four poems by Justin Hyde

i haven’t been with his wife in three months

as i come out of the showers
towel around my waist
at the ymca

he’s standing
at a locker
across from me

stripping off cycling gear
after a spin class

i googled him
early on in the affair

found a little clip
of a presentation
for his
architectural firm

in person

he’s rickety

solid twenty years
older than me

something’s wrong
with his left leg

slightly atrophied
curved in
like a wish-bone

i used to visualize him
knocking at my door
with a gun

i’m not scared anymore

or remorseful

this strange new secretion
across the middle of my gut


i decide

pity for all three of us

ache and clueless
under the heel
of the boot.


i don’t tell you everything


i teach you
all the good swear words

where and when
to use them

the raw schematics
of sex

plurality and dogma
of religion

i indulge
every pulse
of your curiosity
with all the unvarnished clarity
i can muster

your mother says
i give you
too much information

but i don’t
tell you

like the guy
who broke into our car last week

the needles and vomit
he left
in the back seat

how i cheated
on your mother
more times
than i can remember

that i’m thinking
of breaking up
with this new woman
whose kids
are starting to feel
like your brothers

or the day
eight years ago
when your mother told me
you were coming

we were here
at noah’s
in this exact booth

i put my hands
flat on the table
like this

leaned forward

i told her

no hesitation

not one

the female chaplain

walked in
while i was meditating
in the north group room.

what do you
meditate on?
she asked
while setting up
for that night’s
bible study.

nothing really
just the sensation of air
in and out of the diaphragm
clears the shrapnel
and keeps my noodle

how will you give
an accounting of your sins
on judgment day?
she asked
out of left field

went on to tell me

all men fall short
only through christ’s love
can one be saved

have you read
the bible

do you
go to church?

she’s a nice old lady
rich old lady
used to own a jewelry store

now she slums twice a week
at the halfway house
serving cookies
and fishing for souls

she’d never hit me
with the proselytizing hammer before

so i calmly accounted
for my agnosticism

i found the
shared moments of silence
in the unitarian church
to be a powerful
spiritual experience.

that’s just
a free for all,
she laughed
tilting her head
towards the ceiling.

can we be frank?
i asked
still sitting
in full lotus
backs of my hands
on my knees.

of course
we’re all
one flock,
she said
unfolding her hands
towards me.

i’d fuck
your god in the ass
before i’d ever
hold his hand,
i flashed her
a fat buddha smile

and closed
my eyes.

boots and a simple pair of jeans

z z z

she walks past
the coffee shop window

just meat
on bone

vulture rations
on layaway

but z z z

all the bananas
fall out of your tree

you’d kill for her

given the right
(or is it wrong)

whole prisons full of men
who have

z z z

go ahead and sigh
as she pivots
and disappears
around the corner


slowly pick up
your bananas

taste the blood

on the back
of your teeth.

about the author:

Justin Hyde lives in Iowa. More of his work can be found here.