This morning for no reason at all
joy wells up inside me,
joy beams from my eyes
and radiates from my fingertips,
everything blesses me
and I bless everything in turn
like a lazy savior signing heavenly invoices
without even reading them.
It’s a kind of madness, friend,
because I have money troubles,
I have family troubles the same as you
and planet Earth has human troubles
as on any day the sun rises.
Joy must come from one of those
hidden dimensions the scientists
are always yammering about,
a compactified place
filled with compressed infinities
that leave no room for ordinary misery.
When an impossibly minute piece of joy
leaks out, it transforms
the nearest being for what seems
an eternal moment.
This morning, for no reason at all,
that being is me
Ode to the Poplar
Such modest ambitions, to grow only up,
not out, reaching for the sky
and sometimes getting to one-hundred-sixty-five feet
with up to an eight-foot trunk
like a giant green-and-brown snake standing on its head.
You are easy on the eyes but provide little shade,
catching Monet’s attention without blocking his light,
useful for making into almost everything
from toothpicks to pallets to snowboards,
and yes, matchsticks, so that after death some of you
can return to destroy so many others
planted too close together like husbands and wives
who hated each other but already bought the burial plots.
Your cousin the cottonwood has leaves that twist and shimmer
in the sun, and so do you, each one a bright green bulb
blinking on and off, transfixing the eye with patterns
that constantly shift without becoming anything in particular,
yet the overall effect is of stillness in the midst of change,
and the louder their rustling, the more one can sense
a quietude at the core of you, a place
that fires and saws and leveling winds cannot touch.
All at once I am ashamed of the toothpick in my hand,
and let it fall to the ground without touching my teeth.
Kurt Luchs (kurtluchs.com) won a 2022 Pushcart Prize, a 2021 James Tate Poetry Prize, the 2021 Eyelands Book Award for Short Fiction, and the 2019 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. He is a Senior Editor of Exacting Clam. His humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny) (2017), and his poetry collection, Falling in the Direction of Up (2021), are published by Sagging Meniscus Press. His latest poetry chapbook is The Sound of One Hand Slapping (2022) from SurVision Books (Dublin, Ireland). He lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.