Wednesday, August 3, 2016

far


Rivertown, Nepal


Far is the sound a phone makes
as you press your ear tighter to the receiver
trying to capture any syllable that slips
through the static.

Far is a list
of names of those lost in the torrential growl of flood water
tearing rock barricades apart,

the scrape of corrugated steel on earth
erasing a village/a town on the river banks, abandoning any inhabitants
it gives grace.

Far has the width of a thread.

Far is the distance between castes
& circumstances that dictate
a quality of life;

the width of sound a hammer makes striking the tin,
turning it into bowls - I sat there on the wall of the cliff
listening. Occasionally
you'd look far       up.

Far is the light
in their eyes when they see pale skin on hands
pressed into a temple

on shanty town dirt paths,
the touch of fingertips to pulse points.

Far is sightless,
floating bodies, caught in the silt
until buried.

Far is not knowing who of the lost
I shared a meal with - the smell of which
still clings in my fingerprints.

Is the sound of children's dancing feet
on a concrete slab stripped of any walls, a roof - I hear you,
I hear you.

Far is the song I hum watching the moon in the morning
lingering in the light of a New day, knowing
you see it rising in the darkness.

I am here.
You are far.

Far is pain.
      is hope.
      is a prayer --
                             until it isn't.

The rains from the monsoons fed the rivers, which raged and washed away many of the homes and people in Rivertown this week. Hundreds were left without shelter or any semblance of the what little life they once had. I walked there several days a week. This is my song of far.-thanks Susan, for helping me gain traction with it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

where I have been


Manita in class 1


If you would like to read more on my Nepal trip - I told much of the story over at Poets United, here.

Comments off.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

around 4pm, only a mile left to walk


resurfacing roads by hand sprinkler, Nepal


This is what I imagine leprosy looks like ---his eyes
are lost, behind unchecked lumps;
skin growth, not boils,
extensions of self
                    &not --
                             an invasion

nothing comes out of his mouth
but spent breath.
                        draped in loose robes,
his skeleton pulls tight leathered flesh,
pale hair tufts crown his head ---

Market street is bustling w/ rick-shaw like CityCabs
HoNking as they pass, merchants selling cloth,
veg & baskets of dried fish, futbol jerseys --- a man, in the back of his cart
changes the coals in his iron,
               every couple steps the concrete lids
on the sewer canals are broken at best,
often missing, revealing wet refuse, & dust,
                         dismembered pig parts, muscle&fat, are arranged
on a board & the butcher waves a fan to ward off the flies---

excited he totters through the flopping feet,
people parting to give him space & he stops right in front
of me ---
                            raises gnarled fingers&stumps to point at my forehead,
then pokes my chest over the heart
& kneels, to rub my feet
                               each
                               movement,
                               a moan -- a sigh,

I stand there, longer
than he does, still, rimmed with afternoon sun&sweat -- in the blessing
/or asking, as the people flow around&onward,
a few of them
                       look back.
                            

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The waves still come, the tides change and we had nothing to do with it


an old tire gets new life, Nepal


Of all the things between us
the counter, in a North Carolina gas station - 289 miles from my home,
7806 from his - is the most tangible

its cash register - counting the cost in green digital numbers,
a rack of five hour energy, lighters,
lottery tickets
                     defying chance w/ hope

despite the odds.
"You are from Nepal?" - the trill in his voice, as sure as a visa
stamp on a passport,
"Yes."

"Namaste,"
I steeple my fingers, & my mouth quirks a smile
as he returns the greeting
                                        - so far away, yet for a moment
                                           closer

                                                          to home,
"You know Nepal?"

"I was just there for all of June - in Dharan"

"Do you know ---"

---and once again, we are walking the jungle road
a contrast of pale stone & lush green, milkmen loaded down
w/ metal milk cans on their morning run - the monkeys,
an old chia skinned woman herding goats
at the end of a switch - but only using
her voice
               ---our stomach's ache, in hunger
for the laughter of misjudging the depth of the river
on the back of a motorbike & being sure
we were lost in the current
                                         but for the quick grip
of a tire propelling us out the other side---

"Yes, I know..."
                                            you.

Isn't that what we all want to know?
To have our existence acknowledged, recognized as
here - when we feel invisible & drifting further from
where we once were, what we know
& ourselves

"How long are you here?"

"Just getting gas, on the way down the coast."

"So, you can't come to dinner in my home?"

"Not this time,"
                         but you never know,
& he turns, to a lady with a bit too much eye shadow
asking for Marlboros, "not the soft pack,
in a box."


Was at the beach the last 4 days, with T, a little rejuvenation trip after returning from Nepal - but even across the ocean and over 7000 miles away - I can not escape Nepal and her people. I don't know who was more shocked, the gas station attendant or me, but his smile was quite pure when I spoke to him in my very limited Nepali.

Friday, July 22, 2016

the creeds never quite get it right, in words, absence of life


Keesor in Nepal


"Uaha vanhole,"

the old man says from the front porch,
a couple hundred feet set-back
behind a copse of trees.

"What?"

"Faithful. You are faithful."

(This is the neighbor that hides hind the trunks
to catch those whose speed-o-meters trip just a bit
too high - through the hood.)

I give him a thumbs up,
& keep moving -

He is referring to my walking, 1.7 miles every morning, to usher the sun up,
3.4 every evening, to tuck it in -- & fluff its pillows
Is this the extent of my belief?

One foot in front of the next, an ever forward movement,
a discipline, a habit which can fit on a bumper sticker -
21 days to each new atonement

Too many habits, I might as well be a nunnery,
& I wonder do they see - God
more for giving up the feeling of warmth beneath the weight
of your love-making.

In Nepal I did 5.7 miles each way from where I slept
to the school where I taught & then again
when I returned each evening.

This is less

Keesor. Naran. Prakash.
Ramesh. Rasu. Saman. Dahn. Srijan.
Manu.

A month later and I have already forgotten most of the names
that rang like the bells of the Hindus each morning at 4:30 to wake up
their gods - themselves

I don't know, I can only go by what the streetvendor told me
as we stood listening for the sun to come over the mountain,
"Does your god believe in you?"

Are you more than what you do, in relation to
the story you tell, with lips less than 12 inches from a heart
that beats a wild rumpus for something else - beyond this...

existence...

tell me what love is

more or less

let me hear, the song of your steps, a whisper of breath-less
wonder in the iris, the expanding on contracting pupil, ever learning to adjust
to the light//the dark//the shadows in between

that look like trees
but are people - you just haven't had a chance
to meet

                              yet.

"I am faithful."

I laugh. I cry. I learn to love my enemy - myself,
that always seems to get in the way,
of the promise of belief.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Srijam (a psalm in three, parts)


Srijam (in Nepal)


Five fingers, open as a bloom, ever reaching
for the morning light, beyond my shoulder
contrasting shades of the patchworld quilt

sh -- a -- ir,    sh -- ay -- m,   sh -- ee -- p
p -- uhn -- ish,    w -- o -- sh,     each sound,
a breath -- the sound a breath makes

we (sons) of the same inheritance


I am home. It was amazing. I survived. And I am humbled. This is a picture of Srijam - he was one of the EKG (Early Kindergarten) kids who I taught Phonics and English. Yes, the school is made of pressboard and bamboo. I miss him. He gave me a hug every morning.

A musical sevenling

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hi



I know, this is kinda awkward.

It's like showing up at home, after being gone for a very long time.

After people gave up that you might ever come back.
Knowing you are a different person than the one that left.

Ok, so maybe it is just me.

____

My name is Brian Miller. Once upon a time, I wrote a lot. Here and at other places.
For years.

Until I disappeared.

Surprise,
I am still alive.

____

My family is doing well. The boys are bigger than ever.
They will both be in middle school next year. Can you believe it?
T is still working at the University. I am still a high school teacher.

I still write, rarely.
Maybe we can talk about that one later.

____

I got your emails --- and if I did not respond.
Sorry. It's complicated.

I was enjoying the silence.

____

So what is new?

I graduate with my Master's in May.
Wait, it is May.

Ok, in 2 weeks.
I am so glad,

to be done.

____

And a few weeks after that I leave for Nepal.

Which is why I am back?
Maybe.

I will be spending the summer in Bharan, Nepal --- teaching.
I will be teaching at a Pastor's College in the mornings
and then at a newly formed elementary school in the afternoons.
And on Sundays, I will be teaching in local churches.

The fam will be holding down the fort here
while I head out on this journey.

(You can pray for them -- and me.
It's a crazy kinda fun twist the stomach
in knots, put a smile on your face
kinda thing.)

____

The elementary school services Pre-K - 2nd grade.

If you want to go to 3rd grade and beyond, it's a bit of a hike.
I am taking computers to start a computer lab at the school,
which hopefully enables them to teach older students
in the near future.

I worked out this deal with the local university
to buy some of their old refurbished computers - relatively cheap.

Hey, it's a start.

____

Yes, I am going alone
and I won't know anyone when I get there.

Sounds exciting, huh?

____

So, Here I am.
Scrambling to graduate, to get students to graduate and/or finish the school year,
and to catch a plane that will take me halfway around the world.

(If it all goes well, Cole wants to come with me next year.
Mama says I gotta come back alive the first year
before he can go though.)

It's good to see you.

Will I post again?

I think I just might,
so I can share a bit of this journey.

And who knows,
maybe I will find a poem (or a story)
along the way.