MaryAnn L. Miller

MaryAnn L. Miller


As it Comes Apart

We watch from the shadow of the ship,
fog layers parting, a polar laceration.
The glacier slips its edges
a mountain of ice torques into crackle.
Trilobites topple into dust; lichens
waver in vertiginous shackle.

Travel back into it. Shed the shackle;
look down into the vertical. Slipping
crystals whiplash into lichens ––
burnt, year after year, macerated
in extra liquid, nothing left to crack,
all turns to lace in the air. No edges

remain as we dive off prosperity’s ledges;
dive into a lack of shackles,
an absence of clacking
molecules tempered into slip,
fractal coastline serrated.
Our frozen breath flashes likened

to a knife thin melt, liquid       
where there will be no edge.
Ice has been incapacitated.
Light caves clash with sea shackles
a rock awning shifts, a scarp ships
the dark mouth of violent wrack.

A dark month of violet wrath
we must live through, unlike
all we knew as children
sitting along the schoolroom’s selvage.
It’s enough to raise a pedant’s hackles.
Some things should never lose capacity,   

but here is proof that heat is capacious.
Flame always finds the cracks.
It will push its bleeding knuckles
through splits, through frightened
ptarmigans nesting in sedges,
disturbing the primal pact.

The lip between ice and water lost,
pursed mouth anticipation sags: debacle.


Nobody’s Desdemona or Get Out of Bed and Make Something of Yourself

I have never wanted to be anyone’s Desdemona.
If I’m going to be blinded by ambition it will be
in the glare of my own headlights.

I come from coal and a Colt revolver,
from ditch clay dug for Aladdin’s lamp.
My father in his basement machine shop

where he made rifles for hunters, told me he would
mortgage the house if that’s what it took to pay for college.
Was it mirage that scintillated, kept me hoping?

If you wanted something,
learn how to make it. Maybe anyone
could do it. But not anyone could

and that’s where my path became tangled
with brambles and weeds of the girls can’t do math and
other nonsense blindsided by the decisions of others.

From then on it was one necessity after another as mother
of my re-invention. My body was sabotage, a riot of propagation,
another baby, another degree, another bifurcation.

Suburbia was an indenture eased by microwave
and carpool. After the marathon from practice to lessons
the playroom morphed into a studio.

I made a painting of a woman contorted to fit into a house too small
to contain her, another of an infant feeding herself
through her own umbilical cord, brush in one hand book in the other.

That infant woman did not lie on the strangling bed;
she jumped up, reached the pedals, stole away into dawn––
her degrees riding shotgun on the passenger seat.

Re-invention is extension–– of what’s already within
kindled by why not, if you don’t believe me just watch,
and how do you like me now.

Nonna Dula

I step out into
the midnight moon
pistol in my pocket
silent owl shadows
a twig cracks under my heel
I hear my eyelids blink
my satchel’s thump
against my left thigh
with each stride
bottles of elixir clink inside.

I count steps to gauge
my earnings,
the cost of hundreds
of steps in darkness
I never count in daylight.
I’ll soon pull a baby
quiet as a fish
slap it into sound.
I want coffee and risen bread
when I finish with this squalling mother;

the relief of eating from a neighbor’s loaf
the better part of my fee.

The Weed

There it was–– an aberrant nuisance
sticking up above her shrubs
like an attention-seeking child.

It’s a maple in the wrong place I said.
We have to pull it after the movie she said.
An hour and a half of Florence Foster Jenkins

wringing out our hearts
we forgot about The Weed.
During dinner we discussed pulling it

but not in the dark. Tomorrow.
It had now become an entity as in:
Tomorrow we pull The Weed.

Still, it lived on. Two days later she emailed.
Did you pull The Weed?
No I said maybe it was the house elf.

But it was her husband
who in the wisdom of years quietly unseen
let the plucked weed demonstrate his love for her.

Time Lapse

Write it now while it droops on the vine
before it puckers and desiccates.

Raisin wine has too much of itself in it.
A fresh Riesling cuts the cloying ego.

Every night brings a new glass––filled, emptied
another story sloughed.

Prune the vines in the March mud
plod to an empty coop fragrant with straw.

The farmhouse wife refuses to twist the neck again.
She breaks the eggs before any hatchlings skelter.

The hen won’t shelter them under her wings
will not return to her nest.

She slips beyond the vineyard
learns a new tongue.

“New friends every five years,” her motto
her mantra, “I have no problems.”


MaryAnn L. Miller’s most recent book of poems is Cures for Hysteria (Finishing Line Press 2018.) She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has been published in Stillwater Review, Wordgathering, Kaleidoscope, International Review of African American Art and others. Her birth name is Grippo and she thinks the names in her family are music: Annunziata, Mafalda, Egidio, Pasquale, Maria Grazia, Epiphaneta, Angelina, Dolorata, Columbina.  You can contact her at Lucia Press