Dark Harvest

Joseph Millar

for Annie

You can come to me in the evening,                 with the fingers of former loversfastened in your hair and their ghost lips                 opening over your body.They can be philosophers or musicians in long coats and colored shoesand they can be smarter than I am,                 whispering to each other                                when they look at us.You can come walking toward my window after dusk                 when I can’t see past the lamplight in the glass,when the chipped plates rattle on the counter                 and the cinders dance on the crossties                 under the wheels of southbound freights.Bring children if you want, and the long wounds of sisters                 branching away                                behind you toward the sea.Bring your mother’s tense distracted face                                and the shoulders of plane mechanicsslumped in the Naugahyde booths of the airport diner                 waiting for you to bring their eggs.I’ll bring all the bottles of gin I drank by myself                 and my cracked mouth opened partwayas I slept in the back of my blue Impala                                                          dreaming of spiders.I won’t forget the lines running deep                 in the cheeks of the Polish landladywho wouldn’t let the cops upstairs,                 the missing ring finger of the machinist from Spenardwhose money I stole after he passed out to go downtown in a caband look for whores,                 or the trembling lower jaw of my son, watching meback my motorcycle from his mother’s driveway one last time,                 the ribbons and cone-shaped birthday hatsscattered on the lawn,                                the rain coming down like broken glass.We’ll go out under the stars and sit together on the ground                 and there will be enough to eat for everybody.They can sleep on my couches and rug                                                          and the next dayI’ll go to work, stepping easily across the scaffolding, feedingthe cable gently into the new pipes on the roof                                                                     and dreaminglike St. Francis of the still dark rocksthat disappear under the morning tide,                                            only to climb back into the light,sea-rimed, salt-blotched, their patched webs of algaeblazing with flies in the sun.

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Joseph Millar’s Dark Harvest: New and Selected Poems appeared in 2021 from Carnegie Mellon, poems of everyday experience: work, love, filial connection, poems of life and death. His work has won fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches in Pacific University’s low residency MFA. www.josephmillar.org

"Supremely sensory, everything in a Joseph Millar poem shimmers with authenticity. His is a hard-earned sensibility without a wisp of pretense. Unsurprisingly, the new poems are again spectacularly good: calmly visionary while tethered to the rough and ready. Millar’s poems give shape to the bounty of plenty and the abundance of loss in a faulty world. One comes away knowing and, yes, feeling more of what it is to be fully awake. Dark Harvest is a book to keep at hand."
— Marvin Bell

"Wandering the narrow alleyways of these poems, into the bottomlands, I think of a Midrashic teaching someone told me: God made the world because he desired a dwelling place in the lowest realm. Why not here, among Millar’s vagabonds and crows, his fishermen, trash fires and salt, 'the restless claws of the ocean / turning the pebbles and rocks and sand, / tumbling the chitin and shell fragments / ceaselessly and forever...'”
— Danusha Lameris, author of Bonfire Opera

"Joseph Millar’s new and selected is a feast of a book; epic in span, intimate in approach. With a deep lyric sensibility, Millar elevates the lives of 'ordinary' Americans into the matter of the sublime. He weaves the quotidian and ineffable into a love real and true.”
— Chris Abani, author of Sanctificum and Smoking the Bible

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