Two Poems

Benjamin Miller

(There Will Never Be) Mastery of the Plural
                for Timothy Donnelly
You can't rely on the intuition of strangers.
Uncontained in parentheses, a life beyond
the ordinary life of rooms pops into my head –

and also robins. Around the corner is a maturation.
The room smells like theft, like some cartoon bear
whelmed in steel, but that might just be my form

of stopwatch resistance. Any time I've been on time
it's been accidental. Have you pursued the heavenly?
That's the yes of not completely; you have to watch out

for streetlamps, don't you – don't you wish this strip
of pleasure went on a little bit longer? I can imagine
a parallel universe in which I believe that

it is a different music, and there is an eggplant here,
a real rambunctious playfulness that we can call
humor. That would be so meadowed-in-a-flatness.
Lions Will Take You and I Will Not Care
                after Vermeer
I will lay out all your past misdeeds
and catalogue them: 1. Your legs
do not exist 2. Your tolerance
for luminance is far too limited
by your relationships with women
3. I am not amused. Small animals
have fallen before you in disgust
with less aplomb than you display
before me now, and I the master
here. Brimful of finial, your chair
turns under your weight 4. I saw
your scarf chasing across grounds
itself. This was your fault; the sky
blue cloak you'd offered, clouded,
could not protect me from the sun
reflected off your morning-coat.
Did I say nimbus? I meant safe-
haven, keyhole for a missing key.
You make the drawing, yes, but
who provides the pen must answer
to it 6. I speak, and you write
nothing. Are you unlettered by my
conversation? Let me not distract
as violins do not distract. Empty
your glass the other half 5. Thought
I'd leave out number five? How easy
it has always been to trick you.