Other Poems by:

Justin Hyde

in the woods of northern wisconsin

i was racing cross country skis
in the woods of northern wisconsin.
 
can you believe that?
 
i was nineteen years old
wearing a one-piece lycra suit
suffering through thirty miles of
sub-zero undulating terrain in
the woods of northern wisconsin.
 
was i insane?

my heart was beating
189 times a minute
as i tried to defeat
thousands of
blood doping whippets
named sven and osvald
who had come
from as far away as
norway, finland and sweden
where apparently
cross country ski racing
is at least as popular as
bowling and minor league hockey
here.

Dear editor,
 
Hello:
 
My name is Justin Hyde.  I live in Iowa where I work as a correctional officer.
 
Thank you for your time,
Justin.
 
in the woods of northern wisconsin
 
i was racing cross country skis
in the woods of northern wisconsin.
 
can you believe that?
 
i was nineteen years old
wearing a one-piece lycra suit
suffering through thirty miles of
sub-zero undulating terrain in
the woods of northern wisconsin.
 
was i insane?
 
my heart was beating
189 times a minute
as i tried to defeat
thousands of
blood doping whippets
named sven and osvald
who had come
from as far away as
norway, finland and sweden
where apparently
cross country ski racing
is at least as popular as
bowling and minor league hockey
here.
 
is this poem going somewhere?
 
that was eleven years ago
- before my first piece of ass
- before they kicked me out of college
- before i turned right on lincoln way at the age of twenty-six with nothing to my name
- before i developed a debilitating addiction to on-line madden
- before i started fisting speed and humping anything that flashed me an angle and some things that didn't
- back when if you had asked me the name of a poet i would have struggled to produce even robert frost.
 
and?
 
sitting at the flying j
gut starting to bubble over my pants
it's hard to remember that far back.

so?
 
i think i wanted to be a
veterinarian at that point
a veterinarian or an 
assassin for the cia
before i understood the fundamental disconnect between desire and follow through
 
?
 
what i'm saying is 
don't be surprised if
maybe eleven years from now
i'll have undertaken the restoration
of church organs in
the belgian congo or

developed a one act play
from the
chinchilla's point of view.

flaming knuckles splayed across time

did i stutter?
 
flaming knuckles splayed across time.
 
egg-drop soup in the veins,
 
food coloring of the heart,
 
ersatz soul.
 
ralph's been living in the flying j for seven days.
i buy us two forties.
no drinking allowed on the premises
we sit in adjacent shitters.

the universe is spinning independent of atomic motion,
he says,
god's lambs stirred not shaken ha ha ha.
 
rainbows make me nervous,
i tell him.
 
home is where the fart is,
chimes the sharpie scrawl
between my feet.

parent teacher conference

he comes up
to the work release
control desk
shows me a picture
of his girlfriend's son
from a previous marriage.
 
tells me
he's going to his
fifth grade
parent teacher conference
tomorrow.

i hold the picture
ask him
how he
and the mother
met.
 
tells me
they met at a house party
last time
he was on parole
 
at the time
she was still with the first husband
who beat her
and her son,

he saw the husband
slap her
in the kitchen,
 
asked him out back
broke his leg with a tire iron
told him if he ever
put a hand on either of them again
he'd kill him.
 
kid's lucky to have you
in his life,
i say
handing him the picture.

feels good
to be there for someone,
he says
as i sign him out
to his job
as an overnight stocker
at hy-vee.
 
i've read his file:
 
he's been in prison ten
out of the last sixteen years,
mostly for assault.

buried somewhere near the end
it says
he was born in texas
 
how when his mother
brought him home from the hospital
she caught his dad
in bed with her best friend.
 
he and his mom
went to iowa
to live with her parents
until he ran away
to be with his dad in texas
when he was thirteen,
 
but dad beat him
on a daily basis
until he ran away
back to iowa.
 
whatch' you lookin' at?
another CO asks
as i watch him unlock his bike
and pedal off
through the
security camera.

i don't know
 
fox in the fire
 
maybe a runaway comet,
i say
and head down the hall
for midnight count.

the man who delivered my wife's couch

i offer him
a beer. 

says
he can't
while
on the clock. 

stop the clock,
i say. 

we stand
on my
back deck. 
he empties it
in one 
even tug, 

runs his palm
over the siding
of my house
and says 

it would sure be nice
to own something. 
i tell him
i haven't 
earned this, 
how
i'm only here
because of
my wife's good credit
and her ability
to work around
my sloth
and
frivolous spending. 

he says
his wife
is either
shooting dope in her arm
or playing slots. 

they're
three months behind
on a trailer
with no 
insulation 

i ask him
where 
they met. 

she was
an all state
volleyball player
in high school
and
i
was a reserve pitcher,
he says 

while picking up
one of my dog's
tennis balls
and launching it
clear over
the back fence. 

we fucked
at a bonfire party
out near zearing
sophomore year
and that was
that.
**Copyright 2007-09 Justin Hyde, all rights reserved Send us your comments on this article
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