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

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



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.


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
moiling beneath
the surface
seeking sustenance.


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, 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


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 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.