Here is a Paring Knife, Here is the Metaphor and Not that I am Desperate, 2 poems by Michael Milligan

Here Is the Paring Knife, Here Is the Metaphor
to cut the damaged parts away. So bruised and all.
Peeling the flesh of the torturer you become of yourself.
Here is the skin off your hand. The skin off your back.
The delaminated rind of your life. Have you noticed
how we tend to avoid poetic mention of these things
by their names: Birth. Life. Love. Death.
Pile up a few metaphors, that’s the standard
prescription. A glimpse for a moment
before the blinds are drawn. Pretending
to look at the sun, at the face of all
the questions. How you love when the mist
rolls down the peaks to conceal the tall junipers,
the road, the caldera, illusions of rock columns
pared to human shapes by an endless knifing wind.
The concealing of yourself you do—
the curtain dropping over the answers you know.
Hide behind it. Wish to have never asked.
You can’t take them back, the words that is,
once they leave your mouth.
A gale rushes you into the vacuum
and it will be enough finally to fall
feathers tight against the body,
plumbing the down draft goodbye.
Photo of watermelon slice and knife
Photo by Rajesh Rajput on Unsplash
Not that I Am Desperate
Brandishing bone saws, tiny things, entering
through cochlea when the air pressure expands.
Don’t believe in ghosts. They steal past and present.
Scribers scratch their message on the walls
but entropy does its work. That scraping from the edge
of the woodlot. The uprooted tree leaning its friction
against the one still standing until in the end
they both fall. A sentence in the wounding of that embrace.
A meaningful phrase in the rustle of dead and dying branches.
Meanwhile that whirring, that mechanical whine in the ears.
What rattles the latch. What calls the clueless thief to abscond
with another critical moment. I have tried stringing specks
of dust into sense. Dust is the body. Dust is the mind. Alone
in the dark now I would speak with anyone, say anything.
Tell me what you want to hear. Not that I am desperate.

I don’t believe in ghosts but I have seen them.


Michael Milligan
Michael Milligan has worked as a construction laborer, migrant fruit and grape picker, homestead farmer and graphic arts production manager. He is a survivor. He took his MFA in Creative Writing at Bennington College, co-founded Poetry Oasis Worcester and was privileged to be an editor with Diner. His poetry book reviews, fiction, and poems have appeared in Agni, Diner, The New Orleans Review, The Valparaiso Review, Chaffin Journal, Blue Earth Review, and others.

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