Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of twenty-two books, including Flannelwood (Red Hen Press) and Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman (Squares & Rebels). He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Five short poems
Time was ticking already when we first cast
messages into the electronic ether. Talking
face-to-face, we ghosts turned back into flesh.
Then came the 1,693 air miles between us,
the next 10.8 road miles between PDX
and your house, the last mile of walking my dog
on your streets, the stripping of our clothes.
You are now 8,077 miles away.
My heart is an odometer gone awry.
On the elliptical I pushed down
harder, faster than I ever had.
My heart rate topped 171,
one heartbeat shy of my maximum.
Sweat cloaked all over my body.
I thought of water trickling down
into the yawp of my parched soul.
Floating in the hot tub, I thought of you.
My heart rate finally felt right.
In your silences emitting from the Milford Track,
I dream entire conversations with you
not in the language of speech or sign
but made entirely of touch: fingers weaving
in and out, hips brushing against each other,
shoulders huddling, eyes glancing now and then,
feet trying to match time with the world.
All I’ve got left in my hands is a map of ache.
How my weary feet long for your massage.
The hours of sun grow a bit longer each day
I think of you. This winter of cold absences
will be a bad memory discarded in a shoebox,
much like my scruffed-up Red Wing boots
drying on a flattened cardboard box
salted white and peppered with pebbles.
It will too be gone once the first giggle of spring
rushes in through my screened windows,
carrying me closer to the summer of you.
In my hand is a rust-colored stone I’d lifted
from our walk along the shore of Discovery Bay.
It was a molten red against a bed of gray pebbles
as the waves lifted its blanket across them.
Dried 1,750 miles away, it’s lost its luster.
I pour water over it in a white rice bowl.
Fluorescent lights do not illuminate its beauty,
so my memory of it will have to do, much
like how I must remember your face glowing.