Two Poems – Ron Riekki

Reading Time: 2 minutes

My Roommate Translated

during Just Cause—lying on his bed,

the darkness, telling me he had to talk,

and I said to talk then and the crickets

were gone and the moon was gone

and the night was ready to harm every-

thing in sight—and he told me how hard

it is to translate screams, that screaming

is its own language, and he told me

how he loved language and now he

hated language and how he only had

eleven months left and then he was

free and when the doctor says that

the COVID ward is just like being

in war, I want to tell him that it’s true

if someone walked in with a gun

and killed everyone, then it would be

war, and I’ve worked in the COVID

wards and I was in a war and I survived

both, because I taped my mask to my

face in the ward and because they

denied my front-line chit in the military

and the helicopter on fire was some-

thing I got hypnotized so I won’t

remember it anymore and when I

worked in the prison system I realized

that America does everything it can

to try to turn people into serial killers

and after I got attacked in there,

the prison wouldn’t return any

of my calls and the phone got

locked up and set on fire and

the evil is in how we don’t really,

not really, speak up and speak out

as often as we should be or we

would be screaming every second.

A nurse told me

that they save the patient

who has visitors.  If the patient

is dying and they’re in an empty

room, and there is another patient

dying at the same time and their

room has a visitor, that they always

go to the room with the visitor.

When I taught CPR I found out

that the company liked to hire

people with no medical experience;

that way they could pay them less.

They said I was lucky I got hired,

because I have medical experience.

I did CPR on a baby once.

One of the instructors was telling

a class about doing CPR in a grocery

store.  After class, I asked him about it.

He lowered his voice, said he makes it

up, that he alternates the location.

Sometimes he’s doing CPR in a bank,

sometimes at a botanical garden.

He said they tend to like the grocery store

best.  I remember looking at him

like he was someone who would try

to kill a ghost, if he could.  During the war,

I volunteered for the front lines.

My section leader told me they’d never

send me.  They only send people who

don’t want to go, he said.  They denied

my chit.  I remember when one of the Marines

put his M16 in his mouth.  We were on mid-

night shift.  He was circling the building,

protecting us.


Latest Review