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
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