Tuesday, January 12, 2021


Five Poems by Jason Ryberg

1)2020 Post-Election Blues

It’s a weirdly hot day,
here in Central Kansas,

early November and windy as hell,

with countless concentric cyclones
of dust and leaves out there
slam-dancing in dervish-like
synchronicity with and within
each other,

and then, at times,
breaking off from the heard in
little groups, to rub up against
the house, causing all the loose
planks and window panes to rattle
and vibrate to the point where it seems
that the whole place could just lift off
or implode at any moment,

but then, right before it does,
the tide always seems to subside
and recede back to that place
where it all re-groups and regains
its momentum,

leaving us a strange and guttural
breathing sound coming from
the fire place to let us know
it will be back.

2) Just Another Other

Our leaders say we should be good little citizens
and reach out and begin the healing process
and try to form some kind of alliance with
the legendary white working class, which
no one really seems to be able to clearly define,
even though so much ink and air-time are
devoted to it, more and more, every voting
season (before it’s forgotten (again) and until
they’re needed next time to hose off and
trot out and see, once again, which political party
finally wins the multi-million-dollar media
tug-of-war to sway this peculiar demographic
via their needs (or, if need be, their prejudices)
and hopefully bring them into the fold for good).
But I really have to wonder about the notion
of finding this elusive common ground with a
group that seems to proudly, chest-and-bible-
thumpingly define themselves, socially and
politically, by their ignorance of politics,
science and history let alone the world that
exists outside their own but might as well
be another planet which is exactly what they’re
lead to believe by their church and community
leaders and elected representatives and all of whom
appear to be in the process of collectively and
publicly shitting themselves and melting down
wicked-witch of the West style at the prospect
that they will soon be just another other
in a nation of others.

3) Thanksgiving 2020

The wind tonight is a storm-gray ocean
of savage undertows and alternating currents

and our bellies are full of birds and pigs
and our livers are swollen with the water of life
and the blood of the Lord,

and to the west of us, an east-bound train
flows like a river stirred-up by days of rain
and to the east, the stiff skeletons of elm and
cedar trees lift and sway their limbs and branches with
the dreamy surge and swell of the mega-church faithful,

and all the draperies and tapestries of cloud
have been drawn back now to show us
the shadowy rafters and balustrades of night,
all hung and lit with the crystal glitter and glow
of cosmic chandelier, beneath which we
solemnly puff on cheap cigars and pull
from flasks of apricot brandy,

tipping one for fallen friends and family,
toasting to the hope for a better
year to come.

4) Gone

Sometimes, it seems that time flies like a cinematically CGI’d
slow-motion bullet trail, or a handful of hundred dollar bills,
fresh and warm from the ATM, suddenly taken up by a micro-
burst of wind, or sparks thrown off a grinder wheel into the face
of all our best laid plans, best played hands, our most reasonable
and equitable list of demands, even, and then, in the middle of
one of our frantic chase scenes, just shuts down and goes cold —
THUNK— motionless, indifferent and unresponsive to all our
pleas and invectives to hurry the fuck up for Christ Almighty’s
sake and get a goddamn move on while we’re all still young,
already; LET’S GO, LET’S GO, LET’S GO, and then you turn
around and there’s a praying mantis on your sleeve and a
violin coming from somewhere and a certain quality to the early
evening light you somehow hadn’t noticed before and the time
is just gone.

5) All the Way Down

There’s wind in the chimney
and a sweat bee drowned
in a glass of brandy,

a man with a can of beer
and a cigarette playing solitaire at an
antique dining room table,

a ghost trapped inside of an ancient
grandfather clock, its ectoplasmic breath
steaming up the glass on certain moonlit nights,

and a sad, sweet little tune playing
on an old 78 record player,

the kind of tune that, given the mood,
makes you want to jump out of a window,
humming it all the way down.

And there, in the corner of the room,
an open door showing us a toilet
from which a Billy goat is currently drinking...

Now, how’d that Billy goat
get in here?

No comments: