Counter-Enlightenment – James Miller
I remember to request no
straw at lunch. The waiter asks whether
I’m doing so to save the planet.
Yes, in fact I am. He smiles and nods,
settles for a breath onto heels,
then toes. Heads off for iced tea,
Waiting on the Summer Special,
I read an article about the Counter-
Enlightenment, so-called. Rousseau
and Leibniz appear, briefly. I recall
the first library I knew well, at twelve.
The picture book that told the story
of Voltaire’s twenty-foot tall Micromegas,
riding a comet to Earth and soon
away again. Not enough here
worth holding in mind, though a hint
of mint hangs still between those
monstrous teeth, and a mote
of cultivated soil.
I read a few more paragraphs,
sitting in my car working on a soft-serve cone.
Keys in lap, driver’s door unmoored
for the breeze, left leg hanging out,
sandal scraping the asphalt. I glance up.
A chicken, two chickens, both browned
as hashed potatoes. They scrabble
between rows of mud-caked monster-
trucks on midday furlough
from the chemplants.
The wind gusts. My door
slams wide to scrape a signature
across the neighbor’s chassis. That weight
will not be sufficient, on returning,
to bruise my shin or break
James Miller is a native of the Texas Gulf Coast. He won the Connecticut Poetry Award in 2020, and is published in the Best Small Fictions 2020 anthology from Sonder Press. Recent pieces have appeared or are forthcoming in Rabid Oak, North Dakota Quarterly, Scoundrel Time, 8 Poems, Phoebe, Yemassee, Mantis, Cleaver, Rathalla Review, Worcester Review, Elsewhere, Passengers, West Trade Review and Counterclock. Follow on Twitter @AndrewM1621.