the wax paper


Miles Varana

I often lie to people at parties

about writing poems about bathtubs

What about bathtubs? They ask 

Oh, you know

Their sleekness, the way they 

just kind of sit there, waiting,

and sometimes, bathtubs as metaphors

Now and then they ask to read one 

I’m sorry, I say, the bathtub file is sealed

that usually gets me a giggle or a smile

and they go back to their drink

suspecting nothing

Well today I woke up in a bathtub

not my own

I started thinking

about what a dishonest scumbag I’ve been

and what would Ferlinghetti think?

I don’t even want to know

and I want to be a better person

so I finally got around to writing this poem

about a bathtub


We had an argument one time. 

Is this city a noun or verb?

You insisted noun, I contended verb.

You saw the cracks in the sidewalk, 

the fire escapes going up to nothing, 

the rain on the window pane, 

the streetcar stopped under the shoes hung

on the powerline, laces white with snow. What ever happened to jazz? You demanded.

I see the lights going out one by one,

the dumpster lids slamming shut,

the brunch spots coming alive at eleven,

the passing of fancies, 

and the streetcar skating away from us

with your scarf on a seat.


Tranquility doesn’t shatter! It melts!

Bridges rot, stones clatter,

bowling alleys fall from grace.


The drive to Scottsdale was long,

We listened to classic rock, no country.Without sleep, we found hubris,

like the spines of cacti, 

sharpened in drought.

Ahistorically, I wondered

whether the road would last

Miles Varana’s work has appeared in Typehouse, The Penn Review, Crack the Spine, and  is forthcoming in  Passages North.  He has worked previously as a staff reader and managing editor at  Hawai’i Pacific Review.  Miles lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where he spends more time listening to podcasts than is probably healthy.