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Trying to Sell the House
by Joseph Millar

You’ve buried Saint Joseph’s statue

upside down in the yard and placed a geranium

by the front door, since you don’t want to


paint it red, as the old women instructed.

Yesterday you climbed the porch roof

to gouge out the dry rot eating the sash


over the bedroom window, hoping the green

wet-patch epoxy we used on the boats

years ago will hold out the Oregon rain.


Smoke from a wildfire miles to the east

has turned the full moon dark orange

and your wife sleeps easily wrapped


in her robe, elephant gray like the dawn.

No one else hears the bird-moth tapping

drawn by the undersea glow of the clock.


If this is night, where’s Orion the Hunter,

where’s the cold light of the Pleiades?

Where’s the gold beer sign over the market,


where’s the blue rosebush climbing the wall?

Something keeps humming away in the dark

rasping against the old plaster


rustling the ivy and honeysuckle

this last week before you leave.

Is it the highway, is it the river


stroking the sides of its bed?

Something the dog growls at, sunk
in his dream, deep in his rough black fur.



Poem of the Week (July 11th, 2010 Week)

Dark Harvest

by Joseph Millar

For Annie

You can come to me in the evening,
            with the fingers of former lovers
fastened in your hair and their ghost lips
            opening over your body,
They can be philosophers or musicians in long coats and colored shoes
and they can be smarter than I am,
            whispering to each other
                        when they look at us.
You can come walking toward my window after dusk
            when I can’t see past the lamplight in the glass,
when the chipped plates rattle on the counter
            and the cinders
dance on the cross-ties under the wheels of southbound freights.
Bring children if you want, and the long wounds of sisters
            branching away
                        behind you toward the sea.
Bring your mother’s tense distracted face
                        and the shoulders of plane mechanics
slumped in the Naugahyde booths of the airport diner,
            waiting for you to bring their eggs.

I’ll bring all the bottles of gin I drank by myself
            and my cracked mouth opened partway
as I slept in the back of my blue Impala
                                                          dreaming of spiders.
I won’t forget the lines running deeply
            in the cheeks of the Polish landlady
who wouldn’t let the cops upstairs,
            the missing ring finger of the machinist from Spenard
whose money I stole after he passed out to go downtown in a cab
and look for whores,
            or the trembling lower jaw of my son, watching me
back my motorcycle from his mother’s driveway one last time,
            the ribbons and cone-shaped birthday hats
scattered on the lawn,
                                  the rain coming down like broken glass.

We’ll go out under the stars and sit together on the ground
            and there will be enough to eat for everybody.
They can sleep on my couches and rug,
                                                         and the next day
I’ll go to work, stepping easily across the scaffolding, feeding
the cable gently into the new pipes on the roof,
                                                                  and dreaming
like St Francis of the still dark rocks
that disappear under the morning tide,
                                             only to climb back into the light,
sea-rimed, salt-blotched, their patched webs of algae
blazing with flies in the sun.




The poem "Dark Harvest" by Joseph Millar was first published in Overtime
Also published in Poetry
Reprinted with Joseph Millar's permission
Audio file: Rob Greene reciting Joseph Millar's poem, "Dark Harvest"