Archive for the Justin Hyde Category

why do you punch cops? by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags on January 30, 2018 by Scot


i ask
at his parole sign-on

the file
showing assaults
on nine cops
in three states

that stack of paper
don’t say shit
i punch everyone

i punched the teacher
the bully
the bus-driver

i punched the city worker
who tried turning mom’s water off

the dhs worker
who tried taking me away

i punched my uncle
in the back of the head
when he hit mom with a hammer

i punched a dog’s teeth out
when it bit mom on the leg

i punched a whole nativity scene
into dust
in front of a church
when they told mom
quit begging
go get a job

i punched
every single mother-fucker
i had to call dad

all twelve of them

see these hands?

.22 pistol by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags on January 5, 2018 by Scot


still here
in my father’s basement
wrapped in blue rags.


i swear it’s heavier
than a bowling ball.

well oiled
smells like
my grandfather’s hands.

i came for it
in my twenties

the soft spot
of my temple or
down my throat.

my son
upstairs with my father
& mother.

his engine
runs fast
toward the chasms
like me.

i worry

will he unbundle
these blue rags?

will his hands smell
like my grandfather’s

Two Poems by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags on December 18, 2017 by Scot

that summer

we’d cut the top off a pop-can

one of us would steal a little gasoline
from our father

out on the west edge of the trailer park
tucked up under the highway overpass
like hobos

we’d drop one of our
g.i. joes in the
gasoline bath with
a lit-match

silent full

swirling the acrid burning fumes
with wooden sticks

squatting there
that last summer before our dicks got hard

women came

simple truth disappeared

& we turned inscrutable

like our fathers.



four years in

i think
you need
a different kind of man,
i told her
as we sat in front of the camp-fire
gin & tonics long

this was
mostly true
& generally desiccated
masquerading as pity

she flung her gin & tonic
in my face

slapped me
off the back
of my chair

i popped up

began vivisecting her
all over
the campground

she got away
long enough to call her parents
two & a half hours away

they showed up
with the sheriff
in & out
like a pogo stick

i fell asleep
on the grass
in front of the camper

a vineyard of
heaven & hell
wrapping my body
like a toga

in the morning
a hundred flowers

began to bloom
& rust.

after defeating hitler by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags on December 3, 2017 by Scot

after defeating hitler

the longshoremen
in france
were on strike

army couldn’t ship him
back to the farm
in gorwin iowa

we played baseball
& went to the movies
in paris
for two months

i ask
what else he did
play baseball
& go to the movies

he unfurls
his ninety-five year old
index finger

in the air

dancing it

through continents
like a bull

through the grateful
long-legged women
along the

the older hispanic men by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags on September 13, 2017 by Scot


i met
in detasseling fields
& roofing crews

had nothing
or very little

besides aztec grace
& the dignity
of a bald eagle
on their shoulders

something of durango
echoes of pancho villa
in their marrow

men like luis


no pensive

or existential

i stood
in their shade

those lean

2.5 almonds by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags on August 1, 2017 by Scot


a drug task-force detective
calls me

right away
I hear in his voice
he still believes in what he’s doing:

‘we’ve been on your parolee
over a month
pulled him over today
2.5 grams of crack cocaine
under the driver’s seat
taking him to polk county jail now’

2.5 grams of crack cocaine
sounds pernicious
like the barrel of a gun
shoved down your throat

but take 2 almonds
bite a 3rd in half
drop them on a kitchen scale

there you go

his wife calls next
crocodile tears?

it’s all a bit shimmery
and quicksilver now

the only ineluctable
is that the bureaucracy has been turned on

he’s on parole
so there will be no bond

he’ll sit in jail for the
next 3-4 months

while the county attorney hangs a
ludicrous sentence
over his head

he will lose his job
his apartment
who knows about the wife

i pull his paper file out of the active queue

walk over to the corner of my office

pull open the metal filing cabinet

and slide it behind the tab marked



a certain kind of pretty blond woman by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags on August 1, 2017 by Scot



not an ingénue
or a coquette

a certain kind of pretty blond woman
who doesn’t belong anywhere


less authentic
than an ounce of smoke:

you could tell her, ‘i
like to lick little baby assholes,’
and she wouldn’t hear a word
you said

she’d just nod
and smile

like my waitress tonight
at the local farm to table restaurant

every so often
she does a perfunctory loop
through her L-shaped zone

then disappears
out onto the patio

lights a cigarette
and stares at the sky

as if she’s expecting
a murmuration of starlings
to dip down
and sweep her away.

Four poems by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags on January 3, 2017 by Scot

eating chili with my father

two strangers
managing small talk
after decades of estrangement.
he tells me wasps
built a nest in his old wool air-force jacket
out in the garage. had to
throw it away.
but he cut the buttons off
and saved them.
i look up from the kitchen table
out the sliding glass doors
to the old blue garage.
i ask if he remembers twenty years ago
when i stood in there
fixing a flat tire on my bicycle.
he came up from behind
asked if i needed help. i told him
i never wanted his help
with anything
for the rest of my life.
i remember, he says, that was a hard boot
but i earned it.
i tell him i was wrong. i’ve had
so many things wrong in this life.
we’ve never hugged
or told each other i love you.
i lean over
and kiss his cheek.
he stiffens. but doesn’t
pull away.


my father
tried to teach me
the value of a dollar

and hard work
but my mother
was a soft touch

a real mark

before the age of seven
i mastered
playing them off one another

they’d go
into the other room
yell under their breath

he’d throw his hands up
and go to the bar

i’d get
whatever i wanted
from mom
if she suddenly
sprouted a back-bone

i’d throw a fit
tell her i hated her
drive her to tears
and then get
what i wanted

those were my blue-prints
on the kind-hearted women
of the upper

four degrees in iowa

the young man
walking down the sidewalk
he has to hold them up
with his left hand

and white-underwear
in the bitter wind

happens to be black

my brain does not flash thug
or danger

i’ve got more solstice
than that

we pass each other

-eldridge cleaver
-malcom x
-hundreds of black men
who’ve come through the halfway house
on my mind

i know
you’re just trying to carve identity
stamp original swagger
into the ashes of a country
that stole everything else

but seriously

check yourself bro

there’s more creative ways
to buck the man

than hobbling around
like a fucking clown.


for h

to be inside
a truly gorgeous woman
moaning in your ear
an ancient oracle
driving you on like a racehorse
stop for a moment
gaze upon this impossible scene
smile so broad
your ears join together on top of your head
come back
the oracle commands
cupping her hand behind your neck
they can take your legs
and your arms
strap you in a wheelchair
and feed you cornstarch
three times a day
so long as
you get to keep this memory
you’ve already

11/9/16 7:37am by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags , on November 21, 2016 by Scot


how’s it going?

one of my male co-workers
asks another male co-worker
two offices over


he bellows
in derisive

as in

we almost elected a woman

a brilliant
if flawed woman
who knows
how to get shit

shattered glass

and maybe
just maybe
she would have started
holding us accountable
for a couple hundred years
of unabsolved


we elected a cipher
who has pimped narcissism
to an eponymous

a walking bromide
who at seventy years old
still barks
at kites


we sure dodged

that bullet.

Three poems by Justin Hyde

Posted in Justin Hyde with tags on November 7, 2016 by Scot


i no longer
pluck you like flowers
and lock you away
in that empty space
inside me

hunt you like dope
regard you like dope
use you up like dope

even as i
lean in
at the dog park

filling out a pair of jeans
to melt my brain
into fondue

i don’t try to lick her soul

don’t ask for her number

don’t take
any sort of spider stance

as she tells me
of a boyfriend
who plays video games all day
and never texts her goodnight

the alcoholic father
she lives with

the drug addled sister
and a three year old nephew
in a locket
near her heart

she is ripe
to be locked
in an empty space

i whistle
for my dog

shake her hand

and walk

blairstown pears

uncle denny
worked at a factory
in bell plaine.
he watched nascar on tv
and golfed when he could.
i never saw him angry
or heard him talk sideways about anyone.
he always had a smile
always did what aunt holly said.
every summer
he and aunt holly took me and my six cousins
on an overnight trip
to the amusement park in des moines.
i think he actually enjoyed it.
i judged him simple steady and banal
in my twenties
and never sought his advice.
my son met him a few times
before a back-ache turned cancer.
all he remembers
is uncle denny handing him a pear
from the tree in their back-yard.
blairstown pears he calls them
dad let’s go get some blairstown pears.
aunt holly sold the house
and moved to a condo in cedar rapids.
the pear tree is gone. replaced
by an extension
of the driveway.
uncle denny is still there.
thirty-seven steps from grandpa fiester
on the south hill
of the blairstown cemetery.




38, up in the air again, like a plastic sack

my eyes

draw bead
on 25 year olds
low-cut dress
close down the bar
plan a life

my heart

locks in
on 45 year olds
surgery scars
and wine

my head

is a pinprick decibel
behind the clouds

the time is not ripe
stay home
mend wounds
walk the dog
go to bed

is what i think
it said

as i pulled
my cowboy boots

into the night.