— poetry by Justin Hyde


he doesn't drink for two paychecks
slides a hundred dollar bill onto the table
says baby
what you want to do for your birthday?

she wants simple
a nice dinner

you got it baby
he's prepared
a gentleman
done everything right

that morning
she's changed her mind
wants to go roller-skating
or bowling instead

no baby
he rolls over in bed
we agreed on dinner
that's the plan
i don't want to go bowling or roller-skating
we agreed on dinner
i'm ready for that

she goes into the living room
phones her mom
then her sister

back to the bedroom
she tells him
get out of her house
nothing new --

he says ok
but i'm going to get some condoms
out of the closet
if you won't let me be the man of this house
i'm going to be the man at another house --
same old trope

she slams his hand
in the closet door
blood pools at the knuckles
down onto his sweatpants

he grabs the blade
off the dresser

her cheek

her forehead

the cord
of every electric appliance
in the house.

Justin Hyde is a poet and Literary Editor for The Commonline Journal. He is the former Poetry Editor of Thieves Jargon and the author of the chapbooks Down Where the Hummingbird Goes to Die (2008) and Another Casualty at the 34th St. Bus Stop (2009). His last collection of poems is An Elephant Hole (2014, Interior Noise Press). He lives in Iowa and works with criminals.