There's Nothing You Can Do

by Joshua Michael Stewart

I'm boring. I know this.

I wake early in the morning,

walk around in boxers and socks,

listening to a classic Blue Note recording.

You don't care for Coltrane,

and you think socks and boxers

are unattractive, but you're not here.


I spend hours at the window,

drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes,

watching the neighbor kick his dog

for digging up roses. I think about poems,

and how many trees I could put in them:

birch, pine, hemlock, maple.

On the other side of the grove,


traffic rolls down the highway.

The interstate is a belt holding up

the greasy Dickies of the world.

My fifth cup of coffee: I'm buzzing—

worried by the sugar rotting my teeth,

and the way you say you love me,

when you walk into the kitchen


after a day at the office:

I love you, Sweet Butt,

my box-of-imperfection,

my little ball-of-shit.

Grinning at the bathroom mirror,

I peel my lower lip down to my chin.

My teeth, sickly refugees huddled


on a tiny raft breaking apart in open ocean.

I teeter on the idea of calling a dentist,

but like a childish god I'm patiently waiting

for all my toys to sink to the bottom of the tub.

What did you do today? you'll ask,

flopping down a stack of paperwork.

Wearing a maroon bathrobe, I'll look


up from a Charles Simic poem, Nothing.

You'll shake your head, run your hand

through my slicked back hair, and click-clack

into the next room with a You're so boring.

I'm transfixed by the miniature whirlpool

I create with a spoon. The earth whips

around the sun. I'm clinging to its pant-legs.