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Jay Ritchie is the author of the poetry collection Cheer Up, Jay Ritchie (Coach House, 2017). He is pursuing an MFA in Poetry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

2 poems by Jay Ritchie

The last abattoir shut down last year.



Zoe met me with her dog Sparrow.

Because Sparrow is from the same town in Northern Ontario

as me, Sparrow is an old friend.

She took up more than half the bed

& all night the pipes were clanging.

Toronto was glowing from every big window.


I want to siphon love

when I am in excess of love

to other people, & that

is why I write poetry.


Anyways I couldn’t sleep with the pipes clanging

& my old friend Sparrow

taking up half the bed.

What can I do? I thought

Without disturbing anyone?


Sudden rain made half of all the trees blush black.

I can’t smell any pig’s blood.









It’s 3 a.m. & I’m 26.

Thinking about time I envision grains of sand stuck to a piece of tape.


The ad for the condo said, “This is NOT a condo.”










Zoe & her roommate are smoking

in the coffin factory & talking

about Joan Didion when I get back after midnight.

Joan Didion taking little notes during an interview.

Joan Didion chasing Dexedrine with gin.

Joan Didion as a state of mind.







Joan Didion being cruel.

I need a hero who isn’t cruel.

I need a hero who makes my life better through art

who isn’t cruel to the ones they love

while making it.


I have to believe

In this

As a possibility

For you







requires a series

of short commitments,

the way Highway

1 needs to

be reimagined after

each pirouetting pine

tree, the way

an extension cord

needs to be

wound eight times

before it is

a noose. I

made a promise

in the driveway

not to go

inside until I

had sunk 23

baskets consecutively. Light

has a special

way of falling

into polygons in

the waiting room. 

The sewage truck 

is idling outside 

the walk-in clinic

beside the public

library. People fall

out of my

life like oranges

off the back

of a truck.

Residents of Heatherglen

Housing Co-operative Ltd.

were not informed.

A paint stain

on the window

starts to look

modern. The rehabbed

juvenile delinquent said

Building a house

is just a

series of small

tasks that amount

to something big.

I was out

there in the 

driveway until dark. 

Here, the Venn 

diagram made by 

the water’s surface 

and lip of 

the glass. It

was a promise

I made to

luck so that

luck would be

promised to me.

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