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Three Poems by William Miller

All poems by William Miller 


The Blind Lead the Blind

I saw a blind man leading
a blind man on Royal today.

Their arms were locked;
the man with the cane
tapped for both of them.

And I was amazed at such
kindness on a street
where wealthy tourists
bought expensive antiques.

They must have been
walking the bricks
to a soup kitchen,
the big one by the river.

Jesus told a parable,
a warning against false
prophets, following them
blindly into the ditch.

I like this parable better:
two blind men walking
down the ancient street,
tapping their cane carefully.


Keats on the Isle of Mull

He went there to escape
his life: a brother
dying of consumption,
Milton’s shadow
on his early poems.

It was cold and windy,
but he walked
for hours, didn’t care
if he got lost, ever
found his poor inn.

One morning, he coughed
blood into a rag,
the crimson spots
so familiar he didn’t
cry out or curse.

He didn’t know why
the killer stalked
one man and not
another, bleeding
the doctor’s only cure …

Keats had a choice
in the blowing rain,
sit down on a gray rock
and wait for darkness,
never go back.

But that wasn’t the boy
who fought bullies
taller by a head –
or the young dresser
who dressed wounds for free …

He left the next morning
on a crowded ferry,
children laughing
when the spray soaked
them to their boots.

He’d nurse his little brother
gladly, give the last
of himself for love,
words not written
in water.


Neanderthal Graves

They were the first to bury
their dead with some
hope of an afterlife,
a world like their own.

Tools, weapons, pots
were all they needed
to start their brief,
violent lives again …

Maybe one told a story
about a long spring
and summer, a winter
of few snows.

From grave to grave,
the story was repeated,
added to; the wooly
beast fell from one spear.

And finally, there was
the greenest world
possible, plants blooming
in the sun that never set.

Death was less fearful
the hunter in the grass,
the shadow on the wall;
they cooked, even sang.


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 his previously published poems here

Living Dangerously