Once, years ago when my wife was away,

to relieve our loneliness the dog and I watched

“Intervention,” a reality TV show in which a family

intervened in the life of a husband and father

who was drinking himself to death,

and praise the lord, halfway through the show

he swore off booze because he finally saw the reality

of his desperate situation, and his wife and daughters

cried tears of happiness, but I knew something was

wrong because there was still twenty minutes left,

plenty of time for another reversal, which came

when the newly sober man found out his liver

was pickled, so the show ended with a picture

of the man, and the date of his death. The dog


and I hated the ending.  We wanted the man to live

long and prosper like a space traveler who’d been

blessed by Vulcans.  In reality there was no happiness,

no long walks on the beach with the grateful family,

no slow-motion montage of birthday parties and christenings,

no final frame of the reformed drunk holding his wife’s hand

as they walked into the kitchen on an average morning

and drank coffee and listened to the birds singing in the backyard,

as they talked about the mundane things that make up real

reality: Maxwell House with a little cream and sugar, the broken

ice maker in the freezer, the way

the man once noticed there were a few more

wrinkles around his wife’s eyes and how that made him happy.


Jesse Millner’s poems and prose have appeared in River Styx, Pearl, The Prose Poem Project, Gravel, Pithead Chapel, Wraparound South, The Best American Poetry 2013, and other literary magazines.  He has published seven poetry chapbooks (most recently, Noonday Duende by Kattiwompus Press) and two full-length collections, The Neighborhoods of My Past Sorrow (winner of bronze medal in 2010 Florida Book Awards) and Dispatches from the Department of Supernatural Explanation (Kitsune Books, 2012)Jesse teaches writing courses at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.