Josephine Miles

J
Josephine Miles
Heir
This gray board fence turns blue in the evening light
And the sycamores reign down upon it their diadems,
And blue and green batter in wood and stems
The stems of light
Their green and golden gems.

At once, out of a million years of energy,
All turn to flesh,—board, gate, and branch—
With that quick sunset wrench
Which seems like chance,
Out of the fashion of an entropy.

If then the flesh is yours, as now it is,
I have lost yard, sunset, and all
Into a mild greeting, and I call
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Desert
When with the skin you do acknowledge drought,
The dry in the voice, the lightness of feet, the fine
Flake of the heat at every level line;

When with the hand you learn to touch without
Surprise the spine for the leaf, the prickled petal,
The stone scorched in the shine, and the wood brittle;

Then where the pipe drips and the fronds sprout
And the foot-square forest of clover blooms in sand,
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Increment
So populous the region
That from the next region
The crowing of children, barking of cars could be heard,
So that a continuous linkage
Of sounds of living ran
In the limber air,
District to district, Woodlake to Montclair,
Freestone to Smithfield, and one child’s cry
Was not concealed from any trade route,
Or passer by,
Or upstairs island of thought withdrawn,
Or basement of submerged magnificence.
One crow
Welkened the evening sky,
Bark blasted the dark,
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Center
How did you come
How did I come here
Now it is ours, how did it come to be
In so many presences?
Some I know swept from the sea, wind and sea,
Took up the right wave in their fins and seal suits,
Rode up over the town to this shore
Shining and sleek
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Down from another planet they have settled to mend
Down from another planet they have settled to mend
The Hampton Institute banisters. They wear bow ties and braces.
The flutings they polish with a polished hand.

Wingless, they build and repair
The mansions of what we have thought to be our inheritance.
Caution and candor they labor to maintain.

They are out of phase. I prepare
To burn all gentle structures, greek or thatch,
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Figure
A poem I keep forgetting to write
Is about the stars,
How I see them in their order
Even without the chair and bear and the sisters,
In their astronomic presence of great space,
And how beyond and behind my eyes they are moving,
Exploding to spirals under extremest pressure.
Having not mathematics, my head
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Throwing his life away,
Throwing his life away,
He picks at and smells it.
Done up. When did I do this up?
I date its death to the time someone
Said something.
Back then.
Everything else, all striving, making,
Marrying, error,
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Cage
Through the branches of the Japanese cherry
Blooming like a cloud which will rain
A rain white as the sun
The living room across the roadway
Cuts its square of light
And in it fight
Two figures, hot, irate,
Stuck between sink and sofa in that golden cage.
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Belief
Mother said to call her if the H-bomb exploded
And I said I would, and it about did
When Louis my brother robbed a service station
And lay cursing on the oily cement in handcuffs.

But by that time it was too late to tell Mother,
She was too sick to worry the life out of her
Over why why. Causation is sequence
And everything is one thing after another.
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Deed
As George Washington hacked at his cherry tree,
Joseph said to him
This is the tree that fed Mary
When she lingered by the way.

As George Washington polished his bright blade,
Joseph told him
This cherry tree
Bent down and nourished the mother and her babe.
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Effort for Distraction
for Henry Adams Effort for distraction grew
Ferocious, grew
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Family
When you swim in the surf off Seal Rocks, and your family
Sits in the sand
Eating potato salad, and the undertow
Comes which takes you out away down
To loss of breath loss of play and the power of play
Holler, say
Help, help, help. Hello, they will say,
Come back here for some potato salad.
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Fields of Learning
When we go out into the fields of learning
We go by a rough route
Marked by colossal statues, Frankenstein's
Monsters, AMPAC and the 704,
AARDVARK, and deoxyribonucleic acid.
They guard the way.
Headless they nod, wink eyeless,
Thoughtless compute, not heartless,
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For Futures
When the lights come on at five o'clock on street corners
That is Evolution by the bureau of power,
That is a fine mechanic dealing in futures:
For the sky is wide and warm upon that hour.
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Forecast
All our stones like as much sun as possible.
Along their joints run both solar access and decline
In equal splendor, like a mica chipping
At every beat, being sun responsible.

How much sun then do you think is due them?
Or should say, how much sun do you think they are apt to have?
It has misted at their roots for some days now,
The gray glamour addressing itself to them.
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Kind
When I think of my kindness which is tentative and quiet
And of yours which is intense and free,
I am in elaboration of knowledge impatient
Of even the patientest immobility.

I think of my kind, which is the human fortune
To live in the world and make war among its friends,
And of my version, which is to be moderately peaceful,
And of your version; and must make amends
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Lucifer Alone
One rat across the floor and quick to floor's a breeze,
But two a whisper of a human tongue.
One is a breath, two voice;
And one a dream, but more are dreamed too long.

Two are the portent which we may believe at length,
And two the tribe we recognize as true.
Two are the total, they saying and they saying,
So we must ponder what we are to do.
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Made Shine
This face had no use for light, took none of it,
Grew cavernous against stars, bore into noon
A dark of midnight by its own resources.

Yet where it lay in sleep, where the pillows held it
With the blind plaster over it and the four walls
Keeping the night carefully, it was undone.

Sixty-watt light, squared to a window frame,
Across a well of air, across wind and window
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On Inhabiting an Orange
All our roads go nowhere.
Maps are curled
To keep the pavement definitely
On the world.

All our footsteps, set to make
Metric advance,
Lapse into arcs in deference
To circumstance.
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So Graven
Simplicity so graven hurts the sense.
The monumental and the simple break
And the great tablets shatter down in deed.

Every year the quick particular jig
Of unresolved event moves in the mind,
And there's the trick simplicity has to win.
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The Sympathizers
To this man, to his boned shoulders
Came the descent of pain.
All kinds,
Cruel, blind, dear, horrid, hallowed,
Rained, again, again.

To this small white blind boned face,
Wherever it was,
Descended
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Tally
After her pills the girl slept and counted
Pellet on pellet the regress of life.
Dead to the world, the world's count yet counted
Pellet on pill the antinomies of life.

Refused to turn, the way's back, she counted
Her several stones across the mire of life.
And stones away and sticks away she counted
To keep herself out of the country of life.
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