Sitting on her bed
just barely aware
this is where she died
the night before last,
I’m wondering why
her apartment smells
like burnt potatoes.
She left the crockpot
slow cooking a stew
now burnt to charcoal.
She was born in Marlinton,
West Virginia, nineteen fifty five.
She loved gardening,
cleaning, and television,
even really bad television.
She usually had a pet cat.
Wherever she lived,
the yard soon filled with flowers
of every size and description.
She played folk and blues
on a steel string guitar.
With her computer and mouse,
she slaughtered every demon
down to the lowest pit of Hell,
explored the Amazon rain forest,
and built many a Sim City.
For about ten years,
she enjoyed working as
a home health care provider,
cleaning homes and helping
the elderly or handicapped.
She died in her sleep, age fifty seven,
survived by her mom and brother,
four children, and three grandchildren.
Her friend’s daughter told me
she was a wonderful giving woman
who gave people so much love.
A cabin is burning in the mountains
of San Bernadino County.
A helicopter circles the scene
from a safe distance, broadcasting
flames that slip in and out of focus.
The sheriff’s pretty sure the hunted man
is already burned to death.
An ex-cop, ex-military man
with automatic weapons and
vast amounts of ammo, on a mission
to kill as many Los Angeles cops
and their families as possible,
has fired his last spray of bullets.
In a few moments, the president’s
state of the union message will begin.
Two months before, another crazy man
with large ammo clips and even less sense,
killed two dozen six-year-old children
in a Connecticut elementary school.
Because of this, gun registration,
large clips, and semi-automatics,
are the subjects of proposed new laws.
The second amendment fools are outraged.
They say they need weapons not just to hunt,
not just to protect their families
against armed criminals, but to rebel
against a tyrannical government.
You idiots! It never works!
You’ll end up in a burning cabin,
your miniscule rebellion squashed,
a spectacle for the evening news.
Grief gnaws at my body
from the inside, leaving
me a hollowed out shell
of dry wood with no heart.
I think I’m being perfectly clear.
I’m not wrapping my meaning
in symbols or disguise.
So why do I keep failing?
Do people not believe
I could say what I said
and correct my presumed mistakes?
What I’m seeing reflected back to me
doesn’t look like me at all.
I’m starting to doubt myself,
to retreat into silence.
I reject sorrow.
I reject grief.
I decide to be happy.
I live in the house of my dreams.
I do what I want to do.
I read and watch what I love.
I make what I want to create.
So what if I’m usually alone!
I’m done with what’s already past.
I look at this new spring of now.
I water the hydrangeas,
roses and rhododendrons.
I fix the fence.
I draw and I write.
I’m usually the one wanting
not to break any bond of love,
but this woman had warning labels.
She wasn’t comfortable with love.
She talked about past escapades,
fickle lovers, angry husbands.
She said I was nicer than them,
but we didn’t get any closer.
She wanted to go out too often,
to movies I found upsetting,
to music in the outdoor cold.
If I didn’t want to do this stuff
I had to justify why not.
Month after month, each date ended
with goodnight kisses and no more.
She was always too worn out.
Her health needed to get better.
She had to get over the grief.
Her company stopped being fun.
The arguments ran in circles.
A love song from the late sixties
turned my heart away from her
and I told her this is over.
A cool and sunny day in June
with white noise of the creek and wind,
sunlight through the hardwood leaves.
A songbird’s four note melody
mixed with a percussive trill
declares his territory rights
over and over and over.
My fence doesn’t quite mark the edge
of my territory claim,
just the zone where deer aren’t allowed.
They’d love to eat the garden plants
that get water all summer,
so the fence must keep them out.
Nothing can keep out a bear
so I count on their mixed emotions
about approaching human stuff.
It helps that I’m vegetarian
and don’t make attractive garbage.
This has worked more than thirty years.
I used to be restless for the road,
the ocean, mountains, and desert.
I’m here now. More and more I find
there’s nowhere else I want to go.
Now I’m wondering why the bird
stopped making the little trill
and now just sings the melody part.
A different kind of bird just cheeps
a higher note in response.
the crescent moon and Venus
veiled by wispy clouds.
We don’t want to hire you.
If we do hire you, we want to pay you minimum wage.
We don’t want to raise the minimum wage.
We don’t want there to be a minimum wage.
You don’t have enough money for rent or food or medical care?
We don’t want the government to help you.
We don’t want you to vote if you might vote against us.
You loser! You taker! You think you’re entitled
to stuff just because you got born.
You are entitled to get born.
We don’t want any abortions or birth control.
You are also entitled to buy guns and large ammunition clips.
We don’t want any gun control.
You are entitled to stand your ground.
What could possibly go wrong?
Our ideas are fine. We just need to rephrase—
Wait! Don’t point those things at us!
copyright © 2013 Carl Miller