Snippets from The Edge

A Collection of Work by Duke Miller

Duke is a friend of mine whose work I often edit, per his request.  Having spent many years on the road as an aid worker and now wary of the world, he hides on a mountainside down in Mexico.  You can read more of his writing at: http://www.tinhatsblog/

My Outdated Memory

I have a very old book of prose poetry
It’s about how grass attacks people who think they have gotten away with something
Apparently grass is an eternal lightning bolt of judgment
The pages are light brown, maybe reddish pink
Tape barely holds the spine together
Insects have chewed the edges
Dog ears, creases, rips, circles of wine, scribbles, underlines
It’s so old that the back page crumbles and falls into the pumpkin seeds I am eating 

When I look closely, I see I’ve swallowed half a page of book advertisements
But three ads still remain:
Sex In the Light of Day is offered for $1.25
The book promises real love and the grip of fear
For $3.95 there is How I Turned $1,000 into Three Million in Real Estate:  In My Spare Time
The theme is the pyramiding power of borrowed money without paying taxes
The Complete Book of Bicycling is $5.95
I can increase my cycling ability by 40%, breeze over the highest hills, avoid accidents in the city
All I need to do is send a money order plus $.25 for handling, no cash please, to the Special Books Department in New York City
Unfortunately the mailing address, with a postal code like grade school tacks, is twisting in my stomach

 I imagine the Special Books Department staff behind their desks as the surprise of the sunset cuts through the Manhattan skyline
They are all bald men without lives
Silver envelope openers, sometimes used to stab people, are lying there shining like metal question marks
Everyone watches dust and shoe boxes float in the office air
They are worried that not enough people are sending in money orders to buy books
Have other people eaten the mailing address?
My concerned is misplaced
When I google Amazon all the books are still selling
They are selling much better than my prose poetry book
I recall that I stole the book from Barnes and Noble, America’s oldest bookstore
Apparently the $.99 price tag for the healing force of ice in the blood was too much for me to pay

My eyes are tired as I close the night
I can feel the marketing chain winding inside me
The stolen book’s green cover grows like grass in the shadows
There’s no escape for me, nowhere to go
I’ll just sit here, waiting for something to happen, like a monster with an outdated memory     

How to Hang Yourself

I don’t want people to think that I used to teach
I have a wife and son
I no longer drink
I have killed someone
Do they really need to know?

I don’t want to tell them how I bleed from open wounds that never heal
How the malaria comes back
But it’s no big deal
How the guy on the bus just strangled his girl
But I didn’t care as I asked for my downline transfer
Away from an attack they will never see
Unless I show them with words they soon forget

They don’t need to know about the width of my dick
How my fiancée hit me with her high heel
On a cross country road trip
About her daddy paying for the whole ruin
With money he’d won by suing some rancher from El Paso
This is information I need to keep inside
Away from the voice that gives me no room to hide


Our Trip to the Sea

th-2I’d taken her to the beach
After being fired and losing sleep
We’d driven for a thousand miles
The sand was still there, blazing like a molten crown

She came out of the water
With a dead starfish in her hand
One of the points was broken off
She held it up like a kaleidoscope
Twisting it around, looking through a bleached hole
There was a line of horse-drawn wagons inside
A bunch of clowns on the ground
Playing cards, smoking, talking in fatal tones
I think it’s something from the future, I said
Yes, her lips drawn tight, it’s from the uneasy story
And then she started to weep 

Later that night, in the outburst of her dreams
I decided to stop using spoons and the smooth edges of wood
The confusion would give us more time to decipher
The secret language of our unnatural things
Belongings that came toward us like headlights on a dark highway

Crescendos from bowls of soup and colored waves of patriotic gas
Marching ear infections and skin stained by hatred and fear
Her breathing entered my lungs and finger tips
Switched on the spotlight and illuminated white on white bones
A standing room only crowd of stiff bodies, struggling in our room
Decaying within the book of our moments
Everything joined together along the five walls of our odd bungalow
In the glance of a low dawn she turned over like reddish glass and said to me:
Invisible words have unseen translation
Secret messages come from nothing
They are more than death
They are the end
The end of everything we think beneath the sun
I couldn’t agree more, I said

And then we felt our lives shake
As if we were being poured out
To rest there, forever late, by the dying sea 

Copyright 2016, Duke Miller