Carl Miller poems
page 32

June - December 1980


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Snail-Watching


Big gray snails with mahogany shells
inlaid with rosewood and maple
slide the boardwalk,
stretch tentacles to sense the width of cracks,
shift shells like backpacks and cross.

Snails are not seen by the man and woman
looking at shells in the shop window;
while talking about her shell collection
(he ribs her about its size, its uselessness)
they nearly step on the snail I’m drawing.

Snails crawl stems of orange nasturtiums
grown wild between boardwalk and street,
swarm over rain-wilted petals
like slow-motion kittens
milking a mama cat.



Briceland Sunrise


Yellow grass hill in golden light,
another yellow grass hill,
dark firs edging purple sky.



Surf-Fishing Sunset


When the sun’s deep yellow,
gulls wading in high tide
attract people with nets,
a dozen men, two women,
in hip boots or barefoot,
up to their knees in surf.

The restless Mexican
sees a swarm of silver,
runs around the others,
casts his net at some,
pulls the cord to close it,
drags ashore none.

Another man’s netfull
looks like one big fish
until he dumps them out,
fifty flopping on sand
for his son to pick up
before a bigger wave.

Two gulls on a rock are
black against salmon-pink
near the yellow skyhole.
Pancakes of rainbow foam
chill the young woman’s jeans
while she holds her net.

The breeze stops, magenta
dulls behind one cormorant
on the rock, people leave.
One man still pulls fish
ashore when Venus anpears,
then Jupiter, then stars.



Sunset Moonrise


Last magenta flash
behind a charcoal green ridge
half sunk in sea fog

Trying a taste of acid
in a paper cup of juice

Sharp round blotched white moon,
conga drums, women dancing,
time jumps scene to scene

Tarot cards spread on a scarf
a close circle of kneeling

Where’s the boom boom bump?
Someone tells me it’s resting
Where’s the tarot cards?

Sunlight warming us awake
women taking off their shirts

They don’t want to know
I didn’t like the acid
I want to go home



Unfinished Roof


I panic. Gray clouds call me home,
thoughts of rain on an unfinished roof.
Do I have plastic?
I think it could weather one storm this way.
Then I look up, and see
the clouds dissolve in pink sunset,
widening patches of blue sky deepening.





copyright © 1982 - 2005 Carl Miller

Painting, “Howard Creek Beach”: 1995, Acrylic on watercolor paper, detail 12 x 16 inches.

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