Joshua Gottlieb-Miller
Tongue-Biter Parasite
The fiction pond.

The bird’s leaves.
Enough pretense
in one sled dragging
winter’s end.1

FIG. 1

Brain acres. Blue windows

in the mind to confuse
the evil eye that’s just more

sky. Be a motif. Collage,

permanent epiphany.

Beauty manipulates
its spent articulation.

FIG. 2

Misunderstand myself:2

Wire and string me

already, hard-hearted
spring. To limits
and sources

their worthless observations.
Pray I can discover


1 Treat the world like a mirror,
mimic thinks: long walks,

impatient contemplation,

and I will see myself
in all the qualities I want.

2 Unresolved.
But We Are Not Within Us
There’s no such thing as almost holy
on the mountain pass.1
Waterfalls stripped

the canyon of all interest.2
And of course, it is romantic:3

My hands

secretly wonder I am meant
to be alone.4


1 Pass

assuming someone’s coming through.

2 The canyon vain
and possibly blasphemous

in its liberty to be skeptical of itself,
it must have a purpose.

3 the water come here for any reason

to find only rest falling, as we had
traveled many miles not knowing what for,

not wanting to know
until the day atones us, and we are in it,

and something about its being beautiful--
let slip, water off a cliff.

4 When the deep beneath

recedes into the valley
Not Ghost Forest, Not Ghost Lake
The ghost town becomes a tourist trap,
which sounds like it’s a bad thing,
but people settle down. They come

to support the great outdoors,
so we come to support them
supporting the great outdoors.

God rules all living things.


A drought leads to wildfires
as violence leads to resolution. Children
are born here. An earthquake interferes

with the geyser process. Microbes survive
from a previous age into vibrant red dust
mists pick up at prismatic springs.

Silence everywhere, cilia along
each ear canal un-flattening.
Wildfires lead to deeper droughts.

Unseen seeds unflowered in microclimates,
over animal highways, under
the only species we don’t try to conserve:

the buzzards constantly circling.


Over an arid electric sunset quality
of distance, abandoned highways
and implied towns, a whole narrative

of equilibrium interrupted
by old facades. Plastic logs
weathered to wind-beaten.

As in an eco-tone
of time: now and again now--
two overlapping species.
Time doesn’t move here, we do.


Through painted hills,
by signs cut from petrified wood.
A butte named for a heart

on a spear long ago standing
atop it. The historical marker says so.
Red dust forms the landscape, which isn’t

in itself a spiritual crisis, but raises
certain questions from the ground:
arrow-heads and petro-glyphs

and rocks for bashing heads in.
Savage christenings.
Manifest destiny, meaning the future

belongs to the past and is saved.


For-rent sign on the lakefront
realty home-office. A store that sold
the Sundance Kid a knife

while he was still a child.
The visitor’s lodge plays videos
of the mountain you can see in real time

through panoramic windows. A city
has a sign that says last of the old west
next to the city with a sign that says

last of the old west. Covered
wagons and eighteen wheelers.
Shell lands for us to educate.

The buzzards watch us


admire them. Our children tell us
there is nothing we can’t rebuild.