April 27, 2021

“Head Space,” Poems by Ted Millar

“Head Space,” Poems by Ted Millar
Head Space 
I still know my childhood best friend's 
telephone number even though 
I'll never dial it again. 
I've taught certain poems so many times 
I can recite them on demand, yet 
some claim that has no practical application. 
Most find my ability to name the American 
presidents by years in office amusing 
before urging me to remember “something important” 
(like last night's winning Powerball numbers?). 
I embrace my savant-esque ability to rattle off 
every Bob Dylan album and the songs featured 
on them. I prefer not to cram my head  
with empty crap on the radio and celebrity  
gossip, thank you very much. 
Want something proofread, I'm the resident 
grammarian, but if it's scores to last night's 
game, I suggest turning on ESPN. 
I've actually read the whole Constitution, 
not cherry-picked excerpts. Ditto  
the Declaration of Independence,  
the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights, 
the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita. 
Although not identifying as Buddhist 
anymore, I still adhere to the Noble Truths 
while traveling the Eightfold Path. 
Now that you know where I'm coming from 
I trust you'll understand when I forget 
where I've left the car keys or what  
you needed me to pick up from the grocery 
store on my way home. There's only  
so much RAM to go around. 

The Bottom of My Heart 
Please trust only what comes 
from the bottom of my heart. 
Believe me, not even I listen 
to the other parts. 
The top, for example, 
is known for cupidity, 
so it's prone to utter  
just about anything. 
The middle is nice  
but fickle; 
it has a hard time  
accepting the middle. 
The sides are always  
picking fights like fraternal 
twins at dinner.   
One's conservative,  
the other liberal.   
This leaves the bottom, 
dark and deep.   
You'll have no problems 
falling asleep 
knowing what it says  
is what it believes, 
and when wounded, 
                    actually bleeds.   
                    So don't pack your bags 
until you hear all sides. 
Then if you choose to leave, fine.    

Real gods require blood 
(golden shovel form based on an excerpt from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston) 
Please don't give me it all. Half 
is enough for me. Reserve the rest for the gods, 
for that is where the worshippers are. 
Here are only the idle worshipped 
who don't understand the mess they're in. 
Sitting around with old wine 
in new bottles, a buffet, and 
a bouquet of flowers  
doesn't get us any closer to real 
spiritual fulfillment. The gods 
I need, what I really require, 
are unattainable without blood.  

Past Lives 
--for Lydia 
Your eyes remind me of a goddess I used to worship 
eons ago, when my family paid the Pharaoh 
for permission to pray. 
Your hair takes me back to a mountain in Outer Mongolia, 
where in another life I used to weave secret silk 
for the emperor’s mistress. 
Perhaps we were the first Romeo and Juliet, 
star-crossed, ill-timed, traversing history 
for the most recent juncture to inevitably unite us.    

Til the Cows Come Home 
They're apparently the demarcation line, 
the 38th parallel, the proverbial point 
of no return. I'm not sure what they'll 
bring us (except some milk and maybe anthrax), 
or what's supposed to be different once they've arrived.   
All I know is, since you told me 
you'd love me until then, 
I can't stop watching the horizon, 
listening for lowing. 
Selfie Face 
This is apparently how we smile now; 
at least that’s what posterity might assume 
after we’ve passed on to it our clouds  
and timelines. Gone are the albums 
full of cheezy grins, occasional dazzlers 
captured in the perfect light, peace signs 
behind unassuming relatives’ heads. 
We’ve all become ducks now, jutting 
out pursed lips as if outside the frames 
above us hang guillotines of mistletoe 
threatening kisses that never come. 


Ted Millar teaches English at Mahopac High School.  His work has appeared in Little Somethings PressGrand Little Things, Words and Whispers, Fleas on the DogBetter Than StarbucksStraight Forward Poetry, Reflecting Pool: Poets and the Creative Process (Codhill Press, 2018), Crossways, Caesura, Circle ShowThe Broke BohemianThe Voices Project, Third Wednesday, Tiny Poetry: MacropoeticsScintillaGFT PressInkletteThe Grief Diaries, Cactus Heart, AjiWordpool Press, The Artistic Muse, ChronogramBrickplight and Inkwell.  He was among 65 poets to have work accepted for the 2018 Arts Mid-Hudson exhibit Artists Respond to Poetry.     

In addition to writing poetry, he is also a frequent contributor to Liberal AmericaLiberal Nation RisingOpEd Newsand Medium

He lives in the heart of apple and wine country in New York’s Hudson Valley with his wife and two children.   

Head Space
#gods#heart#memory#poetry#Ted Millar

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