($tyx) In China

the river was blocked off by a massive wall
and I hate walls
so I figured I’d climb the fucker
so I kept walking along the wall
looking for a weak point
because every wall is useless
every wall has a weak point
and I found the weak point
a part where there was this streetlight
that was up near the wall
and I realized I could climb the streetlight
if I pressed my body against the wall
and risked my life
so I risked my life
although it wasn’t really my life
it was more my feet
the life of my feet
because I had a cousin who fell off of his roof
or not his roof
a roof
and broke both his feet
shattered them in fact
so that he was in a wheelchair for a year
and the doctor told him he wasn’t sure if he’d ever walk again
and he walks again
except to be honest not that good
and I don’t walk that good either
because I have flat feet
which isn’t really a big deal
because they let me in the military with flat feet
because the military doesn’t care if you have flat feet
no matter what those old Vietnam movies say
if those old Vietnam movies say anything
about flat feet
but I was risking my flat feet
climbing up this small wall of China
and I got to the top
and turned around
and I could see the river
and I realized why they had the wall
because the river was shit-colored
or worse
what’s worse than shit?
maybe vomit with shit in the vomit and a severed head floating in the middle of all that
and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing
because it looked like it was the river that would cross you over to hell
and I crawled back down
because I was worried I’d pass out
and fall into that river
and later
like a week later
I heard that 16,000 dead pigs were thrown into the river
and I said to a coworker
I saw it
and I told them the story of climbing up the wall
and the coworker told me
You know they have cameras on the wall, right?
and I did not know that
and a few weeks later I got fired
and that’s when I found out
that the Chinese government takes your money
before you can leave the country
and so they took my money
and I left


When I Got Out of the Military, I Did a Cartwheel in the Parking Lot

There was a guy during Desert Storm
who got caught masturbating to his Bible.
He had his Bible opened up in his room
and he was just going at it
and I think the real problem was
he kept going at it
even when his roommate told him to stop
so that he could get some sleep
but he just kept going
even turning the pages
like he was reading it
while he was doing what he was doing
they sent him for a psych eval
and he passed
and I asked his roommate what the psych people said
and he said that there’s a lot of tension
when a war is going on
and that there is no sanity during a war
and they sent him back
to his room
and I asked if he was still masturbating to the Bible
and the guy said
thank God


As an EMT, I Saw a Guy

walking towards me
with his feet cut off.
He kept rocking back and forth,
walking straight towards me,
walking on his tib-fibs,
rocking back and forth,
getting nearer,
yelling someone’s name,
the cars upside-down behind him
and the cars were yelling someone’s name
and it was my name
and then I wake up
and realize that the nightmare
comes from a real event
and the real event
comes from a nightmare
and the nightmare comes from a nightmare
and the real event comes from a real event


Ron Riekki’s wrote My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press), U.P.: a novel (Ghost Road Press), and Posttraumatic: A Memoir (Small Press Distribution).  He edited Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (Michigan State University Press), And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (MSU Press), Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (MSU Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book), The Many Lives of The Evil Dead: Essays on the Cult Film Franchise (McFarland).