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If Only

by Edward Miller 

Words are not pickled

but neither are they just picked.

By which I mean

they have their own agenda

and you must adjust.

Words are neither opaque nor transparent.

By which I mean

they are free to feel the burden and privilege

of accuracy and obfuscation.

Words are not toilet-trained.

By which I mean

they leave rabbit-like pellets of poop with every hop.


But what happens at night when you crave serenity and slumber? Sharp-edged words collect in the wind and form a twister in your mind. If only you could catch one and stop the others from whirling about. If only silence was a place to which we could fly. If only. If.


One day I decided

I could wash these words.

By which I mean

they are sullied and stained.

One day I decided

I could dry those words.

By which I mean

they are soaking in sudsy water.

One day I decided

I could make a flag

out of washed and dried words

and wave it high above my house.

All my neighbors would then salute it

though it stands for nothing.

By which I mean

words are cloth and

words are pattern and

words are color. And.

By which I mean. If only. If.

To which we could fly. One day.

About the Author

Edward D. Miiller has written two chapbooks of poetry, The Moment and the Sequence (2021) and The Rock in the Middle of the Road (2019). He is finishing a third book of poems. He is a professor at The College of Staten Island and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Links to his creative nonfiction and poetry available online can be found at Born in Brooklyn, Miller lives now in the East Village with his husband and their Chihuahua.

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