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Thursday, April 13, 2017


by Ron Riekki

When we saw the body being dragged down the aisle,
no one was concerned because it was only the fifth body
that day murdered by the flight crew.  The country was over-
booked, just too many people, and so a little genocide never hurt
anyone.  The blood smeared along the floor just meant jobs—
someone has to clean up all the lungs and livers and specks
of the underemployed from the thousand-dollar seat human pipeline
with no food, no movies, nothing but a seat, or part of a seat anyway,
the elbow of the person next to me in my lap, literally, the rest of the person
gone now; I suppose I should discard it, but there’s no garbage cans anymore.
I mean, not even on the ground.  We just litter, everywhere—there is no difference
between a junkyard and a national park.  Who needs difference?  We’re all the same.
We’re all basically from Africa, all of us, especially our President who is making

the American red hat great again.  When I think of our powerful and wise President,
I think of two words: hat & red.  It’s His symbol, our symbol.  Hat red.  The word
makes me feel proud.  I mean words.  Who cares about spelling or grammar anymore?
It’s all about moneymoneymoney.  A corpse these days can fetch you a hundred
To get on the flight, TSA rapes you.  It’s for your own safety.  I know that
when I was raped for my safety, I thanked the man with his perfect English.
He held my penis in his hand and I said thank you for making me not have to worry
about being abused on the flight.  He gave me a little hug, which caught my attention
and told me I had a thirteen-percent chance of living.  He gave me a little tiny package
of pretzels.  It was so small that I needed tweezers.  I just prayed that they didn’t know
I had Middle Eastern on my mother’s side of the family. I mean I prayed
I wouldn’t really pray.  I mean not unless I was doing it properly, patriotically, scared.
I mean sacred.  Sacred as hell.

Ron Riekki wrote U.P.: a novel (Sewanee Writers Series and Great Michigan Read nominated) and edited The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book from the Library of Michigan and finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award/Grand Prize shortlist, Midwest Book Award, Foreword Book of the Year, and Next Generation Indie Book Award), Here: Women Writing on Michigan's Upper Peninsula (2016 IPPY/Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Great Lakes—Best Regional Fiction and Next Generation Indie Book Award—Short Story finalist), and And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017).