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Justin Hyde
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dancing her out


by Justin Hyde



the red-haired woman

who sat next to me

at Brothers

smelled like

shoe-wax and



she told the bartender

how to make a


and handed one

to me.


said her three year old


was in custody of the


she'd come in on a greyhound

to find a job

and get him



i fell into

the crack scene real


put myself on the

streets in


she said.


had two guys

dancing me out,

they caught up with it

did this,

she said

and raised her tank-top

showing a horribly burned

left breast.


what the hell is that

whore doing

on your couch?

my girlfriend dragged me

into the bathroom




she's in a bad


i'm going to let her

sleep on the couch for


and she'll be gone

in the morning.


the fuck she is

have you lost your


if that thing stays

we're done.


i hope i'm not

causing you any



just a true blossoming

of ignorance,

i said

as we boiled

coffee and

got on the internet

looking for

legal aid attorneys

shelters and

temp agencies.


The Sun Doesn't Even Blink


Justin Hyde


too many scientists trying to

empiricise the human race into



too many seventy-nine year old grandmothers

raising grandchildren because their mothers and fathers

are tapping anhydrous tanks and

tweaking in the streets


too many idiots thinking

they've discovered surrealism


too many retarded girls in wheelchairs

who will never have weddings


too many

match-stick catholics

praying for our souls


too many atheists who

don’t understand deduction is

built on induction


too much hate born

out of fear stoked

by ignorance of the axe

buried in every human heart


not nearly enough sheep willing

to shit on the herd and


i've yet to see one poet:


this asshole included.



This Poor Bastard at the Flying "J"


Justin Hyde


hundred-twenty pound

chicken-hawk sitting

at the little 'u' shaped

counter up front

can't be more than



the waitress is

his girlfriend,

she's trying to

hide it with makeup, but

there's a bruise

firming below her

left eye.


just go home!

she yells at him

for all of us to hear,

which at three-twenty-seven

in the morning is me

back in a corner booth and

the two of them.


after a month

of coming here

i've gathered he

doesn't have a job,

his whole universe

consists of the

fear that some

diesel jockey's gonna

tap her

out in his cab and

turn her into a

highway gypsy.


that guy over there

he's smart

a writer

says you've got problems

and need help!


(jesus christ,

this is all i need)


the fuck you know man!

the fuck you know!

his wings are

flapping like he

means business,


but true to form,


man to man

his kind of coward

never slides ass

off the seat.


my first golf lesson


Justin Hyde



all the other bank examiners


and they drank

and bet money

while doing it

so i figured

i'd give it a jump,


but my instructor

didn't show

at the driving range.


the sign

on the little shit-hole

across the street

said "the anchor"


get yourself

some chili,

the bartender said.


i dipped my styrofoam cup

in the crockpot

and ordered a round

for the house,


which was three

myself included.



sold vacuum cleaners

at sears

had three different prescriptions

for anxiety

and hadn't had

a bowel movement

in two weeks.


clifford's son

went queer

while up in anamosa

for dealing crank

and his second wife

was over to meskwaki

putting paid

to their social security check.


i ordered another round

for the house,


told them how my mom

exhausted the

multiple doctor route

and recently graduated

to the street-fix.


around here

we wear our wounds

like mink stoles,

sarah smiled

as clifford

brought some darts

and a pitcher

from behind the bar.



the new fed


Justin Hyde


young kid

maybe twenty-three


eyes like van gogh


more soul than normal

for these parts.


spent thirty-four hours

on a greyhound

coming to work release

from federal prison

in kentucky.


have to sit next to any crazies?

i ask

while checking in the contents

of his green army bag.


matter of fact no,

he says


tells me he sat next to a

young woman

and her six-year-old daughter.


it was nice,

he says


tells me

he felt human

for the first time

in five years.


says the little girl

got attached to him

pretty quick


he bought her

a package of super-balls

during a two-hour layover

in indiana


three of them

started bouncing them around

having so much fun

they almost missed the bus.


they get off in des moines too?

i ask

handing him some intake forms

to sign.





he says


tells me

they had to go on to omaha.


maybe next time,

i say

pointing out his room

down the hall.


such is life,

he says

and shoulders his bag

and asks

which way to the can.










Justin Hyde lives in Iowa where he works as a correctional officer.  He is also a poetry editor at Thieves Jargon.

In Association with Fossil Publications