Luther Hughes


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from seattle, i watch the bed
swim atop katrina’s

as she inhales and folds

into herself. when the wind
palms her plush,

the bed stills—a little—
then smooths along

her body. her breadth—
i’m watching—claws

at the bed’s rib and cotton.
the bed wavers. holds,

then drifts into the storm’s

it’s searching
for something to carry.

it finds
a dead somebody


stuck between the bed’s hip

and shredded metal.
the bed is in denial,

searching for something
lost amongst the lost.

dead among
the living.

it wanders
into katrina’s mouth—

the worst part
of the vulture—

flipping itself over

its cloth out of faith.

give up, i want
to say.

i don’t.
there something beautiful

about searching
for the body

that completes
you. all this water—

somehow i’m still
watching—not a human

in sight. no telling
how long katrina will last.

i keep watching. i must
stop. but the bed lingers

along the rip
and wild of this ceremony.

i try to run. to turn off
the video. but the bed

puts my face in it. makes
me wait until something

breathes that isn’t
a storm. something

with a lung. or a broken
thing. or a child crawling

from the jaws
of hell. out of habit,

i pray
a short prayer.

oh lord.
oh lord, please

help. the bed
has slowed

itself. finds a building
to rest in. i could barely

see it—now—off
in the distance.

i imagine the videographer’s
lack of interest

in such a stubborn mass.
i don’t blame him.

after five minutes
of watching—the bed

searching—the video
whips to the right.

i look down.
i’m shaking.

once, i was a body
searching for a body.

once, i left home
eager to be carried

into the chest
of a man who wasn’t.

i remember all of this
while watching the bed—

the man who plowed
his dirt

into my body. thick
and black all over.

i’m awake
pretending to sleep.

i’m watching the wall
dance. waver, then

sail into the open
window. i’m empty

and made of water.
i’m knocking

the headboard
and thinking of that bed.

i have to go back.
i have to keep searching

for something alive
among the dead.



LUTHER HUGHES is a Seattle native, but is currently an MFA candidate in the Writing Program at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Shade Journal and Associate Poetry Editor for The Offing. Winner of the Brutal Nation Poetry Prize and Windy City Times Chicago, 30 Under 30 Honoree, Luther’s work has been published or is forthcoming in The James Franco Review, Vinyl, NAILED, Winter Tangerine, Solstice Literary Magazine, and others. You can follow him on Twitter @lutherxhughes. He thinks you are beautiful. 

(Photo by Darryl Terrell)