what he learned from the vietnam vets

he restarted
the highway grader
while his partner
was still checkingthe blades.

so full of guilt
he didn't sleep
for over a year.

got in with some vietnam vets
at an aa meeting
over in redfield.

says they taught him
lock it in a tool-box
putthe tool-box in a safe
drop it in the ocean
never look that way.

says he sleeps
three nights a week now

probably be
four or five
if it wasn't for his wife.

can't keep her
in the house.

soon as he nods off
she's out
tapping a vein

usually ends up
passed out
in the parking lot
behind the indian casino
over in tama.

not supposed to be a writer

supposed to be
secondary labor for a brick-layer

assistant to a satellite-dish installer

or a pest control technician
like my dad.

supposed to be
in the state home in cherokee
where they wanted to send me
for suicidal ideations
when i was nine

or in prison
like my cousin
who raped his daughters.

i'm not supposed to be a writer

wasn't supposed to graduate from high-school

or college either.

every day with this notebook

is one more
than i was ever supposed to have.

so i hope you'll excuse me
for not taking any of the queer bullshit
that comes along with it
too damn seriously.

Justin Hyde lives in Iowa where he works
with criminals. He has a web-page here:

2008 Underground Voices