Ron Riekki: “The Time That My Hometown Set Me on Fire and Ate My Loins”

The Time That My Hometown Set Me on Fire and Ate My Loins

That was on Tuesday.
It’s every Tuesday.
Every Tuesday is every Tuesday.

And it’s when my guts burn.
They call it Christmas.
The Tuesday Christmas of burning.

The mouse in my mouth.
The rat on my lip.
The clouds, bone-colored.

I sing in the shower.
I shower onstage.
I used to strip.

I’d take my skin off.
The audience could see all my clouds.
I have a PTSD counselor.

I also have a PTSD chef.
And a PTSD janitor.
That’s me.

I’m the PTSD janitor.
I have a Ph.D.
and found out those are useless.

You use them less.
You get used.
I have a disability.

I have the ability to diss.
I complain a lot.
They say that’s what PTSD causes.

In China, 8 is good.
In China, I saw photos of the Tiananmen Massacre.
They looked like the number 4.

I’m a zombie.
I’m a weird sense of zombie.
My girlfriend wants me to go to sleep.

I’m also Saami.
It’s an indigenous group you’ve never heard of.
I’m extinct.

I’m an extinct janitor.
I write poems,
which means I’m even more extinct.



Ron Riekki’s books include And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press), Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (2016 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Great Lakes Best Regional Fiction), The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book awarded by the Library of Michigan), and U.P.: a novel (Ghost Road Press).

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