Poetry,  Special Issue

When I write about the military by Ron Riekki

I get hot.
I get hit by memories of the hot heat that ate our heads.
When I write about the military, I get confused
about dates,
but I remember
the fire,
the way that ghosts come on

so quickly,
like now.
             You said not to push myself to hard,
but do you understand I would never fucking write
that just breathing
pushes myself too hard

in this absolute globe-choked absence?
There were ten people killed
when I was in the military.
             When I write about the military,
I realize that I am being written,
             that I was written
by the military,

that the military wrote me
and then left me
with lungs like fire escapes,
             with migraines like death,
             with memories that slam-
dance against my thin skull.
             When I write about the military,

I get hot.
             I get hate in my gut, in my nuts, in my battle scar-head, my droned life, my forwarding
             of bombing coordinates,
my bomb squad nights,
             my mom writing me, saying,
             Who died?


Ron Riekki wrote My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press), U.P.: a novel (Ghost Road Press), and Posttraumatic: A Memoir (Small Press Distribution).  He edited Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (Michigan State University Press), And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (MSU Press), Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (MSU Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book), The Many Lives of The Evil Dead: Essays on the Cult Film Franchise (McFarland).

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