poem index

About this poet

Wayne Miller is the author of The City, Our City (Milkweed Editions, 2011). He teaches at the University of Colorado Denver, where he edits the literary journal Copper Nickel.

Nocturne

Wayne Miller
Tonight all the leaves are paper spoons
in a broth of wind. Last week
they made a darker sky below the sky.

The houses have swallowed their colors,
and each car moves in the blind sack
of its sound like the slipping of water.

Flowing means falling very slowly—
the river passing under the tracks,
the tracks then buried beneath the road.

When a knocking came in the night,
I rose violently toward my reflection
hovering beneath this world. And then 

the fluorescent kitchen in the window
like a page I was reading—a face
coming into focus behind it:

my neighbor locked out of his own party,
looking for a phone. I gave him
a beer and the lit pad of numbers

through which he disappeared; I found
I was alone with the voices that bloomed
as he opened the door. It's time

to slip my body beneath the covers,
let it fall down the increments of shale,
let the wind consume every spoon.

My voice unhinging itself from light,
my voice landing in its cradle—.
How terrifying a payphone is

hanging at the end of its cord.
Which is not to be confused with sleep—
sleep gives the body back its mouth.

From The Book of Props by Wayne Miller. Copyright © 2009 by Wayne Miller. Used by permission of Milkweed Editions. All rights reserved.

Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller is the author of The City, Our City (Milkweed Editions, 2011). He teaches at the University of Colorado Denver, where he edits the literary journal Copper Nickel.

by this poet

poem

1

It was a desire to jump narratives—

to find himself suddenly
encircled by different lights

in the distant hills. To find
the hum of the engine

conveying him forward

had altered its tone. The self
had to be asserted

against