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Thursday, June 30, 2011


by Lauren Schmidt

“What strikes me about this case is the senselessness of it,” said prosecutor Erik Hasselman. “Usually there is a reason, however weak.”—, January 7, 2010

I hit because I’m bored,
I’m high,
I’m drunk,

because I’m twenty-three,
because I have
hot blood
and a hairy chin.

I hit because
I can, because
the old man
can’t hit back.

I hit because
I suck at math
and because I can
barely read.

Because nobody
ever liked me.

Because my father didn’t
teach me not to hit,
or because he hit me
on more than one
occasion. Because

the music I love
is angry. I hit
to smell blood,
to hear an old man cry,
to watch his skin split.

I hit because I want
one less of them
on the streets. Because

I didn’t kill enough
tadpoles as a kid. Because
I need to feel
something as good

as my cock
in my hand.

And at least
I didn’t hit
a woman.

Editor’s Note: This poem is part of a full-length collection of poetry based on the poet’s experience volunteering at a homeless kitchen, The Dining Room, in Eugene, Oregon, where several hate crimes occur each year against homeless men. The collection, Psalms of The Dining Room, is due out next year. The collection draws attention to an otherwise silenced problem: hate crimes against homeless victims.

Lauren Schmidt’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Progressive, Alaska Quarterly Review, New York Quarterly, Rattle, Nimrod, Fifth Wednesday Journal,  Ekphrasis Journal, Wicked Alice and other journals. Her poems have been selected as finalists for the 2008 and 2009 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Dancing Girl Press Chapbook Contest. Her awards include the So to Speak Poetry Prize and the Neil Postman Prize for Metaphor. In 2011, she was nominated for the Best New Poets Anthology. Her chapbook, The Voodoo Doll Parade (Main Street Rag), was selected as part of the 2011 Author’s Choice Chapbooks Series. Her second chapbook, Because Big Boobies Are Necessary (Amsterdam Press), and her first full-length collection, Psalms of The Dining Room (Wipf & Stock) are both forthcoming. Lauren Schmidt teaches writing at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey.