Carl Miller poems
page 11

October - December 1971

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For Janet

Gusts of wind threw rain at the dorm room window.
It blurred and ran in streams, as tears wash away
emotions that are almost too strong to bear.

We took this night and claimed it for our own.
I locked the world out. The last thing I saw
besides you was two people walking
slowly through the sleet. The wind stopped.
Your blouse was already unbuttoned.

The night was pale with falling snow.
A slight chill filled your room but not your bed.
Your gentle hands clutched me like a storm.


You said if your first lover
ever wanted you back
you’d leave me for him.

I cried so hard that night.
I knew how you felt because
you’re my first real lover.

You said it wasn’t fair,
tried to calm me with reason.
“This probably won’t happen.”

Holding me to your breast,
you quoted a line for us
from a poem you wrote for him,
“I smile as I watch your tears
that were mine, but sadly.”

The night air slipped in
through the open window.
We made love so long
it hurt, but softly.

Silence on stairs, three a.m.
A soft kiss in a long gown.
Outside, the stars were shining.

Halloween Candy

My grandmother’s dead, but Janet and I
haunt her empty house this Halloween.
My mother wants us give out candy
to trick or treating Sharon Center kids.

Janet’s really into it, with black robes
and a pointy hat that almost scrapes the ceiling.
How many freshman women keep
a witch’s costume in their dorm room closet?

At ten o’clock, we blow out the pumpkin
and retire to the back bedroom,
where we spend our first full night together,
making love over and over again.

Morning, and my mother’s a bit annoyed,
but she didn’t say we couldn’t stay all night.

After Graduating

I wanted a wife, a job, my own home.
Finding Janet seemed like an accident.
Her round face, soft curves, light brown hair,
seemed to fall from the sky into my arms.

We talked each other into believing
a job for me and apartment for us both
would also just fall from the sky.
Funny thing, that’s just how it happened!

The ecology professor was doing a study
of plankton in a pond and needed someone
to count copepods in his microscope.

The Italian apartment manager
asked Janet and I if we were married.
She smiled and squeezed my hand when I said yes.

In a Pennsylvania Gorge

Firecolored leaves
in a Pennsylvania gorge
under cloudy sky.

Seven dark birds twist turn swoop
like blackened embers in smoke.

Erie, Pennsylvania

Sitting with Janet
watching silver Lake Erie
from her parents’ porch.

They want to remove some trees
that block their view of the lake.

They seem cold and closed.
Their house is so beautiful,
so empty of home.

This sunset is my escape,
the streak of light on the hills.

Janet wants me to
open her cigarette pack.
I don’t do it right.

She goes inside. I stay here
till she calls me to dinner.

Here I go to bed
with nobody in my arms.
Janet, I miss you.


I am
the foam’s patterns
like networks of a mind,
a whispering sea
tinged with purple kelp.

You are
the sky’s uncertainty,
a shifting maze of clouds,
the sun’s blurred disk
of tarnished silver.

We are both
changed by the wind
blowing between us,
the lone white gull
above me in you.

Shadowy Room

My consciousness fades like a misty sea,
dim lamps, old couch, indigo twilight.
Can this beautified hell we call life be real?

Moonchild woman, white under the stars,
nothing seems real to me but you.
Can we share the memory of my dreams?

copyright © 1982, 2005 Carl Miller.
Drawing, “Inner Journey”: 1969, colored pencil on paper, 8 x 10 inches.

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