THREE POEMS by OLIVER MILLER

THESE BE THE LINES


Forget-me-not is my flower

that splits the rocks, or should I say rather —

and as I said to my ex-girlfriend (frequently),

yes maybe even

a little too frequently —

You’re the looks, I’m the talent.

So I collapse the verse, rhyme not found,

enjamb the lines and do a motherfucking handstand.


_____


But now we loll around here, downtown,

surrounded by ex-movie-queens and used

game machines, discarded scraps of Sassy magazine:

ironic references galore, and who among us

is poor at heart, or without sin to cast that first rock —

and all is so much flotsam and jetsam,

and curds and whey, and maybe (shall we?)

find another way to be.

For the future looks like a garage sale

run by the very worst of neighbors, you know the one —

rotting teeth, perma-whiskey smell,

greasy hands, sunken eyes, and belt undone…

And he is us, and we are him.

_____


And the world is an ink smudge,

a phone number erased, but underneath the smear,

you can read the digits, still always there.

Never fully legible, but we can never

finally be, unless we mark down the message —

area code seven four three.

So, I’ll leave this for you,

in the gas station urinal

for future lovers to see.

And so, my motto —

I something something,

I rise like air,

I drown women with letters,

and stroke cats with flair.

 

DON'T LET CATS EAT YOU


when you are dead & lie (maybe in bed),

your cat will feast upon your eyes.

this is true. it’s been studied,

and they won’t want to, but

there you’ll lie, dead & dead,

all that you said & all that you were

about to elide into some toxic dew of death.

& they’re hungry, and no food in

their (your) favorite bowl,

the chipped one with rabbits

on it. and so they’ll wait a while

until the hunger grows too great

and then they’ll sup upon your eyes.

the softest, the easiest the most vital

thing to reach. and so greatness fades to nothing

& love, and as in any relationship

in time we strike upon the softest the

most vital, the most important

lovely thing & eat it for ourselves.

 

YOU KNOW THIS SONG ALREADY


you don’t want to be the town drunk, tom. not in new york city. — dorothy parker to her husband


That feeling when you

wake up in the seismic dark

and need to ask some tough questions,

and here’s a start, Who, what, when,

where, why, and especially who?

And then (nudging that elbow next to yours)

all clicks back, and once and again

the world is solid — horrible-solid, but

solid, nonetheless.

_____


“All stories are mystery stories,”

my first professor told me,

but what we have here is not

a who-dunnit, but a tragi-comedy,

worst and rarest

of genres, and you (I)

are Joseph K.,

sadly traduced one day,

without doing anything

particularly wrong.

_____


Sheets unfurled, woozy tang

of gunmetal and nicotine gum

(chewed, left in your mouth),

and now it’s time to get away

from that non-non-non

stranger next to you,

so pants on.

And we stumble into the awful.

And before us lies

the only inevitable,

with a dash of the incredible,

and a hint of the — hold it, barf —

the irredeemable. There now,

feel better? With behind you

a trail of vomit in the snow

as a reverse love-letter.

 

Oliver Miller has an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and has published two books -- One Last Xanax and Drinking and Driving (both by Thought Catalog Press). This is his first published poetry. In addition to writing things, he also lived in Eastern Europe, was a drunk for a while, and was (very briefly) homeless. You know -- standard artsy shit like that. He's the shy guy sitting in the back of the bar, except he's not actually so shy. Feel free to hit him up on Instagram.