Two Poems by Miles Waggener

East Van Buren

After they wake coughing from ditches
Nest-like blankets and plastic bags
Desert sifting sky and contrail Xs after
Another night shift and minimart to
Needle malt liquor’s psychotic
Droll of fuck you fuck this fuck another
Arrow’s arrival into that fat swan
Near the corporate campus pond like us not yet
Dying like a shiv comes the night unhinged


Gutted green cable box graffiti
kept breaking the news all summer
I was one part halogen one part ghost and you

were about to blow
town your drowned sister’s photograph
buckled orange from six years

of swamp cooler gas above the sink
fever skinned its dreamer
or so the swaying power lines said

one of us wrecked our car I
won’t say who leaving us to
walk chlorinated alleys

in Walgreens flip flops to the center
of the universe the Do Drop Inn
where a sign read your

bartender is COWBOY BE NICE
red and yellow tire repair shop
signage ate through fence slats

Harry Dean Stanton’s cameo on Bonanza
cranked loud enough to lose teeth
our dour circumference an all-but infinite feeling

snaking fires their foil-like surfaces
of apartment courts named ironwood ocotillo quail birch
principalities brightening above

liquor stores acrid burnt places
swing shift nurses finishing up sex workers
clustered around a single pay-as-you-go phone

yelling we love you Harry

to which the frailest voice in Maricopa County
said girls you know I know you do

to which you asked me what’s the difference
between us and nature?

your dog was by the bathroom door
tearing the squeaker heart out of
a plush Mister Happy

COWBOY told us don’t let him eat that

The difference is we’re paying customers

if found
I wrote in my pink notebook
please burn

while reading on the bus
brutalized later by the smallest moon

in dirtiest dawn
the air around your sleeping heft
beneath the oscillating fan

grew thick and scarce
you told me in your sleep
there’s not a moment

with you
I don’t plot
my escape

Miles Waggener is the author of four volumes of poetry: Phoenix Suites, Sky Harbor, Desert Center, and most recently Superstition Freeway, published by The Word Works of Washington DC. He has been the recipient of The Washington Prize as well as individual grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Nebraska Arts Council.