Carl Miller poems
page 38

August - December 1982

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Lake Pillsbury

Through tent door’s arch
yellow grass flat
changing to green reeds
lake and mountains
we marking-pen sketch.

I measure straight.
You bend space between
us and lake into
rainbow, wonder where
to put the mountains.

Facing this scene we
make love and sleep.
From stars a skunk
skulks your feet, paws
vitamin bottles.

“Where’s the flashlight?”
“Over by the skunk.”
I find another, see
pointed face quick shuffle,
and zip the door shut.

Clear Lake

“You ready to go out now?
I’ll clock you out at four.”
We sign the rental agreement.
He rigs the boat for us.
Shayla asks about cleats for the sails.

Off the beach onto glass water
with wind too slight to feel,
the boat glides like a swan,
almost into a dock before
we get the rudder down.

Our sail cups a trace of breeze.
We’re becalmed by the cinder cones,
comeabout toward greenlawn homes,
jibe toward the shorecliff road.
I learn, she remembers, what to do.

Wind rises, other sailboats move.
We approach shore too fast,
circle tilting. “Now this is sailing!”
Shayla exults, but I’m frightened
until we perfectly beach the boat.


I am not this body,
not even this animate energy,
but the space between
particles, the void.
I am not my thoughts
but the silence between my thoughts.

When I die, the space
that is me becomes like the space
of a room with walls removed.
Life and death are a flux.
The space between always
is and always knows.

Salt Point

morning bright sand
green waves purple kelp
we spread our blanket
kiss slow rub noses

creek cross cliff climb
short grass meadow
honeycomb sandstone
mantra of waves

majesty of horn
blacktail buck and doe
watch us from a rock
we walk they vanish

mist on our skin
sea palms below
bent by white waves

nude on sun rock
we chant healing

Rock and Waves

cracks deep and round,
wrinkles on an old human face,
cuniform texts,
gullies in badlands

turquoise, green, and white
coils of water
pulse of sound
the ocean’s heartbeat

Sonoma Beach

Coiling sandy waves streaked white,
half grassy mountain in gray fog.

I don’t know what I’m doing here.
This seascape might be my portrait.

What does Shayla want with me?
Why do I doubt when she’s so sure?

All the women I’ve tried to love
confuse and kalidoscope me.

Two pelicans fly in front of
the rock a sign says I can’t climb.

I feel unsettled, and this beach
doesn’t make me feel any better.


I sit half-lotus nude on the bed,
talking while you rummage drawers,
looking at your long bare legs,
stretching my arms to hug you when
you sit on the edge. “All right,”
you say and my penis swells
in the time it takes you to pull
your sweater off your breasts and shoulders.

copyright © 1984 - 2005 Carl Miller

Drawing, “Lake Pillsbury Sailboats”: 1983, colored pencil on paper, 12 x 18 inches, detail 9 x 12 inches.

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