Featured: 4 Poems by Ron Riekki

The Ghosts Can’t Brush Their Teeth Because They Can’t Hold a Toothbrush

It’s the reason they howl. The cavities. The pain. The ghosts aren’t trying to haunt us. They’re trying to get us to brush their teeth. They just don’t know how to do it subtly. Imagine the pain. Turn whatever you’re imagining right now up to an eight. Maybe a nine. Now imagine you can’t have sex either. How would you? You’re invisible! Have you ever tried to get a date when you’re dead? And can’t be seen? Have you ever seen a ghost on Tinder? No, because they don’t even try anymore. They just quit. Everything, really. Even haunting. I mean, I guarantee your house or apartment or mobile home or tent has at least six ghosts in it, but they’re just sitting there, angry, in the corner of your closet, their nonexistent jaws in their fists.


My Next-Door Neighbor is a Gun Owner and I Know Because His Car Reminds Me Every Day

He’s also a chair owner too. In fact, he owns multiple chairs. At least three I can see through his house’s windows, but he doesn’t have any bumper stickers on his car about his obsession with the chairs he owns. I also know he owns heart medication, but no mention of that either. He doesn’t have a bumper sticker about how people can pry his nitroglycerin from his dead cold hand, but you think he would because that nitro actually keeps him alive when he gets his myocardial infarctions while watching Fox. I asked him one time if he was going to put a bumper sticker on his car about how much he loves bumper stickers, but he said the bumper stickers already do that. But I said he should let everyone know like he does with all of his quotes about how much he is addicted to his guns. I told him it makes people feel really safe when they know the person driving next to them has a gun. But we’d really feel safe if we knew he owned chairs and heart meds and a couch and especially a mentioning about how he’s still on his Zoloft.


Someone Told the Scarecrow
that He Needs to Lose Weight

and now all I see is him standing out in that cornfield never taking a break. I mean, never. Apparently you burn a lot more calories by standing, holding your arms out straight. I tried to do it and it was brutal. I yelled for him to stick to his goals but he didn’t blink or anything. That’s dedication. I noticed there was a shitload of crows around him though. So he wasn’t really doing his job. But he was losing the weight. And that’s all that matters in a misogynistic capitalist panopticon.


I Wrote a Poem and My Poetry Professor Said I Wasn’t Making It Confusing Enough

He said that I needed to incorporate more words I don’t know. So I searched in a dictionary and said, “How about ‘volatile’?” And he said, “No! Hell no! People have heard of that.” I asked what he recommended and he said, “Something like ‘quokkas’. Nobody’s heard of that garbage word.” So I titled the poem “Quokkas” and he said, “No, don’t do that.” And he said that I needed to un-title my work, showing me a ton of Emily Dickinson poems and William Shakespeare poems that had no titles. “And they’re the best,” he said, “Steal from the best.”

I wrote a second poem and showed it to him and he said, “You don’t have a ‘moon’ in there. Every poem needs a ‘moon.’ Plus it rhymes with, like, everything.”

I wrote a third poem and he said, “This isn’t a goddamn poem. It’s a blank stare.” I looked and he was right.


Ron Riekki’s books include U.P. (Ghost Road Press), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle), and the upcoming My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press) and I have been warned not to write about this (Main Street Rag).

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