Four Poems by Erick Piller

I Want a Tiny House
I want a tiny
house for my tiny
life. I want to sleep
efficiently in
a solar-powered
hole and expend as
little energy
as I can. I want
to breathe less often
so as not to suck
in and kill microbes
who have done nothing
to me and whom I
shall regard as my
models for living.
I think the good life
is hardly a life
at all. In my house,
my tiny house, I
will let the plants grow
and the moss and sleep
upon their soft green
in my tiny hole.
I want to eat only
my fingernails and
hair and maybe some
of the moss if I
must. I want to lounge
with the tardigrades.
I want to feel my
body turn to dirt.
My Bohème
I slept by ditches for the sound of the water
and sold dice to beggars and stole their cans of soup.
I boiled the soup in the cans, on a rusty coop
that I dragged from the woods and lit a fire under.
This was on a beach where I drew new constellations.
This was when I still kept my cousin’s ashes in a jar
blown by my brother. This was my guitar:
a voice too smoky for my modulations.
Or one lonelier evening I fished for ducks by a lake
with scraps of white bread on a hook and string—
I ate bread that night, after catching nothing
but my boot in the loop of a water snake.
With majesty I cloaked myself in the same wool blanket
that my father had slept in on the Russian front
and wrapped myself in Visqueen and always played the dunce
under street lights outside every moneyed banquet.
Or in my steeple hat I sang to the nameless girls
of the curbs and alleys and wooed them with my claims
to be a bishop of Canterbury with one leg lame
and one ear deaf and pity for the world.
And thirty nights in the grass the September dew
dripped from my jowls like a vigorous wine,
but when morning came my mouth was always dry
and my eyes were stricken and no words rang true.
At Several Points
All of it there from the beginning, in the rooms of Man’s childhood
home in West Virginia, in the hills of Madagascar, too, and electric, for a second, like a lunatic—in the mind of an infant—like the poem and the slipping motor, like the monk just returning to speech, but under the waters of another year, under the years
but in the caves at Lascaux, the desire that “Man” carved and you carve into rock, with shells, fingernails, bones from these same animals—
imagining, running across a field of brittle reddish grass, antelope,
and behind them a single thing, that desire that defies and depends on, and which becomes a ceremony—
(we break our fingers stupidly, we can’t lift the cups anymore) imagining until our clothes start to unravel and our skin starts to unravel, until we find ourselves in the city
of children again, but—no—separate cities: one called “Lascaux,” the other “Lascaux”; the one called “Memory” and the other “Memory”—
that, I think, might be part of the ceremony, but I forget—
The Bloated Fisherman’s Hymn
Lord have mercy on my days in this water.
Seaweed trails from my ankles, as if I were Hermes,
and sardines graze my sides like volleys of darts.
My prayer to you still has something of the sea,
illusions of infinity, wind like a storm’s—
I came into this world on the tongue of a whale,
and now I roll in the wide ocean’s belly.
I float, at night, between the dumb constellations
and starry clouds of bioluminescence.
Erick Piller received an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College in 2012. His writing has appeared in Best New Poets 2016, TriQuarterly, DIAGRAM, Journal of Creative Writing Studies, and elsewhere. He lives in Northeast Connecticut and is pursuing a Ph.D. in rhetoric and composition and creative writing pedagogy at the University of Connecticut

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