Daily Postings
Literature : Word Choice

Millar’s muscular poems mount expeditions into the wake of shrinking destinations, ruminant yet not quite mournful, jaded but glinting.


Nader Ebrahimi, The Tunnel, c-print, 16 × 16 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Pierogi Flat Files.

Car Music

Why don’t you just say one of your prayers,

she sighs on the way to the airport,

passing through the Virginia hills,

something hidden and dazed in her look

like the singer’s corrosive voice

smoldering out of the radio.

When we stop to stretch

in a grove of dark pines

she looks like she’s trying

to remember something

standing beside the fender

and bending the wing-mirror over,

daylight the color of tapwater,

silver-gray like the sky.

I look okay in this type of light, she says

no one can see my crow’s feet.

I can’t decide if she’s flirting with me

or trying to pick a fight.

What if I tell her I’m not afraid

of her midnight rages and vanities?

What if I give her these skinny violets

and say get back in the car?

Chapter 13

Hung behind glass in a brushed copper frame

in the bankruptcy lawyer’s office

high above Van Ness Avenue

a giant photo of Rimbaud’s face,

its shocked freckles and narrow eyes

staring venomously down at the chair

where I wait for my lawyer

holding a file of collection notices.

I have eighteen hundreds

to get him started,

no checks, no credit,

which he scans briefly,

looking tired and distracted

removing his sharkskin jacket.

I can hear the March wind outside

making its creaky metallic sounds

like a tow truck preparing to hook up my car,

I imagine the snows of my grandmother’s shame

settling deeply around me. The lawyer

looks down through designer lenses

and a night-moth

rustles the window shade:

maybe the ghost of Rimbaud the profligate

waking up in the grass of a ditch,

on a whorehouse couch

or a tramp steamer,

throwing his arms open, lifting his face

trying to swallow the light.

Joseph Millar is the author of Overtime and Fortune (both from EWU Press), and Blue Rust (forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon). He teaches in Pacific University’s MFA program and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

For more by Nader Ebrahimi, visit his page at Pierogi Flat Files.

Share