Friday, July 18, 2008

Four poems by Justin Hyde

Four poems
by Justin Hyde

the elderly asian woman at cost-cutters

set the clippers down
halfway into it.

i'm sorry,
she said.

are you
i asked.

he's in a blanket
under my bed,
she said
in a flat tone
hands at her sides.
i got him
from the pound
fifteen years ago
after my husband

maybe i'm silly
but he was my
best friend,
she said
her voice
a whisper.

that's not silly,
i said.
i have two dogs
and feel the

what do i
i mean
with his
she asked.

i told her
a vet
could have him
cremated or
there was
a pet cemetery
north of
van meter.

i'm sorry,
she said
and disappeared
into the
back room.


had it against my tonsils this week

if i engage in aerobic exercise
four or five times a week

refrain from alcohol
and amphetamines

i stop thinking about
killing myself

show up to work

become an emotionally
available husband



only ever
consistent with

here i am again

four week stubble

pawn shop pistol.

less reticence.


3:37am at the work release center

turning door handles
with rubber gloves on,
shine the flashlight
at a side angle
for count:

some are so thin
i can hardly see them
under the state issued blanket,
some make godawful
inhuman sounds
vibrating my sternum,

some never sleep:

gollum eyes from
thunder in their head.


they wouldn't let me into college

my slightly buoyant
ACT score didn't
offset my
d- average

so i got a job
at the ups hub
and went to junior college
over in boone.

for the uninitiated,
juco is basically
the breakfast club
on ritalin


heaving fifty pound boxes
from the belly of
dusty semis at
four in the morning
next to a guy named 'lucky'
whose hangover-gas made
roadkill smell like potpourri
speaks for itself.

year later
and a
b average the
university of iowa
decided they'd take
my money (government's
money actually)

of a semester later
they put the boot
to my ass

but that's an
unpublished manuscript

shooting whiskey
until your ears bleed and
the barking ostrich
tap dances on high.

sometimes they are found
giving each other head,
every once in a while
hanging by three shoestrings
from the top frame
of their bunk-bed.

javier comes in
from busing tables
at dickie dougans.

i run the metal detector
over his body,
check the contents
of his wallet.

tells me he found out his
wife got deported
last week.

sold her wedding ring
for the hundred
to get back across
the rio grande
into texas
but the cartel was there,
wouldn't let her cross
unless she gave them an
extra hundred,
which she doesn't have.

black circles stamped
under his eyes tell me
we both know what she’s going to
have to do
to get it.

Author bio:

Justin Hyde lives in Iowa where he works as a correctional officer. His first book of poetry, 'Down where the hummingbird goes to die' is available from Zygote in My Coffee and the Guild of Outsider Writers.r.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

killer stuff, Hyde.