"A Walk in the Park" and "My Last Will & Testimony"

A Walk In the Park

                        Memorial Day 2023


In the dead half of a sycamore, an osprey
watched a V of ducks fly over Poway Lake.
I walked the trail circumcising the shore
as freshwater pelicans swam near the reeds
at the mouth of the outlet of a feeder stream.
Families hike or picnic along the sandy shoreline.
Near the stream feeding the eastern part
of the lake, I noticed a child’s designer clothes
and his mother’s broad-rim hat.
Stepping off the path into the picnic area,
I saw two Nazi flags pinned to pine staffs.
In front of them is a table with KFC baskets.
Near a basket of chicken, a phone plays
a blues song as the full-bearded, bald man yelled
I call this watermelon music. Four women
in the group laughed as they tugged
on the cut ends of their jean shorts.
Wearing vests, shirtless men passed
a quart between them.
Some rubbed their shaved heads. Others wore
their hair long and tied back into a ponytail.
The bearded one had The Filthy Few tattooed
on his back, and I knew it mattered to pass unseen.
Behind them, the light sparkled on the lake’s waves,
and the sun dazzled as it bounced off the sand.
This scene could have been an impressionistic painting
of a gathering in the early 20th century, but this was
an American park in the 21st century. It was not
a photo of 1930 Berlin. Tapping an imitation
Bowie knife on the table, the tattooed man yelled
It’s watermelon time.
The group’s laughter was hearty and terrifying
as the wind blew a cloud of beach dust
across the picnic table. Leaving the beach,
I paused at the edge of the sand and trail. I looked down
at the web connecting flower to weed. A spider pulsed
on an orange petal as I wondered what the smell
of barbecuing meat prophecy.



My Last Will & Testimony

Brothers, if I don’t live to see the day,
meaning, if I die before the face of bigotry,
take me to the desert and bury me
beside the border. For my headstone,
plant a barrel cactus, its thorns a reminder
of the pain of thirst. At my feet place
a napolito. The purple blooms will remind
the anti-migrant that the desert winds
recorded the crimes responsible for
their eternal penance. Of course,
the martyr migrants won’t hear
the pronouncement of that sentence
for they are buried in lost graves.
Brothers, if I don’t live to see the day,
meaning, if I die before face of bigotry,
let me lie forgotten with the others
who died thirsting for life.
As for my belongings, I leave
the unimportant items to my estate.
Furthermore, I leave to my pencil —
two forefingers and a thumb, to my desk —
a calendar mat with multiple coffee-
stains, and to the binder of my poems
— the symmetry of the alphabet.
I leave to my window — the view
of the trees and stars, to my breath —
a gust of wind, to my memory —
a path to oblivion. I leave to my epitaph —
my army nickname, to my grave —
the silence of sleep, and to my urn —
the ashes of my life. Brothers, if I don’t live,
and if you remember, give water to the thirsty.



Joe Milosch’s has four books of prose and poetry. A Walk with Breast Cancer was selected for a San Diego City Library Local Poet Award. His book Homeplate Was the Heart & Other Stories was nominated for the American Book Award and the Eric Hoffer, best Small Press Publication award.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Saturday, September 30, 2023 - 12:32