a distinct aversion
to blank we in
absolving backlash
dismantled crux
absorbing the thoroughfare
for want must
needs impertinence
of gesture web
though altogether
signed off
on the negation
so it came by cutting
insofar as rut befits
the tender equipage
of what lust permits
in my palm the sighs

-r. miller

Elegy for John Ashbery

If I willed it,
would this elegy envelop
every perception
in swatches of gray?
Nothing to say
now, for yesterday
stormed in and stole
the voice which could
shape them into phrases.
You held my breath,
and carried it with you,
page by page,
until the pages burned away.
Before I ever was,
you held my breath.
And in death, you hold it still.

-r. miller


When you go with your gut,
your gut goes green.
Haven’t we seen enough already?
I mean, haven’t we seen it all?
The way a leaf falls
laconically into view
is what we were hoping to name.
Meanwhile, a climate of unreadiness
barks a warning
through the many-eyed night
and pulls you, me, and the other
three people we are
into what resembles anxiety,
but the colors aren’t the same
as what we’re used to,
and much colder than we are.

-r. miller

The New Romanticism

It’s that time again,
time to grease your grimace.
Time to fleece those finicky fiends
who scheme at the margins.
The barge barges in,
and soon, it’s a cakewalk.
We’re all talk around here.
Gilded gab. Flabbergasted
by ritual and ready to plow.
Judging by the brow on your sweat,
I’d say somebody’s nervous.
Impervious to puzzles,
I abide by the brick.

Is This a Poem?

I am writing this poem
not to convey any specific interior state,
nor to relate a specific experience.
I don’t plan on utilizing any lush imagery.
I don’t intend to display
any verbal acrobatics or dexterity.

I haven’t decided yet
if I even want this to be read as a poem.
It could be read as any number of things.

A dissertation.
A pamphlet.
A road map.

I could perhaps tell you that this is a picture
and rather than using color and brush strokes,
I use the symbols we ordinarily associate
with our language. Meaning,
this isn’t intended to be read at all,
but gazed at from a distance
and admired for its visual qualities,
the shapes of the symbols
and the order they appear in.

I wouldn’t do that of course.
I was merely speculating.

What if I told you
that this is a musical composition
arranged to be sung by a single voice
in a flat monotone?

That could also easily be the case, but again,
I’m merely speculating.

So what is it exactly
that makes this a poem?
Is it the fact that I referenced this as a poem?
Is that even sufficient?
So what if I say that a rock is a poem?
Or a tree? Or a city skyline at sunset?
Or two people arguing in a crowded restaurant?
Are these poems?

Or is it the fact that this piece of writing
is composed of phrases broken up
according to a number of factors,
including but not limited to:
rhythm, meter, the way they guide the eye
and by that token affect the action of the mind?
But I could’ve left the phrases intact
and let them run their natural course as in prose,
and it still would be a poem.

So what is it that makes this a poem?
What about you, the reader?
Is it you who makes this what it is?
Are you reading this as a poem?
Well, are you?
Are you… ?

The Politics of Grieving

Never trust a bladder infection.
I only learned this
upon further inspection
of the dactyl hymns
we’ve been humming since day one.

That was a day of discreet murmuring
and plexiglass palaces poking at prose.
In all but four states,
every rose dropped its thorns
in a casket of steam,
eyes trained on the desperate dream
that had been their sustenance.
We wore our incompetence with pride.
We turned the tides with a trick.

And now it seems
I’m bearing the guilt of that sickness,
staring at the shifting shock patterns
as they play the politics of grieving.
The hollow heaving of history.
It threads my blood with bickering.

-r. miller