Carl Miller poems page 64

August - December 1998
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Nancy wanted to go north to Trinidad
alone with me. She made it sound romantic,
but she was filled with energy and restless,
and I was slowed by lingering bronchitis.

We’d climb down the cliffs to one beach.
She’d walk a bit, gather shells and driftwood,
then climb back up to go somewhere else.
By the second or third cliff, I was coughing,
gasping for breath and getting grumpy.

I said the duplicate lighthouse was good enough.
No way would I climb over Trinidad Head
to look at another one just like this.
I just wanted to sit somewhere by the sea
and breathe the moist air through my aching lungs.

Late Summer Sounds

stellar jay flying
squirrel chattering

Rusty makes engine noises in his room
Ella clears her throat on the porch

no sound from what’s left of the creek
birds done nesting have little to say

an airplane somewhere in the sky
changes pitch as it comes and goes

Rusty doing several voices
for Lego people having dramatic encounters

that voice has to be the bad guy
proudly explaining his nefarious scheme

someone else reacts with surprise
and a vehicle goes whoosh!

faint frustrated buzz of a fly
imprisoned by a house spider

Locked in the Lab

Nancy wanted to show Rusty
the Marine Laboratory in Trinidad,
a small town twenty miles north of Arcata.
We got there just before it closed,
looked quickly at the indoor exhibits
on our way to the petting pool in back.

Rusty says the sea anemones
grabbed his fingers, but I remember
them cringing and folding up
whenever any of us touched them.
“Go away, don’t mess with me,”
Nancy said. We both enjoy
giving dialog to the speechless.
The sea urchins would kind of pinch
a finger between their spines.
The starfish didn’t react at all.

Then we realized the lab was closed.
No one checked before locking up,
and we were trapped inside the yard.
We climbed the high fence to get out,
not an easy effort for
a woman wearing a long velvet dress.

Time to Move the Sprinkler

Rusty’s trying to instruct
his nephew, T.J., how to count
for purposes of hiding and seeking.
The sprinkler’s in the swordferns.

Rusty arrested T.J. for being
a superhero without a license.
The sprinkler’s by the apple tree
and the new columbines.

That’s my life, all continuity
and virtually no plot.
At least I’ve cut all the firewood.
The sprinkler’s in the canna-lilies.

Snow on Chemise Mountain

On the Saturday night before Christmas,
all of us, Rusty, Ella, T.J., Nancy, and I,
crowded into my little blue Toyota
to visit Nancy’s oldest daughter, Mindy,
who lives high on the slopes of Chemise Mountain,
in the southern King Range,
the wildest part of the California Coast.

From the deck of Mindy’s porch, we could see
the lights of Fort Bragg, some fifty miles south.
She fed us pea soup, pizza, and apple pie.
The wind began to howl, then became quiet.

A bird hit Mindy’s big glass door
and knocked itself out. She brought it inside.
It revived and flew around the house
in a panic, trying to get out,
chased by both the cat and dog.
We opened all the doors. The bird flew out.

In the chill I saw the snow start falling.
I said we had to leave. My tires were bald.
Mindy’s snowballs made Rusty upset.

My overloaded car skidded and slid
on three inches of fresh slippery crunch
covering the winding dirt road.
The wipers went whop, squeak, whoppity.
The defroster was no match for the quickly
accumulating freezing fog inside.

Then came the hairpin of Huckleberry Hill,
creeping, managing to stay on the road,
even while skidding a half circle.

I floored it and spun up Miller Creek Road,
left Ella, T.J. and Rusty at our house,
creeped my way back down to take Nancy
home to her Garberville apartment
and spent the night with her there.

copyright © 2005 Carl Miller

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