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Sometimes we like to do something for the story
we’ll tell afterwards. Buy a ’58 Pontiac, climb
a mountain in the dark. Lamar tells ***** jokes
with class, knows how to wait awhile, bend
a syllable and savor the laughter. We go on

with our absurd work, building a fence miles long
waste of steel and strong straight lodgepole pine
but even I don’t pine over it anymore. We’re
self-acknowledged children, fence is play and
livelihood also, but something cheerful as sunshine

for all the death it costs. There is so much life
a little death doesn’t matter. We stretch our muscles
the men feel like men, the women feel good too.
We stand around, watch a young rabbit one morning.
Tonight I stayed at work until 7:00.
It was dark when I locked the front doors.
Winter approaches again, soon the great coat
huddled like a rug around me. The streets
were active as usual, block residents
hanging out front steps. I said goodnight
to Nydian Figueroa, after school counselor.
I bought a beer at the deli on Third Ave.
from the Arab owner. He’s a bit upset about
the bottle bill.
                          Collecting bottles from small groceries
could be a useful youth employment enterprise.
I walked down Fifth along the park in the dark
drinking my beer and looking at women. I need
a good **** badly. I tried to decide whether
to go to the movies, a Hopi film Howard recommended,
or just go home, watch tv and light a candle.
Maybe I’d meet someone at the film.
                                                                  Can I handle
the malady of going home tonight? If I die,
I die alone.
                      I turned west toward the subway
past the museum, through the park.
I can’t look at the myriad lights in buildings
large enough to hold a small town. It increases
my anxiety and anonymity to the breaking point.
I hoped to be mugged, for the human contact.
Two big guys looked me over, but I lowered
my center of gravity and they passed quietly. Survival
feels fine, proves I am alive.
                                                   The white pines
in this corner of the park hold a cool, earthy air
reminding me of coming winter, that mortality is
restful, of the black bear and swollen river I saw
500 miles away and only one day ago.
Robert Ronnow May 23
Late April and only
coltsfoot—Tussilago farfara—breaking leaf litter.
Our daffodils, peonies and crocuses
are also making signs.

April is the cruelest month, I forget why.
A sweet slow Spring
no sudden changes
each leg and leaf unfolds deliberately. You can't miss it.

New York City's spring rushes like a yellow cab
into summer. One day leaves are wet,
next they’re leather. I prefer this slow dance,
birds mating on the sky, peepers evolving into frogs.

Repairs take weeks or months. Septic,
garage door, cracked windshield, clean windows,
build bridge, buy land, rake leaves off erosion control,
cut wood, prune lilac, paint lawn chairs.

More carefully inspect, identify, the insect
of the week, a fly with an ant’s body
that skirts the grass and falls in drinks.
Look more closely! It will be gone in a few days!

Then it will be the time of moths or fireflies,
mosquitoes and wasps. Mud road,
red-winged blackbird. The slashing stream
topples old trees. My legs hurt.
Robert Ronnow Apr 12
You can acknowledge the emptiness at the core of your being
or go crazy when the world goes crazy.
The numbers of us overwhelm,
an impending tsunami,
my hopeful eulogy about our responsibilities to each other,
2 jobs 2 hobbies,
the biomass in the crosswalks,
fears that rend and own us,
the Muslim-Judeo-Christian condition.
Your soul is immortal,
it exists outside of time and politics. Just kidding.
Forgotten, forgiven and foregone.
A man’s ego needs no encouragement.
“I’m gonna be huge when I’m dead,” John said
last time we spoke.

Life is fine!
tough
the reward for our colossal imperfections
a back and forth game
the rivers and selfies of an empire
daily low intensity warfare
Good
a gift
not a curse
new, so let go
a veil, thin if one doesn’t believe in mystery
like all things that are forever changing
thriving
enjoying the passage of time
or will be good
but a dream
okey doke, short, a lazy-eyed tiger
Should I become a middle school math or English teacher?
Leave my bed early in the morning and return with test papers to grade.
With what authority will I persuade those kids to sit still and perform
      calculations and interpretations.
I won’t be allowed to teach A Good Man Is Hard To Find. Nope, it’ll be
      Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies and Slaughterhouse Five. Novels
      that annoy.
Poems and math are magic. Words and numbers are things no one has
      ever seen or heard or touched.
But the administration keeps them separate. The curriculum’s
      determinate.
The kids are beautiful but combustible. When middle school lets out at
      the periapsis of Earth’s orbit, that’s the face of joy.

The purpose of school is to introduce us to the world’s innumerable
      wonders. The periodic table, World Wars I and II, Huckleberry Finn
      and Jim.
Once a gaggle of teenage girls bet whether I wore boxers or jockeys. I felt
      ambushed and unlucky. Also a bit afraid.
There’s little love lost between the students and the teachers. Expect to
      forget and be forgotten. Information.
I remember Mr. Killian my chemistry teacher. So boring about something
      I now find so interesting and important. He wasn’t boring; I was
      boring.
I remember Mr. Christensen my history teacher. He was fat and funny but
      taught as little as possible. I was known to laugh so hard I cried.
I remember Mr. T my calculus teacher. He dressed everyday exactly like
      Gene Kranz in mission control. I was confused past help so he didn’t
      help.
I remember Tone Kwas my music teacher. He said I was the worst
      trumpet player he’d ever tried to teach and switched me to
      sousaphone. He was right but so what! Playing badly is the best
      riposte.
Robert Ronnow Jan 18
A walk around the block in my parents’ neighborhood at dawn
wearing mom’s sweater and pop's sneakers with a clown hole cut out for  
      toe infection
I was stopped by a cop in a cruiser
this was during the Vietnam War long hair ago
he was angry at everyone I was offended by everything
he said which way are you going I said which way are you going
so he socked me in the mouth and handcuffed me
I was arraigned on disorderly conduct and resisting arrest
my good parents came down and stood beside me before the judge
I wrote to the police department internal affairs
not for retribution but to start a paper trail
in case this cop someday bopped one of my brothers
a few months later I’m back at work in NYC
two detectives come into the city to question me
one good cop one bad cop we park in the park me in the back seat
they wanna know was I mouthy to the cop who punched me in the mouth
long story short
they leave me on a bench to eat my lunch and the charges are dropped
Robert Ronnow Dec 2021
I’ve written enough small poetry
to start a nuclear war.
Do you want to die in traffic
behind the wheel of your car? Or in yr rodeer camp next fall.

Control eludes us. The hero
loses urinary control, the unified nation
loses missile control, lost my timepiece, lost my metronome,
now my music is ethereal as an archangel’s.

No owl hoots or duck quacks
or squirrels *******
or spiders spanning rampikes.
The floccinaucinihilipilification of nature.

No greater tragedy than a tipping
point that tests the hero’s gullibility, complicity,
self-control, comity, sense of humor
which is the only remedy not to hate those in authority.

Them guys with guns at the Michigan state house,
fat bearded tattooed ******* white bros.
Norsemen, Crusaders, Vikings, Britons.
For despair there is no forgiveness. Peace out.

Humor is the only remedy, or is ardor the best way forward.
We’ll see how things work out in the next generation.
The same diverse, spoiled, unpatriotic revolutionaries as at the nation’s
      beginning
trying to reverse the future, making phone calls to get out the vote in
      Georgia, hating the desert for having no water.

Nuclear mischief, mad Man’s most incandescent bloom
and the devil who exists to carry the load
when we misbehave and fight among ourselves.
I wake up to my skin boiling off my bones.

Events keep piling up,
the future depends on ourselves.
Conflict is inevitable and in this conflict power must be challenged by
      power
so err on the side of patience, perseverance and impermanence.
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