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William "Chip" Miller Poetry

Dr. William Miller, 30 lines
2610 Gravier St.
Apt. T200
New Orleans, LA 70119

Kafka’s Grave

He didn’t want a stone,
not even a simple marker.

The year before he died,
he knew he was like
the mole in the burrow,
running from his disease.

And he wanted to leave
behind those few
stories that might
still be read
after the beast
claimed him.

His last lover burned
drafts and diaries
in the fireplace,
begged him stop her.

Today, there is a stone,
and many read
the dates of such
a short life.

Some think of the man
who never found
the food he liked
to eat, starves
in public.

And his hunger is every
hunger for more
than bread from
the common bowl,
his dying an art.



Dr. William Miller, 30 lines
2610 Gravier Street
Apt. T200
New Orleans, LA 70119

Poe and Emerson

Poe hated him—
his optimism, his faith
In streams and trees.

Emerson left out
sickness and death,
despair over
the common grave.

But in a poem, Poe wrote,
there was no good
or evil thing.

No, the only purpose
of the poem
was to play like a
piece of dark music.

Towers and tombs
were notes, the plot
a slow eerie movement.

Emerson grew old,
the sage of green hollows,
long healthy walks.

Poe’s last binge
took him to
a Baltimore hospital,
the charity ward.

And they both have
graves, monuments
even, though their
argument still lives.

Miller/Poe/Emerson 2

Words should take
us on a journey,
a path beyond—
words for word’s sake,
nothing more.



Dr. William Miller, 35 lines
2610 Gravier St.
Apt. T200
New Orleans, LA 70119

Ink and Piercings

Everyone is inked
and pierced except me:
bikers, bankers,

At first it seemed
like a rebellion,
a serpent on a
woman’s breast,
tears down
a man’s cheek.

But then so many
had them, often
with a stud
in their tongue,
a ringed lower lip …

We rebelled, grew
our hair long,
smoked pot and hated
our parents,
the government.

But hair was easily cut,
hatred burned out
like the last hit
on a spoon pipe …

The children of the inked
may rebel, protect
their skin from
the needle gun.

Miller/Ink 2

And they’ll have to find
another tribe to
belong to, or no
tribe at all,
just be themselves.



Dr. William Miller, 30 lines
2610 Gravier St.
Apt. T200
New Orleans, LA 70119

Mrs. Bates

Norman was taken away,
locked in a room
where he never hurt
a fly.

And she was forgotten
in a dim corner
of the police
property room.

She had a lover, once,
a gentleman who
climbed the back stairs:

Norman watched through
a peephole.

And he had plans for them,
arsenic in the man’s whiskey,
a pillow to smother
his own dear mother.

Now she thinks hell itself
could be no worse
for a woman killed
then stuffed.

Still, she put her son
way and lives
inside his timid mind,
cackles in her rocking chair.



Dr. William Miller, 35 lines
2610 Gravier St.
Apt. T200
New Orleans, LA 70119

Cat’s Meow

The most famous
Karaoke club on Bourbon Street
never closes its doors.

At 8am, a woman
in her fifties,
in gold polyester,
belts out “Like A Virgin.”

Her audience is a few
tourists who wander in
with their plastic go-cups.

They clap and whistle
when the song is over;
a guy in the back shouts,
“Like hell honey!”

At night, the crowd
is so thick, so noisy,
it feels like a real star
is about to sing.

But it’s just a plain gal
who mangles “Love Hurts,”
followed by a man
who screams “Brown Sugar,”
tries to rooster strut.

And no one goes
without believing
they’re someone else,
wildly adored in tube tops
and cut-off jeans.



Dr. William Miller, 25 lines
2610 Gravier St.
New Orleans, LA 70119

Traveller’s Grave

Outside Lee Chapel,
there’s a marker
in the ground.

Apples, lumps of sugar
are left there,
pennies, too,
with Lincoln’s face
turned down.

He’s a legend,
the horse that stepped
through black woods,
through smoke
and ball fire.

But he was never hit,
shot dead, survived
like Lee himself
for years after
the last volley
and surrender.

He didn’t know
he’d clopped into history,
lie so close to the General,
who said duty
was glory enough.



Dr. William Miller, 30 lines
2610 Gravier St.
Apt. T200
New Orleans, LA 70119

Dog Dreams

An old pit bull, he sleeps
on a throw rug
in my front room.

He kicks, grunts
and snarls, as if chasing
or being chased.

It’s just instinct,
I tell myself, how
he survives in dreams.

But maybe that isn’t all,
maybe he dreams
of a time long ago,

when he roamed
the edges of Roman camps,
barked at any noise.

Before that, he might have
been a wild, graveyard dog,
digging up corpses,

gnawing the bones.
His deepest dream
is of the gates

he guarded, the gates
of hell itself. He kept
damned souls from escaping …

He wakes up slowly,
shakes his massive head,
and waits for the leash.

Miller/Dog 2

We turn down a gas lit
street, and he still growls
at the meanest dogs.



Dr. William Miller, 35 lines
2610 Gravier Street
Apt. 200
New Orleans, LA 20119

Black Sharecroppers, 1930

In high cotton or not,
they had no place
to rest before
they died of old age.

Their children were dead
from pleurisy
or worked in mills
so far north
they never came home.

They both agreed
it was their only choice—
soon they would be
blind or crippled
beneath the rusted roof.

And they dressed
in church clothes,
helped each other
with the buttons,
put on their good shoes.

The gun was a revolver
handed down from the war
itself, fired on a
far-off battlefield.

Slavery ended but hell
didn’t, seed money
and a mule for cotton
owed at the end
of the season.

One bad year, and they
owed double the next,
Miller/Sharecroppers 2

until there was no escape,
just the hazy heat
and endless rows.

At the very end,
he pulled the cold
trigger on his wife’s
bowed, gray head.

He shot himself before
he had time to think
about the awful thing
he’d done …

The young, black family
that moved into
their house, picked
the summer bolls clean.

They believed they’d
get ahead, never
see too much sun
or too little,
plough their own graves.