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New poems by Justin Hyde


my roommate at the farmhouse


worked as an orderly
at a nursing home
and drove a
four hundred dollar minivan
shook like a jackhammer
over forty-five.

he kept a
newspaper clip-out of
zig ziglar
taped to the
bathroom mirror


the 3x5
to the back of his
bedroom door

see it

visualize it

conquer it.

one night
we were drunk out back
shooting at a quarter
wedged into the bark of an oak
with my bb gun.

what's ziglar got
that you don't?
i asked
pumping the gun up.

he's got his plate of pie
and the formula
for getting mine,
he said
with that far off cardboard
constantly plastered on his face - -
a computer loading
which never did.

i wanted to ask him
how it was
ziglar had been
talking to him from the shitter mirror
going on a year now
but he still worked as an orderly
and drove a minivan with two
donut spares.

but already knowing the answer
i just nodded

handed him the gun


brought the bottle of captain to my lips
counting my blessings

that i'd neither been cursed
with desire







a line


last living line


the last living line
with firsthand knowledge
of my father's father
from boy to man
is sluicing to dementia
watching squirrels
at a nursing home
in memphis missouri.

keep telling myself
i need to
drive down there
with a tape recorder
couple bottles of whiskey

get it down.

get it all down.

tie this loose mess of silence
and strangled hearts
into something intelligible.

sometimes i daydream
about playing it for my dad

burying the hatchet

setting this whole foundation
on a different path
starting with me
and my son.

but i keep making excuses,

chances are
i'll never get around to it.

but that's ok:

i'll twist it in my mind
that it's better this way.

that's what we do

we humans:


self soluble

first to last.


a line



two photos on the refrigerator


when my mother
comes to visit
she brings pictures of me
at the same age
as my young son.

this one says
oct 79, today
we're both
one year and eight months.

the resemblance is striking

but already
there is a stoicism
stamped on my face.

my father’s stoicism.

from the grain
and weight of the photo
i can tell
it was taken
with the old sears camera
dad bought
when he got out of the service.

he'd go walking for hours
with it.

i sit for hours
with a notebook.

every man
on my father's side
has been carved out
down the middle
for various reasons.

most of them
fill it
with drink.

my father
had the camera
for a while
but gave it up
for drink.

i'm on the edge
of going
either way.

i look into my son's eyes
wondering which way
he will go.

he's smiling
in his picture.

i turn it over.

ask me
about grandpa hyde's camera someday,
i write
and put it back
under the magnet.



a line

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