March 5, 2017

Four Poems by Laurie Kuntz: "Debussy at Dusk," "Hands," "A Basket Set on the Shore," and "Starfish and Suns"

Laurie Kuntz is an award-winning poet and film producer. She taught poetry in Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines. Currently, she is helping produce a documentary, Strangers to Peace, about the current Colombian peace process ( Recently retired, she lives in an endless summer state of mind and drinks milk shakes and eats cake whenever possible.

Debussy at Dusk

The house above mine, on the hill
neighbors I do not know,
are playing Debussy, at dusk.

Outside, on a blue ledge, I sit and listen,
the cat comes, too.
something old, something new,
something borrowed, something blue.

Sometimes, the marriage of the unexpected
adds a bit of calm to the approaching night.


A man once told me I had beautiful hands,
I look at them now, try to imagine
what he saw that year I turned twenty
gave in to his attentions
without giving anything up.
Staring hard into the past's blinded eye
are airy hands, smooth skin, slim wrists,
a time when I thought I could hold the world
and get away with it, since then, these hands
chapped and lined from seasons' wrath
have gnarled mercy into regret--
memories will never be as telling as moments
alone with a forbidden man--
time will never seem so wicked
as that year a man took me into his furnished room,
asked nothing but to let my hands save
him from what he yearned for,
while outside the four-pane window
linden trees were in early bloom,
and afterwards everything I fingered
was awe-pink, like skin across an open palm
able to hold the untouchable.

A Basket Set on the Shore
(remembering the March 2011 tsunami, Japan)

An ordinary day, until it wasn’t
Go up they said, to higher ground,
her body was never found
disappearing from the rooftop,
the closest place to heaven.

Years later, a mother still searches,
rebuilding a life becomes routine,
and daily, the ocean reminds her—

her daughter’s days were far
from extraordinary, but gentle
like the tide during a crescent moon.

She makes an offering each evening,
salted plums, bean cakes, ginger tea,
placing each item in a basket, set on the shore,

and as mourning has no geography,
heading home, her back to the rising tide,
she does not watch as the sea eats.

Starfish and Sons

Like a starfish,
it is a wonder
that the only one thing I did right
is the discovery of who you are now.
Is it because of all the lunches I did not forget to make,
or the times, on those first school days, I never overslept,
when you needed someone to find you under masses
of covers, and open the shades to blankets of light.
I marvel that I never forgot to get you the shots you needed
to survive childhood and its diseases,
or to buy you gloves and shoes that would not slip
on slippery slopes, and to pick you up on those corners of traffic and noise,
those intersections where sons yearn to hear that familiar horn,
and enter a car whose windows fog with heat and doors click
shutting the world away, speeding home
to the wonder of starfish and sons,
who grow into their own shores,
despite what a mother did or did not forget to do.

Laurie Kuntz

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