Carl Miller poems
page 74

August - December, 2002


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John Young’s Bed


My sister didn’t want John Young’s beautiful bed
because of its shin-bruising abilities.
He was our mother’s mother’s father.
He built the bed himself from reddish hardwood.
My father replaced the lost rosette
on the headboard with a piece of his own,
modified the side rails to make them
long enough for a standard mattress.

I spent my first whole night with a woman on this bed
on Halloween, the year after Grandma died.
Janet and I were dispatched to the house to give out candy.
She wore black witch’s robes, and a tall pointed hat.
Every two hours, we woke up and made love again.

Thirty years later, I tore out my plywood bed
to make room for this one.
Its mattress was old and uncomfortable.
When I got a substantial amount of Dad’s money,
I bought a brand new soft fluffy mattress.

This made the bed too high for Nancy,
but she said it was worth thousands of dollars
and argued against messing with it.
Then the old hardware connecting
the rails to the headboard broke.
When I got new hardware, I lowered the rails.

The bedpost kept getting Nancy’s shins,
giving her bruises that lasted for weeks.
I wrapped it in foam. Now I’m building
a bigger bedroom for bedpost clearance,
and somewhere to put the matching dresser.



Vote Against My Opponent


Vote against my opponent,
who voted against our favorite war,
who voted against corporate reform,
who voted against our favorite tax cut,
who voted to cut funding,
who is a tax and spend liberal,
who is a pawn of the radical right,
who opposes the administration’s plans,
who supports the administration’s schemes.

I will replay the gaffe
my opponent made in the debate
in all of my commercials,
and the opinion my opponent expressed
two years ago that time has proven wrong.
My opponent’s corporation
is being investigated by
the Securities and Exchange Commission.
My opponent’s marriage is shaky.
The children have substance abuse problems.

I will put my smiling face in your mailbox.
You can see me with policemen,
with children at a playground,
with people of sublime benevolence.
They love me. My family loves me too.
You should also love me.
I’ll make everything better for you.
Vote for me.



The First Big Rain


At first, wisps of white in a blue sky,
fractal patterns of light and dark gray,
a brisk breeze bouncing trees.
The prelude stretches the hours.
Bits of blue threaten hope.
At dark a light mist softens the air.
Just before midnight, rain patters the roof.
All night I hear it come and go.
The morning woods are wet and fresh.
The hard rain falls harder.
The clouds are dark as twilight.
Muddy water flows shallow in ditches,
creases the dirt road.



Two Culverts


A phone call interrupts my breakfast.
A neighbor’s culvert is blocked by rocks
knocked out of place by a fallen tree,
the water might undermine the road.
At least the rain is only a drizzle
when I have to climb down slippery rocks.
My neighbor’s wife dissuades me from
using the mud on the other side
of this strangely divided flow.
The very rocks her father once
carefully placed to support the road
are now bouncing the water wrong.
With my big crowbar I hook small rocks
from under the big one I have to move.
Now it’s budging, now it’s flipping,
now it’s out of the way.
I climb out on the mud.

On my way to town, I see that
the culvert near the front of the road
that’s always blocked by storms like this
is blocked, and running across a drive
to the next culvert. This one usually
makes a pool about four feet deep.
If I do something about it now,
I’ll never get to town at all.

But on my way back, the road is blocked
by someone’s truck. Two men are trying
to unplug this cursed thing,
moving rocks, wishing they had
a crowbar. I get them mine.
Someone young and in a hurry
angrily complains about
their truck blocking the road.
They move it. The water’s flushing
through the culvert. They give me back
my crowbar, thinking the job is done.
I’m not so sure. I see the water
slowly deepening the pool.
Now I’m on the downhill side,
moving rocks, hooking sticks
and globs of mud. roots, and grass
like hair caught in the bathtub drain.



copyright © 2005 Carl Miller
The painting shows Bayhorse Lake.

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