Milk and Roses

by Abigail Welhouse

We have two gallons of milk in the fridge, one for you and one for me.

When you eat pizza, there is milk for you.

When I eat cookies, there is milk for me.

I insist on drinking only skim milk. It tastes better.

I am writing this poem, so I can assert that skim milk tastes better.

Even if you disagree. Whatever. You can drink your milk.

That’s why it’s there. Because of your taste in milk.

If I said "lack of taste," that would be mean.

Probably more people agree with you, anyway.

I’m thinking anyway of all the people who say skim milk tastes like water.

They are wrong. They are drinking the wrong water.

Everywhere I go, I run into people busy being wrong.

It is hard to be wrong. I hear. I wouldn’t know.

You agree with me because you understand the rules.

That’s not true. You can disagree.

As long as you bring me my milk,

you can drink whatever milk you like.

I really am talking about milk.

Sometimes when you put something in a poem,

people assume it must be a metaphor.

Metaphors live everywhere, though.

A poem is not a metaphor cage.

Metaphors don’t breed well in captivity, anyway.

They are the pandas of poetry. Poor pandas.

The other thing about poems is that people think about them,

and try to figure out if they have a deeper meaning.

"A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," said Gertrude Stein.

If this poem were about milk and roses, what would you think it was about?

Trick question. It’s about milk and roses.

On Friday I went to a flower shop on 86th St. called Unique Flowers.

You thought I meant Manhattan but I meant Brooklyn.

There is an 86th St. in Bensonhurst and there is also a pizza place there.

The pizza place is called Lenny’s and it was featured in Saturday Night Fever.

There are photos of John Travolta on the wall. The pizza is good.

Anyway, I got the flowers and I put them in my apartment.

They cost five dollars and afterward I thought, "That was a good use of five dollars."

I might call you to tell you about an embarrassing moment I had today,

when I thought a sister was an ex-wife. I am a sister and not an ex-wife.

I could be both someday. You never know. I am an ex-girlfriend.

Ex-girlfriends grow up to be ex-wives sometimes.

I am also a girlfriend. I am both an ex-girlfriend and a girlfriend.

How is this possible, English? I want to ask English many questions.

Frank O’Hara defended the right to write poems during lunch

and to have them be funny if he wanted.

It’s easier to be funny when you’re not trying to be funny.

Or if you’re good at pretending you’re not trying to be funny.

I want to have a comedy routine where people expect me to talk about men

but I talk about dogs wearing sweaters.

I read a comedy book from the 1980s that said that in order to write comedy,

you should rant about what you love, what you hate, and what you fear.

According to the book, most comedians do this.

Sometimes they take out the words "I love" and "I hate" but the idea is there.

There’s nothing funnier than love and hate and fear.

I’m not sure if this is true. I love dogs in sweaters.

I also fear them because someday I may be unable to resist.

Abigail Welhouse is the author of Bad Baby (dancing girl press, 2015). Her writing has appeared in The Toast, The Morning News, The Rumpus, Lyre Lyre, Yes Poetry, and elsewhere. She sends Secret Poems at and would like to talk to you on Twitter.