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
“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
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.