Raymond Luczak


Listen to Audio Version read by Sean Mahoney.

Deafened at the age of eight months, I learned to hear
through the stainless steel shells of my body aids
shoehorned into my harness bra. I was an analog cyborg.
I learned to speak from feeling the vibrations
in my speech therapist's throat, and mine too.
My nasal sandpapery voice singles me out in a crowd.
Using the language of hands was forbidden.
Until I learned Sign, I had to make do with watching
the mystery and misery of lips masticating words.


When I need a reprieve from lipreading
I call upon memories of heading into the woods
across the street from the house where I grew up.
There, nature sang songs I could hear perfectly
without my hearing aids. I lay there, quaking naked
on a beach towel, afraid of being caught and yet
yearning for this or that man I'd spotted earlier that day.
Sparrows, strung along on power lines cutting a swath,
never flittered about the pearls of peas in my hands.


My body naked full of landmines is this:
explosions of tiny freckles underneath my face,
no trace of a flesh-colored mole shave off my nose,
a cleft in chin hidden in the tangle of beard,
a tiny toad wart on my right index finger,
a trio of gallbladder removal scars under ribcage,
a shiny knee patch from a scooter accident,
my back covered with the poison ivy of fur.
Who'd want to sleep with this scarred creature?


I dream of catching you, Walt, on the smoking patio
behind the Minneapolis Eagle. You'd wear a t-shirt,
jeans and sandals; hold up a pint of lager in your hand.
Kiss me in front of everyone. How could I resist
the you, that sexy doe-eyed man, your hand to chin,
who Mathew Brady had photographed a few times?
My desire breaks out in beads of sweat. I must leave.
The sound of your phone vibrating startles you.
It's me texting you: Can you stay with me tonight?


*A review of this book length poem can be read in the Book Reviews section of this issue of Wordgathering.


Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of more than fifteen books, including Assembly Required: Notes from a Deaf Gay Life (RID Press). His four collections of poetry include St. Michael's Fall (Deaf Life Press), This Way to the Acorns (Tactile Mind Press), Mute (A Midsummer Night's Press), and Road Work Ahead (Sibling Rivalry Press). His novel Men with Their Hands (Queer Mojo) won first place in the Project: QueerLit 2006 Contest. His most recent book From Heart to Art: Interviews with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Artists and their Allies was just published by Handtype Press. His most recent work is QDA: Queer Disability Anthology. A playwright and filmmaker, Luczak lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His web site is www.raymondluczak.com.