Two Poems by John Kucera


The memorial to the lost memorial
could be a child’s tug, a pallor, a pall,
a locomotive, its banner of exhaust,
the spit of steam as the iron comes to rest.
What you do not know you know can break
a spine or set ablaze a stack of books.

Or harbor the tragedy yet to happen.
Rain falls into a chronicle we call rain,
and what abstracted politician can tell
the water from the word, the arrival
of spring from the crackle of erasure.
What downpour shapes a monument of tears.

These woods are full of statues if you listen.
I have heard the cries of lost children
float through the halls, and a hush at the end
gave each a stone to lay against a stone.
I saw once, in a dark museum, a small
striped jacket, a signet of the Holocaust,

pinned to a cloth. I swore to remember.
We all did. But whom? A friend, a number,
our own child inside the coat. The cap
beside it, no larger than a bowl of soup.
I swore again to recall the nameless
and left my bones behind me in the rain.



I never had to beg
For a pet. The horses just
Were—muscled motion,
Familiar as milkweed
Seeds. My mother
Had a college degree and my father
Thought that should make
Us all as angry as he was,
Poor delicate out of control
Tyrant with his fists
Clenched tight. We lived
So easily then but no one
Knew it, the 1980s full
Of fear as any decade.
I knew thorns
And barn smell, freedom
On bike and horseback
And sneakered foot,
Place as solid as ice
In the water buckets come
Winter. And then they sold
The horses—I had not known
You could sell family—
And we moved to town.
That must be when I stopped
Believing there was a such thing as forever.


John Kucera was educated at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in New Reader Magazine, The Sandy River Review, Connections Magazine and Friends Journal. He lives in Arizona, where he writes and teaches.