Matt W Miller


Do bad guys like trampolines? my son asks.
A throw away question, perhaps,
one in a long row on a winter afternoon.
But it has me on the hip to imagine
some Iago let go his grip to bounce
his heart upon his sleeve and tumble
with no monster in his thought.
Nor can I see the Joker, now the bad guy
on our balance sheet after America’s
century of grins, rather than watch
worlds burn, flop into a flip and laugh,
really laugh, which is to say, at himself.
And could Milton’s fork-tongued frat boy,
sufficient to have stood, be free to fall again
on his ass, tumble a happy field, know bliss
upon bliss? Ahab perhaps would wobble
on his whalebone, but to be silly-willing
might risk much more than a fate turned
round and round like yonder windlass.
No, it’s for the trample, not trampolines,
that bad guys leap, Joe. They don’t whirl,
Joe, can’t twirl, won’t grin a goofy landing,
like you will, Joe, your blonde hair
bristled into spikes on the electric air.

Matt W Miller is the author of Club Icarus (University of North Texas Press), selected by Major Jackson as the 2012 Vassar Miller Poetry Prize winner, and Cameo Diner: Poems (Loom). He has published work previously in SlateHarvard ReviewNotre Dame ReviewSouthwest ReviewFlorida ReviewThird Coast, and Poetry Daily, among other journals. He is the recent winner of the River Styx Micro-fiction Prize and Iron Horse Review’s Trifecta Poetry Prize. He has been awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry and a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship in Poetry from Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He teaches and coaches at Phillips Exeter Academy.


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