Two Poems


They broke a drill cutting through
the frozen ground.
“I apologize for the delay,” the undertaker said, “but that’s the first time
this has happened in all my sixty years.”
My father was slightly older than that when he died.
The day it happened we had a rare earthquake, 5.2
Once we resettled toppled furniture
and knick knacks, the phone rang with Dad’s news
and my wife gave me a look saying, “Coincidence?”

You hide things in holes: buried treasure, dog bones, secrets.  You tunnel through them.
You fill them.

This one was a horror rictus,
a black mouth agape in mid groan,
the ground bruised brown near the top
where the winter grass wore hoarfrost.
It was a lot deeper than six feet
because I needed to be sure.

I watched the space accept him, chains cranking lower.
Snow flurries caught in my hair,
artic winds wailed and my teeth started a slight chatter.
I waited for him to be fully covered,
my wife tugging on my arm,
claiming, “Let’s go. I’m freezing, it’s over now,”
and me thinking,
No, I wish,
but no.

A Fortress For Teens

We can tunnel out. 
We have these tarnished spoons
and callused knees.
We have all this fear on our side.

But you say, “Better to build a fortress.”
So we stack bags of sand that leak hourglass slow.
We displace soil and shovel bunkers.
We reform the earth.
We make motes ready to be rain-filled.
We hunker down and wait.

When the first cold sprinkles fall,
you hold a clay clod in your hand,
watching the sediment bleed into silt,
running down your wrist.
You look so much smaller than thirteen.
You say, “Maybe we should have just said we were sorry
for whatever it was we did.”

—Len Kuntz, Snohomish, WA