Rumpus Original Poetry: Three Poems by lukas ray hall






burning mouth syndrome

                      you see i didn’t mean
           to seek this one out.

           it stumbled upon me.
                      nighttime ash,

                      a fire lurching
           up the mind’s

           kitchen wall.
                      i didn’t notice

                      the smoke.
           didn’t notice the swelter

           until you told me.
                     the dysphagia,

                     a spasm, a dryness,
           a corrosion of the mouth

           from the inside
                      & here i am

           in that kitchen

           now engulfed, too,
                      by all the flames

                      that surely surround me
           & i’m questioning,

           while heaving over
                      in the thickness,

                      if this fire has
           anything to do

           with the fire raging
                      throughout the rest

                      of the house.


all it takes to kiss my partner

aware of the eye,
aware of the floaters,

the blurred edge
& faded moth wings

in the periphery.
out stretch the pupil.

aware the detachment
away, the snow sizzle

& TV static,
the pinkness & muck.

aware of milliseconds.
aware of overreacting.

aware of the nanoseconds.
aware of obsession,

the prodding at my eyelids,
a throb & pulse

trying to figure out
which came first:

the stye, the bulge,
a tumor or the awareness

that something
must be different

under the eyelid
to see my partner’s lips

in such fuzzy details.


the body owes me

you vassal of decay.
cold shower burned skin.

you wake up early
& do me no good.

you sleep in late
& do me no good.

you chipped tooth
& pocked ears,

lips dry & mouth
full of sores.

                                           how am i supposed
                                           to use you

if you don’t want
to be used.

you say
you a shrine,

you a monastery
for humanity.

earth’s greatest creation;
jaw, ribs & cock & all.

but you broken.
                                           given me all

                                           i didn’t ask for;
                                           jaw, ribs & cock & all.

                                           you owe me more,
please. you only 29

acting 80. vitreous fluid,
rashed thighs, toenail

birthing into the skin
                                           & when i want what’s mine:

                                           no pain, no ache,
                                           no tangle of limbs

                                           & flesh torn,
                                           no glacial extremities,

                                           under three blankets.
                                           no salt-rich sweat

                                           under three blankets.
                                           no confusion. no—

you say i have to…                i have to work;
you say you can’t be           rebuilt from nothing.


Photograph of lukas ray hall by Tucker Wilhelm.

lukas ray hall is a queer non-binary poet. they are the author of loudest when startled (YesYes Books, 2020). their poems have appeared in The Florida Review, Moon City Review, Atlanta Review, and Raleigh Review, among others. they live in St. Paul, MN. More from this author →