Sunday, October 26, 2014

Two Poems by Joseph Victor Milford

Noose and Neck, Plummet and Lion, Circus of If

If you are the girl falling and I am the lion then between us is the lying.
If you are the sonar then I am the radar and between us the submarine.
If you are the stamen then I am the pistil and the honey-bee is drunk on nectar.
If you are the hammer then I am the nail and we have an unreliable contractor.
If you are oxygen I am carbon dioxide there are leaves there and we hedge.
If you are shade I am cave and we get lost in the forest spelunking.
If you are the storm then I am the ship and the crew is terribly unequipped.
If you are the parabola then I am the hyperbola and we are out of focus.
If you are the lead singer then I am the bass player and we fuck entire audiences.
If you are the oil I am the dinosaur it took thousands of years for us to drive sedans.
If you are the fish-hook I am the carp and we are lost about a lake in the dark.
If you are Mercury I am Venus and you have the orifice and I lost the penis.
If you laughed at the last line we have hope--in between us only faith & phone.
If you are coral then I am sponge and between us is the underwater kingdom.
If you are the black willow I am the eastern red cedar and between us are corporations.
If you are mountains then I might be erosion.  Too slow for you.
If you are fan-fiction then I am power-pop and between us is a legion of bad haircuts.
If you are poems you don't know any of them while I'm reciting.
If you are god and jesus and I am god and jesus then between us are our devils.
If they are like spiritual prosthesis:  indeed we don't need them in our catharsis of flesh.
If you are river I am canyon and between us is a soundtrack of falcons.
If you are a post-hole digger then I am a bulldozer and between us are 100 virgin acres.
If you are cast-iron fences I am barbed wire so where build the house?
If you are home I am horse and between us are shacks and nags.
If you are mine then I am yours and between us are the semantics.
If you are gun then I am bullet and between us is the ballistics test.
If you are reading then I am riff and between us is my discernment because
I could do this all night.  If you are language I am silence and between us is only music.
The kick of the drum, the cry in orgasm, the gasp from surprise, the words on the eyes.
The if's and their fenceposts made from salt-taffy slaked by the ocean.
If's melting into something, those times coagulating, salt sweating into evenings, thens.

Centaur in Suburbia

Minoans had never seen the likes of my brethren before
Roiling over the scant turf of their promontories.
The roar of galloping and a man's voice whooping
Must have struck fear into them, made them create
Monsters as explanation, an entire Centauromachy, and
others as well, the harpy, minotaur, typhoon, arocoix, satyr, chimera.
Pindar recorded accounts of such liminal beings born
of sun and raincloud, and Chiron, tutor of demigods,
ensured that fire stayed in the hands of man; however,
I am just astonished where my abdomen becomes a chest
Again, there, at my girth, and looking down to where manhood
Once announced itself, I see the shoulders of my equine
Body--locks of my curling hair around my face as I pace
Up the alley towards the bratwurst kiosk and a mounted
Officer nods his helmet at me.  He acknowledges nothing
Amiss--an ancient myth striding over steaming manholes.
Fetlock, pastern, coronet, cannon are now my locomotion,
no white fragile ankles of common man cracked during
a draw and quartering, yet no one seems to acknowledge
my stature, being at least half of a noble creature, as I clop
up to order my dog with grilled onions and peppers, finely
grained spicy mustard.  The vendor speaks of the weather,
smoking a cigar; is he referring to my pastoral nature?
I am in downtown Chicago, behind Wrigley Field--could I
graze on that famed pasture?  Tail whipping flies from my gaskins,
I saunter towards the bank--centaur or not, I am short on funds
And the old ways of arrows and kidnapping aren't fitting
For such an anthropomorphic wonder once honored with garlands.
I wait in line behind a station wagon full of young neighing
Colts and a pensive mare; they progress, and I trot to the tube
And pull my i.d. from my saddlebag, send the parcel through
The vacuum and request a withdrawal slip.  I've been here before--
I am now in Peachtree City at my Suntrust bank, and the blonde
Teller who always stares at me stares at me the same; however,
Today I am untamed!  I am centaur!  No matter.  "Thanks again
Mr. Milford and have a nice day.  Thanks for banking with us
here at Suntrust."  I get my cash and amble out into the parking lot
thinking of where to sun myself.  I am hungry again, and I consider
the Zaxby's drive thru window, but I have no drink caddy, no
way to dip the fingers into the sauce without things going askew.
And the dream is easy to interpret--no one notices my horsehood,
my man-equine meld of powerful shoulder, sinew, bone and intellect--
the perfect machine that is not allowed inside of any municipal building.
Pegasi have the same problem.  So does the manticore.  How could
a machine of half-man and half-horse ever feel sorry for himself?
No.  The dream is about the death of myth--the myths I made,
running across tundra and steppes away from gods, animals, women
and men alike where neither my animal nor human nature could unite.
Thoroughbred noble savage, mosey towards the cul de sac and wait
Until a subdivision family lets you in, corrals you in an Elysium field
Beside the swimming pool and patio grill, the lawn chairs and sprinklers.
As your graying mane shortens and the horse-like features cease
To linger, you become the new centaur, covered in sunblock,
Woven hat, soccer tee wearing old man on the riding lawn mower.

Joseph Victor Milford is a Professor of English and a Georgia writer who is currently working on his EdD doctoral studies.  He was born in Alabama in 1972, and he went on to receive his Bachelors degree from the University of West Georgia, in English and Philosophy, and then his MFA in Poetry from the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.  His first collection of poems, Cracked Altimeter, was published by BlazeVox Press in 2010, and he is presently composing a collection of poems with Hydeout Press, forthcoming in 2015.  He is also the host of The Joe Milford Poetry SHow, where he has compiled an archive of over 300 interviews and readings with American and Canadian poets.  He is also a member of the Southern Collective Experience.

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