Poems by Ron Riekki

A Poem to the Kid Who Shattered My Collarbone in Sixth Grade

It was raining. You were a devil
for a day. It happens. You think
gasoline, your father storms out

of the house and so you take a bat
to the world, clubbing the story
out of everything. I had the bad

luck to walk into an open-pit play-
ground, to not realize that God
makes shoulders for collapse.

You put a year of my slim life
in a cast, a castaway, tucked away
in my basement bedroom, clouds

loud all day, all night, waiting
to be able to move my arm again
like it was made to wave, and not

to merely heal. You never apologized.
You came to our house and your mother
said you would sue us if we sued you.

We had no money. My mother was filled
with Hitchcock. She pretended nothing
had ever happened ever, anywhere, ever.


To the Asshole Who Said He Would Kill Me When I Was Campaigning for Gay Marriage

I know, I know, I know. I should have done nothing with my life,
but I get caught up in trying to change my pants and saving

dogs and cats and time and children who aren’t even drowning.
It’s just that I want people to be happy and I forget that you’re happy

when you’re being intolerant, so maybe, in a way, my being there
made you happy. You could drive up in your truck and threaten me

with your wife in the passenger seat silent and stone-eyed and I’d walk
away, wondering how you could survive in Los Angeles, of all places,

a city so filled with multi-everything that it must drive you mad just to blink
during your lunch breaks at the quarry or wherever the hell it is where the racists

and homophobes gather nowadays, their Sabbaths jam-packed with the jihads
of Christianity or the winters of atheism. I should tell you this, trucker,

if you ever read poems, and I’m sure you don’t, but I’m not even gay, just someone
who wants people to have freedom without the threat of violence, the threat of trucks,

the threat of silenced wives, the threat of heat, of Los Angeles sun illuminating
another miserable moment I have to get through in order to have the rush of justice.


Ron Riekki’s books include U.P., The Way North, and Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

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