Spare Parts I like best the ones that change: Elephant. Tiger. Bear. Old books on the shelves reflecting every self I’ve ever been. The boy who thought he’d do much better to the man who got fired for correcting his boss. The trips to the zoo and the trips to Europe and the trips back home during midterms where I carried the books in cardboard boxes up staircases to rooms that were long ago abandoned. I’ve outgrown this old house and want to let my old selves breathe. I can’t stand to leave them stacked on the shelves. Or in boxes. I open the small ones last and count the contents. I recount them later because if one went missing it would leave a hollow space. ** Determinism Boxing isn’t really about pain. To hurt someone you don’t need a ring, lights, music, shorts with your name on the back. Easiest of all is getting hurt yourself. You don’t even have to ask. Just take more space than you deserve and someone will come swinging. When boxers say money they mean love. They always want more than they have and less than they need. Backstage there’s no way to hide your hollow spaces. The bleeding you can see is never the worst kind, that working well is worth more than a win, that if you learn to love the guy who is beating you then you won’t really lose. Boxers never quit. Instead they find that boxing has quit them, been torn down and taken somewhere they aren’t booked. The outcome may be fixed but you don't always get the finish you expect. ** Codependency Your words sound like my grandmother’s now she speaks with her dead voice from your vocal cords the sharp vowels try to pin my conscience strong consonants devalue my power the words themselves leak resin— wife and children—escape her teeth trying to catch me she cannot understand I don’t want either Her pyramid scheme of love is ancient. She drives to me with prayer and I turn her away with fire.
John Kucera was educated at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in Silver Blade Magazine and New Reader magazine. He resides in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and family.