Just 8 Men Own Same Wealth As Half The World

I broke through the fence & wandered
where nothing grew. It was a time
when being in my solitude brought
so many living plans to the
top of my thinking & in a flash
you decide to trust no one.
You’re like a lonesome cowboy
at the start of the movie.
I can hardly remember sitting in half-dark
& projecting a more exciting life
for myself than this, alone in a sea of
futures, as if I won’t be the same
cowboy tomorrow. It has become a challenge
lately, to get up & read the news
without speeding up the feed to flood
water overtaking cars, tear gas
backlit by fire, some colour lost forever
with the last dead millerbird.
Often the distance between us grows
as wide as it really is. I’m moseying
into the sunset, kicking what comes
with my boots. Where are you?


By Scott Rodgerson

By Scott Rodgerson

Warm at the end of the day in October. The air so thick I’m eating it, getting full on breathing air. Shift of sun-coloured organdy draped over the ugly; it slips away as I reach the bus station.

Puddles of black water & blocks of cement with rebar jutting out are scattered along the interior walls, like a bad experimental art installation. The line for my bus snakes back & forth across the station 4 times. Greyhound sold too many bus tickets, & people have to wait the 50 minutes between arrivals in line or risk not boarding until the next bus. I join the line. Seating areas are cordoned off at random by yellow caution tape, so no one can sit down. People have to sit on their luggage. I visualize a system where everyone is given a number, then called when it’s their turn to board, like at a deli, or a doctor’s office, but there aren’t any bus station employees around to administer this. No one can return their ticket because all the wickets are closed. It’s the end of the word “wicket.” I bought mine online, like everyone else. The free Wi-Fi is obviously bogus. I hold on to my piece of paper, a one-way ticket to somewhere that has its shit together.


Seeing a picture of Jay-Z wearing a heather grey sweatshirt that says


was a major turning point in my life.

I confess I never fully grasped what the word means.

I think my cat thinks I’m in pain when I play the harmonica.

I had a religious experience at Occupy Wall Street.

Lydia Davis describes the experience perfectly
in the final, 118-word sentence
of “Once a Very Stupid Man,”
but I didn’t read that story until like 3 years after, so
when I read it, it
unleashed an aftershock.

That was the last time I let literature convince me I was clairvoyant.

I live down here with the many
different phyla of worm.

Today I was driven to a river just outside St. Adèle.

The entire time I worried someone might arrest me.

Most days I worry I traded the best parts of myself in exchange for simplified social interactions.

I took a video camera out of my backpack & filmed things:
the camp, the sky. Nothing in the mini HD screen
looked as pink as I felt.

When I was a fetus I grew ears.

21 years later I heard the sounds of New York City
whirl from inside of me out into the canyons
of the Financial District.

My neighbour with a garden made a crummy little gabled grotto to smoke weed in.

A synonym of bourgeois
is “propertied”
—a shotgun-shaped thought.



I lied to the insurance company

The cormorant has the largest flight-cost
Of any flying bird

I seek to wrap myself in language beyond capital exchange

I do not know what I understand

When I say life
Is both plain & iridescent

You explain to me a type of orange car paint
That is also many other colors

Consider this my final poem

For some great meaning only stalls
Long enough to be looked at

When an imagined barrier
Is maintained

Have you heard
The parable of the Indian mystic
Who preferred the sound of the
Orchestra tuning
Over Beethoven’s 5th Symphony

I guess he had to sit
Through the whole


The McDonald’s on Broadway & Liberty housed the toilet for the entire Occupy encampment. The irony of relying on a hyper-capitalist corporation to relieve the needs of radical anti-capitalist activists like myself caused an initial resistance in me that quickly yielded to the urgency of really, really needing to pee.

A private bathroom in a public place—free to use because the employees aren’t paid enough to care, was the general consensus. Waiting in line to go, the glowing M started to look like two piss arcs. The Golden Arches. We were careful not to get fries with our relief. If you think about it, we discussed in line, by using their toilets & not buying anything, we’re actually taking money out of McDonald’s pockets. The act of relieving oneself became a revolutionary gesture: I pee for free!

Going to McDonald’s too often can be disorienting. When you’re at McDonald’s you could be at any McDonald’s: a McDonald’s in Manhattan is the same as a McDonald’s in Montreal. So, in another way, when you’re at McDonald’s, you’re not at McDonald’s. McDonald’s understands this phenomenon; on the TVs at McDonald’s there are ads for McDonald’s. “I am always hungry / & wanting to have / sex” Eileen Myles wrote, in 1980-something. I wasn’t born yet. I was born in the America she was writing against & I wasn’t even born in America.


I pass through invisible
Thresholds to mornings of remain

Whose march toward our squandered
Futurity is iambic

I am feeling very specific
I am standing in the middle of it

There is music
But the music is not always enough
Sometimes it is adult contemporary music at midnight in CVS
& this is what I deserve
For my imitation of a life

Jay Ritchie is the author of the poetry collection Cheer Up, Jay Ritchie (Coach House Books, 2017). He is pursuing an MFA in Poetry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he has won the Skolfield/Goeckel Award for Poetry as well as the Deborah Slosberg Memorial Award for Fiction. His work has appeared in Powder Keg, The Puritan, Spork, Glittermob, on CBC Radio, and been performed by Milk & Bone for the Phi Centre in Montreal.