William Miller

Veteran’s Day

His sister writes an appeal,
puts his picture in the paper,
hopes to trigger memory
in someone’s mind, someone
who knew him before
he disappeared on
that mountain trail
forty years ago.

Does anyone remember
his laugh, that he liked
to drink beer, hated
to kill anything
and wanted to build
a house when he got back
from a country
he couldn’t find on a map?

He’d be a grandfather now,
retired from a body shop,
or boat business.
old enough to die
from a bad heart
like their father did,
surrounded by the people
who loved him…

Black Seeds

Two watermelons were split
with a Barlow knife—
one for the men, one
for the wives and children.

The men poured a pint
of moonshine into theirs,
soaked the red fruit
under a willow tree.

From the side porch,
we watched them eat
thick slices until they
laughed, joked,

like we weren’t there.
They stood up from
the ground like one person,
restless, ready for the night.

We ate in silence,
our mothers cleaning up
before we were finished,
telling us to get inside.

But the boys lingered,
watched them walk
the red dirt road
towards the dogfights

or the house where
a bad woman lived by herself.
And we picked them
from the dark red juice,

from the weedy grass,
clicked them between
our teeth, black seeds
sucked dry.


William Miller’s poems have recently been accepted or published by Louisiana Literature, Crossways (Ireland), Literary Orphans and Origins Journal. His eighth full-length collection of poetry, The Crow Flew Between Us, is forthcoming from Aldrich Books in spring 2019.

William Miller’s seventh poetry collection, The Crow Flew Between Us, is forthcoming from Aldrich Books in 2019.  His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Penn Review, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner and West Branch. He lives and writes in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

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