When my friend’s tongue seized up, writhing
in its chamber, it must have reached for something,
anything, it seemed, though who was I to tell?

The hour took forever, when, out of the muck
of syllable and stutter, he said, shit, and I knew
a barrier had broken, the first bricks tumbling

out of his mouth. Out of the warehouse district
of the southern brain, graffitied in obscenities
and roses: the throat of a motor that won’t clear,

won’t turn over, but we were going somewhere.
Not progress as we knew it, no, but what you hear
gasp in a shattered object, or creak in the chains

of swing sets in the breeze. A little damage is always
the first to arrive, last to go. Even silence breaks
something when it breaks, and if the music’s good,

your ribcage shakes, your heart flits on its trapeze.
If you are listening, you know, the way a garden
knows where to spread its net, to clutch an earth

whose body hangs over the dark of the other side.
For it is always there, the fundament, the stranger,
the midnight sky. I saw it in eye of the bewildered

creature, as we rode in the ambulance together.
Welcome back, I said, although I never heard him
curse before. Or after. Welcome back, my friend.

John Kucera was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Carlow University, where he studied English Literature and Creative Writing. He currently lives in Arizona, where he teaches, writes, and plays with his pet turtle, Stumpy.