MK Miller – “30 at 30” – A Chapbook

30 at 30

Our Author’s Answer To The Oh-No-Go-Away-Anything-But-Turning-30 Blues

Darkening doorstep—
sodden displays, tear buckets,
that’s what they suggest.
I’ve plane tickets tropical,
laughter— thirty, lick my dust.

**

Thirty & Single

I still own college
clothes, car, television, books,
forty thou in loans.
No house, no spouse, no child, true—
but MFA, few regrets.

**

In Which Our Author Realized (Their Relationship Was Going Nowhere Good)

Paul didn’t want me
to marry him and live here—
orchards, country lane—
he assumed I’d leave all
I knew—suburbs, our slow end.

**

First Date, Repeatedly Mistake

“My students, too, ask:
why aren’t you married yet?
Why don’t you have kids?
Why?  He married someone else.
The other answer: myself.”

**

In Which The Jilted Attempts Getting On With It Already
Or: Whose Poem Is This, Anyway?

Paul’s got a daughter.
He’s got a blonde trophy wife.
PhD.  Money.
California, brand new life.
Whose poem is this, anyway?

**

Found

Found:  high school photos.
Gray box in parents’ basement.
Big bangs.  Hungry jaws.
Three best friends forever, beam.
All so eager.  Now grown, gone—.

**

In Which Our Author Googles At Midnight

Tick-tock, idle mind.
Awake—ex-crushes checked first.
Then once-friends, -profs, -priests.
None spared truth-spilling typeface.
Better?  Worse?  Curious?  Why?

**

Teacher is a Verb
Or: Our Author’s Full-Time, Part-Time (Pre)Occupation

I copy handouts,
empathize, e-mail, suggest.
Talk, read, talk, grade, talk.
I make my own damn coffee,
I wear my own self empty.

**

In Which Our Author Remembers the Wise Counsel of Her Elder In The (Teaching) Field

“Each year, they’re younger.
Each year, we’re the ones to age.”
Bowed backs, khaki slacks,
out of touch with current fads.
Moms and Dads.  Now: almost them.

**

In Which, Among The Bills and Advertisements, Our Author Spies A Harbinger Bearing Familiar Handwriting

Invitation, gilt.
Monogram, cream envelope.
RSVP, please
“join us for the union of…”
Will my day come?  Not today…

**
Interlude Man
Or: When Mr. I’ll Show Him Shows Our Author

Coy balladeer boy,
True or False?  Same rakish grin.
Derby, dressed to nines,
guitar strum, Chablis, don’t come—.
Better without his Muse-ick!

**

“When It’s Your Time, It’s Your Time”

Sis—on the cruise boat.
Mom and Dad—next door neighbors.
Friends—church, fix-ups, work,
the writing seminar, bar.
Pursue your goals until then.

**

In Which Our Author Decides She Will Go For Broke

Verse in Poetry.
Novels, Hollywood, Broadway—!
“Slow and steady wins the race.”
Common wisdom would prevail—
were I a common woman.

**

Baby Fever and What Our Author Does When Everyone She Knows Has Caught It

A new baby girl!
John’s sister.   Amy’s brother.
A new baby boy!
Shop for coochey coochey coo.
Friends quip, “Enjoy quiet now!”

**

Forgotten

The waiter walked past—
no water refill for me.
You laughed when I quipped,
“I’m made to be forgotten.”
Six weeks— you haven’t called once.

**

In A Bad Way: In Which Our Author Suffers A Setback, Mired in Spinster Stereotypes
Or: Muckety Muck

Fifty stray kitties,
fat ankles, flowered muumuus,
“those damn kids these days”
depilatory, foul moods.
What she never had, killed her.

**

In Which Our Author Attempts Raising Her Spirits and Lowering Her Credit Limit

Retail Therapy—
a new coiffeur by Mitzi,
sparkly high heeled shoes,
sequin dresses I won’t wear,
cheesecake on the way home, cry.

**

In Which Our Author Gets Back on Track With A Little Help From Other (Sometime) Familiar Sources

SASE. [Gulp.]
Slow walk back from postal box.
Afternoon glow, no
Thanks?  Acceptance! Yes shimmers.
Published author.  Hope renewed.

**

Mixed Messaging

“If I were still young,
I wouldn’t even bother.
I love your Dad, but
women get all of the work.
Still—I hope you find someone.”

**

Platonic

Prompt, attentive, kind—
votes, tithes, remembers his Mom,
cute if not handsome.
Girls should want him, but they don’t.
I should want him, but I don’t.

**

Lineage #1

Victorian born
Depression tested, worked, wed—
sans the Pill and Choice,
each year, a full bassinette,
“spare the rod and spoil the child.”

**

On Having An “Outside” Job

Dad’s Mama didn’t,
Mom didn’t after we were born,
Mom’s Mom, widow, had—.
Now Sister doesn’t want hers.
Me?  I work, therefore I am.

**

Lineage #2/Continued

Doctor Spock’s children,
Boomers wild, finding themselves.
From farms to campus,
campus to communes, free love.
I’m the romance of their search.

**

In Which Our Author Celebrates Front Page News

Grocery store check-out,
women’s magazine headline—
Single & Sublime!
“Solo years bring fulfillment
more than mere pairings.”  My life.

**

Already, Further Along Than My Grandparents and Parents

Caribbean teal,
Western russet after rains,
Texas bluebonnets,
Tar Heels’ sandy beaches gold—
they knew solely local skies.

**

Cocktail Reception At the Artists Retreat, In Which Our Author Asked The One She Really Wanted It To Work Out With “How is a guy like you here alone?”

Brown eyes, supple smile,
rancher turned landscape painter,
witty then quiet,
“…and Liz divorced me last spring,”
he looks down.  Damn—not ready.

**

In Which Our Author Breathes a Sigh of Relief, Coming and Going As She Pleases

Wal-Mart aisle— man scowls,
wife scurries behind, cowers,
“I’m almost done, Ed.”
Husband rolls his eyes, curses.
This is marriage?  Stay single.

**

Starter Marriage
Or: Vain Attempts to Comfort As Cheryl, A Longtime Friend, Tries To Explains The Beginning of the End

Third separation.
“I didn’t know myself then.”
Divorce impending?
“I just wanted to save him.
Guess I’ll save myself instead.”

**

Fancy Free

Anyplace I want:
spa weekend, New Mexico,
writing seminar,
Italy, Greek Isles, Bali.
Fancy free.  Bags packed. Ready—.

**

In the End As The Beginning, Our Author Celebrates Another 365

Friends’ sons send drawings,
smiling students, birthday lunch,
surprise—!  Sister calls.
Who has time for boo-hoo blues?
Life: muddled, joyous, starting—.

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