“I’m Lying in Bed Now” by Ron Riekki

Ron Riekki


after having taken an aspirin
and googling about my heart,
how it could be acid reflux or
a heart attack (big difference)
or a panic attack and it’s ice
in there, left side of my chest,
how ‘sinister’ etymologically
comes from “on the left side,”
the liberal side, my body un-
able to take all the politics of
this world, or not this world,
this country, how everything
here is split in half, and every
conversation binary, and it’s
as if everything is black and
white, or, no, it’s as if every-
thing’s vantablack vs barium
sulfate, the blackest black vs
the whitest white, no shades,
no greys, just these shadows
of manipulation, one of my
neuroscience profs who said
they did an experiment back
when they could still do all
the craziest shit on humans,
and the person was able to
give a jolt to certain parts
of their brain that triggers
different responses. And
they thought the subjects
would over and over keep
stimulating the area that
would give pleasure, but,
no, they discovered that
they loved it when they
would stimulate an area
that causes aggression,
the type of anger which
comes from a feeling of
self-righteousness, this
need, like a drug, to be
morally superior, this
craving that maybe we
all have. I say this to my
French girlfriend and she
says, no, it’s American
to feel and act that way,
that it’s part of our two-
party culture, that they
have more than forty
political parties, and
so they have complex
discussions, not us-vs-
them discussions, but
real debate, actual real
differences of opinion,
and she keeps on using
that word: ‘real,’ how
she is sick of ‘reality
TV,’ sick of the way
that the news here,
she says, repeats one
story a thousand times
so that they drill one
perspective into your
mind. And I’m quiet.
And she leaves. And
I’m alone. And my
heart is like kindling,
and in two days she’ll
leave me forever. And
I don’t know this. And
I don’t know anything.

from Poets Respond
January 31, 2023


Ron Riekki: “I hate the news. I refuse to watch it, at least American news. I’ll watch the BBC, France 24 en direct, DW, CNA. CBC, yes, all of those and more, but American news, to me, honestly, feels like a person choosing which of the two types of brainwashing they want to voluntarily be exposed to. My father had one of the American news stations on and they had repeated their headline all day and then repeated the news story all day, with an incredible repetition. It wasn’t Fox News, but I do remember someone telling me that someone high up at Fox realized that all you have to do is repeat a story enough times and people will believe anything. It feels like all of the American news channels are utilizing those same elements of Fox News now, so none of it feels like actual news. When the main story is another solution-less focus on a high-profile mass shooting followed by a light ‘news’ story on a singer signed to the same company that owns that news show, it feels like, well, I’m over-explaining the poem. It was written after my father had an American news channel on and it felt like every second was spectacular manipulation. A friend of mine told me he used to work in ‘news,’ that they sent him to the house of a person where something horrific had just happened to them. I won’t say what, but they wanted an interview, even if they could just get the person slamming the door in my friend’s face. They could air that. My friend said he got sick to his stomach and couldn’t do it, went back and quit journalism forever, on the spot, even though he’d spent four years getting a degree in it. I wonder if we can’t expect more of the news than what we’re getting and if the whole American conversation could actually become complex, with different points of view allowed to be expressed, without pretending at all times like there are only two views.” (web)

Read by Betsy Baker

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