The Last Sound You Hear and Two Other Poems

David P. Miller

police siren through a siphon

double pitched air brakes

metal: key chain, dog tags

a laugh’s bubble envelope

You lay on your back and the air of browning onions watered your tongue. You wanted to rise again. Let them bring it to you.

stutter bicycle wheel

furnace’s bass whisper

cicada’s searchlight rasp

corrugated cough

Beware, you are slipping from your sack. Your skin brushes the sheet. Hair fringes at the nape. Your sinking spine mattress-cradled. Do not long for this again.

the vacancy after a motor

the perking doorbell

flat dropped footsteps

eardrum’s private mosquito

The more slowly you looked, the more bees were in the clover. A fly arrived to rest at your page. Please do not hold memory past its time.

raindrop commas

tan rustle of held tissues

your name in their mouths

An unintentionally visible woman
follows the pianist and string quartet
some few steps behind
as they flow from a gilded-trim door.
The featured five spread for their first bow:

she pauses behind the raised piano lid.

She is the pianist’s third hand. She does not
have a name. She is the musician
who watches, soundless. Riveted to the staves
as the players are, her fingertips are moist,
precise. Black dress and ponytail

nearly hide her, the music’s sixth heart.

Edged at her chair, she’s a raptor
alert for black marks hurtling
to crash at each bottom right corner.
In presto tempo, as the pianist’s fingers
fall in cataracts, she rises to talon

every minute’s multiple sharp strikes.

Piano and strings stand to face
the audience that stands to thrash the air.
She waits on the chair, eyes still on her target.
Last through the gilded door, she carries
from stage her willed silence at the center of sound.

Without her, there’s nothing to applaud.

Cornelis van Haarlem, 1590
Four women have a nude on his back
in the middle distance.
One nails his elbow
with her knee.     Two seize
his other arm, a leg.
David P. Miller’s collection, Sprawled Asleep, was published by Nixes Mate Books in 2019. His chapbook, The Afterimages, was published by Červená Barva Press in 2014. Poems have recently appeared in Meat for Tea, Hawaii Pacific Review, Turtle Island Quarterly, Clementine Unbound, Constellations, J Journal, The Lily Poetry Review, Unlost, Ibbetson Street, Redheaded Stepchild, The Blue Pages, and What Rough Beast, among others. He is a member of the Jamaica Pond Poets. His poem “Add One Father to Earth” was awarded an Honorable Mention by Robert Pinsky for the New England Poetry Club’s 2019 Samuel Washington Allen Prize competition. With a background in experimental theater before turning to poetry, David was a member of the multidisciplinary Mobius Artists Group of Boston for 25 years. He was a librarian at Curry College in Massachusetts, from which he retired in June 2018.