Corporate Theatre

An act performed with stock props—
common avarice, preferred prayer,
garaged convertibles, arrest warrants.

Setting: a dimly-lit office—
boxed files, encrypted evidence,
accrued interest, hollowed equity.

Enter the four players—
Founder. Investor.
Manager.  Employee.

A shroud falls after the first scene of
hushed negotiations, rash decisions,
turnaround specialists, legal execution.

Time of death? Written on a form filed by men of habit,
a notice sent to the local business rag,
a remark whispered in a pub— the company foundered.

The as-yet uncontaminated engrave an epitaph on the vault door—
Available, after the lawyers scrub out the stink of failure.
Of the stricken within— a rotting corp, with hands folded.

Recyclable employees claw into vertical positions,
managers supplicate quotations for furniture and fixtures,
founders stiffen attitudes, bury emails, spawn excuses.

Office equipment is consigned to a resting place—
disposal men grasp them by their attached cables
and file out, precisely positioning each into a black van.

Responsibility? Blame this! Blame that! Sue the consultant!
When driving by a seven car pileup, the officers direct:
move along, there are no lessons to be learned here.

Missed opportunities and fumbled execution
play no role because— well, just because.

Let’s raise money for our next brilliant idea.

— Published in The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow #8 (2015)

Somewhere Else

I pick up a stick and dig a hole.
If I stand the stick straight up,

where on Earth does the bottom point to?
Google labels my fidget map tunneling.

An app calculates that I’m pointing
into the Indian Ocean, not far from Perth.

I learn that Tangier is opposite Christ Church,
and Hawaii is opposite a park in Botswana.

I swivel the stick, crossing cities and towns,
beaming Hey, I’m here, on the other side.

When my hand stills— where am I pointing?
What is the latest news? Who sings the popular songs?

Tracing a precise ellipse would sweep the equator,
but the app doesn’t have that feature.

Which circle’s diameter would intersect where the planet’s
mantle rests on the iron core, or the crust on soft mantle?

I think about pointing into the 32 Southern constellations,
starting with the Southern Ecliptic Pole in Dorado.

————————————————————
This poem was published as the
Red Wheelbarrow Poem of the Week
for August 12th, 2015. It was inspired by
some downtime at the NYC Poetry Festival
on Governors Island.

Noodle Pudding

The boat in Danzig would leave on time.

My grandmother and her two cousins traveled overland,
away from the Polish-Russian war.

Away from running into the woods
with only crackers for food.

Far from seeing men killed in the streets.

A long journey from avoiding windows because
she might get shot.

In school, she was taught in Polish, Russian, or German,
depending on who held the land at the time.

Years before, her parents manufactured horse blankets for the Russian army.

In 1923, my grandmother met her father’s former employee
on a Brooklyn street (a small connection).

Letters sailed across the ocean; news traveled from the family until 1939.

Then silence.

Always silence.

For the holidays, my grandmother baked a noodle pudding, glorious in every way—
two types of raisins, eggs, farmer cheese,
made in a bundt pan, baked perfectly, sliced thick,
couldn’t eat it fast enough, always wanting more.

It helped to ease the silence.

——————————————————————–
This poem was originally published in
The Paterson Literary Review #43 2015-2016

They moved into the house across the street

They moved into the house across the street.
Chinese, I thought.
My wife thought they were Japanese.

Our grandkids were in the school play with their grandkids.
Our wives met when they helped set up the stage.
We were invited over.

Their house brought back memories of ’68 Da Nang,
the smells of the SVA guys cooking their rice dishes.

He asked me, was I in the war, and I told him about
a couple of firefights near Khe Sanh.

He said that he was stationed in Hanoi until ’67,
and then he commanded a couple of VC squads. He asked
if I was ok with that.

I took a deep breath. Just two guys talking.

It was a long time ago.

I offered him my hand.

——————————————————————–
This persona poem was originally published in
The Paterson Literary Review #43 2015-2016

In the Library at Poet’s House, NYC

This room, filled with chapbooks,
full-lengths, journals, analyses,
a million hours of concentrated work—
this room listens—
each tap, stroke, page turn.

The poets surrounding me do not.

He writes about lost opportunities,
she, damaged relationships,
this one, how the media filters and fragments him,
that one, daily grocery lists and candy wrappers.

I write of the here and now.

If I bang the keyboard,
they would startle—
might they then think of poetry’s roots,
a throat’s voice, sounded words,
hands moving for eyes and not paper,
how spoken volume interacts with pacing and rhythm?

How can you (yes, you) shout a rage-poem on stage,
yet casually write that same performance
as if pouring cream into coffee?

This is my offer.
Think about the unexpressed sounds in this room,
listening as the room itself does,
in exchange for this poem.

Apparently, and disappointingly,
with your casual acceptance of the ‘quiet’,
you have declined my offer.

No deal. Please put down the page.

————————————————-
(This poem was on a coffee table at Poet’s House)

Direction

My grandfather’s eldest brother, Sam,
a widower with three daughters,
had little understanding of girls.

The youngest was keeping company
with a boy for too long. My grandmother
asked them both to dinner.

During dessert, she asked his daughter,
So, you love him? You want to marry him?

Yes.

She asked the boyfriend,
So, you love her? You want to marry her?

Yes.

She picked up a calendar and placed it in front of them.
Pick a date.

— Published in The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow #7 (2014)

Three Seventy

They boarded a midnight flight
without thinking beyond
the seatback movie,
the car service had better be there,
hope the hotel has my reservation
.

Others awoke at first light
expecting to see a text—
Riding to the office, will email later.

No one feels like a gambler
when sunrise is a sure thing.

There are no cards to play,
no dice to roll, no horses to bet,

only small choices— do I take 360 or 370,
ok, that one is a little more, but I save a night in a hotel
,
type your details, click ok, credit card please.

We look at a clock and never see
the little wheel behind the second hand,
double zero ending the game.

— Published in LIPS #42/43 (2015)

Dig

I dug a hole in the ground to bury my doubts
near thin yellow bushes that die after five years.

Standing over my open pit, I shout questions.
They settle. I hear no response and cover them.

My fears are ten feet away, interred last weekend,
where the weeds are dense, bramble with long silver thorns.

I start to stack my sorrows for next week’s labor
beside brittle vines choking the memory stone.

— Published in “Narrative Northeast″

http://www.narrativenortheast.com/?p=1279

Chocolate

We walked to Brooklyn Flea—
the ramps are in season.

You bought the local chocolate,
a balance of salt and pungent,
but I like the blue tin,
bitter with chili oil.

Tasting,
its like pressing
your fingernails
into your palm
as a nurse draws blood—

the bitterness flows quickly on top of the heat.

I’ll buy some for next month.
 

— Published in “Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow # 7” (September 2014)

2014 sneaks up on you

It’s been a while since my last post. Lots going on.

I have a new Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/wayne.miller.3532507

I co-manage social media for the Red Wheelbarrow poetry group in Rutherford – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets, http://redwheelbarrowpoets.wordpress.com/, https://twitter.com/rwbpoets, http://www.youtube.com/rwbpoets

I’m taking poetry classes at the Hudson Valley Writer’s Center, and writing two poems a week – http://writerscenter.org/

I attend slams and open mics with the Suffern Poetry group – https://www.facebook.com/suffernpoetry

I’ve had a few poems published this year, and one short story (details on my Facebook timeline).

When I have a sufficient number of poems published, I want to create a chapbook and enter it into contests. I already have ideas for themes, designs, and photos.

I want to someday finish writing the short story that I keep picking up and putting down.

And, lastly, the Stone Soup Poetry video of my feature was eventually shown on cable in both Lowell and Cambridge. I have the video files and may do something with them.