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JM Romig Aug 23
Lee was posted up in in usual spot
back by the stacks,
with his phone on life support.
Its umbilical cord was knotted up like a nest,
and held together by electrical tape.

It sat next to his vape
box and a stack of books
about the GED, twenty-fist century
side hustles and back issues of Ebony.

People come in and out of the library
and everyone says hi to Lee,
He is the man to see,
He asks about their lives and gives sage advice –
How you been, my man?
How’s the kids doin’, girl?
How’s married life treatin’ you, my dude?

My man, you gotta do this.
Babygirl, look into that.
Don’t wear your hat like that,
Boy, ya look silly.

Lee lives in a van
that he parks nearby
so he can job-hunt on the free wifi
even when the place is closed.

If you feel sorry for me, don’t
says Lee
I’m the freest now I’ll ever be,
so, don’t you dare take pity on me
I’m doing all I can do,
being all I can be.

Everything’s  temporary.
Tomorrow I could be you,
you could be me
we’re just one bad day,
one scratch-off lottery ticket away
from swapping places, my man.

Yeah, I live in that van
parked outside the library
but if you think I’m sad,
you’re thinking wrong,

Won’t see me moping, or doping
floating along
you won’t see me frowning,
or drowning,
singing a sad song.

I’m happy with all that I got
who wouldn’t wanna be in my spot,
I’m The King
of the Library Parking Lot.
*Disclaimer: Lee is a fictional character. Any resemblance he may have to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Apr 27 · 915
THE CHANCES
JM Romig Apr 27
Scraping off
The smiling Santa Claus faces
Dim hope fading
With each metallic fleck
Flicked onto the kitchen floor

Yet, she will buy more
Always more
And always the same numbers
On the gas station tickets
She buys with a bag of chips

And gas-station humus
With gas-station pop,
In a gas-station cup -
Too large to hold in one hand -
That she fills to the brim

With hope
She never lets herself
Get to empty
She fills her soul with
Perpetual certainty
That one day, she’s gotta win
She’s just gotta

So she plays the game
Plays the odds
Fills her cup
Fills up her tank

Drives to two, three, four
Thankless jobs
And never lets her soul
Get to empty

She’s just gotta win
Fate has gotta give in
To her sheer ambition,

She knows it in her bones
Maybe not this time,
or next time
…or the time after

But soon
…definitely soon
Dedicated to my Mother In Law
Jun 2018 · 300
Howard Street
JM Romig Jun 2018
Mid-April in northeast Ohio.
She’s bitter at the cold,
for overstaying its welcome.

The snow obscures the line
between the sidewalk
and the Devil’s Strip.

There’s a long line
of determined footprints
punched into the snow behind her.

Halfway through a song and a cigarette,
the CD skips -
figures.

These library disks never play for ****.
She ***** her fist
and whacks her Walkman.

Across the street,
in a wifebeater and sweatpants,
he people-watches from his front porch.

Sipping ***** and orange juice
from a chipped mug -
World’s Greatest Dad.

In his driveway sits a ‘97 Cavalier
with a plastic wrap passenger window
he’s hoping holds up to the wind.

Will this ever stop?
he says to himself, toward the falling snow.
A passerby might think he meant the weather.

Next door, she’s been up all night
with her newborn tornado siren
fruitlessly singing lullabies off key.

Six cups of coffee
keep her from collapsing
into a pile of ***** laundry.

She thinks about herself as a kid.
Thinks about how she used to like to
walk with her eyes closed.

How she used to like the thrill of it
the uncertainty and doubt of it.
This is like that. She tells herself.

She almost believes it.
from Everything Defenestrated
Mar 2018 · 605
The Ballad of Dirtbag Dan
JM Romig Mar 2018
If you were online, way back when
sometime around two-thousand ten
on message boards for every scene
you may recall this silly meme

I jpeg of a young white man
with spiked blond hair and a spray tan
bejeweled teeth, and a smug-*** smile
dressed like an extra cut from 8 Mile

There is disgust in the eyes
of the woman by his side
who’s shoulder
he’s got his arm draped over

“Dirtbag Dan” the internet dubbed him
with text imposed below and above him
jeers about his scummy features -
collective criticism of creepy creatures

But here’s a tale you may not believe
Dirtbag Dan’s real name was Steve
and that picture was from New Years Eve
in two thousand three

See, Steve didn’t usually dress like that
but he was trying to impress Cat -
this girl he’d crushed on since grade school
and he thought this made him look cool

Cat came with him to that party
but she left soon after,
      with this guy named Marty
and so Steve got blackout drunk, as one does
when they’ve lost the game of love

Hung over a toilet, the next day
Steve vowed to change his ways
and ten years passed in the blink of an eye
Steve was now an employed, married, stand-up guy

While killing time, at his desk at work
he stumbled on this pic of a ****
at a party, in two thousand and three
and thinks “oh ****…that’s me!”

His workmates saw the pic as well
and gave Steve a lot of hell
this snapshot he thought was in his past
had really come back to bite him

Steve tried to fight the spread
but the damage was done
       his character, shred
thus began Steve’s downward spiral
when Dirtbag Dan went viral

He won a court case for defamation
but that didn’t do much for his reputation
he started drinking, his wife left, and he lost his job
there were rumors spread about him owing
         money to the mob?

The last time Steve was spotted in the wild
was at a Con, autographing the portrait for a child
a truly cringe-worthy scene
a man whose life was ruined by a meme
part of my # series - poems about the social internet and us
Jun 2017 · 583
Five S
JM Romig Jun 2017
Sort through it all
a box for the good
a bin for the bad.

Set the boxes in order
in a safe space
on a high shelf
in the back room,
in a spot you will remember
for when you need to remember.

Make your space Shine
sweep the dirt away
replace what is broken
scrub the years off of what isn’t

Standardize this practice:
Every day find a way
to sort, set, and shine.
This is how you Sustain yourself.
There's a practice in factories called "Five S" which is this whole thing for keeping your workstation tidy. I always felt like it sounded like some guided meditation health guru mantra.
Feb 2017 · 562
Like, Noonish
JM Romig Feb 2017
She's sitting in a nearby booth
telling her friends a story.
She says

"It was mid-day.
Like, noon.
Like, the sun was, like,
directly above us"

I was on my way out,
so I did not catch the rest
but I secretly imagine it sounded like this:

"We were, like. almost exactly half way through,
like this twenty-four-hour period.
It was the opposite of, like, midnight -
like, the opposite of crickets, gazing at stars
and contemplating the utter insignificance of,
like, all life on this planet."

"It was all, like, birds chirping, and like,
one single star in a blue sky,
so close and so bright that gazing at it would, like,
blind you or something."

"It was like this pure moment,
like, a rush of endorphins, or adrenaline.
like there was nothing
that mattered more
than the two of us,
there,
then,
like, around twelve P-M, to be specific"

"It was, like, you know, lunch time.
So I asked if they, like,
wanted to hang out,
grab something to eat, maybe,
or maybe, like,
you know, do something else
or whatever..."
Apr 2016 · 3.2k
Mid October, By The Lake
JM Romig Apr 2016
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.

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,
we were watching Harry Potter.
Today, I wish it were the former.

“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.

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.
The spitting image.

“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,
and refocused.

“Why come back here?”
“to see if it felt 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.
if I had,
if it were a girl,
I would have named it after her."
she didn't have to say your name out loud
for me to know
“I miss her,” she added

"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.
May 2015 · 866
Another Toast
JM Romig May 2015
To poetry
guarding chickens
and chronicling crisis in Cleveland

To poetry
fighting back sleep
in a factory of miscarried dreams

To poetry
fighting for justice
with hashtags and cameraphones

To poetry in caves
gathering people like fire

To poetry in Halls
gathering children like home

To poetry
that is loud and activating,

To poetry
that is quiet and contemplative,

To poetry
that is honest and brutal

To poetry
that is tongue in cheek

To poetry,
in all shapes, colors, sizes
forms and meters

To poetry,
and to all of us
who are full of it
JM Romig Apr 2015
everybody’s angel bodies
find happening midnight
on Kansas pavements
hipsters’ motherwords are wholely robed by time
instant everything is ordinary
buggered city  immortals --
annoyed, parentless, marijuana everymans
swiftly digging unknown eternity
groaning strange in the long mysterious night
roaring, vibrating kindness
from their holy tongues
blazing inner hideous human gold
draining ***** forever
draining everything
forever -
Moloch, Buddha, Abyss
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Mostly a Cutup from "Daydreaming of Ginsberg" by Jack Kerouac, and "Footnote to Howl" by Allen Ginsberg. NaPoWriMo 2015

To make sense of it, imagine its explaining the modern world to the beat generation in their own language.
JM Romig Apr 2015
Old gentle vague dark sea
stars uncoffined above
my drummer grave
blind of age,
meet Mr. Numb Feelgood
he is dying - chasing smoke,  
following a blind parade
wanderin’ anywhere forked like Yes
at every dusty, homely, strange-eyed landmark
until driven deep down dead

Dear old diamonds,
my sleepy southern song spell fades ,
my past was a young clown
dancing, swingin' my magic heels
raging and cursing death’s grip on time

Now, I feel that morning’s fierce burn
vanishing into a tambourine memory
and I’m caught madly dreaming
against the ragged anywhere
to return green tomorrow
This poem was composed primarily from words found in Bob Dylan's "Tambourine Man", Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night", and Thomas Hardy's Drummer Hodge

NaPoWriMo
JM Romig Apr 2015
Across the court yard
The amorous twentysomethings
Open their window for the first time

They let the sun shine in -
They do not believe in curtains -
They let the sunshine in

He is Adonis
She is Mona Lisa
I hate them so much

It’s five in the morning
Our child screams us awake
Meanwhile, they sleep until noon

Passing by the window
I glimpse at the lovers entwined
“Not tonight” you yawn

Our friends are laughing
About what, we cannot tell
All we see is their love

He brings her breakfast in bed
Maybe it’s a birthday present? I suggest
Or he ******* up, bigtime - you reply cynically

They’ve become background noise
Only witnessed in passing
Or referenced in our idle conversation

A few weeks have passed
Their room is empty and still
We almost forget they were ever there

She sits on her bed and stares at nothing
She has not moved for hours –
A lonely still life

Adonis is waning
His eyes are sinking, and he’s losing hair
He’s become a walking skeleton

He does not move much these days
All of the time, she waits by his side
For whatever comes next

I keep telling you
That he will soon recover
I have to believe this

He's sitting up today
Telling jokes and laughing,
She's cracking that famous smile

The room is now full
With what must be family and friends
Saying their goodbyes

She is being cradled
by, I think, her mother – or aunt
We weep along

The guests are now long gone
The silence settles like dust
She holds his hand while he fades

Soon, it will be just her (and us)
Left in this quiet room
Alone
napowrimo2015  8/30
Apr 2015 · 2.2k
Brothers (4-7/30)
JM Romig Apr 2015
I
The phone was screaming in my pocket
its voice was muffled by the pile of clothes
on top of it

The hotel water was almost too hot
it blushed my scalp
and cascaded down my face
in a way that should have felt like baptism
but didn't

After what felt like an eternity
the call went to the black hole
that is my neglected voicemail
now at over a hundred missed calls

I didn’t want to talk
not to Dad, not to Mom,
not to my fiancé,
and definitely not to some reporter
trying to make our ****** up family
the topic of the nine o’clock news

II
The pipes in the wall
clunked around for a second
as I turned the ****, cutting the water off
I stepped out of the shower
somehow feeling less clean than when I entered

For a moment I stood there,
towel over my head
in complete darkness

I closed my eyes and saw him
standing across from me
his eyes, locked with mine
dad’s gun in his shaking hands -
pointed directly at my head
unblinking, full of hatred, anger
and fear

They’ll call him a monster
and knowing what he’s done,
I won’t be able to say they’re wrong

III
Sympathizers will say that the divorce
messed him up somehow
or that he inherited our mother’s mental illness
or that he played too many first person shooters –
which is just ******* stupid

Lying on the hotel bed,
I nakedly examined the ceiling
mapping out the distance between water stains
like a cartographer

The last time he called me
he was in tears,
because some ****** from his school
beat him to a pulp
and shoved his face in dog ****

I can’t help but dwell
on something I said to him that night:

“People like that don’t change
they become ******* adults
and keep kicking people around
because they can
Because they’re rich and we’re poor
and they don’t want to see people like us
we remind them that the world isn't perfect
and doesn't revolve around them”


I don’t want to believe
that I planted the seed,
that the one time he listened to me –

IV
Six people died
most of them, kids no older than seventeen
one teacher, and a janitor - tagged by a stray bullet
two kids have been in critical condition
for the last three days

He must have been terrified
in those last moments
before the cops riddled him with holes

He must have regretted it
or at least regretted
not having an escape plan

He never did think things through
unlike me,
connecting the countries on the ceiling
drawing imaginary lines
of cause and effect
and trying to figure out what it means
to be a big brother
in the absence of a little one
Napowrimo 4-7
Apr 2015 · 658
Incongruent (3/30)
JM Romig Apr 2015
The still quiet of the empty apartment
serves to only echo the steady tapping
of rainwater dripping onto the concrete
just outside the window

Everything feels like it should be painted
by Picasso, during his blue period
in various shades of the clam, but icy color

The fact that it isn't
gives the soul a sense of nervous
displacement. All of these commonplace
colors and shapes feel foreign and surreal

The world seems like it should be frozen
in both the sense of stillness and temperature
but it’s not

A warm breeze is moving the bland, beige curtains
and that is more terrifying than any monster
that has never hidden under your bed

The rainwater still drips, and echoes
and nothing is wrong, out of place, or eerie
except that it should be

and so it is
napowrimo 2015
Jan 2015 · 413
Two Hours Till Kentucky
JM Romig Jan 2015
Two hours till Kentucky-
The world is on fast-forward around us
The side of my forehead is flat
against the passenger side window
Trees crowd behind guardrail for miles - 
protesting highway pollution.

Two hours till Kentucky -
On the eighth round about this CD.
about around the fifth listen, songs began to blend into one another, morphing into ambient noise
that filled the empty moments between conversation
and the struggle against waves of tempting sleep.

Two hours till Kentucky-
I pause the song to explain
the biographical significance
of a particular lyric.
You're too focused on
the nerve-wracking traffic to indulge me.

Two hours till Kenricky-
My seat reclined, I am watching the clouds
creeping briskly across the sky
through the panorama of the windshield -
a silent movie.

Two hours till Kentucky -
an eternity of moments
gone as soon as they happen.
Evaporating into the air

We'll be there
in no time.
Dec 2014 · 757
Return To The Breakwall
JM Romig Dec 2014
Meet me, once again, at the breakwall
where we will spend time sitting
reminiscing about times we spent wishing
on a sinking star for more time to spend.

Let’s go fishing for our selves
in snapshots of past lives
and see if we can find,
in this murky water of nostalgia,
some kind of definition.

We will quest forth, finding more questions
than answers, and accepting them
with a peaceful resignation
we could never have in our raging youth.

I’d talk about how
we used to debate
with our words
carved into primitive weapons
for savage discussion -

To win arguments with each other
doing battle for days
not realizing that language
was not evolved for the purpose of combat
but rather, the opposite.

We’d watch the waves wash ashore
all the places and people we’d been
all the bits and pieces of past tragedies
will lay before us
like a thousand-year-old shipwreck.

We will laugh together
the way you do,
when you see the heavy black clouds
storming off toward a distant somewhere
and they seem smaller somehow
less frightening.

You’d say something about how
we were the most obsessed with our mortality
when we were furthest from ever facing it.

And we’ll sit there for a while
just thinking about that.
JM Romig 2014
JM Romig May 2014
Church bells.
That's my first memory.
Waking up to the sound of church bells
with a rawness in my throat
and stiffness in my cheeks
that could only come
from crying myself to sleep the night before

The sun is leaking through the window binds,
painting the entire room this muted sepia
corraling much of the sunlight into a few distilled beams
that spotlight dust and dead skin
waltzing in the air

I haven't the faintest clue about what
or why I'd been crying -
just laying there
overwhelmed with great relief
like a mausoleum was lifted from my chest
and I was taking my first breath in months

I want to say it was a Sunday
I always want to say it with conviction
but that might just be the church bells
which I've heard
ring every day
May 2014 · 756
More 21st Century Haiku
JM Romig May 2014
be still - do not blink
I can’t wait to remember
this moment with you

one hundred kids drown -
Community is canceled-
what a sad world!

face lit by the screen
empty head, so full of thought
digging for some truth

aimlessly driving
through a beautiful landscape
made ugly by roads
May 2014 · 437
Worldeater
JM Romig May 2014
This morning,
I swallowed the entirety of everything,
swallowed it in one swift gulp.
washed it down with a tall glass of Milky Way.
I was ready to greet the day,

But everything gave me gas
that (knotted up inside me) sang
so I let it out with a big bang --

and watched the particles disperse
to form themselves into a universe
with me at the center -
on my throne,
self-appointed king of this nonsense poem
Apr 2014 · 803
21st Century Haiku Part IV
JM Romig Apr 2014
huh, what time is it?
phone slips back into pocket
huh, what time is it?

a bear with regret
making its bold confessions
from behind a meme

life in the future:
computer in my glasses
yet still no jetpacks

ancestors hunted
only ate what they could ****
now we have WalMart

flowers were once wild
bananas used to have seeds
- how we shape the world
NaPoWriMo 28/30
Apr 2014 · 1.5k
21st Century Haiku Part III
JM Romig Apr 2014
summer in the park
kids hopscotching on pavement
dad checking email

the oldest known song
carved on a lover's tombstone
- “pretty much YOLO”

digital tombstone
her face no longer ages
she is immortal

relaxed at the beach
at home - panicking mother
phone dwells in the lake

so long out of touch
childhood friends reunited
- thank god for Tinder!
Napowrimo 27/30
JM Romig Apr 2014
hiding in plain sight
a moonflower in full bloom
gotta share this -click-

hey there, i am a
buddhist existentialist
ask me anything

the little bird shouts
in a sea of other birds
all we hear is -tweet-

the oldest known song
carved on a lover's tombstone
- pretty much YOLO
NaPoWriMo 26/30
Apr 2014 · 1.1k
Ursa Somniculosa
JM Romig Apr 2014
High up on the far back wall
in the back of the factory
where I sell my free time
is a constellation of dirt, chipped paint
and cobwebs
forming the shape
of a bear
lounging in a hammock

I have coworkers who insist
that it's a monkey,
trapped in a net
but they are wrong.
It's clearly a bear

Ursa Somniculosa,
or, as the layman may call it
the Little Napper

No matter where I am on the floor,
I can see him hanging there in his hammock
enjoying his perpetual vacation
maybe sipping on a nice tall beer
soaking up the sun -

not being a trapped monkey
like all of us down here
NaPoWriMo 24
JM Romig Apr 2014
The bumper sticker
On the red jeep in front of me
Orders all who see it
to "Be happy"

Challenge accepted, stranger,
Challenge accepted.
NaPoWriMo 23/30
Apr 2014 · 819
Rain, Man
JM Romig Apr 2014
He pairs kinds of rain with kinds of jazz
like some folks do with wine and cheese.

He says a thunderstorm goes best with bebop
Especially if you can time the record just right
for the drums to explode just as the sky does

He says free jazz is for those unpredictable days,
where the rain keeps coming,
but will ebb and flow at it's own pace

He says a light Sunday drizzle is the perfect time
to pull out Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool,
and sip slowly on the moment

I think he may be a synesthete.
NaPoWriMo 21/30
Apr 2014 · 18.7k
Sunday
JM Romig Apr 2014
The way Sunday sits in its secret hideaway paradise
at the end of the week
It's legs carelessly kicking at the lake,
with wet bare feet
making concentric circles in the water with its toes

That's how you make me feel.
NaPoWriMo 20/30
Apr 2014 · 549
NaPo 17 and 18
JM Romig Apr 2014
17/30
long walk through a park
an abandoned swing set sits
waiting just for you

18/30
thump-thump-thump-thump
woosh-click-click-beep-thump-woosh-thu­mp
broken radio
NaPo 17/18
Apr 2014 · 658
Status Update 4/16/2014
JM Romig Apr 2014
Elliot Morgan finally addressed his departure from SourceFed. I wasn't surprised when he cited Childish Gambino as his inspiration for moving on and trying something else.

I, myself, have been thinking a lot on Donald Glover's message. He said something in an interview I saw recently about how we live in a new kind of economy where technology enables us to bypass the middle man and just make things. He said something like "people need to stop asking permission to create".

Those who become our generations well respected creators/artists/etc are not the ones who climbed some kind of ladder and landed some internship. They are the ones who bought a HD camera, or got some freeware screenwriting software and just started making ****, putting it out there - putting themselves out there. It's a DIY generation. The line between consumer and entertainer is growing ever and ever thinner. I see it everywhere now. Everyone I watch on youtube influences each other. They listen to the same music as I do, and are consumers of the same media. They are fans who chose to not ask permission.

We are eachother's entertainment, which means we live in a time, now more than ever, that we can just do - self-publish, self-produce, self-promote. Your peers are creators and consumers too. The only thing holding us back is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of change.

Sometimes I think about these things. I think about people like Donald Glover, John and Hank Green, Elliot Morgan, etc. I think to myself - Where do I fit in all of this? Am I bold enough to say **** it all, give up on the sure thing that is my factory gig and throw 8 hours a day into writing and performing - being a full time artist and waking up every day genuinely excited about my life?

I think about it. But I don't want to risk it. I don't want to quit and come home to Danielle with nothing but a dream and promise her it's something we can eat, eventually. This job pays bills. It all that's telling the world that I'm anything close to a responsible adult. It's all that's telling me that I'm anything close to a responsible adult.

Why is it not enough? It's enough for plenty of my coworkers. It's enough for most people, actually. Hell, it's easy work and no fiberglass. A rustbelt dreamjob. But It's not enough for me. Why? Am I just selfish? Am I just an entitled ******* twentysomething suffering from special snowflake syndrome? I hate the dichotomy of life. I hate the push and pull of my inner Romantic and Cynic. I hate that no matter how much I type here right now, there is only one logical way for this morning to end, and that's with me driving the hour to Mentor, and me tapping those buttons that symbolize the packing away of my other life, of meaningful work. And the start to the long work day.

1-4-6-5-9
NaPoWriMo 16 (does this count? Prose poetry is a thing. Sure. It'll count.)
Apr 2014 · 795
Dear Winter
JM Romig Apr 2014
It's not you, It's me.
No - you know what, it IS you.

You can't keep coming around like this.
It was okay at first, but we had our fun,
had a couple snowball fights, and hot coco nights
but you and I both know it's run it's course.
We're over.
In fact, honestly, you overstayed your welcome this time.

What do I mean?
I mean, you're cold, you're bitter, your relentless and pushy.
I couldn't take it anymore.
And when you coming back like this every other week, honestly,
It makes me consider moving.
You're like a stalker.

Oh her? Yeah, that's my new season.
She's nice, warm, and beautiful.
But she's shy,
she's not going to come back out until you leave.
So, you should go.

Look maybe we can try this again
In a year or so - maybe.
Just give me some time.

I don't miss you yet.
NaPoWriMo 15
Apr 2014 · 3.4k
Hospice
JM Romig Apr 2014
Her eyes are so deep set now
that in a certain light
they are just holes in her face

She is so thin now
from the chemotherapy
her skin seems little more than
an empty balloon stretched over her skeleton
and tied off at the scalp,
to keep what’s left of her from falling out

She shakes so bad now
that she needs assistance
to cease the drought
on the jagged landscape of her lips

Now, her days are spent
in an endless sleep
punctuated by a waking sleep
in which she does a lot of staring at walls
and vomiting

That waking sleep, or living nightmare,
is itself punctuated by the occasional friend
come to mourn at the gravemarker
that is her hospital bed
She now has sympathy for the zombie
knowing what it’s like to be dead
and alive at the same time

She thinks, if she had the energy,
she might bite people too
just to remind them
that she’s still here
NaPoWriMo 14
JM Romig Apr 2014
I hear a voice of a guitar -
the cords to an Irish jig -
Whisky in the Jar.
I stand there a moment
listening hard and rocking softly.

I am not sure if it’s just the weight of winter
finally melting off my shoulders,
or if there's something deeper,
something spiritual happening here.

I take a nice long breath of the Ohio air,
feeling relief, release, and repair.
NaPoWriMo 12
Apr 2014 · 752
On Meeting Ted Kooser
JM Romig Apr 2014
He sat there behind the table,
with his glasses sitting on his nose,
and his skin sitting on his bones - both loosely,
the way you’d expect someone to sit
after 75 years of good, but hard, living.

“The trick is-” he said
deliberately pausing to shift the weight of the sentence
toward the upcoming words
“you have to wipe away all the things you don't want to see."
He said this as he scribbled his name
inside my new copy of his old book
smiling in that gentle old man way.

I scampered away like a schoolboy
feeling like an idiot
having rambled at him
in my best impression of a scholar
- like a kid wearing his dad’s oversized suit.

I talked at him about
how well he captures a moment in poetry
like this former US Poet Laureate
wasn’t aware of his talent
and I was somehow the first
delivering the good news.

As I wander the campus,
having escaped my embarrassment
I think back to a poem he read tonight
about watching an old couple sharing a sandwich.
It was an ode to love,
an image you can see in any sit down restaurant,
literally anywhere in America.
He focused in on this couple,
in this diner
at this moment
apart from time, like a moving still life
forever framed by his words.

He wiped away the screaming kid
and its overwhelmed mother in the booth to the left,
the table of teenagers playing hooky to their right,
and the underpaid twnetysomething waitress
who clearly didn’t want to be there anyway.

He wiped away all of that distraction
and unearthed this beautiful moment
this pure example of true love-
A sandwich cut from corner to corner
by the shaking hands of a man
whose glasses sit upon his face
and skin upon his bones
all the way you expect a man to
with woman he’s loved for forty years
with whom he shares everything.

I think about the moments I have missed
the poems never writ
because I was staring at the waitress,
who clearly didn’t want to be there anyway.
NaPoWriMo 11
JM Romig Apr 2014
That moment when
you're browsing sifting and shifting through tabs -
Reddit, Facebook, Kent.edu
and Hulu.  

That Googling you do  
of the poet who  
is reading on Campus tonight.  

That poking you've been meaning to do  
aorund the Poetry center's page  
but put off for days and days  
years and years.  

That sudden realization,  
Graduation, running at your face like a brick wall  
means these applications  
aren't any longer applicable  

That missed opertunity.  
That *** -  
planted on its couch  
feels like its about to grow roots.

Them feels -  
knowing that you ****** up,  
knowing that you had worlds of oportunity at your fingertips -  
you just weren't looking in the right direction -
  
Neck-cricked down at your cell phone-  
neck-cricked 180 degrees  
in the direction of Ashtabula -  
neck locked -
staring up at the specked lights,  
starring that blackness of a Notheast Ohio night sky.  
Allowing yourself to be swollowed by it.  

That motivation,  
That looking at demotivationals  
and image macro memes won't give you.  

That Advice Duck  
This Confession Bear.  
That Instant Gratification Monkey -  
needs a bullethole in it's forehead 

That deep breath  
before easing down the laptop screen  
putting away childish things -  
and facing the day.
NaPoWriMo 10/30
JM Romig Apr 2014
Drifting
somewhere between sleeping
and waking life

Dipping
in and out of the fuzzy lake
of my subconcious mind

Straining
to keep myself on the surface -
losing grip, (here i go again)

Waves a blue and white
painted like the sky in that Van Gogh
Starry Night.

Paintied in thick blue tears
and yellow splocthes of infinity.

Snoring
snaps me back
to barely awake.

Tripping
up the stairs
I make my way to my bed,
Wrap my arms about my Love
and let myself fall into
Van Gogh's heavy tears
napowrimo 9
Apr 2014 · 704
A Moment of Clarity
JM Romig Apr 2014
A Moment of Clarity

She was a haggish looking old woman
Liver spots all up and down her arms
what’s left of her thin white hair
seemed to be knotted more often than not
and she was missing most of her teeth,
lost long ago, somewhere in the either
with most of her memories.
He was here on community service
for breaking into a stranger’s car
and stealing the change from the cupholder.
He didn’t like to spend time with her
because she was basically senile.
She blabbered on and on
about someone named Malcom
and their ***** *** dungeon.

She’d make awkward advances toward him.
Calling him her “sweet Malcom”
and begging him to get the paddle out -
cause she’d been a naughty girl.
The boy would shiver at the thought
and suggest they play scrabble instead.
Other times she
she didn’t know where or when she was,.
and she’d throw fits, pushing and hitting him,
yelling racist slurs, and demanding he leave
“I’m not going to let you touch me again
Never again, you monster. You evil ****** ******”
She’d scream.
He kind of felt sad for her.
But that didn’t stop him from asking
to be transferred to a different room.
They said they couldn’t do it.
Not unless someone else wanted to trade
no one did.

One night he came to visit,
and she was oddly calm
staring out of her the window
toward the man-made pond
at the center of the property.
“I’m sorry.”
her eyes, still fixed on the pond
“you may not believe it to look at me now.
But I was once a stone cold fox.
I could have any man I wanted.
I grew up believing it was all I had to offer the world.”
He could swear he saw the age
melt off of her as she spoke,
revealing blemish-free skin.

“Malcom was my manager,
and my sometimes lover.
Life was good, in the oldest profession.
At least, until one client we had went too far.”
He could swear he saw her cataracts clearing up
and her sea-green eyes began to show through.
“Some ****, some boy pretending to be a man.
Not a good man.
Not like you are,
or I thought Malcom was.
He took something from me that night.
I couldn’t work again.
Not without seeing him in every black face
that paid to *** inside of me.”
Her hair went from sparse and flat, to buoyant and red.
Her skin seemed to get what little color it used to have back.

“So, I quit.
Got a waitressing job.
Put it all behind me.
Malcom, the money, the *******.
All of it.
Behind me, I thought.
Packed away years ago.”
She slowly turned her head
her eyes locked with the boy’s.
“I relive it every day now.
This ******* disease is eating
all the good parts of my mind and
leaving the trash behind.
I can’t remember my own daughter’s name
But I remember Malcom.
I can’t recall my any birthday I’ve ever had
But that night.
I live it every day.”

She begins to rapidly age again,
liverspots return
her eyes fog up
her skin goes saggy once more.
“I’m sorry”
she whispers in her now frail,
faint distant voice.

The boy watched the woman lay back
and slowly drift off into a peaceful
forever kind of sleep
He thought to himself:
“I should really stop doing mushrooms.”
napowrimo  7
Apr 2014 · 432
Counting Stars
JM Romig Apr 2014
When she was little,
she tried to count the stars,
lost track at 236,
and started over.
This has been a recurring trend
throughout her entire life.

She would search for four leaf clovers
not because she believed in luck
just for the challenge of it,
like hunting for needles in haystacks
just because – why not?

She loved to challenge of impossible tasks.
She was never angry with herself
when she failed -
because she wasn't stupid
she knew what impossible meant.

But every time she did find a lucky clover
or counted even just one star more than last time
she’d smile to herself,
having beaten the impossible.

All she wanted was
proof that she isn't doomed to fate -
proof that she is more
than a infinitely tiny speck of carbon
living on a mite larger speck of carbon
floating in a vast sea
full of impossibly massive specks of carbon
that too, are infinately tiny
when compared to the sea,
in which we all swim.

So when she made it her mission
to steal this boy’s heart
it wasn’t about love.
Not that she was intentionally cruel.
Just that she didn't see the world that way.

It was the fact that he was so distant,
so out of her reach,
like the incountable stars
hanging above her head
every night
taunting her.
She couldn’t help herself –
she had to try.

She took her victory
and his virginity
in the back of a Dodge Neon
parked in the shadow of an abandoned factory
on a dead end street.

Afterwards, they sat on the roof of her car.
With eyes soaked in that teenage sappy first-time kind of love,
he gazed upon her glory,
like she was some sort of angel
sent to save him.

She was too busy counting the stars to notice.
napowrimo 6/30
Apr 2014 · 806
Here Be Monsters
JM Romig Apr 2014
From the prompt: The End Of Monsters

“Nobody asks why the chimera needs killing.
It’s a lone thing – a wrongness,
a distortion wandering in from elsewhere
burning the straight plowed fields of us”
- E. Rose Sims (On Cartography and Dissection)

He took his vorpol sword in hand
and with it, slayed the last Jabberwock.
Claimed its head, and placed it on a mantel,
in between Grendel’s arm, and the Minotaur’s horn -
Trophies of his conquests.

He told himself that he was making the world safer.
Still, that didn’t stop the nightmares.
The memories of the screams let out by the faun
as he plunged his dagger into its neck.

The way the chimera begged to be spared,
in is best human accent, before he thought to cut out its tongue:
“Please, no ****. Who will look for my family?”
“No mercy, not in this world.” He tells himself.
“Monsters need to be killed.”

He told himself that he was the great Dragonslayer.
The adventurer.
Eliminating the native threats
so that his people can safely claim the land.

Now that his deed is done,
the final monster, slain.
Our hero hangs his vorpol sword up on the wall.

Yet, he lies awake at night
unable to sleep,
he stares up at the stars.

He dwells on a bone chilling thought -
that maybe somewhere in a distant land
there is a map being made of his home town
and some undiscovered other
has labeled it -
“Here Be Monsters”.
NaPoWriMo 5
JM Romig Apr 2014
I wrote a poem.
A long, healthy, glorious poem.
It started as a tingle in my gut.
The longer I ignored it, the angrier it got.
Until I could not hold it in any longer.
So I sat down.
I worked it out-
I stressed and pushed myself
harder and harder
until finally -
Release.
Catharsis.
Expelled out of me and into existence.
I looked down at my newborn poem
and became overwhelmed by a putrid sense of shame -
It was ****.
I flushed it.
"It's April."
I tell myself.
"They can't all be winners."
Because NaPoWriMo...
Apr 2014 · 1.5k
CD skipping along Route 11
JM Romig Apr 2014
It's long drive on this highway
The window creaks its jagged way down
I breathe in the new air
for the first time in months

George Watsky is building
his Cardboard Castles in my stereo
On repeat-

I think of Emerson
On repeat-
Skip-
On repeat-
I think -
I feel like his transparent eyeball
Repeat-
His eyeball-
I  begin to understand
what has always seemed
a clumsy metaphor

I begin to feel -
one with everything
Skip-
everyone is love
Repeat
Love
Every-Everyone is me
And you
Skip-
Everyone is all I need.
Repeat
I am all I need
And you -

I don't need anything
Except for -
-more road
-more time
-more gas

the CD starts skip-skip words
Hopping - lines
Reminding me
Of finite fuel
Repeat-
finite time
with work looming just hours away
Repeat-
death, just decades away

Then, as if responding to my overturned thoughts
My ****** speakers belt out:

Hey ******* -
The sun is shining
NaPoWriMo
Mar 2014 · 965
To Do List
JM Romig Mar 2014
Wake up earlier

Spend less time online
Spend more time outside
Every day, do something that scares you

Take more deep breaths
Realize you can't control certain things
Dance naked to 90s music when no one else is home

Meet new people
Meet old people – they have better stories
Listen to more people's stories
Learn to see things from different angles
Learn to look for Better Angels

Walk more
Drink more water
Drink less caffeine
Don't leave the coffeepot on when you leave the house
Be more aware of your bad habits
Be more patient with others' bad habits

Seek something every day
- even if you don't find what you're looking for,
at least you won't have wasted the day

Don't start smoking – despite what you may have heard
about what it does for stress
Worry less -
about what you can change
Change what you can
Stop writing cliches

Stop blaming your inaction on your home town
or your parents
or your emotional instability
Take responsibility for your inaction

Read more often –
you have books you haven't touched, ever
Write by the water –
the white noise of river helps you think

Return more favors –
people have been kind to you
Be kind to more people

Don't small talk –
small talk is for small minds
Don't ruin a good conversation by talking too much
Make something every day
(art, love, decisions, etc)

Go to bed earlier
Jan 2014 · 993
Texts From Last Night 1
JM Romig Jan 2014
if the world was ending in 7 days -
nobody else knows it
but there's nothing anyone can do to stop it
how do you want to spend your last week on earth?

***?! Who is this?

sorry [sadface emoji]

...
I'd go looting.
break into stores, steal TVs, printers,
whatev I can get my hands on

why?
i mean, what's the point?

The **** of it.
Never been looting before
You?

nope, never been looting.

I meant, what would you do with your last week?

i dunno
that's why i'm taking suggestions
Jan 2014 · 460
Portrait 4
JM Romig Jan 2014
Her forehead is planted against the glass
window of her school bus
her curly black hair
tied to false extensions, and pulled back into a pony-tail

The rain beats against the bus window
there's almost a rhythm to it
the chatter of the bus populace being almost lyrics
and the engine being almost the passionate guitar
this morning is almost a song

Bright pink ear-buds separate her
from the almost music

She looks like she's staring at something
that dimly glows off in the distance
it's something she knows she can never have
Jan 2014 · 939
The Wood Knife
JM Romig Jan 2014
I found the wood knife today
it was shoved in the box
squeezed between the wall and a stack of half-used notebooks.

I grabbed it by its rope-
still strung through the hole in the center of the blade -
played with the wood disks and tiny beads that dangle from both sides.

I held it up by the hilt,
the metal ring clinked against the wood disks - imprisoned.

Grandma made these puzzles out of found objects all the time -
Contrpations that were usually a clever a mess of metal and wood.
All based on designs created before electricity was a thing.
The knife was the sole survivor from a box of flood damaged puzzles
    
Smiling to myself, I held the knife behind my back, in my right hand.

"Sometimes, I wish you never even had kids"
I still recall her words to my mother
as I tip the knife and slip the ring down to the base of the blade
"Write?! Josh that's a hobby! You're twenty, what are you going to do for a living?"

I push one disk through the hole with my thumb
"What if you get this girl your with pregnant? Then what?"
I bring the metal ring up and over the tip of the blade by tilting it downwards.

"If your father had done a better job raising you, we wouldn't be having this talk"
with a flick of my wrist, I fling the metal ring
though the hole and off of the knife.

It's been four years.
I still remember how it goes.
Muscle memory, I guess.
Engrained in my mind from years of practice.

Sometimes I think of her,
and I wonder if I miss her
or if that's just muscle memory too.
Dec 2013 · 639
In Some Knia?
JM Romig Dec 2013
go to sleep
godless heap -
goddess leap
...gotta sleep

It's 2am,
for Siddartha's sake,
you ain't gonna find zen
at the other end of this computer screen.
******, I mean -

No creative dam is gonna break open tonight
(this morning)
you're all stopped up, or drained
so just stop drying.

Seriously, quit diddling with your self
doing that horrid poemry
(po-mory? poor-merry? potpourri? poopoory?)

just fu-cking
go
     to                                     (*******)
         sleep.
Nov 2013 · 643
When The Light Sparkles
JM Romig Nov 2013
When the light sparkles  
Off of the dust in the air
I understand faith.
Copyright © 2011 J.M. Romig. All rights reserved.
Nov 2013 · 467
dear reader
JM Romig Nov 2013
Dear Reader,
Run away.
Run as far as you can.

Board up windows.
Burn all your books,
dear reader.

I am poetry.
I will **** you.
You will let me.

Run.
Run far away,
Tear off your rearveiw,
Just go!

Or don't.
It's too late for you anyway.
I'm already eating you
From the inside out,
dear reader.

I'm poetry.
You will starve to death with me
inside of you.
And you'll love it, too.
Nov 2013 · 901
Touch
JM Romig Nov 2013
It is the midnight hour
in the walled-off city of Oxenfree.
There is a cold hollow silence
filling every corner of the city.
Nothing but dead air
for what seems like forever.

Outside,
the game is on - Tag! You're it!
That's all it takes
any skin to skin contact
and you could be a dead man.

I'm awake because silence has gotten too loud.
It's been two weeks since my last fix.
I've been relegated to sneaking contact wherever I can get it.
The other night I "accidentally" grazed a stranger's hand
when reaching for the same box in the cereal isle.
- An offense I could have been reported for.

I can't sleep.
As I walk these post-curfew streetcorpses
careful to avoid Big Brother's electronic eyes,
I think to myself:
-You're so pathetic.
Where's your survival instinct?
This is why they make these rules.
For weaklings like you.-

I pull a scrap piece of paper from my pocket.
a symbol and a number.
Location and time.
It was slipped under my door this morning.

As I stand under the bridge, waiting for the guide.
I keep thinking
-This is a set up
It's gotta be -

My thoughts are cut short
by the sound of boots on pavement.
I hide as best I can in the shadows
with one eye in the direction of the sound.

...

I feel a body hovering over me,
it's skilled hands untangle the knot at the back  my head
- remove the blindfold from my eyes.
I look around at the candlelit room.
Some basement - somewhere.

"Sorry, precautionary measure." she says.
I nod.
I know the deal.
She takes my hand.
I fight the initial urge to draw it back,
then give into the warmth of her soft statin skin.
She removes her shirt, revealing herself: vulnerable, lovely.
I remove mine as well.
She holds her arms out to embrace me.

Time, dissipates.
The universe becomes just this basement room.
Nothing else. Nowhere else.
I am safe and comfortable
and loved.
If only for as long as time is stopped.

I glace at the candles,
they are melted down to the table.
I must have fallen asleep.
She looks down and smiles at me.
"Are you satisfied?" She asks.

I know too well what she means.
I pull away. Put my shirt back on.
I reach into my wallet.

...

As I walk home, it is mid-morning.
Curfew has ended.
People are  busying about.
No one comes within 3 feet of one another.
Everyone is in their own little bubbles.
We don't even seem to make eye contact anymore.
I wonder how many of them are like me?
Despriately hoping someone will come by
and pop them free?
Prompt from Nostrovia! Poetry: Physical contact has now been made illegal. There are shady hug dealers and hand-holders working in the dead of night
Aug 2013 · 737
Portrait 3
JM Romig Aug 2013
A long, empty, back road-
somewhere,
smushed in the middle of nothing and nowhere,
the sun is nesting in the horizon.

It's a quiet Sunday.
and she's waiting for something or one
possibly to rescue her from
counting crows on the telephone lines,
and kicking her can down this endless, empty street.

Those soft metallic tinks
are all that can be heard
forever in every direction.

She smiles to herself now and again
and keeps looking, quite frequently,
for whatever it is she's waiting for.

Maybe, I've got her all wrong
maybe, she doesn't want to be saved
maybe,

She just wants to share this sunset
Aug 2013 · 925
Portrait 2
JM Romig Aug 2013
She squishes the pill bug
with the tip of her shoe
giving it a nice twist at the end
to be sure the deed was done.

She stares for a long while
at what must have looked like a Rorschach test
speckled with bits of recognizable body parts -
legs and guts as such-
as if searching for the bigger picture
it must have been hiding.

She jumps back into her self
when she recognizes the voice of a little boy
calling from the swing set nearby.

She looks exhausted
like she's spent all day carrying the world
and this is a rare moment
when the universe allows her to sit down.

She reluctantly rises from her semi-comfortable bench.
and shuffles toward the impatient child
who is now screaming wordlessly for her.

She's been dealing with this behavior for a long time
you can tell because the pterodactyl screeches he's emitting
that send the nearby blind man's dog into fits
don't phase her at all.

She grabs the metal ropes of the swing,
pulling him back to the highest point of the pendulum,
and lets go.

The little siren boy falls immediately silent
his eyes slowly shut
His face melts into what can only be described
as the untarnished bliss we all misplaced,
or packed away somewhere in the attic
with all those old picturebooks,
long ago.

He's flying.
For the first time all day,
she doesn't have to fake a smile.
Jul 2013 · 858
A Portrait
JM Romig Jul 2013
He has crows feet, and gray hair.
He's got a scar just under his cheek, and arthritis.
All of it looks earned.

There's a slight breeze,
you can tell because charmed snake of smoke
belly dancing off his cigarette drifts a little to the left.
He takes a drag with this intensity
like he's in a movie
and he's about to say something cathartic
to our young protagonist about the meaning of life.

But he doesn't say anything.
He just flicks the ashes to the ground
and keeps staring across the steaming asphalt of the empty street
at the now vacant lot
like something's supposed to be there
and he can't for the life of him remember what.
Jul 2013 · 366
No, I don't.
JM Romig Jul 2013
Man, I'm just like so totally, like -
you know what I mean, man?
Like, everything is like, just so....
Ya'know man?
And everyone else is like,
Totally just like -
PSHHHH-
ya know what I mean man?
You know what I mean.
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