Hard Times

By Michael Ryan b. 1946 Michael Ryan
The lousy job my father lands
I’m tickled pink to celebrate.
My mother’s rosary-pinching hands
stack pigs in blankets on a plate.

Teeny uncircumcised Buddha penises
(cocktail hot dogs in strips of dough):
I gobble these puffed-up weenie geniuses
as if they’d tell me what I need to know

to get the fuck out of here.
They don’t only stink of fear.
They’re doom and shame and dumb pig fate.
I tell my mom I think they’re great.

Dad chews his slowly with a pint of gin,
and says he eats a whole shit deal
because of us. My mom’s in tears again.
I don’t know who to hate or how to feel.

Source: Poetry (January 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2012
 Michael  Ryan


Poet and memoirist Michael Ryan was born in St Louis, Missouri. He studied at the University of Notre Dame and Claremont Graduate School, and earned an MFA and PhD from the University of Iowa. Ryan’s first volume, Threats Instead of Trees (1974), won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His second collection, In Winter (1981), was selected by Louise Glück for the National Poetry Series. God Hunger (1989) won the Lenore . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Activities, Jobs & Working, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Home Life

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.