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by Michael Milburn, Published by Word Press, 2012


The Montréal Review, August 2012


Image: "Cloud Nine" by Sarah Lee




Always at the time of

greeting and leaving

I hang back or move

toward in reaction to


someone else's step

forward, but just can't

follow through, trust

that there's got to be


something endearing

about a guy frozen as

a pole while everyone

goes for each other.


I'm not otherwise shy

about this ritual either

in practice or principle,

hug my son because


my parents blah blah

would never hold me,

and am a big hugger

on the inside, always


envisioning shedding

my self for a finer one

that will run right into

those reaching arms.





They look so inviting

from afar. I imagine

walking in, mingling,

not wanting to leave.


But the hour arrives

and my vision gives

way to anxiousness,

that instability I face


as astronauts brace

for their shuddering

descent into gravity,

when both man and


mission are right on

the verge of coming

apart, only to float

into a liquid landing,


like me with a drink

in my hand and two

inside me, blessed

to survive the entry.





The further we get from experience

the more we compact it

into a tossed-off phrase-

her year spent seeing the world;

his drinking days.


I think of my twenties this way,

and my marriage

and post-divorce years,

as big, handleless boxes

with nothing vivid inside,

though every day

their contents steep

in my consciousness.


Even with photos

I'm blank on those times,

unable to conceive of who I was

or what I was thinking,

as if I might as well (and this

is depressing as hell)


not have been there. It's not

just like it's another person,

but like a movie

where I turn to my companion

and wonder how the guy onscreen

can stand being so unhappy.


So if someone boasts

that he headed west

or started fresh,

I admit the appeal

of the aerial view,

but life rendered in language

is most of what we leave of life,

so I resist packing it

in a shrink-wrapped phrase,


as awkward as it is to say

the terrain below

changed from plain

to mountains, or

doubt accompanied my departure

and was waiting

when I arrived.


"Carpe Something" by Michael Milburn (Word Press, 2012)

"Carpe Something, masterful in line, language and craft, might be titled Carpe Verum. With 'the clarified sun' of Michael Milburn's vision and courage, the reader, whether current or lapsed in the arts of introspection and reflection, is reminded that it is as rare to seize the truth as the day, and the companionship of a poet as skilled as Milburn is in the former is perhaps the best 'something' out there"

-Trish Reeves

"With an uncanny patience, Michael Milburn's short lines do not feel terse or hurried or frantic as they explore every degree of feeling between intimacy and estrangement. These poems kindly explore the foibles of romance and pride. In so doing, they re-imbue our American affluence with a sense of adult wonder and hope because the poems continually plump the secret radical spring of compassion. This book rejuvenates the heart by keeping a close eye on the transience of love and life. Don't deprive yourself of the pleasure of reading Carpe Something. The title is not flip. Read this book today. It sizes the amplitude of time."

-Richard Lyons


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