my first night as a co at the halfway house
—a poem by Justin Hyde

it's curfew
& adams won't get off the phone.
there's a bank of six of them to the left of the control desk.
i call over to him: sir it's curfew you need to end your call.
he ignores me.
i say it a little louder.
more of the same.
hey man i told you get off the phone!
i put my pancreas & liver into it.
he just coils tighter into the receiver.
my partner warren
an old boy from louisiana
who wears snakeskin boots
puts his hand on my shoulder.
with his other hand
he flips a little toggle switch
that cuts power to the phones.
bullshit! adams yells
slamming the receiver down.
that's some bogus shit!
as he slaps his hand
on the control desk warren
reaches his finger up to a red button
that will bring a german shepherd
& an officer with a 9mm from across the street.
you ain't worth it,
adams says slinking backward to his room down the hall.
that's how you get shit done, warren says.
he whets his thumb across his tongue
& runs it in a clean line
down his snakeskin boot.

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.