William Miller, “Shelley’s Boat Boy”

William Miller’s seventh full-length collection of poetry, The Crow Flew Between Us, is forthcoming from Aldrich Books in Spring 2019. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and West Branch. He lives and writes in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

orange line

Shelley’s Boat Boy

Who remembers me?

I was hired by the day,
served the Englishman
with the funny voice,
skinny as a water bird.

Someone in the village
said he was a poet,
a bankrupt Lord
on the run with two women.

I only wanted a day’s work,
enough to buy fish and bread,
feed my mother and myself.

And what man sails into a storm,
a bad sea churning,
as if he wasn’t mortal,
food for sharks?

I told him once, twice,
three loud times, “Basta!”
But he refused, never reefed
the foresail.

That was all I recalled
until I heard the village priest
croak like an old frog,
ask me if I was sorry
for my sins,

What sins? I only knew
someone has to cut bait,
bail out the bilge water,
die for poems about death.

 


 

 

 

Missile Hymnal Amulet

Poems by G. F. Boyer

These are poems of survival—especially survival of religious indoctrination. At the same time, these poems celebrate a rich natural world: the physical and sensory world of plants, animals, and insects; the innocence and presence of nature; and even an animism that overpowers Christian fundamentalism and the increasingly revealed indifference of God. Through it all, time, aging, and dark humor provide a strong pulse, saying life will go on with or without us. The title’s missile, hymnal, and amulet represent the three sides of this conundrum, as rage, beauty, and love interweave in these crisp and incisive poems. “That’s how bayonets are made, you say. The wound is triangular and doesn’t heal easily.”

 

 

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