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Poetry by Len Kuntz

Burying Our Parents
Sliding Glass Doors
Someone Else's Psalm
At Least Another Day
Published March 10, 2016

Burying Our Parents

It’s a surprise.
The old scars are milk blue,
rising anew,
swelling and smelling of Tareyton cigarettes and candy corn,
a heady mix of Christmas and Halloween,
one event which was so often hell,
the other a lucky feast for kids far
poorer than migrants.
The death of witches and warlocks--
who just happen to be mothers and fathers--
should elicit elation,
but now it’s only welts and belt marks that appear
under our lids,
shaped like crippled starfish
dying in the sun.
As we stand around the casket,
together again after all these years,
nothing more than a band of misplaced misfits,
there are no corsages placed atop the coffin,
no tears either,
sadness and joy scrubbed away by the coarsest steel wool
or sharpest knuckles,
nothing to feel at all
but that nostalgic dread of anticipation
and the insistent trembling of oncoming doom,
charcoal thunderclouds skirting the hills ghostlike,
while a solitary bugle strains to be heard
in the midmorning air.

Sliding Glass Doors

There is a red rose wilting on the kitchen table
where my daughter sits
telling me about her boyfriend,
how great he is,
how funny,
how, actually charming, he is.
Through the reflection off the sliding glass door
I can see the bruise above my daughter’s right eye,
a brutal sprocket of plum and mustard and charcoal,
bleeding over the lens of her sunglasses.
I swallow stale air
and take a full breath,
lean forward and hold her hand.
“Listen,” I say.  
“Please.  Just listen a minute.”

Someone Else’s Psalm

Night presses down with gnarled fingers and ragged nails,
into my once tender and lithe flesh,
taking my breath
and future,
the past reasserting itself so easily,
so ugly,
but by tomorrow
it’ll all be over—
the burial,
the sibling masquerade,
the drinking-till-we-can’t-stand-up-straight
But right now I have the moon and sun
to account for,
them staring back at me like smirking jurors,
all in on a joke I don’t get,
posers with no purpose
other than to bully and be in attendance.
It makes a man wonder
what God thinks about all this,
how he can stand stock-still
among the ruin of family
who eats their own young
while smiling.

At Least Another Day

The man at the store said, “Hey, I know you.
Fuck yeah, I do.
You’re the guy who writes those dark motherfucking things.”
I shrugged and paid and said thanks.
On the drive home,
I kept checking my reflection in the rearview,
afraid I’d wilted
or melted
or dissipated altogether.
But I looked okay.
I pretty much resembled me.
I looked like I could hold on at least another day.
I turned on the radio.
Hearing Dylan singing about shelter,
I bawled and bawled,
while slamming the steering wheel as hard as
my father used to punch me.
At the door my wife was there,
with a whale-wide smile and open arms,
asking, “How was your day, Honey?”
“Good,” I told her.


“Your drug is other people’s happiness,”
my first girlfriend told me
after she’d taken my virginity.
“You might be right,” I said.
She laughed and laughed and
finally took my hand and kissed my palm and said,
“Baby, if I could make it all better I would.”
I told her I had to be home by eleven.
We did it again,
rough this time,
like claustrophobic monsters,
and she came screaming.
For a moment we were both frightened.
Her knees wouldn’t stop trembling.
My heart wouldn’t stop beating.
I stared out the car’s backseat window and
knew we were both fucked.

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and an editor at the online
Literary Orphans.  His work appears widely in print and online
journals. His story collection, "The Dark Sunshine," debuted from
Connotation Press in 2014. You can also find him at

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