Two Poems

By Michael Milligan 

Flat

Pardon my flatness of vision. I stand on a geometric plane marked by a line.
Therefore at least two points. Abstract points, not here nor there. From my perspective
this conceptual horizon, demonstrating my existence, will exist so briefly

it is hardly worth the bother of proclaiming that therefore it or I or you are some sorts
of thing. I and You or Us and Them apparently do not matter anyway
(see politics: 21st century) let alone Be or Become though I am thinking a question to ask

might be whether an idea of an idea falls at the same speed as an object containing mass
if mass existed on this plane where already nothing is observed and nothing as we all know comes from nothing unless an occasional hydrogen atom pops in from a parallel universe.

Something might be infinite if there was some thing. Someone keeps reminding someone
else of the ruining crunch of time as if we cannot observe for ourselves and for Pete’s sake
no talk here of the earth supported on a turtle’s back since infinite turtles are required

to support that first weary turtle and then the turtle supporting that turtle ad infinitum
like those kids’ eternally maddening songs about 99 bottles of beer or how many ants march underground, songs that seem to be infinite though they are not, and nothing like counting

sheep, a sad lonely affair since counting sheep indicates sleeplessness and what could be more annihilating than infinite insomnia? Not to mention the incessant drum beat of proof pounding away eternally just out of sight. I can also argue there is no proof of anything because go ahead

and wade back through all those words merely to disprove me. So more flat prose-like stuff sneaking across this ubiquitous plane but still no drums to be seen or heard,
the afore-mentioned drumming being metaphor. Consider the insistence of the unseen.

Now to those who have made it this far I present a moment of the nearly concrete:
When measured topographically Nebraska is comparatively flatter than a pancake.

Once I Grew a Beard

An early frost today and the house
guests have come down to the kitchen.
I wish I could take this mask off,
put a different mask on.

Sometimes I imagine I want
to open up to myself, become
intimate with my own intimacy
but someone always comes along
who needs keeping in the dark.
Often as not that new arrival is me.
I am looking at decades of a real lack
of epiphanies here.

And the big questions I want to ask
such as what pushes up
from the dirt once all disguise
is put aside, and does the mask
make the face or does the face
make the mask, and mostly
whether you are concealing
something as well, right now,
just like I am—
these questions are just so much
why-bother. We trundle our rags
and skin step by step inside
that gray-lit tunnel toward the next
mystery that will also never
be solved. That silence roars
like wind, rain, ice, snow
all stormed together.

Oh no,
another simile over-the-
top but I needed one quickly
since the coffee has finished
brewing and I can no longer
conceal myself behind
kitchen bustling. When wearing
the mask you observe
right now I am known
for hyperbole.
This mask demands
the big bigger biggest
the one-that-got-away
and it seems to me
the mask always gets
what it wants
raising yet more disturbing
questions.
This mask
also thrives on the discursive,
on the high calorie tangent
which is not where I want to go
but someone is hugging me
good morning and I can’t
change with all these others
in the room…

Once I grew a beard.
Then I shaved it off.


Michael Milligan has worked as a construction laborer, migrant fruit and grape picker, homestead farmer and graphic arts production manager. He took his MFA in Creative Writing at Bennington College, thereby joining the teeming mass of writers with degrees of dubious cachet. He was co-founder of Poetry Oasis in Worcester MA and was co-editor of Diner. His book reviews, fiction and poems have appeared in AgniThe New Orleans ReviewThe Valparaiso Review, Chaffin Journal, and others.

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