four poems by Jason (Juice) Hardung


I get my paycheck
to stand in line at the bank
stand in line at the grocery store
and to get a haircut.
Lines everywhere
with each link
a sad gray face
strung together.
A fake pearl necklace
to hang
ourselves with.
This Guy Named Joe

I lived in an old whorehouse
built in 1888
in downtown Cheyenne
called the Netford.
Big white columns out front
an old carriage house out back.
The rooms were cheap
if I even paid at all.
I threw empty Jim Beam bottles against
the wall and slept in the closet.
Every other night
I had a nightmare of an old lady
walking down the hall.
The broken wood floor creaked
and she would evaporate through my door
and seduce me with eyes like empty coffee cups.
One winter there was an awful amount of
flies. Buzzing in the window panes
and through the halls
in the light fixtures.
Insects don’t usually live through Wyoming winters.
It wasn’t normal.
Nobody had seen Joe for weeks.
An old man that wore yellow polyester suits
and gave nickels to little kids on the street.
He lived on the third floor
by the back stairs.
The flies were crawling from under his door..
The landlord decided to check on Joe
and found him dead up there.
Decomposing on the bed
his yellow suit now green.
After they hauled him away
my friend Mike squatted there rent free
and painted the walls a bright blue
to brighten the place up.
One night I was on a date with a University of
Wyoming cheerleader and I took her up there
to drink with Jeff. I was trying to impress this
high class chick with fine whiskey and history.
She was on the back porch smoking.
We heard her scream
and ran out there.
A different guy named Joe had slipped
on the top step and fell three stories
to the concrete below.
He was out cold his legs twisted blood draining from his mouth.
The poor cheerleader watched the whole thing.
Mike took the cigarettes out of Joe’s pocket.
He won’t be needing these he said.
We called an ambulance
went back upstairs
to finish our drink.
The cheerleader was gone.
I never asked for a second date.


A woodpecker bangs its head
against a metal light pole.
Foolish thing.
A little boy runs back and forth
across the wooden floor
because he learned to walk.
The caged bird sings when classical
music plays on the radio.
The grass is turning green again
and I am nursing a hangover.
My doctor told me to take a stool softener
so I stole a chair cushion from my neighbor
and sat down.
He was right.
A pregnant lady sits across from me
while I write this and I wonder
if she is excited or just plain scared.
I ask her to watch my computer while
I smoke. She must be trustworthy
if she is going to be a mother.
I don’t feel the machine guns
as much as I did last week.
Death can wait with the bill collectors
and probation officers.
The sun is out today
I think I’ll jump
into it.

Wood Pecker Part Two

It’s hard to write something new
when all you see
is the same shit
day after day.
Like the woodpecker
I told you about yesterday.
I saw him again today
on a different light pole
but still
beating his head
on metal
never getting


3 Responses

  1. I am so happy to see Juice highlighted here. He is one of the best contemporary writers out there right now… Respect

    Renae Fréson

  2. Those are amazing Juice. I never knew that the nettie was a whorehouse. History!!

  3. I’m listening Juice.

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