Joseph Millar
If I wandered long enough in the desert
maybe I could be clean again
like an astronaut in training
or the sands of the moon.
If I could open the doors to my heart
and give it full control,
sleepless driver with stents in its pipes,
a lump in my throat,
my luxurious soul
that keeps its eyes open and has no fear
of the gray ashen sky and smoky air
which is why I ask you this morning, my dear,
are you going to the store all alone?

With only your busted lip for a shield,
the dusty cornet and old marathon shoes,
the dried-up wreath of purple magnolia
brought down from the attic 
with dark stiffened leaves
the color of death,
whose shadow arrived on delicate feet
like the man at the food bank,
who took delivery without a word
of the five cases of liquid meals-- 
and knew why my brother
could no longer use them-- 

or like your late poems whose lines
would run over, then
partway across, hanging down--
sentences full of proverbs and mercury--
in a voice which you would sometimes tell us
belongs to someone who knows you quite well
and is not exactly your own.

Joseph Millar is poetry faculty at North Carolina State’s MFA Program and also at Pacific University’s low residency MFA. His Dark Harvest: New and Selected Poems is due out in Fall of 2021 from Carnegie Mellon.