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


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.