Posts Tagged ‘Leslie F. Miller’


April 20, 2009 1 comment

tiny cupped hands are no nest for a pair of speckled eggs.
but smooth your knitted brow and take comfort
in the illusion of a nest, the protectiveness of soft skin.
suck in your breath and make a barter for your heart
as you exhale on the eggs, rapt, bent on incubation.
this is innocence unmasked, exposed to the elements.
of all the particles of life, child, remember this one:
shredded newspaper in an old shoe box,
anxious, undulating gait of expectant birdmom.
lovingly you stir in the makings of a tonic,
a feather-stimulating elixir of chopped worms
and the unadulterated faith only youth can provide.
I say a little prayer to put some kismet in your mix—
that you not stray too far from your roost,
that I’ve made your own nest a halcyon.
move your body closer, child, so you may trigger
the cracks, the breaking of eggs, birth, the depth of
emotions these sweet feckless wings can conjure.
this is a love that cannot be misconstrued,
this is a bird that takes flight into the sun.

by Leslie F. Miller and Sarah R. Bloom

Download the MP3 (reading by Leslie)

Sarah’s shot (click on image for a larger version):

this is a bird that takes flight into the sun

Leslie’s shot (click on image for a larger version):

this is a bird

For process notes, see “faith on the rocks.”

faith on the rocks

April 6, 2009 1 comment

She makes a barter with God:
give me one halcyon moment
a last shred of decency
between peaks of undulant pain.

She is a bird fluttering wildly.
What could I trade — kismet?
She is a feckless creature on the forest floor,
and her God is all illusion anyway.
Hands knitted in prayer, she laughs,
her pose misconstrued as belief.
The lines of her fingers trigger memories
of a childhood spent rapt by Jewish ritual,
of mysteries since unmasked, unfiltered.
Now nothing of religion is stimulating, no
stray meaning can find its home here,
where a speckled starling is most exalted.
She pours another gin and tonic, on the rocks,
finds in the glass as much depth as she can handle.
Here is a faith she can count on—
its promise not a particle more than it delivers.

by Sarah R. Bloom and Leslie F. Miller

Download the MP3 (reading by Sarah)

Leslie’s shot (click on image for a larger version):

faith on the rocks

Sarah’s shot (click on image for a larger version):

faith on the rocks

Process notes

This is the first of two poems that Miller and Bloom composed together; the second will appear later in the issue.

Instructions were for each partner:

  1. Ruminate over nice-sounding words, and pick ten of them.
  2. Swap word lists.
  3. Write a line of poetry with any word from the other person’s list.
  4. Return each line with a line using a word from the other person’s list.

Because you will EACH do this, you will have two poems going at the same time; use your partner’s ten words twice, once for each poem, and you will have two 20-line poems at the end. Or, if you find it too confusing, write just one poem, or write a second when you’ve finished the first.

Optional: Shoot photographs to illustrate each poem.

Note: Use the words only once per poem, in any order. Words can be altered for tense, person, and number, if necessary.

Side Note: Sarah started the first poem; Leslie started the second.

Sarah’s Words: speckled   rapt   misconstrued   particle   undulant   stimulating   halcyon   illusion   depth   kismet

Leslie’s Words: trigger   bird   feckless   knitted   barter   shred   tonic   stray   unmasked   faith

Leslie writes:
Sarah and I found this process incredibly daunting, and we challenged some of each other’s lines because they didn’t fit with our vision for the line we’d written. There were serious control issues with both of us. We kept trying to take the reins and steer the poem where we wanted it to go — and it wasn’t where the other wanted to go!

At the end, we tweaked the punctuation and a couple of the articles and small words, added titles, and settled on a final version.

These are poems we could not have written by ourselves. We truly used each other as inspiration.

westward ho

February 4, 2009 1 comment

she pauses by the mirror,
sees a wrinkle in her fabric,
a curlicue of fear.
she fingers a trinket,
broken badge
on a chain held taut,
then prinks her face up pretty,
prominent mandibular aside
(she sees no remedy
for that bad bone).
a trick of the light, she thinks,
placing the luminaria on the sill.
hers was a temporal display.
yanked back to the now
with a colloquial howdy from behind,
she sees his face, a panorama
of wild west wink and ten-gallon charm
crenellated maw of smiling spurs.
one swish, and she is in his arms,
a dime-store bargain at twice the price.

by Leslie F. Miller and Jennifer König

Download the MP3

Process notes

she fingers a trinket

Leslie laid some procedural ground rules.

1.) We would write two stanzas, one of eight lines, the other of twelve, for the eight nights of Hanukkah and the twelve days of Christmas. Form is arbitrary in the end, though.

2.) With a total of 20 lines, we’d each contribute ten words that must be used, in any order, one per line. I would use one from her list; she one from my list.

3.) We would each start a stanza and finish a stanza.

In the end, we’d edit the poem — decide on punctuation, lines that don’t fit, etc. This way, it is an entirely 50/50 collaboration, right down to the title — we thought of the same one. Even the lines we wrote on our own were written with the other’s word.

When we were satisfied with the poem, Jennifer suggested we take a shot to go with it and post it here. We did not discuss the shot beforehand.

a colloquial howdy from behind

Below, the words we used.

Jen’s Words


Leslie’s Words



November 28, 2007 2 comments
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