Friday, November 23, 2012


               <id1=π />
               <id2=0 />
               < /find>

Copyright 2013 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Moonbeam coreopsis along Superior

in a maze of rose gardens

where we wander past Mister Lincolns,

Ingrid Bergmans,


French Perfumes,

Betty Boops,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Excerpt from "A Conference of Ghosts"

The Moths and the Flame

They gathered together fluttering in the night

To decipher the truth about the candle light.

Many went and came back with news,

One about the window through which it viewed

The glow of hope, another singed its wing

Against the lips of the flame, but still they

Could not tell the nature and the abundance

Of the fire that consumes with eternal delight.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


"Your prayers are your light;

Your devotion is your strength;

Sleep is the enemy of both.

Your life is the only opportunity that life can give you.

If you ignore it, if you waste it,

You will only turn to dust."

---- Rabi'a


The terror that brings me to these words,

The horror and sickness I feel that words

Are not enough, the sin I make in speaking,

How can I rail against the pain without

Pain itself balling in the gut and forcing itself

through my throat? I’d fly in the wind

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Slake Thirst

He always went out on yellow alert,

this cabron with the .45 snug

against the small of his back. The barrio

in decline, he'd run off thieves and junkies

in the night. We said we'd write a film

about right-wing extremists stealing

a warhead but never did. His sad corrido

Poetry, Politics and Religion

Of the primeval Priests assum'd power,

When Eternals spurn'd back his religion;
And gave him a place in the north,
Obscure, shadowy, void, solitary.

Eternals I hear your call gladly,
Dictate swift winged words, & fear not
To unfold your dark visions of torment.

-- Blake. "Urizen"

I missed a posting on William Blake's 250th birthday a few years ago. Sadly, because I cut my poetic teeth on Blake. I respected his poetry and vision so much that my second son's middle name derives from the poet. Due to a very busy schedule and some anxiety about the future, I couldn't get off the floor to say thanks to a person whose work formed much of my adolescent psyche.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Santa Fe, 1979

The Birth of Venus, Botticelli

Grotesque, in love,

spiritual, in decay,

I wrote love’s necrosis

in morse code from the grave,

love's half-shell.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


In the untracked snow

fallen since Christmas,

I pull the husky

in the child's

blue sled to the copse

of birch. He froze

in the night

after I lugged him

from the dog house

where he struggled for

the warmth that

cold and snow

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sheep Head Dog Meat

At Sam's Club, I scour the aisles for the plastic elbow

to stop the leak under the sink. It's got a thread

that winds in and out of the universal joint and fits just

right into the space it needs. Form

fulfilling function. Nothing more, nothing less.


People push or pull flatbed carts jammed

full with a month's worth of supplies. Pet rocks,

flatscreen TVs, choppers and grinders

fill the shelves to the ceiling.

The guts of an electromechanical paradise

complete with digital anonymity and an order

that defies death, slay, dismember, and organize

chaos into beauteous wax floors.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Wracks sail black seas

The path from lethe wreaks wraiths

path in stone wracks rage new

from stone they turned from toils

lethe wracks turned burnt red sail

wreaks rage from red ash black

wraiths new toils sail black seas

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In the land of never to be...

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2 NKJV)

I did not die from a drive-by shot;

I did not die in a war of evil against good.

I did not die doing deeds whose saints

win rightful awe. I did not die

with faith in my fingers and thumbs.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sarai and Abram

Genesis 12:10-20

The book does not tell us, but she's beautiful

as she steps from the golden chair they bring

her in. The flesh of her thigh peeking beneath the sheer cloth.

Hair blue and darkened with henna. Eyes painted black.

Lips as well, and as plump as figs a man might

kill for. The gold and jewels on her arms, neck, ankles and breasts

astonish the eyes with the thought that so much wealth

is worn without a god striking you dead.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Broadway Limited, Christmas Break 1978

The dawn is malleable, a molten tree
whose rooted membrane nourishes
the passionate embrace of the clay below.

Anarchic, red, and ecstatic, the sun
escapes my brain with a desire
for fullness and the shadow of dream.

The friction and wetness of orgasm
drive me to right and wrong,
the jars of righteousness filled with an oil
that salves loss and subdues with joy.

Despair's smell is a presence startling in clarity,
as the wick in the lamp pulsates to the rhythm
of one choosing to be who one is to be.

When the film ends, and the train
of consciousness detaches from the helix,
when the flash of light and rushing sound
imprint being on cinder walls, and burn
an unforgiving sign as caress through ash.

Then the gaze that defines, the penetrating face
to face of one I do not know, questions
the silence I impose on space and time.

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

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Work Psalm

Knock, and He'll open the door...Become nothing, and He'll turn you into everything. ~ Rumi

Red dawn clouds moil like blood
and promise hawk flight over Lake Superior.
Glacial crags jut into the highway
that runs past rocky lake shore
where elevators shoot grain
into ships in the harbor.
Railroad cars on the bridge
roll on tracks
from the pit where dozers climb
like ants on mountains of taconite.

Call up tohu and bohu; take axe
to the dead carcass of the day
and spread its mass at
the four ends of the earth.
Still, I am there. I the zero.
Empty cipher without name.

I seek nothing in nothingness,
not a thing to take along death’s
way like magic rock, secret chant,
or the souls of those I might
enslave to my desire to be god.

My job is a rite of belief, rote
task betokening death.
Its routine is miracle enough to praise
Maker of sky, lake, woods.
Their history mine but not mine,
their breath my last breath of holy air.

I’ll raise a cross on the
mound of my rebellion against
these days given in love and call
that name beyond names,
that love beyond love that knows
what to love and who and when;
love that rewards with no regret
but brings in its wake a tide
of days renewed and futures
unknown to augury or statistic.

Creation anew, world anew,
person anew. Known unknown.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I crawl on knees to shovel with my arms
the maple and oak leaves into bags,
pawing and scraping the black dirt.

The holly tree's berries scintillate
against the dark light of this
autumn day, its green spiky leaves
vibrant and glassy against the dried
yellows and browns of the other leaves.

My son helps shovel them in with the rake.
A crow caws in the distance,
over behind the firehouse. The smell
of the moldering leaves brings back memories
of my grandfather's silo and the sweet
smell of the corn stalks ground up and
fermenting in their own heat. To the cows
it's like candy, he used to say.

The piles of leaves are huge. The oak
tree has only shed half its arbor and still
wears a full head of hair. To Iain, it
looks like we'll never finish. But I know
differently, having learned
the trick of beating monotony from my grandfather
when we hauled bucket after bucket
of wheat and barley to the wooden bins
for winter. The mounds of grain looked infinite.

But time went faster as he recalled
the winter of 1918 and its flu
when he drove the doctor's sleigh through
the countryside. Or the day he drove a new
Ford from Philly and once saw Ruth point
his bat to right field and hit the ball out
on the next pitch. The old man must've wanted
to play baseball
but never said it
outright. He stirred up hornets' nests
and swatted them with a plank, hands red and swollen
from stings.

And I think how strange it is to see
him that way and gauge him against
the man who tried to kill my grandmother
and treated her like a pack mule and drank
and caroused on her.
If I measure reality
by what bad a person did, maybe nothing is real
anymore. Maybe change is all there is,
and the desire to find what never changes unreal.
The man who might've killed
one moment is the same man, but different from him,
who taught a young boy how to cheat
time with memory and stand up to pain.

Or perhaps that's the lie: to think that.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Juggernaut Rag

Juggernaut dancer mechanical god
policeman of rigor death and despair
food chain rat race and dog eat dog
there's no end to the regime
just a new man in the chair

steam roller of history
fecundator of women
eater of gods and men
Thy accounts square to zero
Thy windows cylinders and rods
snuff humanity's pain
so we never hear it cry again

Thy book is the mystery of gears
within gears, the routes and twists
of years Thy spidery eyes splinter truth
a million ways in an endless maze

When the meat-eating god grinds
into town the glass knives get to work
children turn to ash and the wind blows down
machines don't stop streets get swept

Flesh skinned and stretched for lamps
(children have you heard about his camps
blood his smile a Mauser his penis
so fast at the death machine
his mom called him a genius)

And when we wash at Thy pool of tears
the glowing chimneys in the Polish night
will light our steps through Thy earthly paradise

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Night Schönberg Turned Blue

There was coolnes in the air.
He did not turn blue since
the grave had molded his hair
into a gray mass, but the sound
of his dissonant cicadas thrilled
the Harlem night when junk runs
through the veins and whores
hike up their skirts for a taste.

There was rawness in the sound.
Enough to take the edge off the
blackness and make it smooth
and hard and ready to ream
the mouth of lovers and the
ears of those others who like
to watch.

The way the axe struck the root
you'd think it was anger but it
was not. It was hot and hard
and it slammed into you and
took your breath away with its
beauty--not lust--beauty. The
beauty of your woman as she
turns away laughing,
caught in that moment of
ecstatic oneness with herself.

Yeah there was anger. There was
the smell of deceit and power
and the way people fuck each
other over. But there was also
calmness--a deep water where
all that shit becomes just a
way to lose yourself in shit,
never to find what it's really
all about. Cause man, love is
supreme and if you don't have it
you don't have that edge
that slices into the final
nerve that brings the end
to the pain--better than junk,
better than whores with
their tight pussies and hot lips.

And he knows you want it
final in a note and definitive.
But it ain't that way. It's never that
way. The music never stops at
the end of the gig. It goes on
in the soul, the strut, the ass,
the way we fuck when there's
nothing but us and death
laughing in a broken glass
window with a knife to his
own throat.

This music throws your soul
into a black hole where time and space
lose meaning. But not to one whose
passion is the groove and who hears rhythm
explode into a million moments arranging
themselves into a pattern of what the future
always wanted to be.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

I'm on The Island this weekend, with no time to write. This previously unpublished poem is submitted for the dVersePoets Poetics prompt. dVersePoets

Friday, May 4, 2012

Household Sphinx

The robin sings outside our window at five
and chatters its gleeful, joyful dewdrop jive.
In morning light the plane trees turn green,
and maple and white azaleas preen
for sleepy commuters with dream-cleansed eyes
as the vixen finds its den where the cub cries.

I saw an island rendezvous at night
with a sad woman burdened by the weight
of hope, but broken promises without end
made sea surf and spume her only friend.

The ground hog waddles across the wet lawn
and rabbits hop to graze on daisies, drawn
by invisible threads to the hunkered cat,
our household Sphinx exacting blood and fate.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gilles de Rais

Supreme general to the sainted warrior, Jeanne,
Gilles carried her wounded body from the field of defeat.
And he could only seethe helplessly as church eunuchs
defamed and deflowered her courage, mute until her spirit
flew away on the Spring breeze like an angelic butterfly
swirling in red dust and crushed beneath stone.

They did not come, so all there was was blood.

He watched the angry flames lick white skin and char
golden hair, and wilt the lashes to her eyes, those stars that wept
for so many fallen, so many dead, so many gone
and never to return, to country life or heart. He fled
the ash to find the golden stone that could bring eternal life.

They did not come, so all there was was blood.

For months he prayed to raise the dead, body forth air,
speak with demon Barron, who promised
wealth and power over all things that fly or crawl,
to turn men to pawns and crush them beneath his boot,
to transform heath and moor to a garden of delight
that angels themselves would seek to pleasure in.

They did not come, so all there was was blood.

Still dead nor demon came and his riches were devoured
by the ceremonies and rites at the altar. "A child's heart,"
they said, "drain a child's heart over the stones"
and its blood will summon dead comrades, entreat
the devil to paste together the dream, and wash away
the memory of war and bring sleep, gentle sleep.

They did not come, so all there was was blood.

He dressed the child in the finest clothes, feasted her at table,
dazzled her young eyes with light and dirty ears with song,
until such fear that comes to any beast was allayed,
lulled to languish with full stomach and dulled wits.

They did not come, so all there was was blood.

He strung her from a hook in the wall, and spilled
his jism on her thighs to drip on the bleeding floor,
probed her guts with knife and sword, soaking the rags
with her sobs and ebbing life. And often he'd take
her down, lay her on the floor and into exposed
ripe cavity ejaculated again and again, cooing like a dove,
as her breath sighed its departing despair into his face.
Like so many before in combat, flesh became cold,
limbs contracted to stony silence, and bight eyes
glazed gray into a tortured mask that brought an insane laugh.

They did not come, so all there was was blood.

The hills and streams ran silently thruout the land,
muffled sobs for unburied loss, invisible graves
in the hearts of parents and houses crushed by want.
The Vampire was in flight above the land, they said, the smell
of blood soaking the fields of war had unleashed Hell.

They did not come, so all there was was blood.

He confessed his crimes in his home, there where the walls
echoed with sobbing ghosts, the floors stained still
with blood in marble cracks, the cesspool rank
with ashes and his hearth caked with burnt flesh and bone.

They did not come, so all there was was blood.

At trial, the parents wept over their lost children, it's said,
but also over his crimes that he recounted with contrite tongue,
a people shocked to dumb forgiveness by terror and despair
at what the twisted soul can devise when wracked by war
and wealth and desire to be what no man should be.

They did not come, so all there was was blood.

His dust lies there still, where they laid him in the churchyard
under tranquil limb and talking leaves. And now they tell a tale
of Bluebeard, a man young girls should fear, for in his secret room
the floors are awash with blood and strands of hair hang from hooks.

They did not come, so all there was was blood.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

This is written from the poetry prompt at dVersePoets, which asks poets to write about vampires. My poem is about Gilles de Rais, a 15th century French aristocrat who fought with Jeanne d'Arc, the Catholic saint who went to war for French independence. After the defeat De Rais engaged in various magical rituals to gain immortality, epwealth, and power. In the process of carrying out these rites, he killed perhaps 200 childrem hoping to use their blood to summon demons and the dead. After he was tried and condemned for his crimes, the story metamorphosed into the story of Bluebeard. Many stories of crimes against innocents like this have involved the perpetrators being called vampires. The attraction to the original de Rais story in modern popular culture bears this out. While I understand the attraction/repulsion to the vampire motif, I think the reality behind the fantasy should not be forgotten. As Simone Weil says, fiction gives an attractive facade to evil.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Not An Allegory

After he pulled his fingers from my throat,
having pumped the last seed into my mouth,
he left me dazed by my own decay in his arms,
and the haze of an all-night bender still
smoked its last butt-ends in my veins.

Awake, angry, my wings singed by his deceit,
spent by the passion of our chance encounter,
I stepped into the elevator whose door opened
in the wall. I stepped inside and pushed the last
floor. It didn't take long to get to where I'd been hiding
for so many years before. No bell rang as the door
slid open, whispering my name as it unsheathed
the sea and sand dunes beyond.

The sough of the waves was a dead breath
stale with a fishless salt sea. The silence of the sky
reached into my heart and squeezed a scream
from its frozen blood, awash with ennui and frail
memories of dead end streets. No sound dropped
from my lips, no frozen tear flowed from my brutal eyes.
I knew this as home, the place I'd sought so long
in winged rides below the stars with the night birds.

Then a voice broke inside me, somewhere inside
my brain behind my eyes, in words that the telepath knows,
purer than words on tongues spit thru teeth.
It sang the hymn of my despair, nameless,
proud, brotherly, awake with wisdom and solace
beyond the earth's darkest secrets, sublime.

The sea reached into a horizon without end,
a place where the parallel lines of beast and beatitude
meet, far into the distance of a galaxy securely here.

When I turned back, not in fear nor in haste,
the laughter rattled the rib cages of the island trains
as they slid westward, and I walked down the highway
to a one-bed room, and the broken glass I kicked from my path
cut in two the incremental tick of seconds as the sun
regained its course once more and rode forward in the sky.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Charles Ives Spikes His Hair

The marches were over.
The wall was up. We shrank
in its shadow, and shaped our lives
against the future of the bomb
and nuclear winter. Paranoia
was not just the way you did business.
It was the way you made love.

Then you needed to dress
like you'd eat hearts.
Spikes, studs, black leather.
But the only heart you'd eat
was your own because you
were gay and didn't want
your parents to know
or were maybe different
in the way you looked
at fucking others over.

Not like the storm
troopers in their jack boots.
Our boots were big,
but that was only to walk
down those miles of dead-end
roads and kick the shit
out of the way.

I studied Artaud and read
Aquinas. I drank and did acid
until my guts gave way under the blackouts
and my self-destruction destiny

I listened to the Sex Pistols and Ives.
My anger not so much the desire
to rip off someone's head but a way
to deal with the anxiety of being confused
and not knowing why.

The Pistols quit playing.
They didn't want to sell out.
And Ives. He quit composing too.
Sold insurance
and never said a word against it.
Well at least he was honest.

The truth is in the music.
That music that crams old
hymns, marches, and the death
of harmony and rhythm
in a terrifying rush of sound
that bids only welcome to
the new and ultimately
unsingable or playable
need for life.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Crime and Transgression

The new driver's license is in my wallet.
As it was processed I worried about
unpaid parking tickets
as state computers swept my past
for crimes and transgressions
against the social order.

They did not find my true guilt:
jealousy and rage when love
called late from the poetry reading;
daughters left alone to confront
their mother's shame, anger, and divorce.

Regret is an algorithm ones and zeroes despise.

I heard a woman the other day recount
her rape at twelves and extol the daughter
who grew up with her like a sister.
Just minutes before, I'd hated
her loud, abrasive words,
but as she told her story
she sat transfigured in the dark
of the bus, laughing raucously
with her husband, the driver.

Sometimes I stand mute before
beauty and time, stunned
silent by the angel
that redeems disgust
and graces those who others
would corrupt with hate.

I think of these things from the train platform
as commuters gather for a late morning
train to the city. A big crow caws
from a power line, my black muse
of desolation and renewal.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Fado Menor, with Amalia Rodrigues

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Young Guru Hitching

I spot his backpack from rush hour traffic.
He takes his time getting to the car. Stows his gear
in the back seat like he's done it a million times.

Young, long hair, and light beard. With a story.
He's going to camp on the reservation.
To sleep and dream for weeks deep in caves.

Strange shadows play about his eyes and cheeks
as he speaks about the fear people feel on the road.
That fear that stalks you in the middle
of nowhere. No food, nothing but concrete, hurtling tons
of steel, ugly stares. A thousand miles each way.

In the caves, he wants to see those dreams the dark
of the earth brings. To find the animal that shifts
shape endlessly and has a human face.
It looks at you with your own eyes, speaks in your
own voice, and lulls you to sleep in its embrace
of self-desire, habit, and the dread of freedom.
In its embrace you must die continually to life,
admit you do not know who you are, and then
mold a self from the empty mirror that is its eyes.

When I let him out, I wish him luck in his quest.
He barely replies. The comfort of custom and habit
must sound hollow in his ears, and I think
he believes I don't understand, for what's luck
got to do with facing death and its beyond?

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Clothed in the artifacts

of pity, his voice hoarse

with pith balls and winds

into a knot of phlegm

as he gains our assent

to speak for the poor.

Cellular on hip, self-help

pamphlets in shirt-pocket

lend authority to the words

that have travelled the subways

for thousands of miles.

His look into and beyond us

induces the gall of guilt

or the gorge that rises

at the smell of urine

and mold from the bodies

of the unclean, a place

he sleeps at night, the dirty

rumpled clothes confess.

The offerings he receives,

a jelly sandwich on white

bread, cans of corn, and other

throwaways no one wants.

His Passion Play nags conscience

not so much because it's real,

as that it could be. Our poverty

of spirit feeds on the ambivalence.

So the bills and dimes fill the dirty white

cylinder with a slot at the top

and the lid taped on.

The lucre of our fear that we might

starve and bleed on concrete

as the wolves pass by with red eyes.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trip Wire

"...for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one." - Albert Einstein

We sit in the muted half-light of a Manhattan office,
its Industrial-design quickly fading from fashion.
We're taking time to bond as coworkers, he new,
me struggling with depression and burnout
with work after 4 years. He loves science, this tech writer
and former philosophy student, and he wants me to know
that the universe is different from what we see.

The mystery unfolds right now, he says, the Higgs Boson
on the verge of discovery, the cosmos decoded,
unwrapped, open to minds with knowledge, complete.
He wants me - me - to know there's nothing beyond now.
He wants me to know that I can know what he knows.

Not that the universe is ordered, no, but chaos
pure and simple, chaos birthing chaos,
the real world that appears to those who can see.

...they're colliding heavy lead ions
to explore the creation of matter itself
and the nature of the strong nuclear force
in the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang.

After I snap the photo of the rock den
and the park path leading to it along the stream,
five white tail deer run by and cross
downstream nearby. I follow flat-footed
on the rubber soles of my shoes, not
to alert them. The twin fawns drink
clear water rippling over shallow stones.

The does see or smell me watch,
and the herd skirts away along the yard of a home
at the park's edge. But the buck backtracks
down the path and climbs the hill alongside
the den. It stands sentry at the peak of the den,
in clear view of the world (as in a Medieval tapestry;
hunters, dogs and horses closing in).

He stands motionless, trembling I think,
and in that moment I imagine I see the code
in his genes, bulwark against all instinct for flight
and diverting attack from the does and fawns.

"We're recreating, in a sub-atomic fireball,
the conditions that existed a millionth
of a second after the Big Bang...

I find peace in bridges and imagine floating beneath
rock arches on gentle streams, constantly changing,
seeking form, finding none but stubbornly sure there's
a source of my meanders along muddy banks that I carve
and shape to no pattern, no blueprint but necessity.
I'm happy with the thought that fish hide in my weeds
that wave dreamily in the shade of willow and oak.

"It's so hot and so dense that
even protons and neutrons melt,

At the tail end of the friendly discussion, I
mention religion, and he pegs me to rights,
and knots and binds me to who I am:
one of those, one of those who believes what
they all - all religious types - believe....

He cites with slight sarcasm Pascal*, the gambler
with God, convinced the bet is a gambit
of despair, sacrifice on a board whose end game
leaves no hope of doubt. He suspects I'm wrong
about Pascal discovering probability theory, and he seems
disturbed to think that a scientist could solve
the cosmic numbers game, yet believe still that God
exists, that a choice for now beyond now makes sense.

and we end up with a sort
of primordial soup known
as the quark-gluon plasma."

I stand in the rain after the deer disappear,
alive in the moment and the chance order
of nature that guided them into my presence,
then ashamed that I could not become invisible
to them so they'd stay and graze without fear.
Ashamed that I wanted to capture them in ones
and zeroes and twitter the image across the globe.

I tell him that humans need to believe that their lives mean
something, beyond this here and now; that the universe
must harbor some glue with words and things that tells what
humans must do to each other and how they can stave
off anarchy and build shelter against ruin, captive outside time.
That societies crumble and die when meaning disappears.
The mother steals her child's food, abandoned children
die on the road, or they are cast out of home at three
to fend for themselves and subsist as best they can.

We find silence then, he mulling I do not know what,
I wondering what life might mean in a universe
in constant change, reality outside the reach of humans
to understand, at least by us without the tools to see.

I walk to the car in the rain, smoke a cigarette, turn
on the game and drive home. Rain and mud soak my jeans.

Ablaze with eternal fire, doubt denudes reason
and its infinite desire for certitude behind appearance,
zero sum game of truth or dare, faith or doubt,
un coup de dés baffling surety.

The altars erode. Weeds crumble the paths
that go nowhere without feet to wear them down.

* Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662), French physicist, scientist, philosopher and Catholic mystic. Famous for Pascal's Wager, which says that given that if God's existence is equally possible or not possible, the best choice is to wager on God's existence and thereby gain eternal happiness. In essence, we have nothing to lose; if God does not exist then we will gain the same thing as we will if He doesn't. On the other hand, if God does exist and we choose not to believe in the transcendent reality, then we will not gain eternal happiness.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


The spider in the shower
has spun its web diagonally across one corner
of the window casing. Large abdomen, small head
and long legs. It's put itself where something might
crawl from outside through a small crack.
It does not look very lucky so far.
When droplets of shower spray dangle from
the threads, it hugs them hungrily
against its body and frantically spins a cocoon
around the translucent prey. Over and over
it has done this. Its mechanical ferocity
fueled by hunger amuses and horrifies me.
How many desires am I driven by, embracing
a phantom that biology serves up on a dish?

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Humpty Dumpty Man

Humpty Dumpty and Alice. 
Illustration by John Tenniel.

Yes, they come at night, those demented scenes of a life
lost amid chance, wobbly paths, ruins, and self-deceit.
I twine together the cartoons as best I can,
but the eye that sees the universe seeing me
is not for me, frail and broken thing I am.

Time embraces me in its roots like a tortured
mother and shrieks from her hole in the ground.
We dance by campfire and paint our hunt for blood
on rock walls. If only I could melt into the stone
and become one with its moist, serene face.

Best to stand with chattering tongues among the shades,
crying helplessly for a prayer to cover my nakedness.

Shards of a lost self seeking to put itself back
together again night and day, Humpty-dumpty man
in a Halloween mask, wake and smell the brew.
Time's short, the cop with his ticket book can only warn
you away from the inhuman altar. The road to paradise
is yours to find. Nightmare's but the scent of joy.

Nightmares at night are the least of it for me.
Who I can become is the real terror from which I must wake.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mr. Spring

Photo: Charles David Miller

When Venus and Jupiter
Surf the skiff of the sky,
When the city entices me
Into its labyrinth of the eye,
There I'll find my friends
And Spring with a feather
In his hair, with nowhere to sleep
But the end of the rails
And the beginning of joy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wax Icon

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you..."

You see in my face the waste of skin
that if I saw like you I'd hate it too.

The words I hold so dear make
your hair itch. The road I walk
you'd spit on with fire, and slash
and burn until earth itself would beg
you to kill me. Each nook and secret
I hide from view you see before I do.
It burns like bile in your throat; your
jaw sets, teeth grind, and the meat
of your tongue tastes as sweet
as my pound of flesh would on your plate.

We live in a mirrored world, where all
these doubles talk and dress like us,
say the same platitudes, think the same
thoughts, make the same rim
shot, sweep the same garbage
from the floor. They live in that blind
spot that hides us from ourselves,
too vain to care. I smell it too; hate floats
in the air where shit does not stink.

Hold me as close as you hold your love.
I know who you hate, for I hate them too.

They say hate lives in a house of salt.
The priests come at night to scratch
from the walls, the jambs, the sills
what they use in the sacrifice to the god
of anger. At noon, hate walks in the park,
takes its children on the merry-go-round.
It has a good job, pays its bills, and goes
to church. It belongs to the Rotary Club.
I know it well, and wave to it always.

We hate what we can and cannot change.
As time works out its purpose in us,
the wax icon we shape looks like ourselves.

So hold me close, dear enemy, as close
as your love and then, then I will love you if I can.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Photo: Charles David Miller

I knew well the tree that bore
the fruit of songs. It harbored stars
and the gentle Spring wind and called
into life dawn where the orioles perch.

The red dog chased the rubber ball
while the black dog ate white fish
on the shores of lakes without end.
We swam in waves that stretched
to the farthest shore, there where
the light-house beam cuts night in two.
Ships afloat with iron bullion steered
past wilderness and tracked the
water like Leviathan seeking rest.

We felt what earth and sky and dream
felt, for their names were on our lips
like the flower that blooms at night
and opens with dew on its buds.
Our tread echoed the deer on the moss,
our feet raced the horse to the sun,
our eyes scanned mountain tops
as we dove in and out of the wind.

It was a day like no other, when earth
began its wail. We sought shelter
beneath the tree, huddling close
in our skin that each knew as the other.
We had no fear then, only concern
that the sun might consume the fields
and char the remnants of our joy.
There was only concern that skin
might turn to powder like the leaf
in autumn or the wood in fire.

Then the sky spewed out its poison,
the lakes went dry and the white fish
flapped gray and sick in crusting mud.
The skies themselves
flamed colors we'd never seen,
sick with revenge and anger.
It was then we left, not to return.

I knew that tree that sang our joy.
It stands there still, behind the gates
of fading memory and angel sword,
lit by anger and despair for what we had done.

(c) Copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bat Limerick

There was a man who lost his hat
Blown off his head like a nervous bat
When he finally found it
He knew it would not fit
The hat had changed to fit the bat


Someone left a single shoe in the sun.
Forlorn and weird, it lay unable to run.
A Koan it seemed, a riddle posed by Zen,
Seeking solution beyond the normal ken.
What silent race in life does one shoe run?

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring in PA

'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'

How proud muscle and bone are,
blood up and nose to the wind;
how proud in collapse to rebel
against the sun and raise the white flag
in sarcasm and growing fat like a cow.

Sun peeking thru grass, seek the yellow pulse
that binds daisies and violets; jimmy unending joy
from my gut where I walk
past streams that hide in plain sight,
by green ponds where geese sojourn,
under bridges the young have not
yet burned. Joy should be my name,
hammered out by the red crested bird
on hollow trunks near sacred stone.

Walk with me my friend; step with me
over mossed limbs. Go silently along mud banks
where the deer drink. Guide me past
the broken window where a star
once imploded on crypt house walls.

Be here my friend, by my side, bone of bone,
breath of my breath. Your words read me
closer than i know myself.

Find me inside these wrenched black gates
that a car has tried to ram through,
writing in this Spring park on a stump
with my chihuahua who's too timid to run
with the big dogs. Find me waiting, skin melting
from bone, ears failing to hear, tongue cloying
sweet words to seduce happiness.

You were there those debauched nights
when the drunken, drug-hazed car lamed me
along the tracks to a horizon with no returns.
That night I lost my glasses in the brown study.

Be with me now friend, though my bowels give out,
my eyes glaze gray, and fingers tremble
with a spoon of shriveled grain. It's your song
that once I heard it, the universe came clean
and peeled back this skin it wears.


These sounds and face tonguing and toothing gritty
truths, make me look like a victim, free of fault.
I've dished as much shit as anyone and pulled pain
from life like a bad tooth torn from a sick mouth.

But her; why her dead so young and without blame,
that night her blood flowed from under the tires.
I will wait, friend, for as long as it takes, on
whatever desolate shore, whatever fiery night
to speak of this and hear you answer and say the holy name.

(c) Copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Boy Who Knew No Fear

The following adapts the Grimm's fairy tale, The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear . The poem was written for the Poetics prompt at the dVersePoets Blog

This power in the soul, then, this unfailing conservation of right and lawful belief about things to be and not to be feared is what I call and would assume to be courage... – Plato, Republic, 429e-430a-c

There was a young boy whose father
thought he was stupid and dull.
His brother was smart and made
straight As in school, but the boy cared
for none of these. He did not cry,
and neither rod nor laugh
could stir him, since he knew no fear.
His body never shook, his teeth did not
chatter. They called him a sociopath,
whatever that means.

This lack of fear ate at his heart
for he knew enough to know
that people who shuddered
lived lives that made them happy,
and their love brought them joy
after sorrow, laughter after years of tears.

So the boy who did not know fear
set out on the road one fine day, with
nothing in his pockets and a smirk
on his face. He lived in the movie house
and watched months of guts, blood,
and gore splattering the screen.
He slept for years in haunted homes,
where ghosts and goblins sucked
his bones. But he simply yawned
and fell asleep, there to dream
of a land where people quake
and tremble and bend on knees
to find solace from terror.

He marched to war where he saw
grown men become children and piss
their pants, then turn to monsters eating brains.
His soul did not scar, his eyes did not blind
from nights of shake and bake bombs
and bodies burning to bone for hours
on end from the phosphorous.

They gave him medals for courage
because he could walk through fire,
but the boy who had no fear shook his head
and sought once more the road,
dumb and innocent in ignorance of fear.

Through jungle meetings with the jaguar,
down city streets filled with knives and bloody bottles,
he walked until one day he arrived at a kingdom
whose princess cried as spirits tread
heavily on her spine at night.

By that time, the boy who knew no fear
had become a man who felt none either,
sad and lonesome but dumb to sorrow.
The king of that realm gave him seven tests
of courage to see if he could quell the demons
at his daughter's soul. In the story, the boy
who'd become a man knowing no fear
threw out each evil wraith, seven times
facing horror after horror without shuddering.

The challenges met, the princess gained peace,
and they marry amid wide acclaim and festal lights.
But the man without fear is unhappy still,
his heart empty of love, laughter, or joy. His wife's
adoration only gnawed deeper still
at the hollow pit that was his soul.

Things would have stayed this way, the man
become a bored king reigning in a joyless house,
until a lowly maid replied to the princess' cries,
and said she'd cure the king of his ill heart.
That next morning, while he still slept,
they pulled the covers from his warm body
and spilled a kettle of flapping minnows
on him. His body shuddered at the chill
and he opened his eyes to their laughing howls,
and he laughed too once and forevermore,
awake to trembling and shivers and laughter.

And then the man who'd been a boy who knew
no fear became a spirit with awareness,
for he now knew what joy was and sorrow too,
and smile and tear, and shaking joy
filled his heart all his life, each in their time.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Off the Road to Abiqiu

The following poem and prose are part of a much longer piece.

After five years without a vacation or holiday, working as a consultant - mostly working though fearful of one job ending and not finding another for months - I decided to take a Thanksgiving week and recharge my batteries. I wanted complete isolation, as far away from work as I could get, as well as my family. This wasn't fair to them, but I knew that if I didn't find some sense of peace I couldn't be a good father or husband either. My marriage was already on the rocks that it would eventually shipwreck on.

I also wanted to come to terms with spiritual realities that I said I lived by, the Christian way of life and its meaning. I'd converted to Christianity out of nihilism, and I wanted to live that life for a while that Catholicism said was the spiritual goal of life: complete and utter adoration of God.

The perfect place for this was Christ in the Desert Monastery, a place I'd visited with a former girlfriend's father, a staunch Catholic of the old school. I'd been back once before with a friend, a devotee of Sai Baba, who'd turned against the guru and who was then exploring other spiritual traditions.

Remote, without access to power lines, telephone or easy to drive roads, the monastery was the place of my dreams to escape to or at least to retreat to. Run by the Benedictine monastic order, it was set up for just such spiritual renewals. I could attend liturgy seven times a day, mass once, and sing ancient Gregorian chants originating from the earliest days of Christian devotion.

The following poem is a fruit of that stay in the desert.

Off the road to Abiqiu,
the mud ruts run
to the monastery
where an unseen bell
rings from the aspen tree.

Black birds rise
above desert meadows
as dawn light inscribes
the geology of time
in red, orange
and grey cliff strata
across the river.

In the first part of the poem, I write of the aspen tree in the cold cold desert wind ripping down the muddy river's valley. When I arrived an early snow storm had turned the road to almost impassable mud. Cars of other people headed to the monastery got stuck and had to be pulled out by the monks in their four wheel drive.

I recall the bell that rang the seven Hours of the canonical day, calling monks and visitors to prayer in the chapel up a dark path at night. For me, that bell seemed to ring somewhere else, a different reality, hence its likeness to the beautiful aspen that turns golden that time of year. Certainly that pure clarity of the bell contrasted sharply with the jaded imagination that I carried with me into the chapel. Jaded by the workaday world, yes, but jaded also by many years of doing things I had not yet fully understood why I did them or what they meant.

Invoking geological time in the poem, I hope remember the ghosts of eras and aeons that stand outside human time. This objective time that stands impassive to the lives of individual awareness. That time with its fossils that can confirm a past easily touched, tasted, heard and tested in the books that some might use to prove once and for all that we are dust, only dust.

This was written as part of a prompt at the dVersePoets poetry blog

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Silent Reward

cracked blue egg on the curb,
you spell summer's start
in letters all would know
should they just look down.

the chicks nest in tree limbs
that hang low over old
gray schist block walls,
inviting careless torpor
or juvenile prank
of those who might walk
along well-worn paths.

holly seeds decay, black and dry,
on hot concrete. the need
to multiply brooks no trammel,
maybe to root in the ruts
in the edifice of human design.

in shadows cast by the dawn,
there's no code to find,
no secret to decipher.
no stories that embody darkness.
memory seeks in vain
a tearless fountain
whose water cleans all
links to life beyond recall.

begin again life.
hope find silent reward.

(c) Copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I'm puzzled that the world didn't end.
I think of history as a gaudy balloon
whose surface squirms with special
effect images, but inside it's foul
with the stench of gulags and beer
hall messiahs.
It's so hard to see what's real
with all the shit flying in the air
as the capitalist cyclone erects
world markets and economic boom.

I sit on the sixth floor across from Battery Park
writing computer manuals for the Empire.
The Statue of Liberty hemorrhages in a window
looking out on the last day of the century.
The warheads don't fly. The banks stay open.
Wall Street is safe. A relieved sigh
swells inside the throats of newsmen
tired with one more day of packaging the news.

If it doesn't pay, it's not real. Lies within
lies wrapped in a commercial.
Hollywood Babylon rules
the corporate unconscious...
we are what we watched.
Art now means a way to sell
something to somebody
who's already drunk with too much.

So what if I imagine more blood
in the sunset than my peers...
I'm just a hack writer for the Machine
with as much need
for a dollar as the next guy,
and a growing fear I don't
have the right information
I need to keep up.

What seemed like love one day becomes a prison,
and the one you loved's
a stranger who'll kill you
and himself for a ticket on
the paradise express.

Finding what's worth dying for is uncertain, trembling
like the body of your lover as she orgasms
in your ear and tells you
how forbidden love is. Her husband's
stolen her art and money,
and he lives in the cellar with a gun
waiting for her to crack. Are we all
hostage to demented love?
Reduced to dirty marriages,
rape farms, and rampage
under cover of night that deposits bodies
in unmarked graves?

History can't penetrate us
the way an organ or knife does,
it envelopes us and sends
the news across the galaxy.
We link one end of Armageddon
with another and hear nothing
but hysteria and the bizarre ranting
of a society addicted to its power
to make the trains run on time. 

* "beer hall messiah" was a term used for Hitler before he rose to power.
* "rape farm" is a variant of "rape camp," being investigated in 1999 as a means of war terror in Croatia and Serbia, during the Balkan wars. The term, "dirty marriage," was used derogatorily to denote the rape of women in these camps by the men.

This is an unpublished poem written in Jan 2000 submitted for the dVersePoets poetics prompt on 1999. The poem was written at the turn of the millennium, looking back on 1999 and the preceding century. I hope I'll be forgiven for stretching the rules of the prompt in this way.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Clean Hands

I want to wash my hands in angelic fire
and bring them home to Mother pure as snow.
But it is a mean, unruly world where
I want to wash my hands in angelic fire.

I want to join my song to the angel's choir,
where wicked and unjust men run the show.
I want to wash my hands in angelic fire
and bring them home to Mother pure as snow.

* submitted for the prompt at

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Angel Voices

Needing to be seen, I find my face
in the mirror and shave away the edge.

The lunatics on the street know me.
They whisper my secret name and splutter
profane histories that riff jagged chords
from out-of-tune wire. They beckon me to join
on bended knees and supplicate the God in you
at subway landings, our long greasy hair
draped over nugatory faces, neither male nor female,
our fingers hung like rotted fruit at the end
of dead tree limbs that beseech heaven
for pity, compassion, a stranger's stray dollar.

He hid under the covers and spoke
to the mother ship all night. At dawn,
he killed the dog and set the piano on fire.
The Others had come to take him home.
He spent months in the observation ward
and left with a pocket full
of antipsychotics and Gillespie
itching his finger tips with no way out.

They see one of their own in me, those lost
and despised. Like them, my past is one
long short-circuit of happiness. Their pain came
unasked, but mine played as perverse desire
to warm my self in its own burning ruins.
Criminally flawed, I'd bury my bone of deceit
in your chest and dig it out to chew on.
There's no crime I could not commit,
given the right circumstances.

When the meds milked his soul near empty,
the stars conjoined to tear him in two,
and his need to celebrate their harmony
so fated his blood, he quit eating the poison.
Lightning lost itself in the keys on the piano
and the chords of Gillespie spoke in angel voice
from the mother ship and mingled with mating songs
and drug deals in the dead end bar.
Dawn light on the Sangre de Christos ran red.

In the kingdom of the lost and insane,
the realm of saint and sinner, being seen
is not being seen, and not being seen
reveals our nothingness. Truth dies with you
in the grave and burns like an ember slowly
losing its glow. Only then do angel voices
open the gates of heaven or hell.

In the mirror, I shave away one more angle
to reveal yet another part of me that I might be or not.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Image from Walter Smith

Like a clot on the brain,
a nexus of neurons blinking yes/no
to yesterday (my death)
to today (my death)
to tomorrow (my death)

singing electromagnetic
siren calls on a visual field
seething with passions
desired for desolate shores
needing infinite mores
sliding down voids borne
across myriad galaxies

let me find my personal chaos
let me destroy myself
and remake and shift
from nothing to being
to tremble like a note
on a multiverse string

i got the package
i got the directions
i'll fold myself in triplicate
fold myself into any shape
and morph to replace
what i was never again

my death defying act
will traipse the web of nodes
strung across a shrinking sphere
that implodes and explodes
in accelerating spirals

Like a clot on the brain,
a nexus of neurons blinking yes/no
to yesterday (my death)
to today (my death)
to tomorrow (my death)