After the V.A. (With each line’s final word from a poem by Gregory Orr)

October 31, 2018


“hungry ghost the night”

--Gregory Orr, from “After the Guest”


The day departs

quiet as hell, the briefest

last moments of light.  I have no wife.

I have a chair, a table, & sink

though.  I have cups & plates.

Neighbors I don’t know.  & masks.

I even wore

one to work today.  I have hands.


& a tumor.  I don’t have tears.

I hate tears.  I have a photo

of an ex-girlfriend.  She once fed

me vegan for a year, the food looking


sad, a bit lonely, healthy.  We had guests.

They’d leave.  She left. I had a nap

just now.  The ultrasound guy showed me a sight

of something in my neck, a shadow, like night


has entered my body, the cold

internal parts of me, like my insides need a blanket.


She used to be able to carry me on her shoulders.


I look pretty good.  I feel so old.




Ron Riekki’s books include And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press), Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Michigan State University Press, 2016 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Great Lakes Best Regional Fiction), The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (Wayne State University Press, 2014 Michigan Notable Book awarded by the Library of Michigan), and U.P.: a novel (Ghost Road Press).

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