James Miller won the Connecticut Poet Award in 2020. His poems have appeared
or are forthcoming in Cold Mountain Review, The Maine Review, Lunch Ticket, The
Atlanta Review
, Thin Air, A Minor, Typehouse, Eclectica, Rabid Oak, pioneertown,
Juked, North Dakota Quarterly, Yemassee, Phoebe, Mantis and elsewhere.


the river is lost
the river is lost under the mountain
tidy your desks, lock your offices
remember to throw out failed lunches, lurking in breakroom refrigerators
the river is lost
the river is lost under the mountain
in the novel out of childhood, Christmas came—cold as Christmas
each child received a single spiced cake, easily cradled between child-hands, near-fresh
in the novel out of childhood, soldiers set fire to the boats
their stores of flour were flecked with weevils, slow and sated
how the heroine hated parades: stickysweaty Texas songs, America songs
the river is lost
the river is lost under the mountain
housedress neighbor stands in the yard, looks up: there's a tree growing from the roof
we need to pay them to pull it out, save our shingles
heavy tread of boots overhead as she sits to breakfast
how important the work, and thorough cleanup after
all evidence gathered in unbreathing plastic
the river us lost
the river is lost under the mountain
their pieces seemed at the time to speak clearly
all summer we celebrated the poet's commitment to the struggle
we were comfortable, then, with words of that sort: struggle, commitment
for many years we admired his relentless productivity, his range of subjects, experiments in form
it is no longer clear that her works can be usefully performed
our concerns have shifted, as have our allegiances
the river is lost
the river is lost under the mountain
two species of black vulture are easily sighted in this county
turns out at least one of them is beautiful
silky sheen on nightshade breastfeathers
pale curved beak, almond-shell image of inversion
wings fringed with

Third Day in Santiago

At breakfast we recall yesterday's visit
to the Museo Histórico Nacional, where Allende's
shattered glasses would normally rest, encased.
For this season they have been removed,
leaving only a placard's phrase
of consolation.

The housekeeper refills our cups,
mentions that Christian, our hostel host,
would like to meet us. Will we be free
later in the afternoon?

We assemble in his sitting room, perched
on pale leather couches. Christian has travelled,
has learned what New York has to teach, made his fortune
in computers. He shares a folder full of printouts—
hundreds of films hoarded in his collection.
Buñuel and Costa. Martel,
Jansco, Larraín.

What do you think of the Bushes,
your presidents? Christian wants to feel
what that name catches in our throats. In the movie
we would answer with choice lyric couplets
in Lorca's Spanish, or Mistral's.

Having passed the test,
we follow Christian through a private door
to his cool courtyard under smoggy dusk. We share
a half-hour over slow cocktails, spiked
with certain hope of the fisher
poets, their treble hooks.

The Bicycle

Abandon the bicycle
in Missouri. UV-grey,

rust-sick, only two speeds
of ten will answer,

grudgingly. With no thought
of riding again, climb

down from the Ozarks, drive
south through the night.

Hyperprism looped, cranked
past hearing. Snare taps

draw up coughed stones,
warm and flaked with black-

head lichen. Brasses,
massed thick as lungless

pines, promise Gulf
shoreline by morning.

Celebration Dream

Our family has gathered at Theo's Greek
restaurant for dessert. There is slurping
of cool creams. Elders argue over the bill,
exactly $79.98. We pair off and drive out
into the new rain, leave the city and weave
through damp suburbs in a white van, stuffed
with amps and sweetwater pickups.

We join a crowd in John Foxx's garage,
full of itinerant Kansas City musicians
crashing in bedrolls on the concrete.
John has aged not at all since his YouTube
Grey Whistle 1970s, tends a slow-cooker stew
on the workbench, squeezed between
suspicious oilcans and gasket innards.
The Fall is spinning on a rescued turntable,
the wonderful and frightening world.

Just past ten another white van pulls up.
Three Theo's dishwashers spill out,
drag a fridge-sized theremin up the driveway
to join the crowd. We are shouting I'll never trust,
never trust. John is delighted with the bug-music
instrument. He wipes his brothy palms
to demonstrate: you play the beast
by stepping shoeless onto
the smooth grain.

Sway from your knees, slow and steady
as our memory of the Commune.
He says this sound will start
a revolution.

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