Poetry from J.K. Durick


When she first went missing, they tried

not to be too concerned. She often went

off on her own, but a woman her age and

in her condition, so they started searching.

On the evening news they mentioned her,

her age, her confused condition, and that

family, some friends, and the police were

searching for her. The next day the search

was joined by volunteers and eventually by

dogs and drones. The news showed a picture

of her walking along a road, a stray camera

caught the picture, a fleeting image that her

friends said looked like her, so determined,

so deliberate, walking faster than she should

heading in the wrong direction. When they

finally found her, she was in a wooded area

near her home. Dead a day in an area they

searched several times. Perhaps she never

went any further, or perhaps she was on her

way back home, went for a walk, went for

a visit and died on her way back to where

they all thought she should be.




This isn’t The Wizard of Oz

this time

not Hollywood special effects

Dorothy and Toto

and all that.

This is the real thing tearing

through real lives

homes, buildings, trees uprooted

cars lifted and thrown

trucks on their sides

people dead, people missing.

We get to watch this on TV

safe and snug

hundreds of miles away

from it all, trying to imagine

ourselves in it

our homes pulled apart

our lives torn apart.

But we know that this

is what happens to others

vaguely familiar people whose lives

get summarized like this

a few minutes of the evening news

and promises of aid.

The ones they interview

seem to know the roles they play

now – survivors who just want to start

again, give it another try

as if they expected the whole thing.



I feel like a character from a Chekov short story

an elderly Russian peasant out to buy a present

for his love. A bracelet he decides, after seeing

them on so many women’s wrists and wanting

his love to feel the way women seemed to feel

with flash of light when they moved their arms

move their wrists, the beauty that bracelets bring.

And there he is/I am in the jewelry shop, at last

after hours of planning and guessing. There I am/

we are leaning on a jewelry display, trying not

to look so out of place, just as if we know what

we are doing. The jewelry saleslady sees us there

the Russian peasant dressed as me, says something

to the person next to her. They both chuckle a bit

and then she starts over. The non-Chekovian part

of me, who is always on alert, pulls out his credit

card and smiles knowing that he will be treated well.

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