Monday, January 19, 2015

Joseph Millar


All year they’ve given things away:
lipsticks, stockings, movie tickets,
wiper blades and cigarette money.
At dawn they stand over our sleeping bodies
gazing into the vague, distant future.
Then they stay outdoors after dinner
smoking and watching the road turn dark
and they don’t want to come back inside.

A thousand of them have rested later
under the gray coat still wet with rain
in their belt buckles and reading glasses,
their hatbands and tobacco smells.
When they fall asleep
night collects in their palms,
miles of track turn bright with dew
and a net of stars rises
over the river. They hear a voice
like their own
asking for order, asking for quiet
while the world tilts away from the sun.
and the shadows grow long
at the end of fall
over the wisps and stubble,
over the dust and chaff.

New Truck

I want a new truck
a green Dodge with the Cummins engine
four-wheel drive sitting high up off the road
and the long bench seat with sheepskins.
I'll have Automatic so I don't spill my coffee
power wing mirrors so I can see everywhere.
I'll wave to all the people in suits
coming out of the bank,
and turn on the radio
to some Texas blues.
Then I'll drive down Main Street
past the courthouse
heading straight for the waterfront
a strawberry blond with a nice big ass
sitting close up beside me
with her hand on my leg
chewing Juicyfruit
and talking a blue streak.

JOSEPH MILLAR'S first collection, Overtime was a finalist for the 2001 Oregon Book Award. His second collection, Fortune, appeared in 2007, followed by a third, Blue Rust, in 2012. Millar grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Johns Hopkins University before spending 25 years in the San Francisco Bay area working at a variety of jobs, from telephone repairman to commercial fisherman. It would be two decades before he returned to poetry. His work—stark, clean, unsparing—records the narrative of a life fully lived among fathers, sons, brothers, daughters, weddings and divorce, men and women.He has won fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a 2008 Pushcart Prize and has appeared in such magazines as DoubleTake, TriQuarterly, The Southern Review, APR, and Ploughshares.  Millar teaches in Pacific University's low-residency MFA.

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