we used to be goddesses and we used to be gods
and we slipped into one another like teeth into fruit

and we threw the hammer with such extricable force
that all the mangy donkeys turned into magnificent asses

and we intertwined so heavily that we thought that we were nearly dead
interlacing so completely we thought we were passing away

and I was a soldier from Tripoli and you were a nurse from Iran
and you kissed my sponged forehead and held my non-existent hand

and you helped me to slip silently into the sleep of 77 swans
and I waited for you forever to come and to join me there

and I remember when I was a father and you were a basketmaker
and you motioned me back to the darkened room and I felt uncomfortable

and we were serpentine lovers licking one another in the long grass of the meadow
no one could see us except the floating hippopotami overhead

and we used to be stellar jays, stellar jays in the old world that was California
almost six hundred and thirteen years ago now, hopping stick-scratched into the dirt

ancient aviaries in a future pod flitting and flying the riverbanks
from limb to branch – from crook to stone – from rock to silent pool

and we were considerate of dualistic patterns
touching feathers in the late-afternoon ambulatory sun

beak into lips when the moment slowed into light
hidden amongst the secret sumac leaves of eternal reprobation

and we watched the Ohlone Indians making gawee gawee love
on sand gravel river beaches behind big white rocks

and we would get up close enough to hear the exotic muffled language
the frenetic whispers of small forest animals being mauled

able to witness the undulations under brownberry skin
twitching like water bugs on moving beds of mercurial moss

and we were Kennedy-era poets smelling the insides of ovens and rowing in boats
making each other jealous with every word we said to someone else

and we drank and we drank and we drank all the way through prohibition
ruling the streets like spoiled princesses and jacked-up jacks

holding no regard for most anything except for bright lights, fancy wheels and
cigarette holders and the way we looked when we passed by the big shiny windows

and we were perpetrators of high-minded concept crimes
but we never got caught because we had the Overhead Projector on our side

and in the morning we fucked up in the attic and sucked down in the laundry room late at night and we rushed to conclusions about the Harmonium Manifesto

and you were an urban barmaid and I was a rural businessman
and you showed me what it was to finally have some class

and you were a whore and I was anointed
and you drank wine from the center of my embarrassed hand

and they put me on a dusty mule, saluted me with umbrellaed palms
and my friend spoke out against me and exposed my special magic

and we ate my body and they drank my blood
and you kissed my cheek and they sold me out

and it was the blasphemy, the blasphemy springing from our very own lips
exposing us to be nothing more than throwers of common stone

and we talked about thresholds and about how scary our dreams had become
and the ants bit into our calves and we felt the Star of David poking into our groins

and we swam and we swam and we swam and we inhaled the salty water
and the ghosts in our bathtubs were drowned like soap bubbles down a plughole

and it was the same dream, it was the same old dream
and it licked the lobes of our ears like bees off-target

and we ran the same ground and we drank the same cider
and we used to talk like verbage was going out of style

and we kissed pomegranates in the benevolent shade of papery trees
and I flicked your wrist and you sighed like a glamorous bird

but you could see right through me like a mailman into a window
and I would sponge your fears if I were a telepathic god

and if I could, I would go back and rectify all the hatchings
make everything turn out OK, the way they were all supposed to be

back when you were a goddess and I was a god
lounging in the center of our exclusive glassular cloud

looking down to the planetary lapels of white carnations and red incarnations
reincarnations spelling the coming, the coming and the coming

where we both understood in the fraction of an auburn eyelash
that this whole perpetual venture was hinged on us living after forever


Writer MILO MARTIN, a poet by trade, is the author of a collection of poems entitled Poems for the Utopian Nihilist (Echo Park Press, 2008). Milo has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe. He has been invited to perform at international literature and poetry festivals in France, Italy, Germany and Croatia as well as numerous venues in Estonia, Switzerland, Holland, Liechtenstein and Serbia. His works have been translated into four languages. Educated at San Francisco State University and the University of Southern California, he currently resides in Los Angeles. Milo is also currently Co-editor of the poetry section of The Nervous Breakdown. He contends that birds and insects are manifest angels.

11 responses to “We Used to be Gods”

  1. Becky says:

    Shucks, Milo. This is lovely. Worth (demanding?) many more reads, but I wanted to offer my backslaps right away.

  2. Simon Smithson says:

    I concur with Becky, Milo – this is one to dwell on, but, for right now, nice one.

  3. Brother Milo, I’ve so enjoyed hearing you read this poem before. Your voice and presence have given it such depth and dimension. But to see it on the page is just as much a treat. It truly stands on its own as a powerful piece of work. Great, great poem, my dear friend.

  4. Zara Potts says:

    What a fantastic piece.
    I love it.

  5. Lenore says:

    you’re the breast, milo.

  6. Joe Daly says:

    Fantastic. Read it once, looked out into the canyon in front of me, and read it again.

  7. admin says:

    All hail the Overhead Projector!

  8. Erika Rae says:

    This is one big steaming hot sexy soup, Milo. Gorgeous and about 41 weeks pregnant with sounds and imagery. I want to hear it born on your lips, sir. Do you have a link somewhere?

  9. Uche Ogbuji says:

    This poem dares to take the reader on a demanding journey, but comes with a generous supply of rewards along the way. That is a real accomplishment.

    And as others have said, it compels multiple readings (I’ve read it three times now since I first saw it last week). Bravo!

  10. milo martin says:

    your words concerning my words are appreciated and duly absorbed…thank you…and special thanks to Uche for coordinating the feature…

  11. Carl D'Agostino says:

    “And if I could I would go back and rectify all the hatchings.”
    Yeah, and the Beatles told me “Once there was a way to get back
    home again…” And we can’t live after forever for if we “used to be”
    Gods, the power has evaporated.

    By the way if birds and insects are manifest angels…..Well , it
    seems to me you have remembered butterflies and lady bugs,
    but have forgotten mosquitoes, flies, fleas and roaches which
    all of whom even Satan has barred from his legions of insect
    anti-angels. I know there’s that food chain thing but I think
    the Grand Architect of the Universe messed up with the insect
    thing. If you think bugs are angels spend this summer in Florida.
    We do accept the Beatles as prophets, however.

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