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Jeremy Jusek

Jeremy Jusek is Parma’s poet laureate. He has authored three books: We Grow Tomatoes in Tiny Towns, The Less Traveled Street, and The Details Will Be Gone Soon. He hosts the Ohio Poetry Association’s podcast Poetry Spotlight, runs the West Side Poetry Workshop, and founded the Flamingo Writers’ Guild.


Once I opened the mailbox
          and found a letter within.
The trees chirped and the birds rustled
in the same breeze that wrapped my hands
          which opened the letter
announcing I’d been selected
to perform open-heart surgery

I’m not qualified to imagine surgery,
but I once wrote about how
serious prostate cancer is
on a medical message board.
I’m also not qualified to live life—yet,
          nobody will endorse suicide.
The medical system
as it stands
          affords little grace to the dying

That’s why, reading the compensation,
I’ll rip this unknown guy’s heart out,
while his wife prays for life
and I pray a suicide booth is installed
next to the ATM outside my bank

and maybe we can force those chirping birds
          to eliminate overdraft fees
if branch managers are forced to witness the desperate
          withdraw from their checking account
before killing themselves in the lobby

or maybe the birds aren’t metaphorical
maybe birds are just the funny derps on our mugs
announcing sunrise – the details will be gone soon,
so let’s make sure we keep the mugs safe

maybe the cardinal alighting on a snow-covered branch
is our deceased grandparents happily soaring
          maybe I don’t have to give surgery
          to shut down someone’s liver
          and jaundice their singing birds
maybe if the letter stays shut
and the birds stay chirping
          I’ll remember my grandmother’s cats
          perched near the front windows of the North Canton home
          or on cushions sunken in the rounded white dining room chairs


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