Out or Up

I was passing by the league of women voters park, and thought of you. We rode bikes there every summer, to visit the island, do you remember? But it was never an island—only a thumb of earth stuck out into boggy soups of stale rainwater, thronged with three brands of tree:

1. Struggling elm

2. Pocked cypress root

3. Stub trunk from long-dead oak 

I was listening to a podcast about movies, and thought of you. The hot young director had selected three juicy jewels to represent his America: 

1. What’s Love Got To Do With It

2. Devil in a Blue Dress

3. Tangerine

I was buying a discount jar of spicy kimchi, and thought of you. Top three extra-terrestrial structures we can no longer believe in: 

1. Dyson sphere

2. Alderson disk

3. Topopolis

I was cleaning out the guest bedroom closet, and thought of you. Top three reasons I never learned the name of my dead neighbor: 

1. She knocked in my first week to share home-made plum jam

2. I hear you’re renovating to make room for seven kids, she said. Are you building out, or up? 

3. I hope it’s out, so you can’t look over to see me sunbathing in the nude.

James Miller is a native of the Texas Gulf Coast. He won the Connecticut Poetry Award in 2020, and is published in the Best Small Fictions 2021 anthology from Sonder Press. Recent pieces have appeared or are forthcoming in Rabid Oak, North Dakota Quarterly, Scoundrel Time, 8 Poems, Phoebe, Yemassee, Mantis, Cleaver, Rathalla Review, Worcester Review, Elsewhere, Passengers, West Trade Review and Counterclock. Follow on Twitter @AndrewM1621.

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