Ⓒ Copyright Hugh Miller 2005 -2019
by Hugh Miller
At the peak of summer, the people here turn into bears
on the day we realize
that the blackberries are ripe
bicycles lie beside the bushes and cars are parked
next to sunny, vacant lots that usually nobody comes to visit
blackberry: the practical sister of the glamorous rose
a factory weaving its blue-black sweetness in a nest of cruel thorns
as if it hated being thought generous and didn’t want to be bothered
by fingers and beaks and mandibles reaching like jewel thieves for the dark gems
red berries gleam a warning sign “Stop, all I have is bitterness”
and resist greedy hands like proud virgins
but the purple ones, like little jam fingerprints among the thorns,
drunk on their own sugar,
cooked by sunshine,
& yearning to drop their seeds,
sigh with pleasure as
All of us need a perfect, imperfect thing
that completes the circuits of a life worth living:
Someone too short, or intemperate,
Someone a little chubby, who never puts away her socks
Someone who doesn’t talk to us often enough
or a little too often
perhaps someone slightly crazy, drunk or bitter…
someone we weren’t expecting,
who makes weird noises while sleeping
and ties their shoes strangely.
But without them, our whole story would tilt, droop, linger pointlessly for a while, and collapse into the swamp.
The perfect thing is the thing we couldn’t live without
because of the way that it slipped through our defenses,
tamed us and became another word for Home before
we even knew what was happening.
You fell into life sideways, your parachute fouled in the airplane’s doorway.
Like a tossed coin, rotating slowly for nine months, you hung between life and death every moment of your journey; we hovered there with you, exhausted by hope.
You sailed from the unknown land in a fretful loving ship and drowned at the dock of the new world.
I am so sorry every day that I didn’t see your face, but it would have killed me. Your departure burns my eyes, it’s hard to do more than glance in your direction.
I am sorry we argued in front of you so much, I wish now that we had simply sung to you and told you stories but we were not strong enough…as you found out, life is hard. We never so much as touched your precious body and now I am puzzled like an abandoned dog, I run randomly, looking. We go again and again to the little floating dock where we said goodbye to you, like people hoping to learn of a change; hoping for a chance encounter.
We rise and fall, we watch the waves. the ghost of your future life telescopes out before me and against my will I fill it with pictures of what you might have found here.
I stand in the shadows gathering light for you; you who had only the glow of your little cave to tell you about the sun.
Hugh Miller – November 2010
In the kitchen, the colorful magic begins.
From red burners comes boiling water
and steam softens the air and clouds the light
tertiary colors rise like smoke in the clean glasses
to nail the vividness, a dash of vinegar
like a slap to the senses
as the eggs are lowered out of sight
In the great vaulted room, the beautiful windows hide
the swelling sea of buds just outside
and the talk is of scourging, and nails through flesh
and a forsaken man
with gall and vinegar on his breath
Great doors roll open and at last
the children burst across the cool grass
seeking sweetness, baskets held tight,
to gather the jewels hidden almost in plain sight.
Membership is forbidden to anyone:
Who has inappropriate sexual fantasies or…experiences.
Who has been profoundly depressed or considered suicide.
Whose parents were broken in some way.
Who cheated on a mate or dreamed of doing it
Who has done the wrong sort of drugs or too many of the right kind.
Who has wished ruin on someone or behaved cruely,
or stolen something
or believed something crazy
or acted bananas from a broken heart.
- Mrs. Jackson is traveling west by train to visit her sister. The distance of the trip is 417 miles and the
train is averaging 37 MPH. For a distance of 30 miles the train slows to an average speed of 14 MPH. Is
there a God?
- A rock falling at 32 feet/second/second for 16 seconds bounces off a trampoline which gives it an
upward velocity of 16 feet/second. What is the difference between having lived and then died and
simply never having lived?
- Water is dripping into a 2 gallon container at a rate of two ounces per/hour. With what units can we
- The speed of light is 186,000 MPS. If a woman looks at a sunflower 30 feet away in a mirror she is
holding 2 feet away from her body, where does love go when it’s gone?
- A person is walking down the street breathing with an average tidal air volume of 500 Mls each at a rate
of 16 breaths per minute. How many do they have left?
If everyone drove like me, every car would flow seamlessly through welcoming gaps of opportunity like the teeth of perfectly machined gears.
If everyone drove like me we would put away the cell phones and makeup, hamburgers, and Nintendos because when I was a child I drove like a child but when I became a man I drove away from childish things.
If everyone drove like me, the Tao would be present in every yield and in every pass. The Me listening to Bach would merge in harmony with the Me listening to death metal in a mashup but never a smash-up.
If everyone drove like me, a magic carpet race would replace the crunch at lunch or the drive at five. We would float together in harmony like leaves on the river, like blood cells in an artery.
If everyone drove like me, politeness and speed would blend in a pas de deux of platonic perfection where all are fast and none are rude: Behind every wheel, a philosopher king.
Beautiful justice would be metered out the perfect number of car lengths fore and aft, with order achieved innately as the orbits of the planets.
If everyone drove like me.