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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 9, 2017.
About this Poem 

“After the Pulse attack in Orlando, I read something about cell phones ringing while police and medical crews moved through the horror of the aftermath. I wanted to consider not just violence and loss, but also—in a non-judgmental way—the centrality of cell phones to contemporary life. And for a year or so the last stanza of William Matthews’s ‘Why We Are Truly a Nation’ has been running in my head.”
—Wayne Miller

Carillon

Phones were ringing

in the pockets of the living
and the dead

the living stepped carefully among.
The whole still room

was lit with sound—like a switchboard—
and those who could answer

said hello. Then
it was just the dead, the living

trapped inside their bloody clothes
ringing and ringing them—

and this was
the best image we had

of what made us a nation.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Wayne Miller. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 9, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Wayne Miller. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 9, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller is the author of Post- (Milkweed Editions, 2016) andThe City, Our City (Milkweed Editions, 2011).

by this poet

poem
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
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

poem

When I touch your skin and goosebumps lift,
it’s your mind that surfaces there.
When your iris tightens mechanically
around your pupil, that aperture
becomes for me the blacked-out
cockpit of your mind.
                                        It’s your mind
that touches your

2