Otto by Wolfgang Carstens

was one of the toughest
i’ve ever known.

he joined the German army
when he was fourteen,
fought on the front lines
at Stalingrad,

and despite poor clothing,
no provisions,
and the harsh Russian winter,
he never surrendered.

Otto was tough,
but tobacco was tougher.

even as cancer
ate away one hundred forty-five pounds
of solid muscle,
he kicked the shit
out of three healthy men
who’d dishonored his wife.

the last time i saw him
he was alone in his dark study
wearing his smoking jacket and cravat,
with a White Owl cigar
smoldering between his teeth

and that solitary tear
running down his cheek
told me all there was to know
about being tough

Two Poems by Justin Hyde

ice water and a body bag

standing on the corner
of ingersoll
and 31st
leaning against
a fire hydrant
you conduct
a census:



straight into
thin air
like a cat fart.

two pitchers of bud light
six shots of jameson
an indeterminate fog
of butterscotch shots
with some flab bag
who took you home
and whose apartment
you now walk home from -

- lumbering
and heavy
like an
elephant trunk.

three months of sobriety
down the drain
quick as a brick
into a wishing well.

sobriety was sustainable
but there was
something false
it dried up center
like a patch
of brown grass.

there's gotta be
middle ground
a switzerland
somewhere in your mind
to plant a flag

some island
between ice water
and a body bag.

you cipher it
right there
as a city bus
passes you
and you puke
into an evergreen bush
in front of a
dentist office:

twice a week max
put a twenty in your wallet
leave the debit card at home
a couple pitchers
nice and easy
bend the mind a little
let it dip into your heart.

this is
the mindfuck
the drunk
parlays on himself.

what's news
young man?
asks a fogey
ticking down
the sidewalk
with a four prong cane.

on a budget,
you mumble
penduling on.

the reading public

i read a-lot
mostly dean koontz,
says the middle aged homo
who works the cash register
at the grocery store cafe.

he's taking
a coffee break
with one of the waitresses
in the booth beside me.

she says she
loves twilight
reads them over
and over
didn't like the second one
but it's still better
than the movie.

most people read
for the same reason
they watch tv:

a facile means
of tickling
their banal impulse:

a little candle
of cheap smut
to warm the
bowl of cold oatmeal
between their ears.

give them schopenhauer's manifesto
a novel by celine
or a book of stories by chekhov

something that draws
real blood
cutting into the guts
of the machine

give them a
book of letters
from bukowski or nietzsche

or a biography
of thomas jefferson.

they'd furrow
their brow
like a donkey with gas

and toss it
into the garbage
after seven
and a half pages.

reclamation project by Justin Hyde

take the drunk
from the bottle

he is left
with the heavy machinery
of his mind
hanging from a rope
like a busted tractor engine
in a barn.

he stands
at a distance

the strange contraption

coming through the windows
for the first time in years

frightens him


About Me

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