Kurt Luchs (he/him, kurtluchs.com) won a 2022 Pushcart Prize, a 2021 James Tate Poetry Prize, the 2021 Eyelands Book Award for Short Fiction, and the 2019 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. He is a Senior Editor of Exacting Clam. His humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny) (2017), and his poetry collection, Falling in the Direction of Up (2021), are published by Sagging Meniscus Press. His latest poetry chapbook is The Sound of One Hand Slapping (2022) from SurVision Books (Dublin, Ireland). He lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Fog lay on the land like gauze
on a wound that wouldn’t heal,
holding the sickness close
to keep s scab from forming.
Or at least that’s how it seemed to me.
I’m often a bit depressed
before my first cup of coffee.
I was busy keeping my morbid thoughts to myself
when Mrs. Sheldon emerged from the mist
completely covered in flames.
The most terrifying part was that
she wasn’t screaming. Apart from burning
from head to foot she was her normal self.
She smiled as she passed, said “Good morning!”
and disappeared back into the fog.
A few seconds later Jake Louis came along
the same path, carrying his beach sandals
and also blazing away while feeling no pain.
He grunted, which is about all
you’ll ever get out of Jake, but not because
his swimming trunks were nearly burned off,
he didn’t appear to notice that,
scorched and smoldering though he was.
I stopped right there and sat down
on a sand dune, pondering these portents.
Not half a minute had gone by
when the Nisbett sisters burst upon the scene,
all four of them, flames shooting out of them
every which way. They were giggling and waving.
I waved back and realized my own arm
was on fire and I couldn’t feel it at all.
It’s one thing to come upon an apocalypse.
It’s quite another to take part.
I stood up, turned toward Lake Michigan
and began walking into the waves, wondering
which primal element would consume me first.
The fog was finally beginning to lift.