Two miles up a muddy road, I take
the lower fork to a meadow of junk trucks,
park near your car, walk all the wrong trails,
see a woman, ask where is your house,
and find you with three children, setting up
a volleyball net. You kiss me, tell me
how glad you are to see me, how surprised,
though I told you I would come to see you soon.
You tell me everybody tells you that.
Leading me up the ladder to your room,
an octagon skylit with precious winter sun,
you answer a question not-yet-asked by filling
a plastic plunger with birth-control foam.
Your daughter and her two friends tree themselves
to peek through windows, giggle, joke about
marriage while I cover us with a sheet.
You yell at them. I tell you things like this
don’t bother me at all. We kiss and slide.
So we’ve made love twice and I’m feeling love,
but when I try to talk about love,
she says, “Don’t get hung up on me.”
Great. I’m thinking, five years of no real lover,
and counting. But then I think,
maybe I can get her hung up on me.
Most of the time we do not in-and-out.
I find pulses holding still that moan you,
stop time for me. You near me to your face.
Your eyes overlap, closed or winter blue.
Your stripe of white smooth body presses mine
while lips and tongues entangle, softly part.
I touch your breasts the way you say you like.
I wish you shared the love I feel with you.
You smile me, reaching down to touch yourself,
a tickle, faster, faster, you’re pleading,
“Oh, Carl, help me get over the edge!”
Deep and hold it there, slide very slowly,
I send you somewhere, wait for your return,
then in-and-out. I stream you, kiss you close.
In Golden Gate Park we paddle a boat,
chasing coots on sunny water.
Under a bridge, names in hearts
record who loved who ten years ago.
“I bet they’re not in love now,” you say.
Yellow hair whips your face and neck
while I photograph you standing
on a cliff near Pigeon Point Light.
We watch a mother willet chase
other birds from a curve of strandline
so her chicks can feed there.
“The father abandoned them,” you say.
In a bookstore in Santa Cruz
we share erotic Greek vase-paintings.
At a restaurant about to close
we talk our way in for a salad.
We’re warm and nude and slippery
on sleeping bags in honey sunlight,
making morning in our van,
or arm-in-arm in puffy jackets
watching full moon waves
crash and crackle the cobble beach.
Shiftless White is Shayla’s Plymouth Valiant.
In theory it has three forward gears and reverse.
In practice it’s either stuck in first and reverse,
or second and third, but it’s possible
to switch between these pairs of gears
by opening the hood and prying the linkage cams
with a really big screwdriver.
Driving Shiftless White is a Valiant effort.
This spring, my ballpoint pen is dancing lines
around the rippled edges of wild iris
with long bladelike leaves slightly curving.
I showed Shayla some of my old drawings,
cellular grottoes with abstract mushrooms,
little floating creatures with glowing eyes.
She asked why I stopped making drawings like these.
I wasn’t sure, but they seemed to stop
when I started having intercourse with women.
Shayla and I are falling apart, I know.
Her psychic premonitions are causing arguments
that I just can’t resist trying to win.
I’m finding calmness in this dance of art,
this iris individuality.
copyright © 1982 - 2005 Carl Miller
Painting, “Three Wild Irises”: 1980, acrylic on canvas board, 22 x 28 inches.