Thanks for Coming In

Jun 4, 2017




Thanks for Coming In

We just want to talk about your excursion on the 27th.
Sunday before last.  Isn’t that right?  You wore that thrift
store sombrero.  Move a little closer to the machine, please.
There’s nothing to be afraid of.  Excursions are allowed.
It isn’t as if you tried to escape.  We’re only looking for
clarification. You and your companion began by
chatting about radioactive waste management.  Excellent.
Then you put your hand on her leg.  And by “her” we mean
your not-wife, but she of the lavender underthings.  Stay seated,
please.  We are measuring electro-dermal activity.  Nod if
you understand.  No, wait.  Blink twice. This new machine
is very sensitive.  Try and relax.  We have only another question
or two.  Remember pulling over at the Scenic Viewpoint?
Good.  Now before you got into the back seat and
mussed up your uniforms, you read to your not-wife from
a book.  None of what was recorded made sense to our data
banks, so we were wondering what exactly were you reading?
Poetry.  Oh, dear.  Would you like some water?  We’re
going to be here awhile.

—Ron Koertge



In 1976, Bill Henderson and a group of founding editors that included Paul Bowles, Ralph Ellison, Joyce Carol Oates, and Reynolds Price started the Pushcart Prize anthology to recognize and celebrate the best work in the rapidly expanding independent publishing movement. Through the years since, the Prize has honored the art of thousands of writers and hundreds of presses. Each edition features reprints of work by about sixty authors from dozens of distinguished contributing editors.



Pushcart Press is a testament to the non-commercial flourishing of American fiction, poetry, and essays. As commercial publishers consolidate into few profit-driven conglomerates, small presses like Pushcart encourage literature that is lasting, important, and exciting. This is our goal and our passion.
—Bill Henderson

Guest editors-for-poetry choose about eighty poems out of eight thousand for inclusion in the Pushcart anthology.

“I like to go to the races,” says Koertge, “so I know a little bit about odds. These seems like eighty-to-one to me, but sometimes those long shots come in.”

Koertge’s poem “Thanks for Coming In” was originally published in the independent magazine Nerve Cowboy, summer 2016.



Ron’s latest collection of poems is Vampire Planet from the Pasadena-based Red Hen Press.  Available wherever strange books are sold.

Former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins calls Koertge “the wisest, most entertaining wise guy in American poetry.”

“Ron Koertge is an expert in the art of disorientation. His tongue-in-cheek poems are clever, of course, but they also dispense an unsettling, probably illegal mixture of Novocain and Kool-Aid. When you finish a poem by Koertge, you look around with the sensation that your living room furniture has been rearranged while you were away. This is his long-standing, one-person campaign for wakefulness in the human situation. The New & Selected Poems is a serious cocktail.”
—Tony Hoagland

“Is anyone writing poems that are as memorable, masterful, and quirky as Ron Koertges? If you want the lowdown on Lilith, and if you can bear to read about Lois Lane aging, and if you long to know the unsavory truth about Lazarus after he returned from the dead, this deliciously smart and entertaining collection of poems is the one you’ve been looking for!”
—Steve Kowit


Ron Koertje


Red Hen Press will celebrate its 23rd annual benefit at the Westin Hotel in Pasadena on November 12, 2017 with a champagne luncheon. The afternoon festivities highlight Red Hen’s tradition in the literary community with performances from local school children, a silent auction, and readings by acclaimed authors Camille Dungy, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and A. E. Stallings.

For more details, visit






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