“The New Superstitions” by Amy Miller

Amy Miller


When the movie starts, cross yourself
for all the nights and weekends
lost by the long lists of workers, for the ones
who got sick and quit the business, who blew
all their money on shrinks, for the one
who got beaned by an ashtray thrown
by the petulant star.

Walking by a playground, throw bark
over your left shoulder as you watch
the little boy tease the girl, the budding man
inside him rising like a fist.

Wear your lucky slob clothing while you watch
the movie of the man playing a slob, his sideways
sneer like your own while you crash daily
into the obstacles of love and faith, while you try
to balance a coffee in one hand and your childish
expectations in the other, while holding
in the fold of your belly a fear of being made a fool,
of loving a photo of someone or maybe an actual body
living right there with you, who has always set off
your alarms but you choose to think they’re only
your own irrational blood pounding
in your ears for no real reason.

On the sidewalk, step over every doubt. You have
no room for them. You are busy and you want
to like what you like and go to bed without
a nagging thought that burrows in and wakes up
your body at 2 a.m., whirring in the dark.

Do not walk under the ladder of your friendly
neighbor, who has always been too friendly and
damn it, you don’t want to think that, you want to be
stoned on kindness like a yoga teacher, but you also
have caught him looking down from his upstairs window
late at night while you’re bringing in the trash can and
damn it, that’s never felt right.

If you break your car’s side mirror you’ll get seven years
of some guy watching you eat lunch as you sit in the safety
of your ’67 Cougar before you realize his face hasn’t moved
from his mirror and he’s watching you steadily, sitting
in his car in the next row in the lot, bouncing you off
a 45-degree angle and making some motion you see
just enough of to know, and you start your car
and drive away nonchalantly as if you didn’t notice,
watching in your mirror to make sure he doesn’t follow.

While you watch the movie, light incense to bring you
back to yourself, to remind you that you are living here
now, that the world has always had dickheads, that you
are not sitting with one right now, and outside a frog
has started up croaking behind the hawthorn bush,
and he’s talking about sex and maybe some aggression
but you know exactly where he’s coming from,
and you’re not a frog so it’s just a song, something
that lulls you to sleep, as all lullabies are darker
and more dangerous than you once believed, but even
sleep is now something different, not entirely pure
but it has its pleasures, its emptying, its motionless beauty.

from Poets Respond
April 26, 2022


Amy Miller: “I saw the news this week that Bill Murray has been fired from his current movie project due to ‘inappropriate behavior.’ The article goes on to describe decades of aggressive and violent behavior toward fellow actors, artists, and his ex-wife. Reading this brought back—as so many things do—the hypervigilance that women live with daily; you can’t live as a woman in the U.S. and not know about that. It’s exhausting to see one pop icon after another bite the dust; there seems no point in admiring anyone. Our culture of celebrity heroes is flawed at its center, engineered to break our hearts. More vigilance.” (web)

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