Bryan Miller


Stooped in garden rows, we hum
the low of distant church bells
and let our hollow voices plane
across the corn-stalked fields.

Tending these orange bombs,
we snag our ankles on the vines,
and with deft aplomb we hoist and pile them
onto wagon beds and wheelbarrows.

Having nurtured them since May,
up from yellow blossoms�
the Spirits, Bushkins, Big Moons,
Atlantic Giants, and Connecticut Fields�

we�ve kept constant summer vigil against
raccoons, bacterial wilt. Here
these fall alumni, these melons:
late October�s reward.

What joy we find in thumping rinds
and cradling still unimagined faces.
Huddled round an oven�s warmth,
we�ll trace the grooves and stem,

mark out the stabbing place with
kitchen knives, carve triangle eyes
and grins, bearing them to the yard,
aware of how we live perennially

in a place where rotting porch fruit
might capably and soon express
an emotional range it has taken us
years to perfect and bury.

Bracing ourselves against the cooling air,
we plash leaf piles, tell neighbors
it is the harvesting we celebrate
not the heady gourd it yields,

not these burnished goons that we display,
these late field polyp mimics.
Festooned and scooped and armed with candles,
they are left outside, called holiday.

For the Kentucky State Fair Tour Guide, for Successfully Leading us Through the Jungle Flume of Haints and Faint Creeping Terrors

She flashes slender palms
to keep us in our seats;
She nudges our pontoon past brush

and lends the calming hush
of lipless winds to our endeavor.
Radiating concern, she saves

the darkest routes for last
and chooses for our course
the dangling loops of boas.

Wielding her torch over bananas,
she casts shadows onto oranges,
turns vines into reaching fingers
that send the bears away.
Queen of palm fronds! It is
impolite for us to stare at halos
and the hair down past her breasts.

The tigers soon behind us,
we hold our breath
and grip the boat�s slippery stern,

gasping at what imperceptibly seems
a new land emerging, free
of danger and the gods we make.

None of us turns to watch her hang
invisibly from the moon�s hook,
dipping her silvered arm into the river
as she plucks piranhas from our wake.

Bryan Miller

BRYAN MILLER earned his MA in literature from the University of Kentucky in 2002 where he also co-edited the Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. His poetry and short fiction have been published in Raleigh, NC�s newspaper The Independent; in the journal Extracts; and in the 2014 literary horror anthology Strange Frenzies. He lives with his family in Columbus, Ohio where he enjoys life as a high school English teacher.

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