Three poems by Jane C. Miller

If James Wright Came Back, What I Would Say  



Let poems fly willing as sonar 

to the cave of you.


Let them nest in pockets you didn’t know

how to fill. 


Forget for a while, your friend

face-down in the tide, spine to the sun

like a toppled crucifix. 


Stand cliff-side 

and feel the stars sift silken as flour.


Relax your clouded look.

Let dreams milkweed in, their nectar

a haven for bounty and bees.

Forget the hooded one needle-slumped 

who became a corner tragedy.


And what of the owl-eyed girl, her fierceness 

a kohl-rimmed smear, her thin frame a hanger


for rent? Where night is a backyard tent,

make a flashlight of poems. Sing her


the O of wood, sky piped with birds, 

prairie grass a windy susurration—


gone for a moment, the traffic’s jerk and cough, 

the ravenous sway of barter and john.

Let no wounds or war,

bottle or threats palsy the hours.

Walk into the world you left.   

Let your words make diamonds of rivets.


Neuse River  

“Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” Keats


River where fish 

go to live, 

is full of cursive.

Where eddies mark 

the undisturbed,

river flows a bone yard


to blocks and weights

to sinkers. Children, learn 

to read the currents.

Ones who came before

signed this place with an x.



All Hospital Clocks are Silent 


At the vigil of someone you love, you cannot fuss 

at sheets. Cannot blanket her feet always cold. 

Cannot watch the IV bag lose its life,

drip by drip, the ventilator 

work her lungs.


You can drink coffee. Wait by the phone, 

but you cannot be 

the last hand to touch her she knows, 

for her dying is remote. 

Gurneys you cannot hear trundle the halls. 


Vow yourself a shrine where she kissed you.

Pray the virus is not in you. 

Make room for tendered sympathy, flowers.

















Jane C. Miller’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals. She won first prize in the 11th annual Naugatuck River Review narrative poetry contest. Two poems were recognized as honorable mention and finalist in the 2020 Sandy Crimmins Prize. The National Federation of Press Women recently awarded Miller first prize for a single poem and 2nd prize for the poetry book, Walking the Sunken Boards (Pond Road Press, 2019), of which she is a co-author. She writes to avoid housecleaning and exercise, but is a decent cook.