Carl Miller poems page 60

January - June 1997
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Bridge Slumped

On New Year’s day, after heavy rain,
the first bridge on Miller Creek Road slumped
about three feet on the uphill end
and skewed about a foot from side to side.

The bridge support is slowly falling into
the flooding creek like Pisa’s leaning tower.
Some gravel shoveled into cracks between
road and bridge make it passable, but scary.

The new road maintenance bureaucracy
isn’t prepared to press ahead with repairs
without a meeting, even though they know
everyone will want the bridge repaired.

Two weeks later, we’re jacking up the bridge,
so at least it’s level side to side,
and putting some big boulders in the stream
to deflect water from the bridge support.

Hale Bopp

I don’t know why I let myself
get talked into coming to this party.

The only bit on fun I’m having here
is quickly ending my guitar music
whenever Dau starts singing pseudo-Yiddish.
I don’t know why he needs to “spicken goggle,”
but he doesn’t think my running gag is funny.
I use Rusty as my excuse to leave early.

In the sky above the party house I see
for the first time, and point out to Rusty,
the small dot and streak of comet Hale Bopp,
a mountain sized lump of dirty ice
spraying steam into the solar wind.

Alligator Lizard Love

His jaw holds the back of her head,
their bodies twisted in a U,
her tail on his, their hips throbbing,
he pumping she sucking life,
entranced by slow pleasure,
barely moving, breathing.

Rusty caught them in a meadow.
The angry male bit his finger.
When Ella held one in each hand,
the male jumped onto the female.
He didn’t care where they were.
He had to have her.

We release them in the garden.
They make quiet scrawks,
chasing each other beneath
the red ruffles azalea,
then twist together again,
rolling in redwood sorrel.

Corduroy Iguana

Last Saturday, Rusty and I
decided to make a stuffed iguana.
Rusty decided he wanted
a Fijian banded iguana because
these have the prettiest colors,
so we had to watch the video tape
to refresh our memories.

The only cloth I had that was close
to the right green was corduroy.
Warning. Do not try
to make a stuffed animal with
long skinny toes out of corduroy.
The toes will not turn right side out.

The belly was pale green broadcloth,
the stripes turquoise blue,
the bluish back scales, yellow eyes,
and pink mouth made from scraps of felt.
I sewed the toes and tail
from the outside with the zigzag,
then started stuffing, closing the back.

He’s a little limp, maybe needs
to bask in the sun for awhile,
but iguanas do that a lot.

Upward Bound

Ina stayed at my house for a night
on her way to Upward Bound,
a pre-college program at Humboldt State.
She seemed happy about going there.
Rusty was drawing a tall ship,
slowly coloring the waves.

Ten days later, something was wrong.
Ina was being stubborn, refusing
to sign a contract not to hurt herself,
and got sent to Sempervirens,
the mental hospital in Eureka,
but now she’s back at Upward Bound.

Neither Ina nor the authorities
make clear exactly what’s going on.
I don’t know why she’s involving me.
Did she try to slash her wrists again?
Was it some stupid vampire Goth thing
that freaked out her roommate in the dorm?

Rusty and I are leaving Monday,
driving to mountains and museums
on the way to my father in Ohio.

I urge her to be cool, to go along
with whatever Upward Bound wants.
She says she didn’t like Sempervirens.
I hope she’s learned her lesson, but
I keep imagining what might go wrong.

copyright © 2005 Carl Miller

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