Karen Hurley Kuchar

Fall 2020: On the Theme of Tilt

Fun House

Unaware of what awaits,
we enter the narrow hallway.
I soon lose my friends in the pitch-dark,
but can hear their nervous laughter and shrieks.
I feel my way along the walls,
brave each step,
drop as the floorboard gives way,
jump as an ominous voice
warns of dangers ahead.
No way out but through.
I lose my balance
as walls close in and the floor tilts.
Lights flicker.
Mirrors distort.

We stumble out blinking
in the afternoon sun,
shaken but relieved
to be on firm and steady ground.

We did not choose
the 2020 COVID tour
with its flickers of information,
contradictions, and dark turns.
The walls
of our shelters
close in,
we are uncertain,
Each step a calculated risk,
a choice
Between protection or connection.
We stumble in the shadows
to find our balance,
to move forward
to move through.

Seasons Change

Six robins gather in the crabapple tree
They make urgent trips between branches
as if last-minute packing for a long trip
Later in the day, winds will bluster
The first snow through still-green leaves

I am unsettled by this clash of seasons
Too similar to the wars fought daily
In the news between two visions
Of who we are and where we should go.

The outcome of the seasonal clash
is already decided
Faded fall will give way to winter
in the great turning.
I take hope in the unseen seeds of spring
already planted in the fallow ground.

May I Ask?

How are you?  Our public faces hidden behind masks, it’s hard to know.

Can you hold your vision and your sanity?

What do you do when the dark closes in,
              when hope is a faint flicker,
                            when injustices pile up and overwhelm you?

Can you hold the big picture?  The evolutionary necessity of all the current strife when you miss your grandchildren and the ease in which we lived our lives before?

Can you live in chaos when it seems that all is crumbling and still believe that the rebuilding will be better?

What expands your heart?  What protects it?

Do you too feel a responsibility for resilience?  To hold hope for each other?


Karen Hurley Kuchar is a leadership coach and consultant to nonprofits. As a life-long writer and reader, she is fascinated by both the power and beauty of words. A time of transition in her life was the source of many poems, which are published in a collection entitled, Consider the Lobster.

She holds a Master of Counseling Psychology from George Williams College.  Her professional career included both counseling and administrative roles in nonprofit social service organizations.  During her time as executive director of Family Shelter Service, she worked with a volunteer group to encourage clients to write about their experiences. Two published anthologies contain survivor stories of heartbreak as well as the resilience of the human spirit, Wings for the Soul and Storms Inside the House.

She lives with her husband in Downers Grove.  In addition to her work and writing, she enjoys her grandchildren and spends time in nature, which provides inspiration for many of her poems.

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