I Accept

            I've been carrying around questions
            for the treatment facility in my pocket all week:
            How long is the typical stay?
            What is the visitor policy?
            Do you accept Aetna insurance?

            There's something about keeping them close
            to my heart that makes me want to believe
            you'll soon start eating again 
            and won't be needing them anymore.

            But the luck rabbit's foot clasped to my backpack 
            in elementary school didn't prevent Marc Morsey 
            from beating the crap out of me. 
            Just look how it turned out for the rabbit.

            My middle school pleas to heaven 
            to make Robyn LeStam fall in love with me
            only succeeded in teaching what humiliation  feels like.

            The daily affirmations I read each morning
            won't prevent others from trying to exploit
            the optimism I strive to project.

            I'm going to have to hear my own voice 
            inform the person who answers the phone
            my daughter has been diagnosed with anorexia.

Victory Party

        Despite the beard, the congressman-elect has a baby face.
        He's tall, trim, a West Point graduate, a veteran.
        His family comes complete with two cherubic young boys
        and a waifish pixie of a wife. It's as if he were molded
        in a central casting laboratory and rolled out at the moment 
        the country faces a generational existential crisis.

        For the next week, every Democrat-friendly major news
        program on which he's booked is going to ask him to repeat
        his message, mid-term election prediction, and vision
        for America in the same number of characters he used 
        to tweet it the minute networks declared him the winner.

        He's the same man who asked me six months ago
        for insight into raising two kids after his son was born.
        He's the one who praised my letters to the daily newspaper,
        and was the run-away favorite among the county executive
        candidates four years ago.

        He looks so natural up there at the dais. So...presidential.

        He keeps insisting he “can't believe it.”  

Too Late

            There's a reason we revere Socrates today,
            but holding court in the streets like a Mardi Gras
            entertainer, encouraging Athenians to examine
            their lives while his wife Xanthippe ran around
            cuckolding him, didn't exactly paint him 
            in the most favorable light. Many were relieved
            when the hemlock the state forced him to drink
            brought the end he insisted we shouldn't fear.

            Jesus said, “No prophet is acceptable 
            in his hometown,” and he would know.

            Since people refused to listen to him 
            with their own ears, Vincent Van Gogh
            gave them one of his. Unfortunately, 
            most don't understand metaphor, so the sad,
            misunderstood painter became just another
            ignominious artist whose work is now worth millions. 

            Herman Melville spent a year and a half writing
            Moby Dick, only to see it fall out of print 
            after selling 3,000 copies. It wasn't until 
            he had died an obscure New York customs inspector
            critics began extolling Melville's brillance.

            Once he's dead, it's pretty safe to assume 
            being labeled a genius isn't going to go to anyone's head,
            but maybe we ought to try to be a little more supportive
            from now on to that blind blues guitarist in Penn Station
            and the woman at the kiosk in the mall who draws
            ten-dollar portraits in under five minutes.
            Those sci-fi stories the weird kid in class creates
            could be about more than just robots and spiders
            from Rigel-7. That bard you dismissed because 
            you hated poetry in high school sees life a little more
            clearly than we've been able to after all this time.

To a Son Lost

    I don't think that way anymore.
    Perhaps I never actually did.
    There were things I said I abhorred,
    but I don't think that way anymore.
    Occasionally I still wonder where you're
    headed and how you're going to live.
    I don't think that way anymore.
    Perhaps I never actually did.  

This is About You

            For dumping him, Ernest Hemingway got even
            with Agnes Von Kurowsky, the nurse he fell in love
            with while her patient during the first world war,
            by concluding A Farewell to Arms with Catherine Barkley,
            the character on whom she's based, hemmorhaging 
            to death after childbirth.

            I share that so you undestand the potential I have
            for revenge now that you're in this poem. 
            I could really do a number on you if I were
            so inclined, especially since there's no chance in hell
            you'll even be caught dead wasting your feeble
            gray matter on poetry. Not even you will know
            it's you, and your reputation will be subjected
            to undergraduates' tortured interpretations
            long after we both have shuffled off our mortal coils.

            But maybe I ought to save the invectives 
            for another day, another poem. The weather
            is just too beautiful at the moment and I spent years
            furnishing an acceptable place for you in my subconscious
            so I'd never have to feel this way again.

Ted Millar teaches English at Mahopac High School. His work has appeared in "50-Word Stories", "Warp 10", "Fictional Cafe," "Little Somethings Press," "Grand Little Things," "Words and Whispers," "Fleas on the Dog," "Better Than Starbucks," "Straight Forward Poetry," Reflecting Pool: Poets and the Creative Process (Codhill Press, 2018), "Crossways," "Caesura," "Circle Show," "The Broke Bohemian," "The Voices Project," "Third Wednesday," "Tiny Poetry: Macropoetics," "Scintilla," "Inklette," "The Grief Diaries," "Cactus Heart," "Aji," "Wordpool Press," "The Artistic Muse," "Chronogram," "Brickpligh"t and "Inkwell."