Woodmanland. 3 Poems by Peter Mladinic


Rejection’s not the end of the world.
Were there no rejection—
from an editor, from a bank,
from a would be paramour—
there’d be no acceptance, no embrace
in the world of letters,
in life, in love. The sting of hate
quite real. Then there’s indifference—
a feeling of numb like when
you get a shot in your hand
and your hand is numb—
only it’s all in your mind.
The end of the world is like when the man
went out for a pizza and came home
and found his wife dead
on the living room floor; or John
who snapped his briefcase open
and shut before going into class,
and I know Susan remembers that snap
and learned as I did he died in his sleep.
The lump in the breast, the X ray’s
dark spot are signs. The night
our town’s chief of police was out
in the middle of nowhere, not wearing
a seatbelt, spelled the end.
My father at the end battled cancer.
When healthy he bowled strikes,
won games for his team.
Why we always hear of someone’s
battling cancer miffs me.
It’s not like Daniel fighting the lion
in the Bible. Maybe it is.


I like you unconditionally
My like for you is a red rose bouquet
an armful of flowers
I’d like to place in your arms

I’d like to pet your horse Tricky
My like for you is a white cloud
in a blue sky
a pond on which ducks glide

like that song Night and Day
coming through headphones
I want to know your eyelashes

Have you ever been to the sweetheart
festival in Clovis?
Have you ever said I’m Angela
while shaking hands with a man
with a name tag on his shirt?

You love Tricky, Tricky loves you
Other than that I assume nothing
Do you bowl, drink Diet Coke?
Have you a pen pal in Indiana?

I’m full of questions
I wish they were long-stemmed white

I’d like to know something
about your eyelashes
and if you talk on an iPhone or an android
Your blood-type, social security number and

Where do you see yourself five years
from now don’t concern me
What kind of perfume you wear
I’m more interested in stuff like that


I want to move to Woodmanland,
there very different from here.
For one, trees. Also cold.
No ice fisher, my embrace the cold days
past, still I want to.
What would a place be like
in the middle of its name man?
Long winters, lots of trees, few people.
A hospital close by? Might not have to look
far to see a moose. I’ve never seen one.
A dirty look from a person’s one thing,
but a moose? Racks
like dishes on roofs for cable, only oval,
shatter ribs in the wild, steeped in snow.

I’d rather see a moose from a bus window,
or the moose sits next to me on the bus.
I name him Roger. We pull into Houlton,
boringly like where I am. Only cleaner.
Roger says, What you don’t see is the high
crime rate.
—But it’s so clean.
He says, Looks can deceive.
Why did you want to leave where you were?
—I liked the name, but now we’re in Houlton.
Have you ever been to Woodmanland?
Yes, he says. Now I’m with you, only,
I’m not real, and you’ve gone nowhere.
Oh, but I have, I think, not saying so,
not wanting to contradict a moose.

Peter Mladinic has published three books of poems: Lost in Lea, Dressed for Winter, and Falling Awake in Lovington, all with the Lea County Museum Press. An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico. His fourth book of poems, Knives on a Table is available from Better Than Starbucks Publications.

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