Carl Miller poems page 51

January - May 1991

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Humbug Mountain

Driving the Oregon coast, going home,
renewing spirit at a roadside view.

Keep the windshield wipers on to see
steel horizon, foam overlapping sand,
cloud hiding the top of Humbug Mountain.

People come, take photographs, drive away.
This reality is beautiful— preserve it.

Something someone says makes me remember
my white-haired grandmother and her neighbor
wanting to live to see another spring.

The drizzle stops. I get out of the car.
Now I see the top of Humbug Mountain.

Seal Court Beach

Blue sky pale with distant clouds,
a beach of fine pebbles swept between
jagged outcrops slightly smoothed,
a home shaped like a lighthouse.

Rusty’s cautious about the sea,
not sure he likes this restless water.
He climbs low rocks,
picking pebbles and shells.
He hands me his bottle
to clean off the granules.
“Adda, bobball!” he explains.
Now he’s putting pebbles
into a black toy tow truck.

Splash patterns of foam,
choppiness on fractal scales.
Small waves break at the shore,
large ones farther back.
I wish I could draw turbulence.
I can see beautiful instants
my photographs always miss.

The Wrong Musician

A woman had me drive Dau to her party,
where we played our chamber jazz instrumentals.
A dancing woman wanted songs with words
but the songs I sang weren’t spiritual enough.
I was glad when Rhoda sang the blues.

The grass pollen in Phillipsville was awful.
A young couple in dreadlocks disliked my vibes
and kept trying to purify me with sage smoke,
which irritated my nose more than the pollen.

I couldn’t leave until Dau wanted to go.
I walked down to the river, sat on the gravel,
listened to traffic, wind, and Dau’s high notes.
When clouds covered the setting sun,
I got cold, and had to return to the party.

Ravens on the Beach

I’m with Rusty at Seal Court Beach.
He’s putting pebbles in a toy truck again,
this time in the bed where they belong.

A pair of ravens lands on the beach,
so close I clearly see throat feather ruffs
and nostrils in their shining black bills.
“Deet, deet!” Rusty says, pointing at their flight.
Deet is his word for birds and tape cassettes.

He lies down, thrashing his arms and legs.
I don’t know what he thinks he’s doing,
but he’s enjoying himself.

At the Magic Maple

A fallen bigleaf
maple trunk with one live root,
a grove of branches.

Bird whistles, fresh breeze, wind chimes,
Rusty climbs an old bed frame.

Artist in a scene,
parent of a little boy,
my attention split.

He runs a distance shouting,
“Neow!” chasing one of the cats.

When I don’t follow
immediately, he stops
and shouts, “Hey, Adda!”

copyright © 2005 Carl Miller

Drawing, “Humbug Mountain”: 2010, gel pen on paper, 6 x 10 inches.

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