Studies for an Embrace by Corey Miller

“Division” by Parker Thornton

Before your face could dry, I reached out and dragged a piece of your cheek across the
length of the canvas.

The critic, rather obviously, says this gesture highlights the inherent violence in
subjectivity.

My name says I have threshed the mood from your face, separating grain from husk,
spreading your feelings around.

The heart says beat faster, you dimwit, but can’t catch up to your mood receding into the
background—the neon-black screen of the mind.

A sociologist theorizes that rural people love their close friends more and people in
general less, that city people love everyone more but their close friends less because
we’re each allotted the same reserves for attention.

The political poet notes the gulf between real violence and aesthetic violence and says,
whether a poem wants to or not, every poem’s political, the absence of politics or reality
being a mostly white aesthetic.

In the gulf between real violence and aesthetic violence, a number of real works exist.

In Rest Energy, Ulay holds a strung arrow against Abramović’s heart while she holds the
other end of the bow and leans back.

In Cut Piece, the audience cuts away Yoko Ono’s finest suit from her body, strip by strip.

One Fourth of July my friend’s dad fired a bottle rocket from his ass and everyone
clapped.

Most often I wait too long to share so that the stories calcify inside my hand, my throat.

You must be chipping this away with your pickaxe of breath.

A gulf exists between stripping clothing from a woman and stripping clothing from a
man.

That said, who’ll reach me in time?

As a boy, I pissed in a jar in my closet at night instead of crossing the creaking hallway to
the bathroom.

My mom found it when cleaning and demanded the meaning, showed me the feeling.

A museum lit instead by flashbang grenades.

On the kitchen wall some faux-antique signs (about what family stands for, about what
home means) that’ve had time beaten into them with socks full of nails.

Before I cross the divide between us, I must first think softness, think velveteen clouds,
and even then I’m terrified.

Before, I must list all the ways I’m not you.

Someone said my eyes are the cold color of la mer du Nord, which I haven’t seen in any
language.

Please don’t demand your eyes be local colors to me: the Big Muddy, Little Grassy, the
Mississippi.

In his pastoral poems, Virgil placed his city friends in fields they never tended.

In the gulf between the fading rural and the played-out pastoral, a number of real people
exist.

I exist.

There was a time I believed, for empathy’s sake, you had to be at least fifty percent dead
to write an elegy, fifty percent of your life untethered and floating towards the sky.

The air thinner up there, sure, but the light brighter and clear enough to dye the missing
half of you a transparent blue.

The political poet notes that life expectancy varies widely by region, race, and class.

Trapped between the rural and the pastoral, I’d rather not blow rusted-out notes from
trumpet flowers for you.

Ok, hush.

I’ll relent.

Only when Miles Davis was sick would he play the easy, melodic ballads from his youth.

With enough distance, yes, even I can be comforted by the sound of the abandoned dryer
factory as it assembles the metallic silence of goldenrods.

I’ll sand, I’ll breathe time into the songs until they’re older than themselves.