By Ron Riekki

I’m Made of Ice, My Ancestors are Made of Ice, and My Ice

(Sonnet 1,865) 

is me. I look outside the window and see
that we are pointing down, all of us icicles
stalactite-ing, maxillary, Wed, married to
winter, to wind, to winos at Mike’s Corner
Store where we sit huddled, holding onto
our brown bags, our blown backs, out of
our minds with minimum wage, with less,
with homelessness and lost in blizzards of
history, the mines here that are a mix of
terror and territory, of noon explosions, of
rivers turned red, iron-ored to death, rail-
road walks so slippery from the ore that
we can’t stop falling, even in the summer
when the ice is gone, except it never is.

How to Make a Ron Riekki

Grab your extra-large mixing bowl and howl
a bit, and bite your lip, because you have some
serious work to do. Now pour the flour and

the flowers every hour into his body that you
are forming. Add rolled oats and Zachary
Schomburg quotes and a few pinches of

basketball GOATs and shake them pretty
much nonstop, because Ron, you see, has
essential tremors, which, you see, are not

really ‘essential,’ per se, but medicine likes
to laugh its ass off, its gluteus maximus off,
and remember to mix in thoroughly PTSD

from the military, especially the memory
of the plane crash, and don’t forget six cups
of Oshkosh and six more of Palmer and

six more of Negaunee and add the wet
ingredients, which is the lakes—Teal and
Superior—and the rivers—Dead and Carp—

and the rainfall—June through July—and
the snowfall—August through May—and
the chronic showering that comes with

the PTSD. Add syrup and more water and
a love of reading and the invisibility of
poetry and knead the dough and need

the doe, the reindeer clan of your ancestors,
the need to let it rest, where you put a towel
over it, him, Ron, and wait, because life,

you see, is waiting, especially V.A. waiting
rooms, and allow him to rise, to grow to
a height where people will ask him on

a daily basis, “How tall are you?” and then
maybe wait a few more minutes so that he
is a little taller than that and while you wait

you can start cleaning because he will have
tears forming by now and a bit of blood
from his broken bones throughout his life—

the collarbone, the toe, the ankle, the finger,
the other toe. Now cook him for 100 years,
flipping him over at the halfway point,

middle age, where he is now, transferring
him to a wire-rack where he can tell you
what it was like working in the prison system—

hellish—and working in security—hellish—
and working as an EMT—hellish—and
working teaching creative writing—heavenly,

but he couldn’t get hired full-time so heaven
disappeared and he went back to the guard
shacks that erased him and the prisons that

deleted him and the ambulances that took
his back and his knees, which you, by the way,
have just made. Thank you for doing that.

Checking Out at the Target

I look up and there is a camera pointed
at my face.       And there it is, my face,
right there in front of me.        How guilty
I look, buying groceries.           The pure
discomfort of it.         I look around.
Everyone else appears to be perfectly
content.            Or perfectly dead.
I’m not sure which.      Look at them.

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).  Riekki co-edited The Many Lives of The Evil Dead and The Many Lives of The Twilight Zone (McFarland) and Undocumented (Michigan State University Press), and edited The Many Lives of Scary Clowns and The Many Lives of It (McFarland), Here and And Here (MSU Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), and The Way North (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book). 

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