Carl Miller poems
page 96

Ever After

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Which Way To Go

A gray day at noon in January,
not freezing but too cold to be outside,
the steady roaring of the swollen creek
supports a sound not heard in thirty years,
the chirps of hundreds of migrating birds.
Are they trying to get ahead of spring?

They seem unsure about which way to go.
If their kind doesn’t often fly through here,
are they lost? They’re chirping about something.
Then most of them fly west. Stragglers follow.
Perhaps their route is closer to the sea.
In a few minutes, all the chirps are gone.

Balinese Welcoming Dance

You shouldn’t use
a sacred dance
to welcome tourists.

Let’s make a secular dance,
a welcoming dance,
just for the tourists.

Eventually it started
getting performed at temples
to welcome the gods.

Characteristics of an Old Cat

She prefers hopping from one chair to another
over going down to the floor and coming up again.

She likes to sit next to me and purr
but wants at most a little bit of stroking.

She meows to say goodbye when
she hops back to the other chair.

She half howls to tell me she’s going
to sleep on the back of the bottom shelf.

That Was Then

Can I even remember how it feels?
Waves of love flushing my brain with hormones,
the bouncing hair as she moves, her big smile,
the swelling shapes under her shirt or dress.

I’m old. It’s been so long.
Some women I loved are already dead
from certain complications of old age.

I wish I could have married one of them,
but the women who chose to be with me
came and went with any disagreements,
and in the end I was like that too.

Colors of Chili

The can opener bites the edge of the top.
Glistening dark red beans spill out of the can
into the cast iron pot. I add several spoons
of bright red tomato sauce and stir.

The chipotle powder I sprinkle
is an even darker red, almost brown.
Granulated garlic looks orange in the jar
and granulated onion looks pale yellow,
but they both look white in the pot.

A watched pot never boils so I don’t watch
but this is boiling very soon,
and just as soon I spoon it out of the pot,
red dinner in a dark blue bowl.

New Year, New Day, Too Early

Today is one of those days
when I wake up too early
and can’t get back to sleep.

Too cold, too many thoughts
about the poems I tried to finish,
about the stories I’m writing,
about a barge load of annoying
medical conditions leading toward
an eventual end to my abilities.

Spurts of rain begin pattering the roof.
I keep opening my eyes and staring
at the ceiling, thinking about Rusty
fixing the hallway roof last summer
and on into fall. He’s dissatisfied
with how the roll roofing wrinkled
but it works. It doesn’t leak.

This seems useless. Turn off your
mind, relax, float downstream?
It’s not happening. Might as well
get up and write the words
that won’t stop keeping me awake.

copyright © 2023 Carl Miller

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