HomeSouthern VoiceTwo Poems by William Miller

Two Poems by William Miller

Cancer Lovers

They met in chemo,
their chairs beside each other.

They talked about dead
spouses, grandkids,
even a great-grandchild.

They praised some nurses,
their quiet, gentle way,
others as rude,
walking away from
a simple question.

They talked about their
diseases, too, neither
expecting to go
home soon …

One night, he walked
the hall, sneaked
onto her floor,
and asked if he could
come in.

They talked for two
hours until she
pulled back the sheets;
they made love
through flimsy gowns …

He went back to his bed,
thought about the life
he lived when
he was young.

He saw the Greek Isles
from the deck of a Navy
cruiser …

He told about the bluest
water, ruins on the hills.

“When do we sail?” she asked
from her chemo chair.

They made love almost nightly,
quietly, passionately,
then laughed like children …

There was a stranger outside
the door, who had to
wait his turn, though
it never came on these
joyful nights.


Jax Brewery

My wife and I drank gin
on the rooftop,
just after the ruin
was restored.

I talked about my
first trip down,
a long-haired
redneck, “so
drunk I was
almost stabbed
with a prison knife.”

She drank two drinks,
waved the waitress
away; I ordered another
then more.

I talked about my
dad, how he always
came down for
The Sugar Bowl,
stayed an extra day,
“If Alabama won.”

He drank “Hurricanes,”
to forget about
his gambling debts,
a mistress who
claimed her baby
was his too.

And I pointed towards,
Elysian Fields,
where Blanche said
the bells were the
only “clean
thing in the Quarter.”

The streetcar no longer
ran, though many came here
to ride it …

Sometime, I don’t recall
when, my wife
stood up and said
she was going back
to the hotel; she
was “tired, so tired.”

And I walked those
narrow streets not
caring if I was robbed
or stabbed, even
died on a meter cover:
the moon and stars.

Near dawn, I sat by
the river, exhausted
sat there until
full light.

I woke up to myself
slowly, a bad husband
in a town of familiar
ghosts, my father’s
only son.


William Miller has published more than 500 poems in such places as The Southern Review, the Hollins Critic, the Prairie Schooner, Canyon Voices and Eonia Review. He lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Read Miller’s past poems in Deep South here

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