Two Poems by C.J. Miles

I Hoped You Had Forgotten How to Dance That Night
For Aaron

Everything is transmitted through sex these days: hearts chipped
And whittled away, what follows an Aedes bite, tiny warts clustered
Together like cauliflower. Kids, skip your vegetables, go straight
To dessert. The worst massacre since the last worst massacre.
The worst massacre since, ever and nothing makes sense
Anymore: Taylor Swift is dating Loki and Britain is divorcing
All of Europe, and now I’m thinking just a bunch of stupid shit,
Like: is the devil still in Tasmania, twirling itself off a cartoon cliff?
Can you give Clozaril to a corpse?
If walls could talk, would they all speak Spanish?
Lately I‘ve been thinking about bullets in the form of months.
Like: that was a lot of months they wanted that guy dead.
And: how many clips does it take to make a year? And even more:
How many times did they almost miss?


People Doing People Things
For Aaron

I was somewhere between St. Thomas and Tortola,
Getting fat on a floating city, watching the waves
Rise and fall, a deep sigh after each crash, as if
The sea was constantly threatening to give up,
When the news broke: two guns, one shooter,
The death toll climbing and climbing, a ladder toward
Infinity, and I wondered when was the last time
Anyone tried to count that high? I couldn’t remember
if California was still burning or if Ebola was still a thing,
So my mind drifted to my wife’s bathrobe, curled on
The carpet, still damp from what the towel didn’t dry,
And then I thought about the children we’ve yet
To have but already named after what we’ve buried
In the wilderness, and then I thought
About how lost space gets when we forget to look up.
I miss you, I wanted to tell you. I hoped you had forgotten
How to dance that night.
But the Caribbean
Wouldn’t take my call. Eventually everyone you see
Becomes someone you used to know.
A week later it would be Istanbul, four years ago
It was kids just learning how to be kids. Before that
A freshman fifteen times two in Virginia,
Pipe bombs spray painting a high school cafeteria.
After Tortola it was Nassau before back
To port in Miami. I stood on my balcony
And watched the sea quietly eat itself.
I looked for dolphins but all I saw was seaweed,
A runaway soda can, everyone I would never see.


C.J. Miles lives with his wife in Iowa. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the Eunoia Review and Algebra of Owls. Follow him @cjmilespoet.