four poems by Jason (Juice) Hardung

Necklace

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.

Woodpecker

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
anywhere.

four poems by Jason Hardung

Another Poem About Hurt

She took me for granite
and chipped away at my heart
until her version of Michaelangelo’s David
stood before her
I was no longer
thereI walk
So I can stay out of my head
Leaves scatter as I move west
the bald heads of mountains as the backdrop
I pretend clouds are their wigs
Squirrels scatter always on the opposite side of the tree as me
Twenty first century doctors on fixed gear Schwinns roll home in helmets
and cars run like ants
up and down the streets
Dylan wrote Blood On the Tracks all about heartbreak
and I listened

In high school Alan Stouffer spray painted his love for Chrissy Bobbit
from a highway overpass leaving Cheyenne
she said they wanted different things
They did
She wanted someone else
and he decided to jump
landing on a moving Peterbilt hauling coal to Laramie

A woman’s rejection fills
every corner bar
every song
every jail cell
whore houses
hospital beds
missions madhouses and monasteries
with broken men

Idiot Wind died down as I lowered the volume on my Ipod
I was on Oak Street standing across from Connections
a mental health place for broke people
I figured it couldn’t hurt me anymore than I already was
I walked in.

Allergic To The Sun

she is allergic to the sun.
just beyond curtains the traffic exhales
as the constant trails of head lights finally
break into morse code
a long day of people going places to die.
black from Pollock’s brush splatters the sky
and she comes out.
a large designer bag hangs from her shoulder
a cigarette hangs from her lips
the moon hangs from an invisible noose.
the gallows erected in heaven
splintered the hands of angels.
once the kids are asleep
and the bottle holds no more
she comes out.
she goes door to door
a Jehovah’s Witness with soft knuckles
looking for something she lost
or maybe never had.

when I am alone I wonder
if I were a woman
would I be considered fuckable
or would I live with twelve cats?
would I wear blue eye shadow
or go for the natural look?
would I be a pants or skirt kind of gal?
let my tits hang out or wear big sweaters?
heels or flats?
hair up or down?
would I shave my pussy
into a heart shape
so every guy I fucked
literally
fell in love?

My Father Was A Famous Painter

When I was a kid
my father decided to paint our house
a more modern color.
A soft shade of yellow
instead of the 1978 puke green
it was built with.
He got halfway done
and couldn’t afford the paint
to finish the rest.

Our house stood
for two years
the bottom half yellow
and the top green.
Like the parapalegic pine tree
in the front yard
dying from the bottom up.

Ours was the only house
on the block that didn’t
have a lawn in the backyard
or a fence.

Our Doberman was in a kennel
out back
it’s ribs showing
and somebody called animal control
to take her away
to a better home.
My ribs showed
and I’m sure they said
something about that too
but I wasn’t that easy to get rid of.

Our secrets were exposed
like the walls were glass.
The ghosts were tired of hiding.

The neighbors laughed
and pointed at our home
as they walked
their fat dogs down the street.
Cars slowed down and heads turned
like they do when accidents occur.

Kids at school made jokes about it
in the lunch room
sipping Capri Suns
and chewing Fruit Roll Ups
perfecting future banker smiles.
I laughed with them
made fun of my dad before they did
and covered my
bright orange reduced lunch ticket
with my thumb
as I handed it to the lunch lady.

But at night
when I was in my room alone
I was proud of my dad
for painting as much
as he did.

Without Chaos

I don’t know how
to attain inner peace
without chaos my impulsive nature
is that tornado
that leveled the whole town
of Greensburg Kansas it rages
through the common sense
part of my brain everyday
and still I rebuild
because they say i have to
I look down at my hands
then the holes
in my wall in my eyes
the scars on my thin crooked fingers
stand out iridescent in the light
of Los Alamos bonfires churches stand
on every corner along with banks
they are both named First
Assembly or National
and I
don’t enter either one
I go in a gas station where I
always feel welcome
cigarettes and gasoline
coffee and lottery tickets
a small boy waiting
in the parking lot
pulls the wings
off of a butterfly
looks up with blue eyes
and laughs.