Michael Prior

Familiarity Principle
Michael Prior

Your letter lies unopened on the counter.
Onscreen, Lauren Bacall slides off
Bogart’s lap and leans against the frame:
You know how to whistle, don’t you? Consider
the question. Seventy years ago, it tented
trousers in the theater’s dusk, those dreamers
who returned home to hold their wives
and imagine a life apart. My first tried
to teach me how to whistle. She curled
her tongue, summoned every taxi in film noir.
I pursed my lips, blew, and sprayed spit all over
the sheets. Whom had I failed to reach? Bacall
seven decades removed, my predecessors
seeding the earth. Come on. We all took
Psych 101. Does no one remember the story
about the husband who went to work
overseas? He wrote his wife a letter
every day. She left him for the mailman.


Michael Prior‘s poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Collagist, The Fiddlehead, Geist, The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, and The Walrus. His first chapbook is forthcoming from Frog Hollow Press in 2015, and his first collection will be published by Véhicule Press’ Signal Editions in 2016.