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).