Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas 1999

In a hallway half filled with darkness I first heard
the story of the child born in a cave. The man
at the table set with bread and water sang songs
so close to the tongue and breath I could not easily deny
what they told. He knew my mind. The songs were wings
in the crisp desert air, amid the faralitos licking wind.

Tonight, the moon on the ocean horizon is yellow
like a summer flower, but the wind's a razor.
My older son and I sit on the deck of the ship and talk
about politics and the state of the country.
I tell him there's the search for truth and its desire.
No star in the sky. Simply fear
that if you don't act, a fire goes out and you die.

Below deck, the younger children want to turn out the light
and see the path to the moon, its road across the sea.
Their faces are pink with cold, and put to the test,
they won't back down from a dare. Simone’s laugh
shames away the shadow of boredom, and chocolate bars and soft
pretzels sanctify any moment bare of good cheer.

Docked at Port Jeff, we drive east past marshlands
and woods with gray trees disappearing quickly from sprawl.
Indian names mark paths to homes with lights and presents.
Homes where there is wealth that awes and fear that a child
might cry. I have the gift of these children
in a car going east beneath a moon whose face is enough.

The child in the cave sleeps in the moon.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ritual

Brotherhood is a word
I speak with the gods
who smoke cigars drink rum
and curse like
army drill sergeants

we the drunken diseased and poor
who crawl to the altar with cancer in our legs
the ones the police hate for our pain

I will take cakes and coins to the god's altar
he who gave me power to see
what cannot be seen
and feel what I never before felt
and find joy I did not know

Then I can dance and talk in tongues
and speak with the dead
and dream with those who dream no more
and feel no fear for the things night can bring

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All right reserved.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Man with Baby Carriage

Getting on the train, his baby carriage blocks
the door so people must shove past
or find another way in. He takes up
space with his pram loaded with a small TV
and is hardened to derision or disdain
in the eyes. Worse is the plain
hardness and indifference he's shown.

Dressed in black knit cap, black coat, his frown
is the deepest etched mouth I've ever seen.
Like a painted clown, yet there's no paint,
and the impression’s painful
since his sadness goes unnoticed.
On the trains, don’t dwell on particulars,
since you'll lose your place in line
or miss your stop. Hide behind indifference.

Lose yourself in plain view,
like the man with the carriage,
there but not there; harmless, threatening
by absence or by presence. The drama
of despair hides behind
the trite and everyday. Questions
gnaw the back of the brain
as you wonder if the carriage
is for a child, or one abandoned
to make room for the TV.

(c) 2011 copyright Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hidden in Plain Sight

On drugs at 12,
ODed at 25,
his photo's hidden
in plain sight
on the floor,
under a window,
in front of a
small mirror.
She thanks us
for giving her tears
a place to be seen.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Needle and Thread

I found the button I sewed last night
on my coat in a dead woman's
disused collection. Lost
from a sailor's jacket, it
weighs anchor amid Incan
and Peruvian designs, and replaced
the wooden one I lost last winter.
I'm not sure it's happy among such
exotic simplicity, but it looks eccentric
among the trench
and wool dress coats, and furs
and puffy down jackets on Fifth Ave.

I liked sewing the button on. The needle
and thread left by the seamstress seemed
strangely right to the job,
as though one of her last acts was to
pull the string through the needle
and leave it for this night. She
worked all her life in the sweat
shops among cloth. I think of her
now, crippled in one arm, baking me
cookies when I came home high from parties,
piecing together friendship like she
pieced together cloth in her quilts.

(c) Copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Witnesses

We three sat in the church cafeteria after a morning session on grief,
counseling those in jail, and visiting the terminally ill. She had Lou
Gehrig's disease, told by the doctors that she should not be able to walk,
but by force of will bearing herself upright, each step perhaps
the last, moving legs from the pelvis squarely against
the pressure of the world, hopelessness, and body shutdown.

He was a plumber, built like the proverbial spark plug,
70, with a handshake like a vise. He'd almost died at Bataan,
he started to tell us out of the blue, a memory ripe and
vivid as the taste of the sandwich I ate. He walked the hundreds of miles
without food and water in sweltering jungle heat. Those who did not last,
clubbed or shot to death. His hands gripped an invisible enemy as he
relived the five men he killed with his knife or gouging out eyes.

(c) Copyright Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Bridge

The fire consuming night entreats
crickets who write your name
on falling leaves. I seek you in chill
autumn rain, out where feral cats curl
for heat under waxing moon, an outside cat
who knows home by smell and the scraps
of food left under the hedge.

I want to say: I'll fix it all for you, the steps,
the cabinets, the broken trust of those
who killed themselves. We talk and talk,
learn how to walk like the children
who've moved on. I'll give a class for you
to see in dream at night, where courage
knows what to fear, and love's the fear
of losing Self to itself.

In Venice, we sought ghosts who mock
frailty and dumb choice. With your taste
on my lips, I kissed them adieu
and held you closer still. The ghosts,
those who made us who we are, now see
thru our eyes, speak from our mouths,
smell the crisp Autumn air.

When rivers crest and roads flood, I'll find
solace in the wilderness of your eyes. This bridge,
the torrent below, path to renewed life.
We'll refigure the stars, piece together the light
and paint it to map the gaps between
our lives and know the day that falls into
place, the hours like stairs to the dusk
that limns our climb back home in the night.

(c) 2011 Charles David Miller

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Meat of the Day

I leave before dawn. In Trenton, unsung black men
wait en masse at the bus stop, seeking payment
for lives cut adrift on a sea of abashed pride.

The dawn of account breaks into shards the ennui,
news lines pieced together into columns that retail sin,
whose voice cries, forlorn and lost above the skyline.

When you triangulate the gaps that link the business
day, don't forget the signs of yes/no,
stimulus/response, plenum/void, --.--.

What shall I lay on the altar cloth to bless the day?
Coffee, words, dreams unfolding to flow
Into streams far away. Like shadows at noon,
we walk in darkness. The concrete has teeth,
and the cracks cry with lost tongues.

Leaving, dusk orange horizon opens its door to joy
that all deny no matter how much
we want it. Snow pelts the windshield. In snow,
you can sleep until sun rises to melt from red leaves
dreams and moments never to return.

Let's find our way thru the ice and rain.
Untrod path thru woods of doubt, distrust
and heart's deceit. Jupiter gyres heaven with fire,
dry leaves crunching underfoot:
memory of me when gone.

Trees know no time but what time traces
in cycles and gyres graphed by the full and the empty.
Birth and death, marriage and divorce,
planting and harvest, these carve our lives
into the meat of the day.

(c) Copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reading Chinese Poetry at Rush Hour

A cylinder of electric light
hollows the darkness where workmen
repair the track. A woman twines
a single hair around her finger,
follows its length, then stops.
Next to me, another woman writes
quickly, anxiously stopping to catch
her thoughts and then ink the memo.

I write on the back of a journal page.
On the front, I wrote in wonder
about reading and feeling a Chinese poet's
sorrow after a thousand years. I stop
to imagine the feelings of the woman
next to me. The strangeness of someone
writing next to her,
a mirror image, intrigued but serious
about her job. Words to be done,
finished and put into the world
and acted on. Finally and with resolve.

This poem will go nowhere, a little
ashamed of itself, not knowing
why it came to be. Why it exists,
except perhaps to fill the empty
beat in my ears of the wheels
of the rush hour train home,
and the echo of a Chinese poet’s
sad words a thousand years lost and gone.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tattoo, NYC

She pulls the black veil
shawl-like over her hair,
eyes flitting modestly
around the train, rejecting
direct contact with others.
She's captive for the moment
in her strangeness, out
of place in the city
that shifts shape to mirror
what's different and fit
it to its ultimate
indifference.

The blood of terror is a rose
in her hand. Tattooed in henna
on her fingers, in her palms
and twining up her arms.
Flowerets and maze-like tendrils
write the code of her birth
and death, marriage and sorrow,
laughter and tears. Rites
that capture with art and grace
the wandering glance of those
others she fears.

Her husband sits next to her.
Something rises from the fire in her eyes.
Is it discomfort with the humidity
and stink in the air, or has the
hard indifference begun to corrupt
the thin blood lines
in her hands? She wants to become
one of of us, merge with the crowd,
take on the freedom of the anonymous.

(c) copyright Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Egret

1

At night, barechested
on the porch in the warm air,
I heard the frogs whistle
as they spawned in marsh
reeds on the horizon, beyond
the field where the red
dog played ball. The ewe
in the pen was ready
to drop lambs. Carpenter
flies buzzed
behind wood panels
of the door jambs.

It rained at night as she
fussed asleep in the Spring
air that blew through the window
after we made love. On the drive
home, I saw the snowy egret
statuesque along the highway,
white and luminous in the marsh,
like the light on her face
before I fell asleep.

2

The egret spears fish
and frogs in the pond, poised
like an arrow notched
on a string to snag prey.
It stalks the pool's rim,
intent and careful
not to stir the water
as fish break its surface
nabbing flies and larvae.

I watch from the company
door way smoking cigars
on break, after staring
at a computer screen
for hours. And I think
of an ancient Egyptian
viewing an ibis at
a river edge
and wonder
how much
of this beauty
we'd understand
were he to talk
in my way
and I in his.

I imagine that oneness
with the bird that brought
the consonant of its glyph
to his lips as the egret wades
along the shore and flies
into the afternoon,
sleek neck bent into
a question mark, long
wings angular against wind.
Peace is being
at one with the world
that bring things into being.

Would I find happiness
at the joint of the
world's pivot as it
wobbles pole to pole
between survival and loss,
fullness and vacuum,
calmly penetrating
the core of change
from a stasis
that is neither change
nor duration? I seek
the phantom of another
time and place
because I want
this beauty to emerge whole
from the vortex
of the ages and stalk
small ponds of oblivion
where egret and ibis
move mutely along
imagination's edge
and do not disturb
self-awareness
moiling beneath
the surface
seeking sustenance.

3

I point out five egrets in the lake
to the young man who drives me
home from the garage. He looks
and says "Uh-huh," used to the sight.
He's seen them all his life,
or maybe he has never seen them.

How long to forget
the world, dead
to its wonder,
thrilling only
to cares and the drive
of Technopolis?

How long will I take not
to see you, egret?
The beauty of time
is in memory
and the fullness
that the future bears
from absence.

(c) copyright Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

History of Glass

I found a treasure lode of antique
glass in the cow pasture
where my grandparents and their parents
had dumped them over many years.
Old green and brown medicine bottles, blue glass,
fence post knobs. What the cows hadn't crushed,
I broke with stones.

Later, I punched a college window
after eating the worm in a mescal
bottle. Dramatic hubris.
Two scars on my hand
are the signature of glass
for my sin of broken desires.

I now touch glass gently with fingers
as a sign of trust. I know the pane
won't shatter without pressure,
the world beyond won't disappear
without reason.

I'm glad the soul isn't glass.
When it's broken it's hard to fix.
Even cleaning glass can be hard.
Newspapers and ammonia are best.

(c) copyright Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Memory

Memory, goddess who sang
anger and undying vengeance
scratched in wax of animal soul:
ox-strong arm, wine-dark eye,
breasts and thighs caressed by silk
and poet's whispering word.

I address you in a lilt the saint
from Carthage sang in confession
when he called you from the crypt
of laurels and pan pipes,
dressed you in skins and hairshirt,
and fed locusts and beeswax.

Memory, are you only words
sheathed in the patina of impending loss
like photos brown and yellow in attics
that no one will visit, dust no one
will etch with footprint or wipe
clear from the portmanteau?

If I had only kept you pure, memory,
and ungrimed with the image that swarms
like hydra head from newsreels,
hacked and desiccated cud
spewed by cloven-hoofed mass
when it upchucks crime beyond count.

Memory, the light in a bowl,
the face in whose eyes I found
changeless love, root of DNA
carved from galactic cold,
children playing with ABC blocks

on the floor. All these and more,
memory, seek rest in a gaze
that stares down fear and despair,
born from ash and dawn-bright pain,
whose track runs through ruin,
whose ticket is counted and punched
to a door no map can name.

(c) 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

On Addiction

When the movie star talks addiction, she talks to those who should know;
they mainline the junk she sells, the life she leads, the wannabe lies
that fill a hunger no drug can sate. Disease that the times adore,
sweet addiction, heroine in a land of lotus eaters and vicarious charms,
bring home to me the honeyed amulet, the phantasmal allure,
for I need to inter the nightmare that haunts my sleep,
dreamland where I chase myself and wake to find only me.
Sweet addiction, needle in the brain, suffuse my fear.

I know addiction, the cannibal kind, the rage in the bowels
that brings a person to their knees; the ire in the eye that seethes
with revenge, the ache to rip from someone a lung and feed
that gargoyle’s gullet on the shoulder, envy that gloats at what
you never did and never will. Addiction, make me the victim of your bed,
expose the intoxicant that neaps in the spine and threads the nerves
to creation’s buzz. Addiction, enchantress, pull the veil
across my eyes before I extinguish myself or another in your desire.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Torn Lantern

Who might dare exit through the torn lantern shade
in the southern sky? Step into the scar that rips in two
the ruinous haven of pride and discontent; alone,
gutsy, insanely in love with light’s majesty, burnt
to cinder for distrust and shame that are human nature.
Pride is the coward’s shibboleth, the saint’s cloven-hoof;
rest in the arms of the storm, naked, ablaze with love;
seek catastrophe on the farthest side of the spectating crowd
of chattering lives you jigsaw into form from ennui.

Let the dogs shiver in their beds, the horses run
and buck wildly in fleeing thunder the predator.
For I who stand here extinguished beyond recall,
on a boundary without name or place; home without address;
I am not what I would be, I will be what I can’t,
beckoned into being by light beyond belief and thought.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Empire

In the ripe season of empire;
we thrive on adrenaline rush
as homes split like rocks in heat.

Kill or be killed's the job we do;
words sound good but blood is truth.
Hope is zero, and life collateral.

There’s jackals laughing in the air.
The joke’s on all who forget to fear.
Enemy or friend is gibber and rage,
the stone on which to whet a knife.

I’ll forget what I’m told to
and remember nothing but noisy blur.
Ghosts in machines haunt the air,
and paranoia’s the only defense
in the ripe season of empire.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sideshow Revival

Bring me to the lip of the chemical fill,
let me hear the cries of those who burned
until their nerves could sense no pain;
give me terror’s embrace that finds
repose in silence and shame; it is there
I’d stake the pegs for the revival tent,
and pull the viper from its box
and coil its rattling tail along my arm.

Until you peer into Lucifer’s brilliant eye
and know its poison, you will not hope.
The hope-filled are broken, lunatic artifacts
left discarded beneath the cathedral stairs;
they come for no word or formula or chant;
the blood that fills their eyes knows
the kidney punch and face bruised to meat;
they know each shadow that betrays defeat.

Only those who know defeat will discover hope;
for loss learns us the wiles of certainty and doubt;
you thumb a lost book no eye can see, no ear
can hear, and the soul unwinds its page
and reads the simple heart, the gesture
and rite of light beyond recall and routine.

In the empty hour of an empty year without fruit,
hope is afoot in the cool of the garden.
In a dark and corrupt heart, hope inters
the ghosts that stalk the self-induced cage.
Cherish with inmost fiber this truth
that cannot deceive or betray its hiding place;
this wonder that awes the algorithmic mind
and the most naive alike to abandon hate;
the happiest trick of time is to make us fools
whose despite is bliss and sage belief.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beethoven Sonata

On days when I am unworthy of Beethoven,
when the sonata struggles with sun for shadow
and light, I seek a tincture to cleanse this blot
that makes me shudder at his notes and modes;
this abyss where root and bud smolder to a core
whose strange relic haunts the senses and their demise.

The music’s measure is a memorial of my ruin.
It recalls that past where just concern and defiant woe
found their syllables in fate and time’s deceit;
that fabled past where wheat does not die in the furrow
and the radiant face has virgin charms
that mock the obscene eye and transmutes
evening gray into wraiths of pine and elm,
collapsed barn and junked car.

But tonight an orange moon lingers over the lake
like a pillar in the mirror of a vast and unending dream.
Nature desires a chronicle that augurs a legendary past,
yet it bears nostalgia for wilderness.

Faust or saint, Beethoven,
I only hear your gift in remorse,
hymned in contrite prayer that angels might sing,
should they not abide in the love of God’s eye.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Horsemen at the Temple


1. The Second Horseman

The red horse dawns on the appointed day.
Silence juts an arachnid face beneath the steps,
jaws and arms weaving a muffled cocoon
where the cries are stilled, the daughter
of destitution silent.

The crowd congregates for prayer at the end of the street.
When the letter explodes in the enemy's hand,
they invade a child's sleep and kick
the breath from her toy of desire.

Profit and loss gauge corporate recrudescence,
the corporation lens recording our self-deceit
and transmitting its unholy bidding
to the margins that define righteousness.
A cancerous hand registers defiant despair.

The red horse wakes the cicada from its seven-year sleep.
Water pocks dirt in a rainless desert
as jungle fires raise suicide tribes
who pray to Coca-Cola and ITT.
The house of the wind crumbles in chemical decay.

When the red horse rider greets the night
seeking fleshly light, political palms
itch for his grammar of the ultimate word.
The crowd trembles and grows meek.
The red horse is a oneness for which the many seek.

2. The Third Horseman

"A day's wages for a quart of corn, and a
day's wages for three quarts of barley, but
do not tamper with the oil or the wine."
-- Rev. 6:6

When the third horseman comes to town,
we spit and cough blood.
The fields are deep, dark and plowed,
but we do not sow this year.
He says to grow factories in the fields,
and to burn the jungle.
"Take out the oil and the ore,
and you will be rich like the North."

When the third horseman comes to town,
the horse neighs with disdain
at the holes in our lungs.
The women who sew all day crawl along
the walls of the streets at night
with dead eyes.

He has a lean and handsome face.
The young girls dream of him in our embrace.
His lips fill a hunger between their legs.
Heaven's gate hears his prayer.
He is pure and good, hard and without mercy.
He loves revenge and destroys good and bad.
He is not like us, but we can be like him,
like Rambo and Clint Eastwood with a gun.

3. Temple of the Apocalypse

"The greatness of man even in his lust,
to have known how to extract from it a
wonderful code, and to have drawn from
it a picture of benevolence." -- Pascal, aphorism 402

The pale rider carves thin bones
Into masks of sorrow.
Old men do not argue with math
When children and their games vanish.
The village is dying with blood in its
guts and prayer in its hand.

In the Temple of the Apocalypse,
the corporate evangelist walks with angels.
He reads prophecy and weighs each verse
against the balance sheet. The code
he unlocks is a virus in death's economy.

The old men swat flies and rock in the sun.
They do not know the equation of finality,
and they will be judged for blindness that sees
only village ghosts on the old paths.

This discourse with oblivion is impotent with rage.
For biology is certainty. The pale horse
will dig out the eucharistic offering from our chests,
compare need with resource
and plot the collateral damage.

------------

I posted this at dversepoets.com for a prompt on mythic characters. I guess it depends on how you think of myths and mythology, and then consider whether the biblical book of Revelation is myth or something else altogether. Please allow me a bit of poetic license then, if you must. Needless to say, I do not consider the sacred book a literal rendition of how things will be at the end of the world.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Otter

For Matt H.

Near moon mountain and sun mountain, the Greek
style emerged from adobe and white heat
of the noon sun. Socratic irony
swam among the lilies in the small pond.
At night, when we weren't drunk, Matt,
we explored Plato's cave where poets live.
High on acid, colored arabesques wormed
in the ceiling as we wrote riddles.

You were brilliant. A mind as fine as Euclid's
proofs. Your poems like a morning campfire
compared to my borrowed insanity from Artaud.
I hear the splash of the otter
as you dive and veer into the current. Later,
you told me about the rape by knife in the snow.

I worked with a woman from Montana
and strangely heard your name in her voice.
Fate brought her to tell me how you fought
for Nature's cause until
cancer sucked your bones dry.

I think of you as though I'd seen a ghost,
living on the edge of self-deceit, in the capital
of the new empire, of you and snow
and how we betray time and love and ourselves.

I'd dive into time to see you again.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sign of Offense

Someone's placed
a black cross in the white P
of the Au Bon Pain cafe sign:
thin lines of paint or tar.
The crowds
don't see it,
rushing to and from
the subway.
On their impatient faces
memory's an infinite series
of entries
in a schedule book
that's always
just half full.

Profane Eucharist,
stamp of faith,
maybe those who follow
the crucified convict
etched it there:
The man on Fifth Avenue
who speaks on "the plight
of the black man,"
or "the touch
of a woman that will tempt you
the wrong way."
Or the Jamaican woman
gulping angrily
as she speaks in the Spirit
to the teeth of the crowd.

I've known what brings them
to the circus to face
the wolves. The apocalyptic
stench in the air
taunts uneasy
fingers strumming money's guitar.
Sin rides the backs
of thousand dollar suits,
IPOs, stock options.

The sign of offense
traces God's silence
in the tunnels and invokes the fear
of unendurable pain.
The walls split
in sorrow
like an abscess breaking
over our chests.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All Rights reserved.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Notes for a Book of the Dead

1
I heard the dead whine like a bobcat in the pasture field.
Like a baby crouching in the grass near the springhouse
when the harvest weighs heavy on the stalk
and dew soaks your shoes.

Grandfather strode like an initiate of an earth goddess
down the country road with a wet-born calf in his arms.
Grandmother cut dawn's darkness with her flashlight
The air charged with magic and primordial calm.
The valley alive with mystery time alone can breed.
Binding together wheat stalk and hay bale
and mocking the hours like a catbird on the limb.

The dead disappear and are seen no more.
Their work rusts in the yard and their gardens decay.
Their eyes do not pierce the neon lights from the other side.
Their statues sweat no blood.
What they said is lost (no less what it meant).
A black car drove up and took them off.
They walked the trail of tears and bore the pain.
They died without name and address.
Some loved. Others hated and despised.
(Better dead and not remembered again)
No one to find them in their city lost to time.

The unspeakable crimes unsaid and unavenged.
There are no sacred words to open death's doors.
The dead seek rest and remembrance
on the tongues and in the souls
of the sick and diseased and hound their dreams.

2
Along the fragile mud banks
wailing boy and pouting girl
follow bloody spoor and echoing, hungry cry
from sheepfold to grave,
where the young god lies entombed.
Rice bowls are empty in temple gardens
as the vulture soars in ritual helix down the sky.
In drought time at the festival of light,
king and bride join in sanctuary bed.

The people huddle at the dry river banks
and pray for flood tide, life-quest and rebirth.
In the land between two rivers,
death gives birth to wisdom.
The dead embark from valley steps
to the land of the sun,
and the true measure of life
is not how many men you killed or slaves
to serve you in the next world
but whether you hurt anyone or not.

The stations of the modern underworld bear sounds
like Treblinka, Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen.
The hieroglyphics of the book of our dead,
starkly naked, brutal depicting our nothingness.
The animal unveiled beneath pince-nez.
The angel slashed, burned, gouged, gassed, and shot.
A thin hand raises a cigarette to parched lips.
Toothless mouths gum green bread from the pit pigs swill in.
Lurid pictures obscene in their cruelty,
no mystery. The human husk ripped open without shame.
Spread-eagled legs bent back. Throat crushed.
The raped soul shot nude for postcards
the possessed will buy.

3
In my prayer to compassion's God,
to what high place should I climb
for those who died forgotten by us?
The past just a trick of words and memory.
Cut wounds deep in flesh.
Bury the tokens under moss and roots,
and ask forgiveness for not being there
in the terror that should be shared.

Where the walls are scrubbed clean
and bone shoveled into the common urn,
light a candle for the dead
where they watch from crumbling photographs.
And do not forget the winter night
that splintered like crystal on the streets
when the radio called them into the open maw
of factory gate and shower and bitter flame.

Time cannot fill the vacuum they left.
The dead need remembrance in rites
that strip bare the soul and throw it
to the ground in tongues they speak to us.
A language that solves all riddles and crimes.
That unmasks the sham and lie of the daily routine,
and leads truth seekers to open the graves
that schoolbooks do not write about.
For those who drank at the pit's lip
and sank into mass graves,
whose naked bodies the pictures show,
flesh melting into flesh in a dirt hole.

I ask to be like those who came out of it
and see now beyond death's frontiers.
Who saw new life root in ruins.
Whose breath once choked on hope.
Who put a knife to the camp guard's throat
but let him go when wrath
and suffering became a vision of dignity
uninvoked by gore on human hands.

And who, when ecstatic cry fills the room,
open the door at night to the tomb
and bring bright linen shrouds
to those who died cold, unclothed, and unjustly.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Fly

It's a slow October day with sun
when the fly seeks heat in a fat man's neck,
as he smokes a cigarette with friends.
He swats the fly with disgust and chagrin
and surveys me with modest suspicion.
A cabbie swears in Swahili at us all,
unrelated to the fly that tacks
in a tired arc only to fail and fall
to the street into a concrete crack,
where its tortured gyration outflanks
the chance leather sole from the crowd
that might crush its last escape
and lumbering take-off free of us,
Third Avenue, glass, steel, and chaos.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Egyptian Exhibit, Metropolitan
 Museum of Art, 1999

1. The living
The women in slender jeans,
men with cellulars hanging from belts,
seek mystery in distant objects from life
alien as Mars, as close as sweetness on the finger.
Drawn in to sensuality by delight of form and stone
and incomprehensible paint. I think they see
what they want to see.
Their thoughts as two-dimensional as the glyphs they cannot read.
Entranced by the freedom to see their lives somehow different
and shaped by time. Vaguely stunned
by how much work time destroys.
Perhaps reflecting that sense of deadness
they fight in their jobs and lives.
Dreaming themselves into an age,
they are torn by desire's thrust and joy's release into the wet
urn of night, taking in
the fullness of the dream, thinking it oneness.
The inevitable loss
and separation from it. And still
going on. Seeking shelter, warmth,
the stability of things to pull strength from loss,
to die with a sweet taste in the mouth, not bitterness.
And that lasting image that a family album will not
capture nor video record.

2. The dead
Heads and bodies awe-filled, agog, worshipping things as they are.
Prayerful in one desire: to people worlds
with juice that engorges, for blood and sperm brought to bud and bloom,
for the herb that raises from death to life.
Cities of death
built to operate in a world beyond shadow.
Monumental design, and dream beyond change or decay.
Ultimate and irrevocable longing, with each command obeyed and
each demand fulfilled to satiety. (My horror is imagining
someone's desire shaping a world so absolutely.
Without remorse or regret,
without being broken by death.)

Beauty born along the banks of famine and extinction.
Soul and sensuous arch of the human shape. Lovely upward turn
and quivering muscle in a smile. Broadness and outline
of shoulder blades
evince the craftsman's care and subtlety.
Captures our eye's delight,
while the craft cheats the careless observer
with a simplicity that evokes unconditional response,
the surrender to form and its emptiness.
Leg pushed forward and disengaged from stone.
Hand raised in strength.
Glance measuring millennia.
Gestures austere and true as trust.
That block of gneiss or alabaster from which they emerge.
Transition from muteness to speech
or nothingness to being? Or rather
a mute testament
to the invisible membrane separating us from
our desire for immortality?

This beauty is hard and firm as stone and the mystery
of wheat fields and mountain deserts where life will not end.
And I think of spending a lifetime
immersed in the holiness and trembling duty of my work
chiseling stone to ensure that a man who is not a man,
a god, will thrive in the next world.

Nile waters boiled with crocodiles, dead bodies, panic,
and the year's harvest
when the tables were dense with food. Goddesses
with liquid hands filled the elegant dish.
Phallus and vagina,
breast with life-giving milk,
empire of the hunter,
the handsome,
the fruitful pharaoh,
he whose word
moored the sky and brought order
to chaos. Brother creator.

He was the taste of food to the starved
tongue. He took away gnawing hunger and fear of bony bodies
in the wilderness. He broke
the lion's jaw and ran down the antelope.
There is terror in what we do not see. Elusive
beneath the victor's beauty
and pride. His visceral disgust
for the conquered who eat dust and grovel before the knife
unleashes their blood and soul into the bowls. Broken
arms and hands roped behind.
Their forms on each side
of the funeral gate attest
to his cruelty and merciless spirit.
As do faces staring from the base of stone door
jambs on which the empire hinged.

Words in limestone concretize the dream and quell
nightmares. Murder demons
and disease. They compose the magic body and lead it
through the maze of that parallel world to time.
Word as sustenance. Food to soul
like water to wheat,
fodder to cattle.
Cataloger of balms, linen,
and eyeliner, they testify
to the offeror's sincerity.
Even pharaoh wants to scratch
an open papyrus scroll in his lap.
His eyes open to the unseen. Gateway
to that world of
embalming thought.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stalker

based on the movie

Like always, I reached the meadow
through a process of seemingly random
twists and turns. Picked up
its trail past the dead pools
of floating fish and the open pits of sulphur
and acid where the boys fell
through one summer
and burned alive for months.
We hid from the police in empty warehouses.
We slipped past the guard at the electrified gates.
At the meadow, I threw a nut
tied to a piece of white linen
in whatever direction
and went in search of it. In this way,
we finally reached its underbelly.

As we approached the fractured walls
and empty decaying rooms,
the water-stained frescoes
and moss covered rocks next to streams of debris,
I felt like one of the birds
with a name that no one knows anymore
but that sings passionately
in the trees. Or a flower that buds,
but whose petals and colors are lost to recollection
since the gates went up.
I felt like a man in whose throat
the dead want to whine.

I brought the professor and the writer
to the place because
they asked, and because the place has laid
this burden on me. I must show all seekers
that it exists or it will take away what it has given.
And I must give all who ask what it gives me.
Nothing more and nothing less.
They expected monsters
or angels to jump from the walls.
But it never happens that way.
So they called me an idiot and hit me.
The professor with his geiger counter.
The writer with his bored drunken leer.
What could I say? It hides like a scared rabbit
at the drop of a pin. It sighs
like a broken door hinge,
or a mother in the lap
of a deformed child.

I know as much as they do.
But that I found it, they think,
means I know something that will shrivel
their suspicion, or their questions.
But I don't. It has taught me that.
Dare I tell them that it's a book
that's never been written except
for those who want to read it and die?
Some say it fell from the sky.
Or that it's a government experiment
gone wrong. They're lies and stories.
It's a place to drag your corpse
from the grave and enter its doors.
If I was strong I'd stay away and not come back.
But once I learned the way,
once the smell and its secret got in my nerves,
I wanted it like a woman's body
whose creamy thighs and fiery eyes
hack men's knees out from under them.
I'm nuts to lose my life
for an allure that stalks my skin like a lecher
or the thrill of death.

I hear its voice
in my head. But when I turn to see who's there
it's a sign
swinging in the neon
light. Nothing but me
and the woman waiting for the knock
of the police. Her eyes search me like I'm a fool.
She holds me like a child.
She cries when I'm not here.
The cops'll come anytime.
Like a rat caught in a sewer maze
I got no hope or escape. Nowhere
to run to that they don't have mapped.
They'll look at the rap sheet
and throw away the key.
Repeat offender. Three-time loser.
Threat to the general welfare
of the whole. Degenerate purveyor
of unholy and unhealthy pleasures.

Five years
in the LAG will break
me this time.
Maybe the Psy police let me through
on purpose this time. To watch me die
in the LAG longing for the memory.
Maybe I'll lose my mind, go online and tell everyone
what a fool I was,
that it's just a farce.
I can't tell what drives me to it.
Desire to know. To possess. To coddle
in my arms like my daughter or wife.
It grows inside me like a tumor.
This love whose tenderness
will crush me with the weight
of the others' hate. I found it once.
I can go back anytime I want.
But not for many years.
And maybe only after I die
from not seeing it again.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Pain of Water

for Bernice Eisenhardt Miller

A dismantled pier. Green pylons cut down
to the nub. The estuary that supports it
with boulders, rocks, and concrete slabs caked
with algae and encased
in barnacles, clams, and living
snails I try to unstick to see if they're alive.
The sound of viscous suction stops me,
suddenly afraid if I pull too hard I'll kill it.
Wedged between two rocks are brittle, gray
remnants of a large snail.
At low tide in the afternoon on the Sound,
rocks recently underwater jut from lapping waves.
On the more exposed perches gulls stand sentry.
Gulls and crows battle for crabs, dead stingrays,
and the clams that the gulls dig from between stones.
They fly above and drop them on the sand and pebbles below,
then circle back to pry open and jimmy meat from inside.
At times one of the birds opens its beak to the wind
and screeches.

I think about those cries
my grandmother whimpered washing dishes.
Plaintive, infinitely fragile, muffled,
years-long sobs for her dead granddaughter, my sister.
And I don't know what primeval humor the water emitted
to draw forth that agony when so much
other pain had left her stoic, inured
to the laceration and sting
of farm life, hard life, life. A cry
even having her femaleness
carved out to save her from cancer did not disclose.
Nor the dirt cold brutality of my grandfather.
Tears did not rain from the distress of my father's schizophrenia.
Only with hands in water, washing
the night's dishes, did grief wet her throat.
She lived like she believed; hard work and sweat made
a life somewhere else possible. She used a ringer
and washboard to do the clothes, even when there was money
to buy an automatic washer. Her wash hung
like lightning on the metal line strung
near the spring house, each piece softer
when she scrubbed it by hand.
---------------------
In their marriage photograph she stands strong,
tough, hard, with little emotion showing.
This was nervousness before the camera. Dressed in
her mail order coat and hat, with pocketbook, she stands
next to him, maybe hours after the ceremony. It's winter.
Fur on her collar. There's
solemnity even there, a simple desire to do her duty, have children, work, and prove
her faith in the man beside her, after starting so late.
For she was not pretty and the man liked pretty women.
Determination, also, willful and brave, to touch
the world and make it grow, even out of
death, the way she did with plants and in her garden.
--------------
At the shore, a swan sails with a wing to the shoreline breeze
and I follow it eastward. There,
near the sunken meadow and marsh pond,
a bevy of swans float like saints,
elegant necks snaking into the water and snagging
bits of seaweed and kelp.
Ducks dive for fish.
Next to the stream,
someone has sculpted sea trash,
rusty wire coiling, plastic bottles, styrofoam
buoys, old pipes, dried stingray shells, crabs,
rocks, pebbles, and vegetation into a shrine.

The Hasidic masters picture God as a washer woman
with soapy hands and grainy washboard.
On the last day, she rubs stains from the cloth
the soul is. If there is heaven, it exists to reward
those like my grandmother. For those who never cry for themselves,
but for those innocents cut down early,
cruelly,
and without reason.

copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Passive Aggressive

In a pale blue sky, the moon's a hook
for the ships of memory to moor to.
On this beach, Myrmidons drive Mercedes.
The anger is passive aggressive,
expiating vain resentments
in varicose truths whose only promise is death
by neglect, neglect by apathy,
apathy by email link.

in the plane trees birds hunker down
for storm. lightning frightens my chihuahua,
though he ventures onto the porch
during a lull, drawn to the thing he fears most
like an actress in a grind house movie,
doomed well before she dies. And we watch,
fascinated by the mechanics of extinction.

I'd axe blood's root and
rip the needle of life from my veins.
But I've trained the armor of self
too long on the kill zone in the brain,
decimating days with a careless look,
decimating cities with secret glee
just to see their dead flicker
from the tv screen. The zombies
of our paranoia populate worlds.

My Helen sleeps in her tower, watching
dreams of demon lovers. Their passion
for order and calm stokes her desire.
She wants to be seen on both sides
of the door, inside and out, a page of music
slowly torn in a cavern of dream,
never seen. The silent foot falls
in the room filled with lost needs.
Silence begs release.

Fireflies bejewel the oaks near the spring
whose waters liquefy the night. Anonymous
along the suburban road, its grove of stone
bench, shaded pool, and Spring house
evoke the numina that have no name.
I knew a man in a desert town
who swore by water and the ditch
whose veins fed mountain gardens
and apple orchards. His lore
of sunflowers, commune fires and a
rider on a white horse ignited
the daily apocalypse.

An endless loop of words speaks in tongues
in the vacant lot. The voices trace
the grammar of rage. Dreams betrayed,
hearts torn live from their nest and burned,
the horror of their atrocities an unbidden
guest at the altars of remorse.
Confession will come. It will come.
With the cruel logic of karma, sin
and guilt define new skin, new blood.
Embrace the fire that refines what once
arose from ash born to return to ash.

copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Riddle

You never baled hay after the rain; you never baled
until the grass was dry as dust, raked over from
the bottom up and turned a light green from the
darkness it had drunk from the black soil
he'd fertilized the winter before with manure.
You never baled it wet because in the moww,
under thousands of bales, that wet grass
heated up and caught fire over time. A hot bale
they called it.

In the heat your body caked with chaff;
It was so bad you blew black snot into a hanky,
and the water you poured down yourself from the pewter
or plastic wash basins she set out an hour ago
was black, too. In the shade it didn't matter.
You'd lie there to catch a wink before she put up the meal.
Coolness and water soaking in deep after heat.

We stacked the bales in criss-cross rows, using their weight
and roughness as friction to pack them together. The wagons
had no sides, just four by fours nailed with two wood planks
at top and bottom in the back. The whole load rested against this
and rode on itself, self contained. (When I began
to write poetry, I imagined poems made like that.)

Dad tried to get a week or two off from the factory to bale.
But if it rained that week, he baled after a single or double
shift, sometimes a night shift. I don't blame him
for dreaming of the day when I'd load and unload
the wagons myself, even with his surly self-hate
and lack of emotions resembling love.

The moww was under a tin roof. As you stacked the bales
higher, the air grew scarce and hotter. Later on, I
recited Pound and wrote poems in my head all day
under that heat and sweat, like a Zen koan to
disembody myself from the drudgery and boredom--
compared to the fires of Blake and luminous Provence.
My father hated my addiction to words. If only
from envy, or maybe just because it had no use.
But my love of riddles came in handy once.
The baler broke a link in the chain that ran the crusher.
The chain in his hands, he tried to piece it together
again, but the links did not fit right. He snidely asked me;
I didn't see it either. We lost a day waiting for the mechanic.
That night I dreamed how the pieces fit.

When I told them I'd seen it that way, they laughed.
And when I showed them, they did not know what to say.
We just went back to work, tucked it away as one of those things.
I used to sing songs to the sound of the tractor and baler.
How strange to think of these things. The rain
on the roof has its music, too: the music of the past
and a life that no one will ever live again. Those times come
together as pieces in a dream, but the links
are jumbled, and I don't believe I'll ever put it together again.

copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fireflies

The firefly city lies under the pond
where the plastic owl stands vigil,
the fountain of stream-worn pebbles
and cement dry since the builder died.
The children follow the lights to find the streets
of that city where the water is pure
and the fireflies become fairies.
White hitapa blossoms sail onto the deck
where we sit, their bird-like bodies
streaked inside with purple painted veins
and a tangerine brush stroke. The red sun sinks
in the humid air. The neighbor
with a steel plate in his skull tells us about the girl
down the street disintegrated by a power line.
"Terrible," I say, living the horror.
He watched men be burned alive in war.
In Singapore, men sold
their wives or daughters for a handful
of food or coins. At the back
of a restaurant, he watched groups
of them fight over garbage
from the meals inside.
His eyes widen as we share a common
vision of the end of children
by electricity or men by flame
thrower. Features tighten, the bad
leg aches more, joints harden.
I pull my daughter close and kiss her hair.
There's pain and agony we'll never know,
cries in the back alleys we'll never hear.
I think it's only the voice in the wind
that hears the cries of the dispossessed.
When it's over, he asks "What's new."
Nothing, I say. Nothing
is new on this night when fireflies
elude children's grasps, and they
only half-believe my stories of fairies,
the city beneath the pond, and wolf
spiders on the window sill.

copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wilderness Sought

Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure. ~ Rumi

In this city where pain and pleasure
mingle like lion and lamb, find the soul's
wilderness in willing the One. For anger
rises to confront the just and the unjust,
the mournful and the bacchante, and peace
rides the wind along the blade of a knife.

Pray in the wilderness for a design
to paint itself on a shallow cave's wall.
Animate embers with wish and want,
and stir hot ash with doubt and regret.

I broke into many pieces once, then
reformed the bits into picture puzzles
whose geography I mapped
like an explorer gone mad.
You only seek what you've lost.
Hold on to nothing, there's nothing to find.

If I seek silence in the light
that knows my secret, what love
might test and break me
and carve my ruin
in words that won't betray joy?

Treasure awaits those who can forgive.

copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

cracks in the mirror

This moment that you poets love,
It now rings real with train wheels squealing.
Tooled to stop in time, the gears
grind to an angry release,
pensive beyond despair,
losing itself in the rain
that will not absolve me.

This self that you poets sing
does it find wholeness each day,
fitting life's empty core
at the fault line
between trust and deception?

these words, poet, that you say,
do they cage a promise that can't
be said, or spill wine
from parched, dying lips?

Channeling desire where shadows die,
a testament should machine
the soul to abide truth,
and shed light to repair human intent
when evil makes a surprise visit
at the truck stop diner.

But truth's as shy as a zebra moth
hiding beneath the porch light,
hidden in plain sight. Lost in desire,
barren of hope, there the demon
waits, and angels with bread.

Like you, poet, I sought to speak
the only tongue I came to trust.
The embrace at night.
The touch of lips at dawn.
Love's pristine desire defined
by its ash and gift of purer fire.

There's what you do
And there's what you say.
If you make the world in your image
make certain the mirror is not cracked.

copyright 2011 Charles David Miller All rights reserved

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In a Year When Thousands Died in My Name

Gray owl hunts beneath full moon,
sounding depths of pine, paper birch,
tamarack and marsh brush.
The north land winter ebbs,
spring's rimy nights wake
in mornings glorious with warmth.

Disposed to bird augury, I seek in wings
and whirring resonance in hollows
many things, but always just one:
What direction fly the times? From what angle
slinks fate? what freedom has a man
given to lies about heart and mind?
Fate of nations, fate of earth, an owl
flies above ruin or fields sumptuous with green;
it finds what it can to stay the day.

Hunter, predator, the field is ripe this year;
arrow of hunger, wise harvester of mice
and frogs, your razor beak slices meat
from bone and sinew with no remorse.
And when they return, the broken, the sweaty
with nightmare in their eyes, they will watch
your neat autopsy with beak and claw,
recall the pain they were trained not to feel
and embrace warm wife or gun’s cold steel.

copyright 2011 Charles David Miller

Saturday, August 13, 2011

For Deva, from Cozumel

Lafitte's ghost haunts Cozumel.
He belly flops down water slides and wades
in pools of five-star hotels plundered
and left to molder behind chain-link fencing.

We skim waves and scan the reef below,
where brain coral tends the mass grave
of an ancient, lost, magical world.
Schools of fish genuflect on the current,
their skin like liquid mirrors aglow with prayer.

When my strength ebbs against the tide,
we swim towards the beach, a faint whisper
of death in my breath. At that thin line where
beings become things, the sea offers up
her gifts: A sea turtle paddles along the bottom,
as perfectly graceful there as it is awkward on land.

Later, on the road to Ix Chel's temple
altar, blue, red, and yellow crabs
sidle from marsh to marsh across macadam.
We enter the sacred precincts by car,
but those who sought birth or carried seeds
in baskets across the water
journeyed on jungle paths past
Jaguars and fiery lizards in the ferns.

At night, I watch from the hotel porch
as locals mix bait and throw their lines
from the ruins of a concrete wharf next door.
Iguanas inhabit the basement now,
scrabbling through rubble for bread crusts
that waiters and tourists toss, amused
by their power to brew saurian ferocity.

It seems we were lucky, then, granddaughter,
to spy dolphins breaking waves off shore.
May the imprint grace your smile
years from now, a small thread
of light twining itself into your life's sinew.

copyright 2011 Charles David Millee

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A propos of several cliches, two allusions, and self-deception

At 3 am Easter morning

the stray goose honks

weakly and in despair

on its way north. What I hear

in the hollow between its

sound and my ear

is just a world that words

capture in their net, mere poetry

rooting sentiment

in the chatter of an unquiet self.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Aspasia

Aspasia serves all Athens
with whores and blow jobs,
sparking war, says Aristophanes,
to supply her paramour,
Pericles, with soft lips
and deep throats. That satyr
Socrates also a john, who
Alkibiades, beautiful, rich,
powerful Alkiabiades, could
not seduce. What words pass
between Greece's wisest man,
and the business woman
who holds the balls
of the state by the color
of a pretty girl's eyes?
and who even her enemies
praise for her power of debate?
On such secrets is history
made and the myth
the powerful use to rule
maintained, as Plato knows
when he writes her out
of the dialog.

copyright 2011 Charles David Miller

Saturday, July 16, 2011

She left with the promise still in the air

She left with the promise
still in the air.

I could smell it on my clothes,
it scented my hair,
and brought with it
the dream of a face
on a beach where
toes curl in foam
and the sand scrabbles
words that the black
iris in her mouth
painted on city walls.

She left with the words
ringing in my ear.
When she said them
I knew they were too good
to be true. Their truth
a memory of dialogs
in a play with no exit,
with the color of dirt
dug from the bottom
of a grave. They had
that finality to them
that only the dawn
sun knows in rising
or the clouds
that ramble to
heaven without end.

She left with my soul
in her teeth. Raw and bitter
with the taste of a cigar
whose butt end has gone
stale from the gutter.
She left a letter with my name
on it, but the vowels
were missing and the rest
stuck in the throat
like a curse in a dead
tongue. They clanked
at the back of her teeth
but would not come--
that promise and its echo
whose fetish lay
stuck with needles
in a tree bent
and haggard
from the lake wind.

She left with the promise
on an answering machine
and the phone calls
returned clicked off.
The phone wires
still hum with the breath
of our lovemaking.
In digital time,
the ones and zeroes
expire by the billions
when they recall
the prayers we made
that love never end.

The promise exuded
the scent of our bowels,
the odor of cunt and dick,
the excrescence
of boundaries
as they vanished
in emotions
that never lie,
in trembling
that never ends.

The promise bore
in its womb
the sound of lambs
and geese and the whistle
of frogs mating
in the marshy Spring.
It brought to life
the dead in their
terror, and the living
in their fear. For fear
is what you cannot deny,
and terror the fact
whose face tells
a lie that is not false.

She left with a promise
still in the air.

Sonnet for Dora, Albuquerque, ca. 1995

He dragged your grandmother to the market place
the man, grandfather, with ice in his voice.
"They act like he's a hero," you told me once
when we saw his photograph and his gang
proudly displayed in the conference hall.
Gray-haired, lonely, mourning ghosts, you recall
the crime in the car near church and tremble
with a question to God you never sang.
In the high desert sun, when dogs don't dream,
he pulled her by the hair through cactus and dust,
another man's fish swimming in his stream,
and opened her throat with a knife and threat
that made the town deaf to a woman's blood,
the fear that entombs what shame can't forget.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

belated wedding poem

for suvi

tulips, roses root in morning gardens,
untangling memory's mesh.
mute lives bound in words,
old songs in the wind,
magic circles drawn in rhyme.

She weaves a tale of tulip poplars,
the invasion of kudzu along our fence,
and how norway elm hollows and falls
without notice, chance enough
to kill children (mother's worst dream).

bring your urn of grace.
unbind its ashen repose,
forgive my dark faith finding light,
my habits encoded in DNA
biding time for a last embrace,
where the stars behold
the pilgrimage and its end.

lead me to the mountain trails
where the stones don't cry,
past the doorstep of orphans,
in the room of many dreams,
let me be your mirror's gentle spy.


copyright 2011 Charles David Miller

Saturday, June 4, 2011

show what can't be said

dogwood buds bloom. chimes
carol my passion seeking release
on the wind. owl and flight mark home.

I've desired what cannot be thought.
captive in words and routine,
meshing brain cell and muscle
into my hieroglyph,
my vocabulary of ghosts.

I've never set my shoulder
with unnerving malice against
the waves that deluge our days.
but strand me in the sea
and fill my lungs with water,
would i praise your name?

I've known the honeysuckle days,
hot days when a single sweet bead
licked from the fruit exposed
a door to heaven. I'd want to tell
no remorse, no fault found in other light,
but that's a lie.

bound with ash and blood,
yellow moons will reap their harvest,
the last hunger quenched,
grooving walls of sin with sweat.

shatter jugs screaming moon beams.
arise and perish.


copyright 2011 Charles David Miller

Friday, May 27, 2011

house on greenwood

A neighbor walks her spaniels at dawn
in the green park and orange light. A bullfrog
croaks alarm or desire near the pond where ducks glide.

On my walk to work, I pass a house
left empty by its black owners.
The overgrown lawn and old quarry stone steps
bid one long, lost welcome to friends.
They will not come again to drink beer,
grill brats, and sit in the shade of elms.
The for sale sign is a sign-post for lost worlds.

I've never set firmly my feet in this world,
or found the stillness of heart to plant
body and soul in earth. Like the lone firefly
announcing summer days ahead of its tribe,
I only brighten a night of loss.

Called to account,
perhaps bared teeth and claw
will slink from angled corners of my self,
those oblique shadows we cast unseen,
the blindness to what our acts produce,
the refusal to see who or what I was and became.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

humid morning haze

Crickets scrape humid songs
in between the railroad tracks,
the hazy morning waking in
the faces of morning commuters.

On the train, I read emergency
instructions and decipher the map
of exits: windows, doors, aisles.
The days grow shorter, they say,
with the years, so I must know
my options when the time comes.

I still see attics bathed in dust and light,
the pictures and letters once read,
hear absent breaths forsaking words
and shadows conversing with a broom
that sweeps the ceiling clean
of derelict webs strung between
the rafters as the sun ripens on the sill.

I hear more clearly now the rhythms of silence,
the spaces between acts that sign
more than what I touch or taste or see.
I wanted to live in unclaimed
territory, remaking history
so that finding me would prove
a chance event, work
in progress without end, accident
on the verge of transforming
the moment in undeserved miracle.
little did I know that the exit is the way in.

In the dream, I'm on a road
that leads to purgatory or hell.
I meet humbly clothed fishers
just in from the sea. A woman
opens my dog's jaws like a fish
and pulls out a pestilent breath.
They point to the heavy load that I must haul
on my back to reach my destination.
I hurry after my friend who's gone ahead.

copyright 2011 Charles David Miller

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ghosts in the Halls of Power

Recent statements by Glenn Beck and others on the right of the current political spectrum have developed a theory that the small minority of extremist Islamists want to impose Sharia law on the US. The logical inconsistencies in these statements should be apparent. However, not everyone is persuaded by logic and often desire actions in lieu of words. History can provide some signposts to those who wish to understand what results come about when such views become accepted and acted upon.
The following is from a teacher at West Point, Adam L. Silverman. I do not know what his political ideology is. ...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Elementary, My Dear Watson

For over 50 years, computer scientists have suggested that computers will become human. They will evolve from being able to solve simple mental tasks to finally consciousness. In the early days, Hubert Drefyus was one of the first to dispute these ideas, showing that the process by which computer scientists attempted to write computer programs does not reflect how humans think at all.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Poetry of the Revolution

Writing on the Egyptian revolution, Sharif S. Elmusa says (h/t Endless Further):
They [Egyptian revolutionaries] rendered acts of poetry – cleaning the streets, regulating traffic, protecting the national museum, guarding houses, breaking bread with someone – even more poetic. These mundane acts became inspiring moments, like that of a poem, spawning a new spirit, free of the dust that had settled on the conception of work and on those who perform it day after day. Writing a poem and engaging in a revolution are both acts of self-discovery.
The revolution dignifies the ordinary, and elevates it, just as poetry transforms common words into rhythms and meaning.

Wttgenstein Interpreted on Religious Harmony

From a review of Religious Beliefs, Superstitious and Wittgenstein by K. C. Pandey:
Wittgenstein’s thought again comes alive when he considers religion as transcendental and incomprehensible and the only ground of religious belief is its groundlessness and simultaneously this groundlessness or the lack of evidence does not weaken a religious belief rather it enhances its value because it is engrained in heart and soul. When a man realizes this worth of religion, he no longer remains violent against another religious believer but he creates a harmony which is natural as well as transcendental.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

City on a Hill

I believe that it is statements like these by a former President, using Christian literature to support his assertions, which must be challenged at each mention. Not only is the verse commented out of context, it is a serious question whether the President understands the meaning of the saying. It is commendable to plumb the religious direction and meaning of a society's actions. But to do this, a nation must remain vigilant that it does not mistake selfish goals for higher spiritual ends. The Christian message includes a call to universal brotherhood. To identify the United States as somehow superior spiritually and morally does not reflect this message of brotherhood since it sets up a specific, local socio-political arrangement as somehow transcendent and beyond question.

Sacrifice at the Revolution

You thugs, you ingrates. The Absolute gives the gift of freedom and you abuse it in this way. How dare you sully the purity of your newborn society this way? I can only hope that there is some policeman in Egypt who is now identifying those involved in this attack and will not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice.
http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1485066/CBS-reporter-raped-in-Egypt

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt Rising Like a Phoneix

Congratulations to the Egyptian people. Your hopes, dreams, and desires have spoken in peace and love. The inspiration for your revolution is brotherly and sisterly love. Steer clear of the Scylla and Kharybdis of envy and resentment. They are worms at the heart of democracy.

Your vision has spoken to all those who seek justice without revenge, love without fear of the stranger, peace without suspicion. This too will come to pass, as all comes to pass in the absolute oneness we humans find when we see our face before we were born, as well have seen it these past days in the life of the Egyptian streets.