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


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.