Watch

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Overview

                            Strasbourg

 The yellow and green rose, and the pink rock,

The chestnuts blooming, the cobblestone square,

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Watch

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Overview

                            Strasbourg

 The yellow and green rose, and the pink rock,

The chestnuts blooming, the cobblestone square,

Our Lady’s tower rising everywhere,

Dark timbered fronts; the mechanical clock

Whose rooster crows three times for Peter’s flock,

The Apostles, the old man’s and the child’s share

Of time—aspire I’d say to make me stare

And stop. I praise what I might otherwise mock,

The locked contingencies, the stock of losses,

Bright liquidity everywhere channeled,

A storied cityscape of destinies

Averted as when, turning, a young Turk tosses

His hands in the air and my chest’s pummeled,

“My brother, forgive me!” and my thoughts freeze.

                                                                                                

In Watch, Greg Miller describes a fresh purposefulness in his life and achieves a new level of poetic thinking and composition in his writing. Artfully combining the religious andsecular worldviews in his own sense of human culture, Miller complicates our understanding of all three. The poems in Watch sift layers of natural and human history across several continents, observing paintings, archeological digs, cityscapes, seascapes, landscapes—all in an attempt to envision a clear, grounded spiritual life. Employing an impressive array of traditional meters and various kinds of free verse, Miller’s poems celebrate communities both invented and real.

 

Praise for Iron Wheel

“Miller demonstrates that what Eliot said about reading a poem may be equally true of writing them: the best thing ‘is to be very, very intelligent’ and intelligence is not the same as erudition. Whether the world is made, found, or named, Miller offers an engaging portrait of things as they are.’’—David Orr, Poetry

 

 

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In his fourth collection (following Mississippi Sudan), Miller explores the shared terrain of the spiritual and the quotidian through carefully wrought poems that also reveal a great depth of emotional intelligence. The author clearly has an affinity for poetry that has come to be called metaphysical—a noted literary critic, he recently published George Herbert's "Holy Patterns"—but he wears his scholarship lightly. The movement from biological to iconographical families enriches poems that address both realms of feeling. A poem called "River," a closely observed narrative that depicts a father's final days from a son's perspective, offers these evocative lines: "I kneel by my father's stapled body./ He suctions thick liquid from his lungs. He coughs to clear them; it hurts. He wants more air. He wants/ To live, the heart's valve's parachutes/ Opening with oxygen to feed/ the body's healing." Miller breaks the stanza between the parachutes and their opening, so that the poem, like the body, rests briefly before lifting itself—and the reader—up from the page. VERDICT For all readers of poetry, not just those who can appreciate the references to Herbert and Donne.—Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226526140
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2009
  • Pages: 88
  • Sales rank: 599,022
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

 

Greg Miller is professor of English at Millsaps College. He is the author of Rib Cage and Iron Wheel, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Read an Excerpt

Watch


By GREG MILLER

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS

Copyright © 2009 The University of Chicago
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-226-52614-0


Chapter One

FROM THE HEIGHTS


    My vision is partial, my voice middling, and I do not trust myself to
      the heights
    though everything here below begins to mingle and seem to me part
      of one canvas:
    ego, self-delusion, and pride in an infinite hall of mirrors with
      reflection

    mirroring all the old self-deceptions masquerading as penitential
      retractions.
    As I ride the bus up the mountain, the water below is no longer
      white as at dawn
    when I looked out and felt as if glimpsing the hem of heaven's
      wedding dress.

    Earlier even, walking before dawn, I heard one bird singing to itself
      and wondered
    to myself whether it was a caged bird on someone's balcony in the
      early cold
    till warbling began to answer in another tree across the street and
      then

    suddenly a mounting crescendo of other songs loudly greeting the
      morning not yet
    arrived, welcoming it into light, into the full presence of day, after
      which I hear
    nothing but traffic and the noises that people make going about
      their daily business.

    The driver tells me of his town near Spain, north of Toulouse,
      where Louis Treize
    tried to kill all the Protestants, where the former president of the
      Spanish Republic
    was buried during the civil war because he could find no peace at
      home. (Aragon

    and Picasso fled to France, as well, Aragon leaving his mother
      speech to sing
    the nightingale's slaughter.) The town still bears the scars of the
      King's bombardments.
    We climb higher and higher. I think of Daourt's paintings, of the
      blue openings

    that appear so often in them. The labyrinth of scaffolding in one,
      workmen
    transfixed in the middle of their labor, and in lonely apartments
      across the way
    a woman hidden in impossible contortions, and everywhere sad,
      magisterial cats

    looking at us questioningly. Even in her studio, the crossing lines of
      light and shadow,
    despite her large, open work space, feels like a spider web of work,
      the rectangular
    blue above and the light caught in a high window—glimpses of
      transcendence.

    During the occupation, Daourt was protected in the house of the
      Comtesse in Marseille,
    but after liberation, her mind grew worse until she began to dress in
      newspapers
    and beg in the streets. I climb another hill in Nice to the Chagall
      Museum

    where a young Japanese artist asks me (I don't know why) the
      significance
    of the "arc-en-ciel" and whether there's a biblical story. I say that
      God destroyed
    the world in a flood yet promises never to flood the world again. It
      means hope.


    In the next room, I stand before L'Exode. Christ hangs in the cross
      high in the center
    but a flood of people moves up and to the left through fire, a blue
      woman suckling
    her child, hopelessly, buildings falling in fire, an artist, head turned
      unnaturally

    backward from the window, framed by the cross in the glass (no,
      this is another
    painting I'm remembering), a spectral virgin floating toward death,
      a mother and child
    born into a sea of floating, drowning faces, and the Christ glowing
      in a white nimbus,

    his face dark in contrast. I look back and forth from the slaughter (a
      child put down
    on the ground by his mother beside a little billy goat looking up to
      the hand stroking it.)
    Christ's right eye is gouged, I think. Then, no: If thy right eye offend
      thee,
            pluck it out.



    DIGS

    Marnay-sur-Seine, Champagne


    The menhir in a blue field of wheat
    cuts a yellow line of rapeseed and the white
    lips of recycling pits.

    I walk to the darkened holes
    of log poles, a long house, Neolithic, the pit
    of pottery shards and bone pits, to the dark
    hardened place that held fire.
           Yesterday
    I startled a red fox near the road. It leapt fire
            from tuft
        to tuft
    into a thicket.
        I suckle on signs,
    a sparrow hawk heckling a heron,
    the heron spinning slowly before lifting.

    Merovingian graves: a mother and two children
    knees to chest in earth ova—and I think
    much more of me may remain than I had thought or hoped.

    On the sarcophagus, white waves, chiseled grain
    in wind at an angle, a brass buckle,
    an iridescent vial;
          tumuli, circles in a circle;
    an iron age granary;
            a Roman road.
    I imagine angles, eyes, who made what's made,
    hands holding stone, bronze, or iron,
    or flesh and bone alone, clutches of people,
    transfiguring spirits and tongues,
    what I speak, eat, and feel made up of bits of them
    so grain's good, birth first, and the fresh fruit sweet:
    it isn't their ends any more than them I meet.


    RIVER

    A loon dives in the swollen river.
    It followed the river first.
    The town lies between it and canals
    Diverted from the river.
    The beak of the loon is orange,
    Its wingspan broader than a duck's.

    My father's legs were swollen.
    His once thin ankles barely fit his shoes.
    His heart no longer fed his body.
    Toxins and liquids began to drown him.
    His silly doctors didn't see
    He couldn't breathe.

    My father took me to the river.
    We fished for bass and bluegill,
    Sunfish, cats. Fat suckers,
    Their lips like suction cups,
    We put back. Too many little bones
    To catch and make you choke.

    I no longer want to go fishing.
    I don't even want to play
    In the water. The boat
    Here has no oars, the current
    Is too swift. In the dark, teenagers
    Discover their body together.

    The body feels like a prison.
    I kneel by my father's stapled body.
    He suctions thick liquid from his lungs.
    He coughs to clear them; it hurts.
    He wants more air. He wants
    To live, the heart's valve's parachutes

    Opening with oxygen to feed
    The body's healing. A tube
    Empties the chest cavity. He excretes
    Liquids and poisons.
    His shocked kidneys come to life.
    His stunned heart beats. His lung

    Opens again. He eats. He poops.
    He walks. He wants to go home.
    On the phone, I catch my sister
    Taking him home. It's snowing.
    It's cold. My brother and mother
    Help him climb the stairs.

    I walk down the path
    By the shallow canal. I see
    A falcon fishing. The power plant
    Breathes steam. I hope
    The wind won't singe me.
    I come to the falls

    Where a little dog
    Barks and bounces hello. His owner
    Smiles and greets me. In the church
    Of Saint Laurence I kneel, I
    Give thanks, my heart jumps.


    EXCESS
    after Henri Michaux

    I've pushed the door open inside.
    I'm here, already, to give you
    What you've been needing, what you want

    So badly it makes you ache. Take
    That sudden illness dropped like lead—
    I lift it. I act. My joy's this

    Quick. Cuts, stitched, heal, and fever falls.
    Hair grows back. Food tastes good.
    I stop that superabundance

    Of cells. Now only good excess
    Greets you with smiles and ease.
    You sit in the sun. The carafe

    Of water reflects the windows
    You can't see, peripheries
    Possibilities opening!

    You drink them in the sun, happy.
    You enjoy the company
    Of those you don't know and those

    You love, too, here with you.
    There is time. Old voices that say
    You'll have nothing to offer

    I shut them all up.
    I show them the door where they will
    Be able to cripple only

    Themselves with malice. I free you
    Too from that malice. You pity them.
    You are able to be

    Happy in this cool sun.
    Slanderers do not
    Envy you. (You've done nothing

    To merit their anger.) Your conscience is
    Light and when able
    You've made amends, nor have you

    Hidden knives in apologies.
    I give you work with a purpose
    You've chosen. Anxiety

    Doesn't keep you up. When the Black
    Ox treads on you his heavy hooves
    Don't teach you the wrong things.

    (Without him, are we less?)
    You welcome love. You grab the lock
    Of the child as he comes and don't

    Love Chance's ugly butt.
    You are not impatient in grief.
    Such grief as you meet's a measure

    Of love. I wash your future face.
    The logjam's broken.
    Pleasure flows in again

    Through these banks more
    Than you thought possible.
    I give you this robin's egg blue

    Left in the grass to take. I'll say
    Hello in the morning. We can meet
    Friends and walk if you like.


    NOT PROUD

    It's easy after the intensity
    Of tubes, horns, and doctors to think
    Maybe artless misery's what's true.
    Arch Emily seemed to think so,
    Who liked the look. But I give you the lie,
    Death: die, you mere measurer.
    You're mean, and at your best if not
    A sedan at least you're an easy chair.
    We don't know you for what you do but for what
    You undo, and what's true you can't undo.


    "PAIN'S REQUIRED, SUFFERING OPTIONAL"

    Knowing he shouldn't feel so out of sorts,
    Anxious in crowds, though crowds take little note
    In point of fact, the pain in two small points
    In the front of his head, radiating out
    Making him dizzy, underwater, caught
    Fearfully near the edge (the edge? of what?)
    This too shall pass, he's old enough to know,
    But to what end, nothing he knows will show.
    The middle of the road (more near the end)
    With money enough (he can pretend)
    Lucky in love in its various forms
    Spouse, family, friendship, students (life is sweet)
    He needs to find some friend to pull this splinter
    Out of his gray matter and make him lighter
    Again as (mercifully) he's often been.


    GASCOIGNE'S WEEDS

    No one has planned
    what grows in this ditch:
    a couple of wild irises,
    dark purple; and lighter
    purple thistles whose leaves
    imitate white rock; and then
    the small, drooping blue flowers
    whose leaves and stems are hairy
    (I swear) and also
    silvery; and wild mustard,
    spindlier and higher than the rest,
    with pale joints like Tinkertoys.
    I'm leaving out the yellow
    dandelion and the strange
    colorless flowers with black
    dots in the center of pale green
    cups that the bees love so
    that they make bee parties
    and get unruly and make a racket.
    (I swear, I had to stop
    and figure it out!)
    I say I saw a rock lizard, too,

    flecked black and gray with bits
    of what looked like rock
    hanging from him.
    I looked at him.
    He became a rock.
    So much seems to aspire

    to be dry, white, and rocklike
    in the pit of the ditch
    and it isn't only
    the failure I admire.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Watch by GREG MILLER Copyright © 2009 by The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission of THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments....................vii
From the Heights....................3
Digs....................6
River....................8
Excess....................11
Not Proud....................14
"Pain's Required, Suffering Optional"....................15
Gascoigne's Weeds....................16
Watch....................18
Call....................20
Sens....................21
Shine....................22
Lost....................23
Wake....................24
White (I)....................29
The Future Queen....................30
Regret....................31
White (II)....................32
Sail....................33
In Arles....................34
Water and Light....................36
Le Cheval Blanc....................38
Caravaggio's Saint Ursula....................40
Late April Snow....................41
Between Bonnard's L'Atelier au Mimosa and L'Auto-Portrait....................42
Nocturne....................44
La Vierge de Douleur....................47
Capital Towers....................48
Salvation....................50
Strasbourg....................52
Protection....................53
Common Ways....................55
Pilgrim....................58
Home....................61
Crown....................63
Holy Conversation....................68
Employment....................69
Come Out....................70
Spring....................71
The Lotus Tree....................72
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2014

    Black Canary

    She arches an eyebrow, surpressing laughter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2014

    Samael

    MADAM, I AM A SUPERHERO! :O I HAVE MY SECRET IDENTITY TO PROTECT!!! *he poses in his underwear, a pair of sunglass on and a tablecloth on his back.*<br>- That's it, I'm leaving. -<br>:D

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    Posted June 10, 2014

    Wonder Woman

    No...

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