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  You could have a big dipper   

The Burn Pile by James Miller

Count hours shifted at the Walmart

distribution center. Good money, down payment

on the house, but there will be

no house.

When rains come again,

wave sheets on the roof, share

pillows in the church shelter, dig through

donations for cast-off shorts and flip flops.

Recharge phones to scroll the screeds,

fill family tanks and head back

to work.

On weekends, pull drywall and drag

kitchen chairs to the burn pile. Neighbors

and distant cousins will help. They’ll not set

the match, but chiffoniers cough

and curl alight in their avid


By September, your new stove is working.

Stream the Byrds and steam brown rice:

easy rider, Hollywood starlet, grains fluffed

and soaked in sweet chili juices,

as promised.

Make arrangements

for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Pack swollen right hand in ice, undress

and sweat under October midnight. Mother chews

ankles unwrapped from oiled foil. Father prefers

salted earlobes, charred and crunchy

on the rims.


James Miller won the Connecticut Poetry Award in 2020. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rabid Oak, North Dakota Quarterly, Scoundrel Time, 8 Poems, Phoebe, Yemassee, Mantis, Concho River Review, Cleaver, Rathalla Review, Worcester Review, Elsewhere and Counterclock. Follow on Twitter @AndrewM1621.

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