Hot Pot Restaurant No. 9

There’s a video of a baby rat being pulled out of a hot pot by chopsticks at a chain
restaurant in China. The woman on the other side of the table reading an article
on her Kindle is agog. The article is about scientists giving Ecstasy to octopi
to see if it makes them less antisocial.

Once when I was tripping, I saw the moon set like the sun one black night
and then come right back up like a yo-yo. I asked the twin wood sprites,
Oswaldo and Hidalgo, who I was. They fiddled on their abaci and said,
with their impish grins, that you are the sum of your regrets.

I have a client in Ojai who’s facing federal prison for mortgage fraud.
She’s got PTSD from her kids ODing but she’s relieved her new therapist
says that her old therapy of “more truth equals more healing equals more
reconciliation” is nothing less than the awful tyranny of total recall.

She’s learning how to remember to forget which would be good advice
for more than just the shocked diners at Hot Pot Restaurant No.  9.


Thomas J. Erickson grew up in Kohler, Wisconsin. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English Composition from Beloit College and a law degree from Marquette University. He is an attorney in Milwaukee, where he is a member of the Hartford Avenue Poets. He is the author of the award-winning chapbook The Lawyer Who Died in the Courthouse Bathroom (Parallel Press, 2013), the full-length poetry book The Biology of Consciousness (Pebblebrook Press, 2016), and his most recent chapbook Hailstorm Interlude (Finishing Line Press, 2018). He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016.