Justin Hyde

on your way to buy black velvet
texas stop at Douglas Ave
former president carter on npr
refuting that condoleezza asked him
not to meet with hamas.
rubber neck the semi jackknife on Lower Beaver
coffee like hornet spray past your lips.
thirty years old:
no checking account,
one pair of jeans,
stretch marks the size of gotham
festooning your waist,
a dead end graveyard shift job
locked in a pit
with third string crack dealers
unmedicated schizophrenics
and baby rapers.
you’ve made a mockery of your life.
eleven out of thirteen this pleases you.
on the other two days you listen to AM radio
read philosophy
and switch from bud light to black velvet
until the fever breaks.
before we stopped speaking to each other
my father and i
went for walks:
not around the block
or half hour hikes
in the woods:
we’d go on ten
fifteen milers:
it’d be an
all day affair.
that day
was a twelve miler
to the pizza buffet
and back.
halfway home
we passed a bike rack
in front of the mall.
would i
steal one of those bikes
if i was bone tired
and thirty miles from home?
he asked.
told him no
(i was eleven
and couldn’t imagine
stealing anything)
he didn’t
believe me:
told me
he’d stolen one
off an indian reservation
after a night of drinking
when he was
in the army.
well old man
if we spoke to each other
i’d tell you
you were right:
i’ve stolen bicycles
kegs of beer
even a crossbow:
i’ve lied cheated
and pissed on the hearts of women
like urinal cakes
with surprisingly little
on the deck at 7:14am
crack a tallboy,
feel a little sun
after another third shift
in paradise.
neighbor’s boxer
puts his paws on the fence,
five sharp barks.
you rarely see these people,
they’ve been there a month,
come and go in an old white van,
leave this poor guy outdoors
water and food dish
mostly empty.
he’s got no collar,
you massage his neck,
look over the fence,
grab some bacon wrapped in tinfoil
out of the fridge,
two hundred and thirty-three pounds
you can’t one-hop these fuckers
crouching down at the spigot
you glance into the basement window.
looks like an old man
in a wheelchair
is stuck in the corner.
you tap on the window.
you lean in closer.
a jet splits the sky.

my golden parachute
a dusty brown couch
in my parent’s basement
all the generic bran flakes
i could eat.

unbeknownst to me until recent unexplained insight following an unplanned physical altercation

i’ve always been
an emotional guy.
it’s only
after an upbringing
in the taciturn shadows
of two beaten dogs
who deserve some level of commendation
for doing a better job than their own parents,
only after that
and decades of self study thereafter
that i’m able to focus
miles of anchored chain loneliness and
overwhelming flashes of empathy
for the deafening echo inside each
individual human prison
into apricot shaped grenades
like this one
right here
cupped in my palms.
they come without call,
pin already pulled.
soon as they do
i throw myself on them
so as not
to make a scene.

trailer on the hill by the cemetery

open book
of crossword puzzles
on the coffee table,
‘fox’ in seven across,
‘apple’ in sixteen down,
sketches of sunsets
and horses
in the margins.

it’s sophomore year
of college,
i’m on a four day drunk
with john mcgee
during winter break.

i lucked into college
john backed into the
tones factory after
three felonies.

we came across janelle
while shooting stick
at the corner pocket.
john says
she was in our class
until dropping out
in tenth,
but i don’t remember

i can hear him
working her over
in the next room,
feel it
through the couch.

an old woman
in a nightgown
comes out of the
far back room,
takes a piss
with the door open.

i put my bottle
behind the leg
of the coffee table,
straighten up,
try to stop the
gentle spinning
of the room
mumble hello
as she walks past
to the kitchen.

she drinks
her water
acknowledging me.

then i get back there
for my turn.

i was a wrestling
cheerleader freshman year,
always thought you
were cute,
she says
pulling me down
onto the futon.

turn the lights on
i wanna see it
in you,
i say
biting her neck.

i sit up
back against the wall
as she works it
in her mouth.

then my eyes
come into focus,
there’s a crib
less than a foot
to my left,
sleeping child
in there.

what’s the matter
did i bite?
she smiles
tossing her
purple streaked
black hair.

missed my shot

as a little guy
i was too chickenshit
to go past

as a teenager
i had a brass-knuckle
and the anarchy
to pull it off

but already the
trailer-park philosopher

in my mind
cracking my dad
would be a sign i cared
which would be a
win in his column.

two decades down the road
in my house right now

first time i’ve seen him
in two years

and i’m a
grown man
all lit-up on
tequila rose.

he still wears
socks up to his knees
homemade jean shorts
and a toothpick
behind his ear.

he’s sixty-seven,

liver spots
starting to choke-out
his hands,

a good
twenty-pounds of muscle
withered off his frame
since i saw him last

and he keeps asking
what day it is.

obama on the overhead tv

if a nigger ever
gets elected president
i’ll go shoot
ten of ‘em just
on principal,
says this wire-lipped trucker
in camouflaged snow pants
one booth over at
the flying j.
on the one hand he’s
got strong convictions
unlike the apathetic
on the other hand
he’s cancer to
everything decent.
in the bigger picture
if i had any marrow at all
as a human being
i’d go bitch-slap him:
but i’m a
passive-coward unless
in this book to my left
nietzsche’s talking about instinct
versus knowledge and
the type of person who dips
from each bowl.
i tell myself
if i tried reasoning with an
idiot like this
he’d call me a
nigger lover and his
righteous ignorance
would just be stoked,
but craven syllogists
like me
talk themselves into all
sorts of inaction.
i suppose the
best we can do
is cross our fingers
and hope for the
if it ever happens
i’ll be going to hell
right along with this
son of a bitch,
but maybe down there
i’ll have the stones to
crack a few of his ribs.
you’re gonna get checked
old boy stood whistling
at the open door of my cell said
gimme that shirt
first day in this nigerian broke it down
you’re gonna get checked he said
either be stamped a played out bitch
whole time you’re down
or show em they’re gonna have to earn it
i ain’t gonna lie i was
scared as a motherfucker
he had three boys behind him
with bocce balls and
sharpened chicken bones i
threw a blind right
got a bone in my thigh
lump size of a fist
on my head
two weeks in solitary but
i kept the shirt.
people need to spend money and spend it quickly
says an economics hack
purporting to understand the
fine tuning
of six thousand
unmarked knobs
controlling our
i turn the radio up,
apparently the government
is going to pass us a peace pipe
full of $600 with the expectation
we’ll buy another tv
maybe a segway on dubs or
those calf implants
we’ve all been
pining for.
i turn the radio off.
i’ve been thinking a-lot lately
about what can be done with
the turgid abscess that constitutes
the american soul:
we don’t need $600,
or to be bailed out of our adjustable rate mortgages.
that’s just mortician’s makeup on a stillborn child.
what we need is locusts,
an encore presentation of the plague,

what we could really use
is six hundred mushroom clouds
and the smile of china
hanging over the sky.

2 Responses

  1. Brutally honest and straightforward poetry with an edge. I like it.

  2. really loved the jail poem. good write man.

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