Joe Mills


We ignore the emails from the Nigerian banker,
the manager for the British National Lottery,
the Chinese immigrant offering millions to help
launder his fortune, but we'll click on the file
from our spouse or sibling.  It's those we love
who infect us as anyone with children knows.  
Hamlet could have walked away from Elsinore,
if it hadn't been his father, his mother, his uncle,
and they insisted on keeping him close enough
to bring everyone down.  Guard the battlements
and put in firewalls, install alarms and cameras,
stockpile weapons; these will help you feel
as if you're doing something, but what will come
will come from family and friends.  Love pulls
you into blood; love is how we all are breeched.


As I leave, my son yells, "Daddy, watch out
for other cars and monsters."  It's good advice.
I tell him I will, and I'll pay special attention
to monsters in cars.  I've seen quite a few:
tailgaters, speeders, drunks, teenagers
weaving and mooning, an old woman
flipping the bird and screaming so hard
saliva strands whipped from her mouth.
And there were those nights years ago
when we couldn't go to anyone's house
so we would park near the woods to explore,
snuffling and grappling each other's pelts
aware of the dangers, scared, but unable
to resist our beautiful monstrous selves.

Joe Mills has published three volumes of poetry—Somewhere During the Spin CycleAngels, Thieves, and Winemakers; and Love and Other Collisions—as well as numerous works of fiction, non-fiction, and criticism.  He teaches at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and is the poet-in-residence at Salem College.



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