"there's no through trail" —Han-Shan, translated by Gary Snyder

Two Poems by James Miller

Issue: Spring 2017

For Victor Jara

We are five thousand here,

boiled bees all,
stirred and ladled
in the broth.

Let us cool
in our cups:

stylus and lancet
easy on the lulling
September.

We are five thousand here,

loafed lapis
to be plowed under
like bone.

Let us brim
in our burps,

and trail our spoil
from Valpo to
the desert salt.

 

On Friendship

 

John Clare’s marten
sniffs and scuffs
in his woodland gaps,
tastes the hare-spoor
of the underneath.

We’ve not yet shared
his pauper’s allowance—
five shillings a week,
enough to unsettle
the light in its coursing,
and draw down the winnowing
north winds he loved
in November-time.

Our five shillings have grown
to a generous spoil.
Each sovereign’s obscured
by an hour’s silt, or seven
seventy’s gravelling.

Their faces light our dinner lamps,
draw breath to drink, and drown.


James Miller is a native of the Houston area, though he has spent time in the Midwest pursuing advanced degrees in English, and has traveled in Europe, China, South America and India. He has published poetry in Riversedge, the Houston Poetry Fest 2016, and Lullwater Review (forthcoming).