Lindsay Miller


Three Poems (April 20, 2010. Issue 16.)

To the Maggots who Colonized My Spice Cabinet

You're sneaky, motherfuckers,
I'll give you that. You infiltrated
the powdered chai tea
my old roommate left behind
so slow and silent no one even
noticed, avoided the cereal
and peanut butter where I would have
found you, made yourselves
at home in jars of spices
that have never been opened
because let's be real, I don't cook.

By the time I noticed you
squirming tracks in spilled cocoa,
there were corpses piled generations high
in the back corners of my shelves.
Who knows, your ancestors might have
stowed away with the cinnamon sticks
on the pickup truck ride here
from our old house, where the garden
was full of bees
and the copper counters turned green
whenever water hit them.

Maybe you have always been there,
white and watching,
assuming you do in fact have eyes--
I'm not looking close enough to find out.
Maybe you have been
eating my corpses this entire time.

Physicians used to keep you around
to clean wounds, because you
only consume flesh after it's dead.

If you were the ones
who licked up the whiskey from the floor
the night after she tried
to find out what her wrists would look like
inside out, if you swallowed
decay from the edges of those lesions,
chewed up "I hate you" and didn't spit it out
then maybe I owe you some thanks
for digesting all of our secrets
and staying silent beneath the pancake mix.

I should honor your quick quiet life cycle,
all hunger and dark corners
and blind inevitability of rot.
There is a kind of grace in your pale ugly.
I could find it in my bones to love you.

On the other hand, you laid
your wriggling larvae in my popcorn.
For that, you're going to have to die.


This is where we hid the bodies:
the twisted and amputated dolls,
the t-boned matchbox cars,
the journals with pages ripped out.
Unfathomably, we were children here.
This is where the ghosts live.

At the end of the road, feral cats live
in some empty basement. Their bodies
are hollow and dusty. They've been here
since our grandmothers played with dolls,
waiting for us to give up and move out,
take our basketballs and our noisy cars.

When we got our first cars
these streets began to breathe, to live.
Cracked pavement cul-de-sacs opened out
on gorgeous horizons. Our bodies
sang with distance. We were more than dolls.
There was a bright toothy world beyond here

but we always come back here.
We still drive the same beat-up cars.
Our baby selves roll around like dolls
in the backseat. We can live
on silk flowers for a while, but our bodies
always know better. They cry out

for dandelions. When the power goes out
we forget we ever left. It's haunted here,
but peacefully, spirits and bodies
side by side. From the windows of cars,
we see the houses where our lost used to live.
The girl next door used to borrow our dolls.

Later, we ripped the heads off dolls,
cut their hair, threw them out
in huge gray dumpsters. We couldn't live
with the evidence that we once played here,
that we threw snowballs at cars,
that the treehouse was big enough for our bodies.

They didn't have long to live, our stoic dolls.
We turned their bodies inside out
and left them here, listening for passing cars.

Once Upon a Time

I am the prettiest princess.
My eyelashes have diamonds at their tips
and my pink ballerina skirt
swirls out to here when I move.
There is more lavender satin in my closet
than an entire lavender-satin-producing nation
could export in a fiscal year.
These shoes are made of pearls
and will break if I walk on anything
other than very thick carpet.
Fortunately, I have very thick carpet
that matches my gown.
There are no prettier princesses than me.
Once there was a countess
who had longer, shinier, swishier hair
but I had her head cut off
and mounted on a pike at the castle gates.
And I used to have a sister,
but she wouldn't share her glittery nail polish
so I locked her in a tower until she starved to death.
After that, the glittery nail polish
was mine, and so was her pet unicorn.
The rivers run crimson with the blood of my enemies.
My lip gloss tastes like bubblegum.
There is nothing in all the land
that is more sparkly than my tiara.
I've made sure of it.