Ron Riekki

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POETRY

Ex-backalleying

No, I’m not carrion. Or despair. Or nothing, not Nothing, despite
what my self-talk might attempt to shock me into. Or to strain.
Or try to hook me into. I’m not a back alley, the end of it, weary.
Because I choose not to be. Or He does. He, bigger than the sea.
I look at the sky, numb. Awed. See, for me the numinous is all

so new. Fell. A terrible fall. Where I have tremors now. For-
ever. Lost. A horrible lost . . . Then, I have found Father, God.
Who I’d squandered. Ignored. When He was there, in my body,
and out. And the tempest attempts to make me forget the blood.
But grace out-graces. And I am frantic with gratitude. For God.


Father

My father found his mother
dead. Drug her to the bed.
Tucked her in. He was a child,
didn’t understand death.
And how he shut off then.
How he told me this, from
the side of my bed. I could see
Death outside my window,
the thick shadow that is night
owning the house, the yard.
Later, when he shut off the light,
I looked straight into the dark,
how it ate the room, a kind of full-
blank. And I spoke to the ghosts
that had owned me then, telling them
they must die now, again. That I believed
in the good now. And not in the dead.


&

Therefore we do not lose heart.

The world is changed. This grand hour of chaos,
but it will flame out. Crushed. And I think of hearts
lost, collected in a box, waiting for the request, at the coat-
check station. A heart-check girl fumbling around, extracting
asystole, v-fib, v-tach, and, then, one beating perfectly, yours,
ours, how belief defibrillates. What luck, to believe. Not
‘luck’. The throne of grace. How it lightnings to the bone.


Ron Riekki’s books include My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Apprentice House Press), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle), and U.P. (Ghost Road Press). Right now, he’s listening to Kate Nash’s “Pumpkin Soup.”


Photo by Jan Kroon on Pexels.com.


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