patrick milian


You seem to be slurped from your brother’s shirt
the collar’s stretched so far—shoulder lifted
from a loose gray draping. Wood warms while rubbed
on your skin as you try to split one note
in two. This is etude: lesson in how
music is half fissure. Nickel latches
rattle like arachnids. Maple colored
curves mutter in their beading plush cradle.
The metronome’s click starts; and then it stops;
something inside as splinters are inside
the viola. The needle swings like a
paint-brush. In a still-life, the lemon is
no more unlike the oysters than the un-
seen weevil nibbling softly from behind.


Sometimes we arrive at things already complete:
reflections off a bowl’s rim, distractions in a spoon.

We identify ourselves by shape, color, and imprint,
though flesh-yellow is not an option. We went

to a dinner party, the sort of thing I’m too young
to understand. Proving my maturity is like swapping

bath towels. There is a point at which “intimacy”
is not the right word. Don’t leave your fork and knife

dangling like skin tags from your plate. Ask permission
to touch someone you don’t know. Scoop soup

from the far side of the bowl. Pass port. Pass port.
There are appropriate methods of panic. Pass port.

Numbers don’t prove a story’s truth. We were standing
in our kitchen and noticed how ears can lock like dovetails.

Our circle has been pared down so far the lake presses
against my window like a reception while you count

your medicine. The shower has been running
for so long not even the mold can stand its heat.

Patrick Milian is currently an MFA student at University of Washington where he is associate editor for the Seattle Review. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Prime Number, Heavy Feather Review, and Anamesa Interdisciplinary Journal.