Miles David Moore

Cutting to the Chase

He was the impatient one,
fast off the mark, the Cliffnotes kid
who knew that Romeo and Juliet died
but not that parting is such sweet sorrow.
History to him was movies,
the jump cut to the final triumph—
edited to excise politics
and piles of boring bloody dead.
No exposition, no description;
Just that it was, not how or why.
He was a hound of sight, not scent,
who learned that if you jumped the fence
and crossed the race track’s inner circle,
you’d catch the rabbit first—a prize
of fluff and metal, going fast.

Chopin Mazurka

(Op. 6, No. 1, performed by Arthur Rubinstein)

It is the sweet and bitter
that moves us, the paradox,
the skipping beat of the melancholy tune.
Joy and sorrow cut capers together,
measure by measure, note by note,
and in the center of every beauty
is the seed of its own dissolution,
even in the palace of Prince Radziwill
or Countess Potocka.
The beau monde of Warsaw,
those white-gowned ladies and swallowtailed
swains, knew how it felt to be
the main dish carved up by hungry empires.
Their descendants would be carved again and again.
So here are three minutes of solace:
music by a man whose life was short and tragic,
played by a man whose life was long and happy.
The piano pirouettes and swirls like us,
locked in an allegro triple time.

The Criminal

     (In Memoriam John Lewis)

There are many kinds of stupid.
This is one: being fourteen
and lingering half an hour
in my favorite store in the Christmas season,
smiling at the things I couldn’t afford.
I never saw the approach of the cop
who ordered me to empty my pockets.
Seeing they held nothing but shabby
gloves and a stocking cap, he said
that people like me made him leery
and ordered me to watch myself.
In seconds I left the store.
I never returned.

This is another kind of stupid:
being a white kid in a white town
confronted by a white policeman,
thinking this is the worst
it can possibly get, and thinking the same
for decades. That’s what a kid thinks
who gobbled chocolate cake on his tenth birthday
while the blood hadn’t dried on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Miles David Moore has published four books of poetry, the latest of which, Man on Terrace with Wine, appeared in 2020. He was a Top Four winner in the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Competition in 2022. He is also film reviewer for the online arts magazine Scene4.