Local Author: Krista Lukas | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Local Author: Krista Lukas

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Krista Lukas is the recipient of a Nevada Arts Council Fellowship and a Robert Gorrell Award for Literary Achievement from the Sierra Arts Foundation. Her poems and stories appear in The Best American Poetry 2006, Creative Writer’s Handbook, Poets of the American West, and many literary journals. She serves as the gifted and talented specialist at Zephyr Cove and Jacks Valley Elementary Schools.

“Is that a guarantee?”

– Benson Benjamin’s response at age 87 when the DMV clerk handed him his renewed driver license and said, “This one’s good for another four years.”

I have the same question

about the Forever Stamp, USA First-class

written alongside the cracked Liberty Bell.

Forty-two cents, good for an ounce.

Good through the depletion

of fossil fuels, the rise of oceans,

the desert’s expansion, the disappearance

of the atmosphere as we know it;

good in domes and through World Wars.

Accepted by all mail carriers

in all countries for all time, none of whom

will ever laugh in the face of an optimist

who once invested in stickers.

Good through exponential growth,

the spread of new viruses, meteors,

A-bombs and H-Bombs, letter bombs,

the nuclear winter, the return to sticks and stones.

Good when only cockroaches remain,

scuttling in the rubble, to find Forever Stamps

so they can mail themselves to planets

with younger stars for suns.

Published in Redivider, volume 7, issue 1, Fall 2009.

We wouldn’t write this,

wouldn’t even think of it. We are working

people without time on our hands. In the old country,

we milk cows or deliver the mail or leave,

scattering to South Africa, Connecticut, Missouri,

and finally, California for the Gold Rush-

Aaron and Lena run the Yosemite campground, general

store, a section of the stagecoach line. Morris comes

later, after the earthquake, finds two irons

and a board in the rubble of San Francisco.

Plenty of prostitutes need their dresses pressed, enough

to earn him the cash to open a haberdashery and marry

Sadie-we all have stories, yes, but we’re not thinking

stories. We have work to do, and a dozen children. They’ll

go on to pound nails and write up deals, not musings.

We document transactions. Our diaries record

temperatures, landmarks, symptoms. We

do not write our dreams. We place another order,

make the next delivery, save the next

dollar, give another generation-you,

maybe-the luxury of time

to write about us.

Published in Margie, volume 4, 2005, The Best American Poetry, 2006; Creative Writer’s Handbook, 5e; and New Poets of the American West

Evening gray sifts through flesh-pink

clouds, fading light scattered

on the patio before the porch swing,

where I sit beside my mother

and grandmother, where we have lingered

at twilight other days. Now

looking at their profiles, I see

the time-progressed sketch of my own:

same nose and blue eyes, the shape

of our face giving way to wrinkles,

chestnut hair thinning to white.

We are one woman

between facing mirrors. We cannot see

around our body, past

where the tunnel

takes a turn, unknown

passageway for the train we await here

on the patio. We talk of memories,

the breeze, the birch leaves

turning colors of a sunset.

Some must have boarded, or will,

ahead of their mothers, and some together,

but as far back as we can see

each of us has gone in order, each

taking the place of the last.

Published in Quay, spring 2009

Will be a Saturday or a Tuesday, maybe.

A day with a weather forecast,

a high and a low. There will be news:

a scandal, a disaster, some good

deed. The mail will come. People

will walk their dogs.

The day I die will be a certain

day, a square on a calendar page

to be flipped up and pinned

at the end of the month. It may be August

or November; school will be out or in;

somebody will have to catch a plane.

There will be messages, bills to pay, things

left undone. It will be a day

like today, one I pass every year,

not knowing, a date I might note

with a reminder, an appointment, or nothing

at all.

Published in The Kokanee, 2010

One partridge in a pear tree sounds romantic,

I guess, but by the time she gets the turtle doves,

French hens, and calling birds, let’s face it,

enough is enough. And how are all these sent,

by the way? Through the mail, by train?

The five golden rings I can see. One

for each finger and the thumb, if she’s into

jewelry. But then we’re right back

to fowl. Six geese-a-laying, no less-so

more on the way. Did her true love have his sights

set on a farm, or a zoo? Was this her warning

of what life with him would be?

And if he loves her so much, where is he anyway?

Couldn’t he spend some of this money and effort

on coming to visit? But no, he sends an entourage

in his place. Eight maids a-milking, which I assume

includes the cows. Although, being maids,

they might at least help tend the birds.

Nine drummers drumming, ten pipers piping. All

those musical instruments, all the noise! And

is she having to put these people up? Personally,

I would have drawn the line a long time ago,

stopped answering the door, started marking parcels

“Return to sender.” But maybe she wants to be gracious,

so I suppose if you can’t beat them, join the eleven ladies

dancing. The twelve could pair up

with the lords a-leaping, all two dozen of them,

twirl away into the sunset, and leave

behind the honking chorus of birds.

First published in the Sierra Nevada Review 2008

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