Ron Riekki

“one less”
—Robert Frost

I’ve always worked with violence, escorted
violence, introduced violence to violence
and told violence to let me know if violence
got out of hand.  An elementary school
violence that turned into middle school
violence that turned into a high school
violence that, truth be told, reminded me,
years later, of a gull pecking at a cat corpse
on the other side of the prison fence, but
I’m moving too fast, because first there is
the military violence that PTSDs you and
gets you ready to be sent back to the street
violence, except this time with so many

concussions that the brain has lost count
and lost other things too, and that gull
with its wings that I wanted to pluck and
insert into the backs of every inmate I saw
in that place, how I was incarcerated for
thirteen hours at a time, placed in nursing
stations with shatterproof glass that one
night was shattered, an inmate kicking it
in until right behind him thirteen guards
lined up in their cockroachish riot gear,
all shadow and threat, and there was this
moment of peace, a strange moment of
peace, and then they all, in synch, attacked