Poetry Self-Harm

When, by Ron Riekki



they took me to the psych ward 

the EMTs strapped me in 

which was not necessary at all 

but they did it because this allowed them 


to make fun of me, not exaggerating, 

my inability to do anything, because my wrists 

were tied—illegal, I believe— 

saying, to me, What a waste, 


we have real patients to get to, because, I guess, 

I was ‘only’ suicidal, so that makes me a bother for them, 

and then when they put me inside, midnight, everyone 

sleeping, they put me in a bed that was covered in 


piss, how I remember my face hitting the pillow 

and the pillow wet, how I got up, told them, 

and they told me to get back to my room and I said, but there’s— 

and they said, Get back in the goddamn room. 
Photo by Amelie Jumel.

Ron Riekki’s books include My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle), U.P. (Ghost Road Press). He’s edited eight books, including And Here (Michigan State University Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), and The Way North (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book). He’s published poetry in Rattle, Poetry Northwest, fiction in Threepenny Review, Bellevue Literary Review, nonfiction in River Teeth, New Orleans Review, and more. Right now, Riekki’s listening to “SALT AND FIRE: A Conversation with Werner Herzog, Jeffrey Sachs & Lawrence Krauss” on youtube.