Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of 29 books, including ten poetry
collections such as Lunafly (Gnashing Teeth), Chlorophyll (Modern History Press),
and once upon a twin (Gallaudet University Press). His work has appeared in
Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. An inaugural Zoeglossia Fellow, he lives
in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA) and online at raymondluczak.com.

The Other Apple

One day they'd gone too far and got lost.
They held each other and shivered nakedly

in a cave as the skies kept coughing thunder.
Out of boredom they rubbed bits of flint

together. The idea of fire took them by surprise.
They searched for bigger pieces of flint,

and tried again. Worked! They stared deep
into the hisses of fire, drunk from feeling

that first experience of invincibility
like the gods they were meant to be:

the fire of the big bang, the birth
of oh so many deaths to come.


sure i survived but at what price
for sure it was steeper
than any down payment on any house
id have cared to own
so no home ever of my own
i was always a tenant
here were the terms of my lease with every foster family
in exchange for using their house
sitting with them at their family meals
sleeping in a room upstairs where i cant decorate
practicing fake smiles at pretend brothers
celebrating my birthdays with strangers
knowing their names but never partaking
in their own family histories
its okay to pet the dog now & then
theyll put up with me
the nasal-sounding boy that i am
just be a good good boy
with those amazing hearing aids
never expect anything of anyone
in this way id learned to be afraid
of being myself with anyone
in ironwood i was awash
with nightmares of eviction
where else could i go
if my own family had made it clear
i didnt quite fit in with
the puzzle of their lives
i was a missing piece
i was too weirdly shaped
my body was too gangly worse
yet my chest started to develop swirls of fur
then my back started to grow hairy too
my exterior was starting to catch up
to the beast already growing inside
until my expensive porcelain face
cracked from the snarling
i am now a serpent tongue of hiss


Outlined in hazy form, they flit,
their faces covered in shadow.
I follow them, one after another,
as Rocky zigzags his nose alongside
the edge of sidewalks. Sometimes
they disappear, only to reappear
on other nights that I walk your streets
in the shroud of anticipation,
the dryness of flannel sheets,
the forgiveness of embrace away
from the fog of silence that inevitably settles
between spirits keeping a certain distance
from each other all the while wondering
why they can never touch. I pray
that you and I will never become these people
drifting apart at night, afraid to exchange
dreams no matter how trivial they may seem,
until the bed becomes too wide a river to cross.
May we stay anchored to each other.

Back to Front.