Brian Koukol

Make Way

(listen to the poem, read by the author)

Separate but meekful, I acquiesce
to the touch of the gloved hand,
as if crippled skin were unclean by nature–
a poison whose only antidote is quarantine
and the violence of powder-free nitrile.

Shunned into a life of parallel solitude,
I take my society in the fronds
of a bathroom bamboo palm,
surprisingly turgid despite my caress.
Neither do my terrier’s paws shrink
away in terror as they traipse across
my abdomen in the dead of night.
And what of the closeted jackets
I insinuate my face among,
indulging in forbidden textures and scents
while unbarred by superstition?
The moths don’t consume them,
no seams are rent, but I pay in jealousy:
greening as they hang tightly together
while I’m left to hang separately,
drifting alone in a two-person boat.

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Lebensunwertes Leben

(listen to the poem, read by the author)

Is dolphin worth less than orange roughy,
because dolphin lives one fifth as long?
Some sponges live centuries longer than either;
should sponges inherit the Earth?

A cicada lives three times your mastiff,
though it spends that time sleeping in dirt.
If instead it were there to give snuggles,
would you bury poor Rex in the yard?

If a pearl oyster outlives its luster,
if you’ve stripped from it all that you can,
do you wear that fair necklace and flaunt it,
while you chuck those spent oysters in the surf?

Who are you to decide on its value?
Who are you to stamp life unworthy of life?
See, every story’s a blink, no matter its length,
for, godless, the void is eternal.

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About the Author

Brian Koukol, raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, now makes his home among the salt breezes and open spaces of California’s Central Coast. A lifelong battle with muscular dystrophy has informed the majority of his work, which is written with the aid of voice recognition software. His words have appeared in The Baltimore Review, Eckleburg, and Rogue Agent, among other places. Visit his author website: