Robert Ronnow’s poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 and Communicating the Bird. He has served as executive director of non-profit social service and environmental organizations. He has also been a forest worker in the western and northeastern U.S. He plays jazz trumpet. Visit his web site at www.ronnowpoetry.com.
Long Story Short
A walk around the block in my parents’ neighborhood at dawn
wearing mom’s sweater and pop’s sneakers with a clown hole cut out for toe infection
I was stopped by a cop in a cruiser
this was during the Vietnam War long hair ago
he was angry at everyone I was offended by everything
he said which way are you going I said which way are you going
so he socked me in the mouth and handcuffed me
I was arraigned on disorderly conduct and resisting arrest
my good parents came down and stood beside me before the judge
I wrote to the police department internal affairs
not for retribution but to start a paper trail
in case this cop someday bopped one of my brothers
a few months later I’m back at work in NYC
two detectives come into the city to question me
one good cop one bad cop we park in the park me in the back seat
they wanna know was I mouthy to the cop who punched me in the mouth
long story short
they leave me on a bench to eat my lunch and the charges are dropped
A Good Day to Die
I’ve seen it myself sometimes.
Shooting pool with a Marine I liked, a buddy.
He’s drunk. Always had a booze problem
and women had disappointed him,
no more than any other man.
Anyway, the only gal in the unit, honest, hard working,
blonde comes into the room. We all
I’d shown her my poems, which she’d taken a pass on.
Joe starts teasing her about her tiny tits,
touching them with his cue.
She’s scared. So am I.
Joe’s stronger, faster than me, by a lot, and when he’s drunk
he knows no friend.
How long can I stay silent, I calculate.
What does he have to do before I speak. Speech, none.
If I don’t put him down with the first crack of my cue, I’m done.
Lucky for me she gets away
unharmed, goes back to her room.
I think Joe assumed me and the other guys, by our nervous smiles,
would enjoy a rape tonight.
Men are such chickens,
I can’t speak for women.
You basically hold your breath
your whole life.
Live in a zoo
shit and screw.
And if it comes to that, you’ll kill
on orders, from who?
Another swinging dick
who fears his death.
You’ve got to make every day a good day to die.
When I Am Asked
I, too, dislike poems.
I’ve tried rune (and rampike)
but that’s affected
rather than merely effete.
So I call them
When people query
What do you write?
at a barbecue or birthday party
I say soliloquies,
sculptures (scriptures), geometric shapes and series,
three dimensional triangles, spheres
and differential equations,
fractured fairy tales,
Rocky and Bullwinkle,
On the other hand,
bits, buts, bytes
remnants, scrap, earth
gobs of phlegm in grains of sand,
shards of glass in a slice of hell,
hunks and clumps, curds and whey, sleet and pain, slap in the face
sub-atomic particles, cell organelles,
chunks of energy, cookie crumbs,
rusty trucks stuck in mud, dustings for ghosts,
just plain dumb luck, rocks, concrete, but not tweets.
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By In Parentheses in IP Volume 7
32 pages, published 1/15/2022
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