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Monday, January 30, 2017


by Dennis Etzel Jr.

Asmund wakes me up for another game
as the sun tries rising in another December
morning I try to rise he says he likes to wake up
in a little dark time not too early
looks out the window over our back
yard over our Kansas our country
waking up I’ve never woken up in such a dark time
these gradual small wake-ups to dungeon builders

as our resistance is set to dismantle walls Asmund asks
if this little dark time is okay for me to wake up in
I say yes let’s go downstairs with your brothers to sit
navigate the dungeon together keeping the dragons
from getting further ahead as we search for a secret door
for freedom I show my sons how to throw the dice

Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has an MFA from The University of Kansas, and an MA and Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies from Kansas State University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016). His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others. He is a TALK Scholar for the Kansas Humanities Council and leads poetry workshops in various Kansas spaces.