Poetry Drawer: Five Poems by Christopher Kuhl

Christopher Kuhl earned Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, and Music Composition, as well as two Masters of Music, and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Arts. He taught English at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. He credits his father with his love of language. (“What’s big and red and eats rocks? A big red rock-eater.”) He has published extensively in both on-line and print journals, and written three books, most recently Blood and Bone, River and Stone. He is currently at work on a collection of poems about the Holocaust, and the effects of it on the survivors and the first generation after it. Christopher also occasionally writes short fiction. His story, “Wade,” won Editor’s Choice for Fiction in Inscape Magazine 2016. Christopher’s writings explore the human and natural world. His publisher, Stratton Press, with whom he has a three book contract (which is going to keep him off the streets), is currently putting together a website; it should be up and running in about late November 2018. Meanwhile, you can always check him out on Faebook, including his author’s page, Christopher Kuhl Writer.

Wind, Ashes

No matter our age, our lives are
indigenous to the ashes of memory,
our parents and grandparents,
aunts, uncles, cousins—

their ashes too;

until all of us, those in the war
and their children
born in the new country, where
they are citizens by virtue of birth,

but their forebears are not;
their ashes, their memories mixed
with a bit of Jerusalem dirt,
are scattered into the west wind,

originating from the distant, unknown
territories and running
east across the Atlantic, back
to the motherland.


An inch of wheat field
Tousled by the wind;

A weed clinging tenuously
To a pile of stones,

Then torn off in the storm.

                                        We are born

To arrive
As we are born to leave:

Naked arriving,
Naked leaving.

Our skin has no pockets:
We won’t need car keys

Where we’re going.


the warmth of women
breathing, the enchanting
scent of lilacs,

the musky odor of deer
manoeuvring through
the remaining crusts of snow:

spring lies centered at
the end of the trail, slowly
rising with March’s eastern sun.

American Primitive

Friday, 16th of September:
First frost of the season. My wife

And I walk down the Farney road,
Away from the house;
I pick up a red rock

Lingering on the gravel,
A souvenir of home.

In the dark before dawn,
Forty-two head of cattle,
Awash in fear, threatened

By coyote, ran down
Part of the fence. They’re not

Ours; we retired, but the land
Is still ours: we rent it out
To local farmers for pasturage:

It was one of them fixed
The fence line before breakfast

And calmed the herd,
While I fingered the rock in my pocket,
A memory of what once was:

Only trees, rocks, dirt,
Even before farms, before cattle, before fences…

The Bottom Of Midnight

We live at the bottom
of midnight, trying
to breathe as the guards
beat us with fiery rods,
heads, shoulders, backs;
we try not to scream
as the rods are heated
over and over to sticks
of fire, branding us, burning
us, flaying us, until our skin
is no more than battered
parchment, peeling
burnt, broken flesh off
in ragged sheets through the long
hours of death in the cold,
blind dawn.

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