“I Had a Librarian Tell Me That Poetry Chapbooks …” by Ron Riekki

Ron Riekki


When I taught in prison, I told the prisoners
that if they murder someone on the page,
they can win an award, but if you murder

someone in real life, you’ll end up back
here in prison. One of the guys raised

his hand and said, What if you kill the person
who gives you the award? The class liked that.

from Rattle #56, Summer 2017


Ron Riekki: “Working in the military and in prisons has been, not always, but at times, to be honest, one of the most brutally negative experiences imaginable. In the horrors of those memories, I try to realize that comedy is one of the main things that can get you through hell, whether it’s a twelve-hour shift or a four-year presidency. Think of the onomatopoeia of ‘trump!’ being similar to ‘splat!’—the country tripping and landing on its nose. Even the Donald has a face and hair that is so clownish that when he posts his potentially war-inducing tweets, it’s pure post-millennial Dr. Strangelove. If I remember correctly, Robert McKee calls the mix of horror and comedy ‘delicious.’ It was wonderful to receive an email from the Rattle editors saying the poem ‘Just plain cracked us up.’ I’ll close with this eloquent tweet posted by Donald J. Trump on May 3, 2013, at 9:35 a.m.: ‘Amazing how the haters & losers keep tweeting the name F**kface Von Clownstick like they are so original & like no one else is doing it …’ I was cracking up myself just now retyping that. Ahhh, comedy. Hail to the thief.” (twitter)

Note: Audio read by M.C. Serch

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