Pine Box and a Shallow Grave

for Aaron Streelow


It’s when you get the blues so damn bad that

every song you listen to, no matter the beat

or the groove or the tune or what it’s about, even,

is still, somehow, then and there, the saddest song

you’ve ever heard, and you catch yourself sniffling

and watering-up a little and thinking about your own

weathered steamer trunk full of troubles and woes,

and there’s probably nothing you can do to turn this

increasingly whiskey-fueled ship around tonight,

so you just better ride it out and hope you don’t start

listing too close to the jagged rocks of contemplation

of one’s own mortality and the, no doubt, lonely,

tragic and ultimate demise that waits for you and

whether or not who, if anybody, would even

remember or care enough to show up to the

goddamn funeral, anyway, so maybe it would

just be best if they put you in a pine box and a

shallow grave in a potter’s field, somewhere

outside of town, with a number instead of a name,

that no one will ever think to visit or keep clean.

Yeah, those kind of blues.

Jason Ryberg is the author of fourteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is Are You Sure Kerouac Done It This Way!? (co-authored with John Dorsey, and Victor Clevenger, OAC Books, 2021). He lives part-time in Kansas City, MO with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.