Back and There Again

Elbows at eye level and
instrument cases in the aisle,
the city bus passes
by the pranksters’ university
across the bridge
through the music school barrio
past your stop, on beyond the city hospital,
jammed with ten p.m. conversations.
Needle sharp reflections in neon red and blue
penetrate the still river,
amber puddles at the water’s edge.

Crowds of cool-neighborhood postcollegiates,
padres, tías, and hermanas,
and still more music students
flow up the subway stop escalator
headed for family, bed, or perhaps no sleep.
Before turning toward the exit and home
you might pause to look
down the nighttime tracks
toward the Tall Spine,
the insurance monoliths,
luxury apartments topped by a nose cone –
              or is it a bullethead? –
beacons at the vanishing point.

A message found on voice mail.
Could you help me out?
I’d really appreciate it.

              Eleven p.m. An envelope
              taped behind a bin
              under the darkened porch light.

Six-thirty a.m.
Dawn and the envelope gone,
a single silent car passes
on your way back to the station.
Subway commuters return from overnight work,
              heads thrown back or sunk to their chests,

You sidle and weave
through the adolescent crowds and workday travelers,
the unnamed regulars.
The lead taxi driver’s eyes are closed as well.
You knock on the windshield,
knock again. Again.
He startles, I wasn’t asleep,
just reveried by the radio.
Together, you slip into traffic.


David P. Miller’s poems have appeared in print in Meat for Tea, Stone Soup Presents and Durable Goods, and online in the Muddy River Poetry Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, and the Boston and Beyond Poetry Blog. Work is forthcoming in Ibbetson Street. His three “micro-chapbooks” are available from the Origami Poems Project website. His chapbook, The Afterimages, will be published by Červená Barva Press in Spring 2014. He is a semi-regular on the open mike at Stone Soup in Cambridge, visits with the Bagel Bards in Somerville, and studies with Tom Daley.