two poems

By Ron Riekki

I’m Sick and My Parents are Sick and the Rain is Sick and the Night is Sick and the Day,

I expect, will also be, but I’m alive and my PTSD
counselor tells me to keep a gratitude journal, so
I do, but, unfortunately, its sick, the pages coughing,
the cover, pale, the binding without any eyesight,
and so I look in the mirror, the fevered mirror, steam
caked to its surface, post-shower, an attempt to clear
my nose, but I’ve failed at being healthy, have this
new symptom of tremors, chronic earthquaking
where my ex- hugged me and asked, Are you cold?
No, just old.  Just shook.  My sympathetic nervous
system unable to calm down.  I look up at the sick
clock in my room, how it tocks like it’s choking.
It’s beautiful, that clock.  Every sick thing is beautiful.
Olen asunut idioottina

I remember nothing of Aprils, so many Aprils,
fifty Aprils, Aprils upon Aprils, all of those Aprils,
& all of this memory loss, the first fist fight in first

grade, how they came like blizzards, flakes, all
this falling, my hometown’s jack pine & oaks,
its alum root & firs—a forest filled with four-

letter words, the woods cursing at us with flowers,
its pollen, our pollution, all those tires tossed
in the creek behind our house, ex-house, a sick

house tore down due to its lead-lined walls,
how it bled into us, the hack marks in the hall
where I saw myself grow from pencil slash

to black-marker top where I stopped, my max,
& my birthday, the end of April, start of May,
the First, the snow still falling in summer, how

we were so north that we had nine months of
winter, a pregnancy of snow squall, engulfed
in ghost, how the suicides were forgotten so

quickly, how our state bird is an eraser, how
our state motto is the shush sign, how our state
animal is a jam-packed bar in Negaunee, how

the state flag is a napkin with a fake phone
number illegibly scribbled, going home to try
all of the different variations it could possibly

be, how often I felt I was living a Hamlet mono-
logue, how it was a mining town, and a logging
town, a lake town where it would take at least

one senior every year, how the drowned would
sink in our minds, become absent from our skin,
how April was the end of a semester where

another summer would begin, the slight heat
of the Fourth, where my uncle would never stand
during the National Anthem, because he had no legs.

Photograph by Vishnu Prasad