Sunday Jun 23

MillarJoseph Joseph Millar’s first collection, Overtime (2001), was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. A second collection, Fortune, appeared in 2007. His work has won a fellowship for the National Endowment for the Arts and a 2008 Pushcart Prize and has appeared in such magazines as DoubleTake, TriQuarterly, The Southern Review, APR, and Ploughshares. In 1997, he gave up his job as telephone installation foreman to try his hand at teaching. A new chapbook, Bestiary, is now available from Red Dragonfly Press, and a third collection, Blue Rust, will be published by Carnegie-Mellon University Press in 2012. Millar is now core faculty at Pacific University's Low Residency MFA Program and lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife, the poet Dorianne Laux.

The Day after Sinatra Married Mia Farrow

So the coffee would stay hot all morning
Edna, the large-boned Dutch waitress,
her face and throat flushed from the heat
would first fill my thermos with boiling water
in the Circle Diner on Kutztown Road,
this July morning steamy and loud
with a highway crew at the counter,
two grizzled mailmen in the side booth
and us from the nearby construction site,
a job I loved for its noise and fresh air,
screwing big lag bolts into the sills
of Caloric Stove’s new factory warehouse,
the whirr of the countersink drilling the wood,
clean white hemlock or spruce
and when one of the mailmen heads for the door
Edna calls out to him Hey Jack
how you think Frank’s feeling this morning?
Smoke from the grill and the cook’s cigar
clouding the wide glass window:
Frank, 20 years her senior,
stepping from Sam Giancana’s limo
or else whispering One For My Baby
into the spotlight: his death
in his voice with its flawless control,
his slanted fedora and raincoat,
his glittering life we could only imagine
though most of us are laughing by now
wolfing our hot cakes and eggs
when the old man yells back, Tired as hell!
pulling his hat down low at the door,
happy enough to be going to work
on a Friday under the dawnwashed sky
of Johnson’s Great Society,
with the Lehigh Valley opening its thighs
and the week-end gorged with promise.


I don't have a black coat with a fur collar
no high-pegged pants or yellow shoes
for walking into the dark like a jazzman,
Miles Davis or Dexter Gordon, say,
or like Robert Johnson the bluesman
watching the crossroads at midnight
though I've waited quietly in the North Beach fog
for the ghost of Gregory Corso to show up
broke and smelling of brandy
carrying on about Shelley's pistols
as he does in the small bio film,
his mother hovering nearby like a gaunt bird
having abandoned him as a baby
and asking him now
as he lies in his bed
dreaming of immortality
and dying before the cameras,
how many women he's been with.