I don’t think it was a mistake
when you sat on top of me
and shared your inner warmth.
After a year of lonely nothing,
that meant a lot to me,
a beautiful experience.
Been here, done this before, but not in June—
A cloudy day, lightning flashes at night,
how many seconds till thunder rumbles?
I fall asleep fearing forest fires.
I know about the fire near the King Range,
six hundred, no, eight hundred fifteen acres.
Helicopters fly low over my valley
carrying big orange buckets of water.
Two afternoons ago, the smoke hit hard,
making sunlight golden yellow or gone,
veiling hills and filling my lungs with cough.
South of Piercy, thousands of acres ablaze.
Some fires may keep burning till the rains,
which usually don’t start before October.
We’re presently estranged, I guess.
I haven’t talked to her awhile.
She fussed about the garbage bags.
I said, “It’s over,” and walked away,
relieved that I got out of this.
But is the other woman pleased?
She says now she doesn’t trust me
and wants to be courted all over again,
like I have patience for that.
I guess I’m estranged from them both.
Leave me alone.
I just want to go to sleep.
Shut up, go away.
I don’t want to be anyone’s handsome prince.
Why would you want one, anyway?
They grow up to be kings,
and everyone knows kings make bad lovers.
I don’t want a relationship that’s such a big deal.
I don’t want to wake up early in the morning
thinking how unhappy I am about our situation
with the instruction that I should write poems.
I don’t want to say, “I love you,”
to a woman who won’t believe I love her
without all kinds of arcane proof.
You don’t have to believe anything.
Love is an opinion subject to change.
I’ve already got a broken heart,
cholesterol, chest pain, shortness of breath, the whole deal.
It only keeps working because of pills and herb capsules.
I don’t need you to break it figuratively.
When the California Blue finished blooming,
I was hoping to avoid a second summer
of fixing the roof in the worst heat
by starting then, but it was already hot.
Again, about the most I could manage
was measuring, cutting, nailing one or two
pieces of roll roofing every day.
I kept a small piece of plywood in the shade.
The roof itself was much too hot to sit on.
Roses and rhodendrons bloomed and wilted.
Meanwhile, Rusty passed his driving test.
A year and a half of practice with me
led to a fifteen minute performance.
He put his childhood in cardboard boxes,
made plans to move to a college dorm.
The hydrangeas bloomed both pink and blue
in soil both acidic and alkaline,
between the bed of bulbs and a rhododendron.
I wanted to do something different,
add some new activities and people.
I joined an internet matchmaker,
but the women my age looked like my mother.
I didn’t meet a single gray-haired babe.
There weren’t many flowers left by the time
Rusty left for College of the Redwoods.
I started cutting firewood, slowly.
Random aches made me feel too grumpy
to want to promote myself to some
short-haired woman hundreds of miles away.
You’re all grown up and you like
the way it strangles your mind.
Turn off a few brain cells
and here comes the art!
You’ve learned that part
of the poet’s mythos.
There’s songs and poems aplenty
celebrating the happy face
of old bipolar Dionysos.
But sometimes they reveal
the Bacchantes’ dreadful rites,
the goat song where everyone dies
and the gods laugh and roll their eyes.
In more practical terms,
when the drink means more
than your lover,
even your art,
then what will you do?
I’ve watched people
live this cliché too many times.
It’s a bummer from beginning to end,
especially the end.
Please be careful.
Driving from sunset
burning red in the mirror
toward the freckled moon.
First week of rain,
the hard gravel path
undermined by moles.
copyright © 2009 Carl Miller