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.