Wayne Miller

October 20, 2017 Miller Wayne


(after Alberto Blanco)



I turned away from the paper
spread open on the table

and moved into the world
spreading out in all directions.

At the bottom of the stairs
I checked my pocket

for keys—then I was down
in that web of streets

the map attempted to explain,
I was moving

through the narrow tubes
of the map, passing

shops and parks and fountains.
I was beyond the map

and simultaneously inside it.
When I arrived at the sea

it was a boundary marked
inside the map. I would walk

along that edge until the city
opened itself again. Kind Ramón—

for twelve days alone
in your unfamiliar country,

I never left the map.



In our theories of psychology, violence, and power,
we find the entire world

he said. Here we can see our parents
failing. We can just

barely glimpse the war. We’ll read the book
on sleep training; then

we’ll watch the kids, briefly asleep. Let’s observe
the various shades of economic systems

crashing against each other. Or else
a distant boat lit up like a house,

its cells lifted by the machinery of nature—
which Darwin found

is best summarized by a wasp
parasitizing a caterpillar. The future

fills book after book; we
are never mentioned. Sometimes I can feel

the slim islands of letters—which once
were just black sloshing in a canister—

lifting faintly against my finger.

Wayne Miller is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Post- (Milkweed, 2016), which won the Rilke Prize and the Colorado Book Award. He teaches at the University of Colorado Denver and serves as editor/managing editor of Copper Nickel.