Ravenna, Ohio    1989 -    
J.M. Romig is the poet behind the collections "We Are Made of Found Objects" (Poets Hall Press) and "Breakwall to Breakwall" (Writing Knights Press). He is working on a billion different projects. Something new is coming. Just you wait.
J.M. Romig is the poet behind the collections "We Are Made of Found Objects" (Poets Hall Press) and "Breakwall to Breakwall" (Writing Knights Press). He is working on a billion different projects. Something new is coming. Just you wait.

A dog barks relentlessly at the rising sun.

A squrriel charges across powerlines, scaring away the morningbirds mid-song.

"love does not have and end, nor a beginning." Mumbles an old man in his sleep.

An old woman smiles and kisses her husband's cheek, "good morning, sleepyhead"

A man snores through his alarm, dreaming of a girl he longed for in a life, long ago.

A woman downs an iced coffee in the middle of a ceaseless, thankless shift.

A couple ends a sleepless night, thier wild newborn finally working themselves to rest.

A little girl wakes before her parents, pokes her father's face, and whisper-shouts "good morning sleepyhead"

Middleschoolers clump into cliques in front of the school building, dreading the pavlovian buzzer that will herd them inside.

A teenage girl, waiting for her bus, finds a love note slipped into her backpack. Do you like me? Y or N? No name is attached.

A woman questions her life choices after waking up in a strangers' bed, for the third time this month.

A man questions his life choices as he wakes up in his queen sized bed, once again, alone.

They both have fleeting thoughts about missed opportunities, alrernate timelines, and the silly notion of fate.

A friend request is sent, and accepted within seconds. "Who the hell is up this early?" They both ponder.

A dog barks relentlessly at the morning joggers.

A squirrel scurries up an ancient tree.

"Love does not have and end, nor a beginning." Says the tree - A message carved into its skin, under a lemniscate, with a set of initials inside each hollowed pocket.
The letters, chipped and worn away by ceaseless, merciless time.

JM Romig
JM Romig
Jun 15

Their bodies had yet to cool into corpses
their phones were still singing in their pockets
with mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers,
sons, and daughters on the other end of those ropes
holding on with wholly hopeless holy hope,
a whole city of hearts were suspended, mid-beat.
and the news was already blathering
about what this might mean
for the upcoming election.

Is this where we’ve arrived?
Is this what we’ve become?
So comfortably numb,
we follow the script,
we know it by heart,
we point out our fingers
all righteous and smart,
and scream about walls and quarantine,
about THEM and US.

We sharpen our tongues
to duel about guns and their rights,
but somehow forget that
the first act in this play
is supposed to be one of empathy.  

What happened to us?
Once united in the dust of fallen buildings
now, in the face of yet another catastrophe
we can barely shed a tear
as we ready for another uncivil war.

I watch this all play out
again, and again, and again.
This poem is about what happened in Orlando,
but it could easily be about any of them
the ones that we’ve stopped hashtagging about
and the ones still beyond the horizon.

I can’t help but wonder
if future students of 21st Century American Tragedy
will mix up the dates and names
like Revolutionary War battles:

Was Sandy Hook the black church or the gay night club?
Was Trayvon killed by a cop or a radical extremist?
Was that one a white lone wolf
or a brown domestic terrorist?
Who said ‘I can’t Breathe’ and what was the context?
I forget.
Shit, I’m gonna fail this test.


We are failing this test, America.
We are letting the fear into our bones.
We are letting it boil into anger.
They are cooking us alive.
They have told us the recipe,
time and time again.

How and why are we still
in their cauldron with their broth
acting like we think it’s bathwater
like it’s going to clean off
the blood on our own hands.

Haven’t we learned this lesson
too many times, already?
Aren’t you tired?

I know I am.

#poem   #sad   #shooting   #america   #all   #response   #american   #protest   #massacre   #orlando  
JM Romig
JM Romig
May 25

Let me draw you
a Venn Diagram:
This circle represents the sum total of my beeswax.
It’s solid, most of it.
Some of it, not so much.
All of it is mine.
This circle,
way over here,
is your beeswax.
Notice how the circles do not overlap.
We are not Beeswax Partners.
We are not in Beeswax together.
We are not even in the same beeswax separately.
Yours is your own.
Mine is mine.
So why are you all up in my beeswax?
Got your nose tilted up in the air
looking down on my beeswax?
I did not invite you to poke, sniff, lick
or otherwise analyze my beeswax.
I don’t crowdsource my beeswax criticism.
But as long as we’re talking shop,
lemmie say this:
I handle my beeswax.
My Honey is golden and sweet.
My Hive is healthy.
You need not worry about me.
My beeswax is good.
You, on the other hand.
I can see from here
your Honey is dim and almost burnt orange.
Your Hive is on the brink of colony collapse.
This should worry you
because none of that is good for beeswax.
I would suggest you take preventive measures
In short, mind your own,
tend your garden, as they say.
But I won’t meddle any further.
As I said before,
your beeswax
is none of mine.

JM Romig
JM Romig
May 13

He was sixteen when he left home
after a fight with his dad
with no plans of turning back
he spent the next two decades
waring that black sheep status
like a badge of honor

She was a tomboy
grew up with two brothers
and no knowledge of her father
she was a trouble-seeker
not a trouble-maker
she just got caught in a lot of traps
set for other wild creatures

When they met
both already had a failed marriage
behind them
she was a single mother
struggling to make ends meet
he continued to visit his adopted daughter
even though her mother tried to kill him
with a baseball bat -
they both had baggage

They also both had a friend
who knew a guy
who could get them some coke

She had a knack
for surrounding herself
with the worst people

He had knack
for playing superhero
for women who didn’t want or need him to

So, by sheer force of natural processes
they were set for collision in 3, 2…

One day, a few months later
she finds out she’s pregnant
leaves him, and doesn’t say why
convinced he won’t give up the drugs for the baby

He hears the news through the grapevine
quits cold turkey
trying to win her back
he’ll spend the rest of his life doing that

Four months into your existence
He plays tug of war with her mother
for the right to raise you

Meanwhile, she finds herself on trial
for once again seeking trouble
and accidentally finding it

He wins
She does not
She gets twenty years,
out after 14 on good behavior
he gets 18 to life

He tries to move on
marries yet another single mother
with two kids
this is the women you will call mom
for too long

You are introduced to your father
by watching him struggle to be everything for everyone
more often than not stretching himself too thin
to you
he is a comic book superhero
he is a timebomb ticking its way to implosion
he is a gentle giant whose leg you run and cling to
he is a tornado in the distance
he is a beaten racehorse, with fight still left in him
he is a suicide teetering on the edge of becoming
he is the skeleton man who starves so you can eat
and you respect, pity, and love him

You are introduced to your mother
through stories told by neighbor kids
to you
she is made of myths
she is sometimes the dragon guarding the castle
she is sometimes Cinderella’s weeping tree
she is sometimes the reason you check under your bed
she is sometimes the teddy bear hold to your chest
as scurrying squirrels in the walls morph into the demons of your nightmares

In reality they are all of these things,
and absolutely none of them

As you grow up
you will meet them again and again
they will take many forms
but eventually,
they will morph from the dragons
and heroes of our childhood
into people

Just two people,
for better or worse,
for richer or poorer,
who brought you into this world
to whom you are tied
in a million little ways
till death

JM Romig
JM Romig
May 13

This machine at work
hisses, pops, and splatter-spits
it is not supposed to
it’s supposed to dispense glue
in a thin string
around the perimeter of the plastic part
but several times a day it does this:

Disengages my autopilot
snaps me out of my waking coma
makes me swap the glue tube
recalibrate the path, press the button once
twice - wait for the beep -
and thrice for good measure
Then back to the scheduled programming
waiting, watching, writing poems
on the side of my skull
like abstract cave paintings
picking dried glue off of the bad parts of yesterday

Yesterday…
I am seven again
making spiderwebs in empty pencil boxes
a forth of Elmer’s
creatively drizzled in the quirky shapes
set inside my cubby hole overnight

I made the best spiderwebs
I was delicate when lifting
the secrets from their chamber
careful not to break the narrow connections
that hold it all together
but quick too,
so that nobody sees it

I didn’t want a teacher to seize it
or the other kids to laugh at me
for having a weird hobby
although, in retrospect, it’s not the oddest thing
I’ve been known for doing -

Hiss-Pop-Spit!
Shit, what’s wrong with you now?

Now…
I’m on my lunch break
sifting through pictures on social media
finding one posted by my sister
of me at age two
doing that thing I do
with my hands

Left thumb pressed into right palm
I do it frequently,
whenever I am excited, or nervous,
or in an argument, or in line for a comic book movie,
or meticulously analyzing song lyrics
I’m a dweeb, don’t I know it?
although, it took me too long to own it

They say that every seven years
you’re a new man
every skin cell, shed
every blood cell – dead
replaced, refreshed

They say the only thing
connecting me to the kid in this image
is a fiction that I tell myself
over and over again

Maybe, that’s true
maybe the only thing holding me
to my past is a thin string of glue
yester-me might’ve found that thought revitalizing
now-me finds it terrifying

What if car accident stole my memories?
Will what I’d become still qualify as me?
Will I still do that thing with my hands?
Will I still fondly pick at dried glue?
Will I still write the way I’ve always written,
without that thin string of experiences behind me
that I’ve learned to call my life?

That’s assuming I will have the itch,
the urge, to write at all –

Hiss-Pop-Spit
Shit, what’s wrong with you now?

JM Romig
JM Romig
Apr 10

Afterward,
I asked “Where to?”
“The beach?” She replied
“Too cold.” I said.
“Fine, whatever. Take me home, I guess.”
She’s too much like you, Annie.

Even now, ten years later,
she still swims in my old hoodie.
The pink and blue butterflies on her fingernails
barely escape the sleeves.

We’re sitting in the sand
she is looking at the water
as if searching for something far out in the distance.

Remember when we babysat
all those years ago?
She stole my hoodie
called it her “Cloak of Invincibility”.
She meant Invisibility, I assume,
because we were watching Harry Potter.
Today, I wish it were a cloak of invincibility.

“Are you going to tell my mom?” She asked.
“No.” I said “But you should.”
I wanted to tell her about what happened in ‘92
about her mother’s battle with depression
after a similar thing happened with her
but that’s your sister’s story to tell
so I did what you always say I should
and let the quiet between us be.

I watched the waves roll in
and crash against the shore.
I noticed heavy grey clouds heading toward us
“It’s going to rain” I said
“Let it.” she replied, with a calm acceptance.
She’s too much like you, Annie.

She’s grown up so much
since the cancer took you from us.
You wouldn’t even recognize her.

She looks nothing like her mother
Or her father, for that matter
She looks
…well, she looks like you,
too much like you.

“Why the beach?” I asked
after a long while of listening to the waves.
“This is where it happened.”
I felt an anger rise up through me
and I was already clenching my fists
before I realized there was no direction
for that aggression to go.

I took a deep belly breath,
like the ones from that yoga class,
and refocused.

“Why come back here?”
“I wanted to see if it felt any different.”
“Does it?”
“…a little.”
More silence.

I watched her writing things in the sand
with a broken stick she found
and then pushing her palm across the words,
wiping the letters into each other,
cleaning the slate,
and again, writing in the sand.

“You know…” She said, finally,
“I was thinking for a while,
about keeping it.
I decided against it, obviously,
but if I had kept it,
if it were a girl,
I would have named her after Aunt Annie."

“I miss her,” I said
"Me too".
The waves kept hitting the shore
and eventually, the rain came.

I drove her home,
she offered to give back my hoodie
“Keep it.” I said, smiling
she shrugged and took it with her.

On the way home,
I drove passed our old house
the new owners are letting the grass grow
too long for my taste.
It seems everything has been growing in your absence.
Except me.

I am All American.
American as Apple Pie
flavored hooka smoke,
candy coated cancersticks,
double bacon cheeseburgers,
bacon vodka,
and quick fix diets.

I am All American.
As American as County Fairs,
as elephant ears, cotton candy,
tractor pulls and country music.
As American as Block Parties,
as ice cream trucks, back yard barbecues,
sidewalk chalk, hip-hop, and hop-scotch

I am All American.
As American as success stories,
montages set to classic rock,
and triumphant underdogs,
as American as ramen noodles for a month straight,
as late rent, as eviction notices, locked doors
and keys that will no longer open them,
as stray dogs begging
for their lives as the city puts them down.

I am All American.
As American as Saturday morning cartoons
and Sunday mass,
as American as mass murder
in Sunday schools,
as Monday morning announcements,
and moments of static silence.

I am All American
As American as booming Silicone Valley
and crumbling Detroit,
as American as the moon landing,
and the trail of tears
as slave-owning freedom fighters,
fathering our nation.

I am All American.
As American as hunger strikes, and hunger pangs,
as American as hope that persists against all odds,
and escape at all costs.

I am All American.
As American as Southern hospitality,
police brutality, colorblindness,
blind spots, and political incorrectness.
As American as trigger warnings,
and trigger fingers.

I am All American.
As American as stop and frisk policies,
as dead children, as grieving mothers,
and white hot guilt
sitting corrosive in an officer's gut.
As American as "I swear to God,
I thought he had a gun."  

I am All American.
As American
as dreadlocks and mullets
as deadbolts and bullets
as fireworks and drone strikes

I am free, and in debt
I am privileged, and left wanting,
I am a patchwork quilt,
made of the world's scraps,
a union divided in more ways
than there are breaths in a lifetime.

Parts of it are ugly,
and you will want to look away
but you should not.

Isn't it beautiful,
how we constantly seem to be
on the verge of falling apart
but somehow manage to hold ourselves together?

I am All American

A Footnote:
http://hellopoetry.com/poem/1681789/footnote-to-all-american-or-in-re-orlando-or-what-the-hell-america/
#social   #blue   #black   #white   #red   #america   #lgbt   #violence   #justice   #cheeseburgers  
 
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