Andrew Dugan

Milk Thistle

Outside Grandma’s Apartment, Windsor Condominiums, Early 1990s


You said they were alien brains / and I believed you. My child imagination took over. / Maybe yours did, too. / I was just old enough to know / we were pretending, / which made it more fun. / I didn’t know then that the alien brains / were actually dried-up, dead thistles—spherical, barbed—/ so I took some in my hands / and collected them in my pockets. / Ask: Did you see yourself / in the future, cupping the last pill / in your palm as we walked inside / to show our grandmother? / Say: You looked like you might— / your now sallow eyes staring down at something— / as I unpacked the woody remains. / Ask: Take them back outside? / Say: Of course, they prick the fingers— / back into the imaginary world / where you created them. / Ask: Is this where you live now? / Say: I never really knew you. / Ask: Does that mean I can’t write / your elegy now? Say: I know / about making worlds. Ask: What happens / when the aliens leave their brains behind? / Say: It does two things: / makes beings that can live without thinking / and assures they won’t know what they’re missing.



AR Dugan has an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. His poetry can be seen or is forthcoming in a number of literary magazines and reviews, most recently Slipstream. His chapbook, Call / Response, will be published by Finishing Line Press in March 2019 and is available for presale through Jan 11th, 2019. He taught high school English in southeastern Massachusetts for nine years. AR reads poetry for Ploughshares and currently teaches literature and writing at Emerson College and Wheaton College. He lives in Boston.

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