» Poetry


“Tree-huggers refuse to admit
Mother Nature can be
a bitch, or very blind
or simply is,” my father insists,


though he hikes
the Appalachian every weekend.
I’ve never gone with him.
“We are always at the mercy


of our environment,” he claims,
tells me he outraced a prairie fire
in the Sooner state, more hurricanes
than he can list,


though he’s always been tempted
to get caught up in some disaster,
miss delivering whichever speech
he’d been on his way to give. “Nature is,


I suppose, efficient,” he says, a word
that shows up more than any other
in his writing except “trash,” “waste”
or “recycling.” His boss will use


his rhetoric against him.
He and I argue about anything,
spring, its length, time
and lusciousness after a brief cold spell


as opposed to a short orgasm of color
after a long thaw. Storm-chasing.
A tornado will turn and stare
right at you, rain come down so hard


you can’t see the shoulder, but once,
and I believe the sentiment’s appropriate,
he saw a triple rainbow with my sister,
who shot an entire roll of film


beyond the Panhandle.
They were alone. Dramatic, yes,
even at home, even after a long night
of ordinary thunder and wind,


a tree uproots and smashes
my parents’ bedroom.
It must have all night tossed
violently in the storm,


and they slept through it,
except that once they woke
and saw it swaying, and swaying
was still the word they used


in the morning to describe
it was an accident they lived.


Joshua Gottlieb-Miller

Joshua Gottlieb-Miller holds an MFA and PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, where he served as Gulf Coast's Digital Nonfiction Editor and Print Poetry Editor. His prose and hybrid writing can be found in MAYDAY Magazine, New Delta Review, miCRo, Pacifica Lit Review, Talking Writing, and elsewhere. His poetry appears in Berru Poetry Series, Brooklyn Rail, Pithead Chapel, Bending Genres, Concision, and elsewhere. Joshua tutors English for Houston Community College, teaches creative writing through Inprint, as well as Writers in the Schools at The Menil Collection. He lives in Houston with his wife, Lauren, and son, Owen.