Inoculations: Poetry by Raymond Luczak


in memory of Bruce Hlibok (1960-1995)

Funny how much New York’s changed
since you died. Rents have gone way, way up.
Brooklyn is shockingly hip and unaffordable.
Even artists starting out are getting out.
Sleeping on a sofa in the living room for over a thousand
dollars a month has become just too much.
So few mom and pop shops left.
New York’s a shopping mall turned inside out.
Name a chain store, and it’s there.
They are the only ones who can afford the rent.
Greed’s become the latest sickness.

I don’t speak in tongues anymore.
I speak metaphors now. It’s safer.
Just in case I get accidentally infected with
what brought you down in the end,
not the AIDS thing but that other plague
of inconsolable rage you’d felt with everyone,
including me. The deaf community held you back
with their glances bordering on pox
every time you mounted a new play.
Didn’t help that you came from a prominent deaf family.
Today no one seems to remember you.
Are we all so easily infected to forget?

When you died, I never thought I’d leave New York,
the city that you and I loved, but I have.
Even now my hands can hear you calling me back.

—by Raymond Luczak

Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of sixteen books, including How to Kill Poetry (Sibling Rivalry Press) and Mute (A Midsummer Night’s Press). His other titles include From Heart into Art: Interviews with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Artists and Their Allies (Handtype Press) and the award-winning novel Men with Their Hands (Queer Mojo). He is on-line at