanese couples said they have not had sex in the last month.

According to Author John Groom, the cost of the Obama’s lifestyle is $1.4 Billion per year, for vacations, Camp David, personal and political travel, and other items not directly related to the operations of the federal government.

$3.3 Trillion: Total projected 2015 revenue of United States government from individual, corporate, and social security taxes.

In 1913 the US government spending was 4.5% of GDP. Today it’s 47%.

$229 Billion: Amount donated by Americans to charity last year.

64.3 Million: Number of Americans who volunteered for a charity last year, totaling 8.3 billion hours.

The CEO of Viacom made $54.2 million dollars last year.  Eleven CEO’s made over $30 million last year.

Cumberland college once lost an NCAA football game by a score of 222-0.
 
 

 

Monday, April 25, 2016



--I NEED AN ALIBI

 
Orchid

You know the language of flowers,
scents and sloped petals, stamen.
That was but one of your gifts.
You loved Irish poets and bawdy limericks, too.
Once, while trying to explain Keats to me,
I fell asleep with my head in your armpit.
Once, you claimed I was too thin,
bought me an orchid, and said,
“This is you; slanted, a frail rail
 but beautiful.”
Now it’s too late to parse,
way past pruning bonsai trees.
The second hand sweeps.
Lawyers arrive while
the lacquered table smirks and winks.
Sign here.  Sign there. Here, and here.
It’s over in a blur,
elevator doors closing like quicksand
leaving me standing
with the still-alive stem in my jacket pocket.

 

Poached

And when it’s finished
there are no graves for us.
Two of my brothers lay in gray heaps,
sucking mud beneath the mangroves.
Two others flail on scorched prairie grass
under the cruel Kenyan sun
as nearby Acacia trees shift with a breeze,
accomplices by no fault of their own.
The marauders sounded so merry
filling their truck bed with our tusks.
In their wake, plumes of dust
rose like tired fire smoke
while lion and leopard,
our distant cousins,
loped away with eyes wide open.

 

Elephant Siblings

See, little brother,
the stray Acacia trees
with their umbrella branches?
They have shade for you
and if it is still too hot
we will bathe in the waterhole
with the albatross and hippos.
Keep close to me.
Fear only the sound of an engine,
the crack of manmade gunfire.
Be alert and you might live
till the moon bows its head
one last time.

 

Hunters

There is a rifle in your hands,
heavy as anvil.
Hearing your footfalls,
a flock of starlings lift
from tree branches like
the leftover mist of gunpowder.
Your father whispers, “Quiet,”
for the fifth time.
When a buck enters the clearing,
you are to take aim.
The animal is both ignorant and beautiful,
wild and alive.
You count breaths.
The sun is in your eyes, on your face
like a hot slap.
Squinting, you sight and fire
shot after shot
as the sun winks back at you,
pleased as a parent.

 

Lifetime

Midday sun broods over our cul de sac
across the street a moving van
sullen workers loading appliances
a sofa, two flat screens, cardboard boxes
everything but the crib and baby clothes
which must have been donated or destroyed
a lifetime ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, April 22, 2016



--EVERYTHING ALWAYS CHANGES

…Yesterday in my junk folder I found two recent emails from widows wanting to give me huge sums of money.  In total, it was close to $100 million.  I get emails like these regularly.  The scam must work or I doubt they’d be wasting all that time, though crooks are known to be stupid.

…I’ve had quite a few pieces published of late.  It’s kind of nice:
http://mandala.uga.edu/passage/poet-kuntz-passage.php
http://roseredreview.org/2016-spring-len-kuntz/
https://jellyfishreview.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/alligator-wrestling-with-elvis-by-len-kuntz/
http://ratsassreview.net/? http://www.chicagowrites.org/the-write-city-magazine/ page_id=1070#Kuntz
https://inklettemagazine.com/2016/04/03/trespass/
http://www.moonglassesmag.com/len-kuntz-never-give-a-gun-to-ducks
http://concis.io/issues/spring-2016/kuntz-shelf/
http://www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/pages/?p=10458
http://pureslush.webs.com/everygirlscrazy.htm

…I’m going to spend a weekend with my best friend in Vancouver today, so I won’t be back again for a few days.  But here are some things I like for the weekend:

“I wouldn't be surprised if poetry - poetry in the broadest sense, in the sense of a world filled with metaphor, rhyme, and recurring patterns, shapes, and designs - is how the world works. The world isn't logical; it's a song.” - David Byrne

“Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I grew up out of that strange, dreamy childhood of mine and went into the world of reality. I met with experiences that bruised my spirit - but they never harmed my ideal world. That was always mine to retreat into at will.” L.M. Montgomery

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” “Perks of Being a Wallflower”

"What is refused is lost." Zoe Ruiz


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

 


 
--THE STARS ARE FAMISHED
 

Demons on the Clothesline

All my other selves are hanging on the clothesline
The thin ones, the sour, the sin-stained,
The bloody awful red ones
The sun looks away and the wind screeches to a halt
A pair of children wonder what to make of it
Raising a tree branch they treat me like a piƱata
When nothing falls, they get a can of gasoline
And spritz my feet and calves and light a match
As the flames lick, I smolder black and tarry
There is no tortured screaming
I watch it all, sighing, thinking perhaps
It is finished
 

 
Shattered

Your allergies are acting up again
It’s the pollen or the way the water warps
In the drinking glass you shatter in the sink
Meds can take the edge off, smooth a few sharp corners
But there are days and nights when volcanoes spew
Their lava down your throat and suffocation
Seems like a very real possibility
So under the bridge you go
The sound of the cars overhead a kind of
Auditory waterboarding
Peace is a slippery distance
And the demons are never satiated
If you could just come home
If we could just talk for once
Like father and son
Or friend to friend
We might forge a footprint
Cut down the weeds and detritus
And carve a way back to the beginning

 

Somnambulism

Alone again, you find yourself without ribs
Your heart hanging loose by a bloody tendril
The moon mocks you while
Stars form a bejeweled noose
You hear your mother’s ancient instruction
This is how we pick ourselves up
And so you walk to the window
To the lake
To the shore
Where the water accepts you as you are
Because what other choice does it have?
You float in an uneven eddy
Twirling in stilted patterns
Moonbeams striping your face
While galaxies expand for no other reason than
That they can
Seconds pass, minutes, too
And you as well
One with the unsteady current
A soggy carcass never so sad
Hoping to float to a new world
Where things bloom and can be resurrected

 

This Lonely

When the marauders come for you
There is nothing left to steal
Cornmeal perhaps, or stale bread
And still you are so lonesome that
You offer yourself as a proxy.
Take me, you say.
One bandit looks to the other
Then glances away
Before leaving without a word
Through the back door
You converse with the mirror
With a reflection in the window
With anything that might resemble
A friend

 
 
Lazarus Is Up

Lazarus is up.
He looks dehydrated,
but that’s to be expected from a corpse.
He asks who all cried, who all cared,
writing down every name I tell him.
What I don’t say is that I wish he’d stayed dead,
that sometimes what’s done is done,
no tricks allowed,
mortality making meaning out of death.

 

Safe Word

Your hair is messy, the way he likes it
He’s hissing in your ear, sound of a tire going flat
He’s taken to using handcuffs or rope
To amplify the arc of his pleasure
Sometimes there is a wire or candle wax
You have a safe word but your mouth is gagged
His face is flushed the color of crushed berries
In it you look for the charming nineteen year old boy
With feathered hair and puka shells
You look and look, desperate as ever
Until it’s time to close your eyes

 

 

Monday, April 18, 2016

 
 
--THERE ARE SIXTEEN HOUSES IN MY HEART, MOST OF THEM ON FIRE

 
Dementia

Everything conspires, even the moon.
Yes, especially her.
You tell me how she watches you undress
and shower,
an indiscreet voyeur not to be trusted.
You call me a stranger’s name and slap
the hand I raise to touch your face.
“Fresh!” you say, as irony smirks.
Your eyes, once blue as cobalt,
are a burned-down field now,
years and memories gone to ash.
Insidious, one book called it, aptly so,
the diseases that has foiled our future.
But I’ll be here with you, alien or not,
as I always have.
 


Dementia(2)

There’s no longer a kiss in your eyes
Your lips are always moving,
Going nowhere
Like a stalled escalator
While your mouth shapes syllables that
No hacker has ever deciphered
Here’s my hand, my palm
Write something on it or
Draw a picture, tap out a code
Anything to let me know you’re here

 

Dementia(3)
 
You are remembering a pet goat
The bell around its neck sounding like
The jingling noise the door made at Storm Lake Grocery
So old man Miller would be alerted to customers
“Old man, Miller, he was sweet on me,” you say.
“He gave me free candy.  He touched me once.”
I try to explain that your mind’s become a shifting bridge
But you’re as lucid as ever, insisting,
“He touched me where he shouldn’t have
And at his funeral,” you say,
“I couldn’t stop laughing.”
 

 
Siblings and Spiders

I know it’s spring because the spiders are back
Hanging from my window
So many of them
Gauzy gray Post-It notes taped everywhere
Suspended midair like window washers on the side of
A skyscraper
My brother ate one once, a spider that is,
On a dare from our oldest sibling
He chewed and swallowed and opened wide afterward
Thought that would earn him respect
For once when all it created was ridicule
Now we’re seated in an anteroom
Away from the closed casket
The meal is sloppy joes on stale buns
We eat in silence, chewing, chewing,
Not knowing what to say or
How to properly mourn

 

Hate Mail

What are words if not crude weapons,
machetes and pick axes?
Our daughter shows us the messages.
I WISH YOU WOULD KILL YOURSELF ALREADY.
YOU’RE A PIG AND YOU LICK IT.
What to say then,
about the black hearts of angry teens?
How to speak of forgiveness
and moving forward?
Why averting your eyes is sometimes
The best course.

 

The Split
 
We take turn plucking hairs from our heads
Until there’s enough to stuff pillows
Then come our brows and whiskers, pubic hair
Dermis is next, peeling it off in sticky sheets
We break bones and gnaw on each other’s marrow
This in a room with a mahogany table
A stack of forms and lawyers who record it all

 

Familiar
 
Shame sticks to you like tar
That even a blowtorch cannot eradicate
And in the morning though the sun is wide-eyed
You pull the curtains and duct tape the slits
Your mattress is a hole a cavern a crooked tunnel
You fall down several hundred feet
Miles maybe
There is no bottom or escape
You try calling out but your voice
Only boomerangs against walls of nothingness
And it’s not until the flamethrowers grow weary
And the catapults are wheeled away
That you crawl on knees inch by inch
Open a door and see him standing there
Looking familiar
Not disappointed in the slightest to be
The person you once were
And can still be




Friday, April 15, 2016



 
 
--LAUGHTER IS SO MUCH STRONGER THAN CRYING

 
Separation

But for the river
You have an arbitrary heart
Seedlings take no root in your eyes
Upon one stone and then the next
You walk on water until you’ve
Reached the other side of the shore
Your back to me as always
Crossing land now
Moving swift as a sparrow
Repurposed and finally free

 

Radicalized

There is a bonfire in your eyes
Barbwire for a brow
Spiked teeth
With blue-black saliva
Dripping off your chin
Anger and residue are your
Closest companions
Each day finds you hating more
Wanting nothing but destruction
I’ve seen what you’re up to—
Pipes and pressure cooker bombs—
And so it’s time I burned your room down
Take you hostage
Re-engineer the false poetry inside your head
Remind you that you were once
A wide-eyed boy
A pacifist to the core
My son
If only through genetics

 

Monkey Children

When they ran out of other names,
they called us that—monkey children--
because our lunch sacks held only bananas
what fell from the tree
bruised boomerang fruit
that we’d eat during recess in the far corner
of the gymnasium
But I had one pair of jeans with deep pockets
and being skinny I could slip between
the seams and store aisles
pinch chips and candy from rows
easily escaping each stocky clerk
In time classmates gathered round
wanting to see the loot
bartering for Mars and Snickers bars
And just like that my brother and I became boys
with real names
like anybody else

 

Moxie

Oh, I know what they say
That escape is futile and stupid
How the alleys will swallow you whole
Marauders lurking beneath the shadows
That it’s best to stay put
Get a hot meal at least
Even if it’s akin to prison food or poison
Still the fists keep coming
The belt and latch key strap
A chair leg once
And so uncover of the night
I make myself a slender shadow
And tip toe past the slumbering beast
Where outside nothing is daunting
The clouds like arms that want to hug
The stars grinning right at me

 

Pugilists

She came early,
a three pound, ten ounce prize fighter.
My wife claimed our newborn looked like a tadpole,
a small loaf of damp bread.
When she said she was sorry,
I asked why.
“I don’t know.  It’s just…”

Who’s to say where women go?
Only she can know.
She said the shroud of post-partum
was like a mist of black gnats
always covering, trailing, smothering—
and I believed her.

Still the baby thrived and grew.
My wife got up from the matt,
threw punches of her own,
vicious jabs and uppercuts,
at last winning the bout.

How lucky am I then,
to live with two pugilists?