Carl Miller poems
page 27

August - December 1977

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A Concert in the Unfinished School

Sunset’s hazy rainbow rapped around
the horizon to a rising round moon.
We’re sitting in rows of chairs
on the floor of our unfinished school.

Each piece of music begins gradually,
tamboura’s drone overlaid with sitar
bending notes of slow melodies,
then complex percussion of tabla.

Slowly the twilight darkens to stars.
Sounds of children running in the meadow
sometimes rips the fabric of the music,
but everybody seems to accept this.

Cutting Glass

The large windows still brightened the counter,
though the overcast was fading and blue.
Colleen was cutting pieces of stained glass
while Nugget and Beretta, two of her cats,
kept shuffling paws to crawl on her work.

“Cats always do that,” she said as I took
Beretta; “they want you to look at them.”

Nugget was moved back against the window
and Colleen traced the next piece from her pattern.
“I didn’t know you could cut shapes like that,”
I said. “Sometimes I’ve done it,” she told me.

She scored the curve slowly with the cutter,
then turned the glass over and began tapping;
the crack followed her taps until it reached
the inside corner, then broke through the piece.

Owl walked into the studio Just in time
to hear about her disappointment;
she showed him another piece to be cut,
similarly shaped but more delicate.
Beretta jumped off my lap and ran outside.

Holding the edge of the glass, Owl moved his
wrists just so and separated the piece
as if he had done nothing unusual,
while Colleen and I stared in amazement.

The Improvisational Theater Workshop

One woman dreamed she was accused
of a crime, but no one would tell her
what it was. When she and a friend
were sentenced to five years in prison,
they decided to use this time
to change themselves into bears.

“Become bears gradually,” said
one of the workshop’s leaders to
the women playing these two parts.
“We’ll become bears and pay them back
for this,” they growled to each other.

In the dream when they were released
the dreamer’s sister did not believe
they were real bears, but thought they
were wearing costumes: the two actors
shuffled and growled while the woman
playing the sister offered them drinks.

In the discussion afterwards,
she said the part was painful for her,
not responding to them as bears.

“That’s what happens to prisoners
and soldiers,” said the workshop leader.
“They come home as bears
and no one notices the change.”

copyright © 1980 - 2005 Carl Miller

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