Bone Antler Stone by Tim Miller, a review

Daniel Paul Marshall’s review of the poetry book, *Bone Antler Stone*, by Tim Miller. Marshall’s celebratory and contemplative response to Miller’s poetic accomplishment is a work of poetry in its own right — it is an earnest “giving” in the interest of promoting human connection. As a poet, I can’t imagine a more moving or rewarding experience than receiving such a “gift” as this in response to my own work; and as someone who’s had the great fortune of reading *Bone Antler Stone*, I must say that I concur with DPM’s analysis and praise.

Daniel Paul Marshall

I’m aware this “review” could potentially end up as flat out extolment for a poet who has become my friend and whose poems I was fortunate enough to have read in their early drafts. Am I biased? Probably. But I am going to make an effort to evidence what makes this a worthy read. There is plenty to evidence and I hope in tandem with my personal praise, this review will not be exposed as a sycophantic exposition.

Tim Miller’s Bone Antler Stone (The High Window Press) begins, ablaze, with the poem Fire Houses. What seems to have been an ancient procedure of renewal (Tim’s query in Fire Houses II later on: “Why would they do this to their houses/every generation of so…?” for me, supports this, in a whole poem dedicated to the question) seems to be Tim’s symbolic way of nudging us toward a spirit of…

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Recording of Robert Okaji’s Poem, “Mayflies”

Hear the words that inspired this artwork for the cover of Robert Okaji’s new chapbook, *From Every Moment A Second* in the voice of the man himself!

O at the Edges

“Mayflies” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. FLP is taking prepublication orders here. It was also the inspiration for the artwork gracing the cover. I am in debt to Stephanie L. Harper for providing such a vivid and appropriate piece of art for the book.

Please note:  prepublication sales determine the print run, which means this stage is crucial in terms of how many copies will be printed and the number of copies I’ll receive as payment. So if you feel inclined to help, and are able, please purchase your copy before August 11. Thank you!

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Poems for Days 23 & 24 of the May 30/30 Challenge are up at Tupelo Press!

plants in moonlightI got #24 in last night at about 10 pm, so count it! It’s coming down to the wire here, and I may very well have dug as deep as deep goes, but who knows? No one’s singing just yet… Thanks so much for following along with me this month, everyone!

Psychedelic (Day 23)

in a substance-less trip
to the universe yet to be
uncovered
where atoms infused with
one and a half teaspoons of photons…

Osmosis, and the Willingness of Light to Participate (Day 24)

With thanks to Ken Gierke* for supplying the title!

When     at the behest of a word
light—as in     Let there be…—was parsed
apart from her swirling enmeshment in shadow
such that stultified yang stretched out
into a borderless     yin-less orphan
only to be instructed to believe it was good
was the day she dissociated from her true self
somewhere in spacetime…

Continue reading both pieces (& catch up on Days 1-22) here!

*Check out Ken’s lovely work on WordPress at rivrvlogr !

Convection

anvil-cloud-600x400

/kənˈvekSH(ə)n/ noun: the movement caused within a fluid by the tendency of hotter and therefore less dense material to rise, and colder, denser material to sink under the influence of gravity, which consequently results in transfer of heat.”           Google 

“In the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water. Then God commanded, ‘Let there be light’ (…)”       Genesis 1:1-3

If     before the beginning     something
had not yet appeared from nothing     how did
nothing manage to imbibe the god’s breath
that marked the beginning of creation
(particularly since before there was something
there surely wouldn’t have been things
such as gods or breaths)? 

For that matter     out of what non-thing
was said sudden cloud burped
into the slate gray chaos that hung
in a sky that couldn’t have been there     but was
ostensibly sandwiched tidily between
the turbulent     blue water (we’ll address that later)
& the gauzier ‘ether’ that was not yet the air
for the deities who were not yet themselves?

& if     in the beginning (as the story goes)
those twin neonates     formlessness & desolation
comprised everything
that was    at the time     nothing
from where     for the love of sanity
did that ‘raging ocean’ arise? 

I mean     of the untold passions we might’ve presumed
preceded all extant matter & manner of cognizance
why did we dream up an ocean     & infuse it
with fulmination     only then to have it (not) be
‘engulfed in total darkness’     as if to deflect
attention from how much we were trying to make
out of a whole bunch of nothing?

Aside from being a bit fishy
the story does lend itself rather poorly
to proper revelation     no doubt
amounting to the non-existent body of water in question
being (or    more precisely   not-being) rightfully fraught
that antiquity could do no better than to liken it—
in its purported (not to mention impossible)
shared subsistence with nothing—
to Phorkys     the weedy-bearded progenitor of the gorgons…

Is it any wonder
the artists should depict
so much transference of hot air
as the white wisp of a ship
vanishing in the distant mist?

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

Stormy Sea

This thought experiment was inspired by the (impressively copious) weather satellite video loops of convection clouds popping into existence, which my son has been tracking down online and sharing with me… just another example of the uncountable, humbling insights into the natural world that I’m sure would have failed to blip on my radar, if not for his beautiful influence.

An earlier version of “Convection” appeared on this blog in Summer 2016.

Wise at Thirty-Five, Revised at Forty

out-out-brief-candle

          “Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.”             William Shakespeare

Yes, those two, distinct ages of mine
pulled off quite the elaborate spectacle—
circling one another in yin-and-yang-fashion,
gurgling toward a neurotic crescendo,
then sputtering into oblivion.

In relishing the living left to do,
I relive the living that can’t be
redone—today’s waterfall of yesterdays
spills over into the uncertain basin
of tomorrow.

I once believed I was unmovable,
a boulder’s crest in a rushing stream—
but soaked as I am to the bone in cold humility,
I now glisten my own, trembling shadows.

“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow”—
the tomorrows do keep their “petty pace”—
and regardless of how we spend, squander,
mete out, or justify them,
we eventually forget their order,
and lose track of which ones were real,
and which were dreaming,
or whether any one’s disappearance over the cliff’s edge
is quantifiably different from any other’s.

I have tried and failed to live up to
the tomorrows’ skulking expectations
performing the scenes from a moral composition,
which I now get that I had scripted for myself:
I’ve faced pink-nosed and dreamy-eyed
into an icy, winter wind—to look exotic,
like the cover illustration for Eloise in Moscow,
and I’ve lapped naked at the river banks
beneath a sun-streaked summer sky,
only to discover
no dance of mine was ever beautiful enough
to move the seasons.

I’ve sulked in self-abasement,
practicing absurd, measured detachment,
surrounded by strangers in trendy coffee houses,
making sure to be seen there
with my lattés, huddling, frenetic,
filling in crosswords with mechanical pencils.

One windy, winter morning,
swathed in a café’s doughy warmth,
I watched through the window
as a leaf flapped in the street,
as if it were some creature curling in its death throes,
the lifeblood ebbing from its wrinkled veins.

For an age, it darted in and out of traffic,
calculating each of its narrow misses,
so that it could leap anew—yet for all
of its clever tail-spinning

it could not stop being be a leaf.

boulder-stream

An earlier version of this piece made its first appearance in Sixfold magazine, Winter 2013. 

Convection

This thought experiment was inspired by the (impressively copious) weather satellite video loops of convection clouds popping into existence, which my son has been tracking down online and sharing with me… just another example of the uncountable, humbling insights into the natural world that I’m sure would have failed to blip on my radar, if not for his beautiful influence.

Stormy Sea

Yaroslav Gerzhedovich’s Stormy Sea, courtesy of Google Images

/kənˈvekSH(ə)n/ noun: the movement caused within a fluid by the tendency of hotter and therefore less dense material to rise, and colder, denser material to sink under the influence of gravity, which consequently results in transfer of heat.”

“In the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water. Then God commanded, ‘Let there be light’ (…)” Genesis 1:1-3

If     before the beginning
something had not yet appeared from
nothing
how did
nothing
manage     without lungs no less
to take in that convection of a god’s breath
that marked the beginning of creation
(particularly since before there was something
there surely wouldn’t have been things
such as gods or breathing)?

For that matter     out of what non-thing
was said sudden cloud burped
into the foggy     slate gray chaos
that hung     but didn’t
in a sky that couldn’t have been there     but was
ostensibly sandwiched tidily between
the turbulent     blue water
(we’ll address that later)
& the gauzier     brighter     frothier ether
that was not yet the air for the deities
who were not yet themselves?

& if     in the beginning
(as the story goes)
those twin neonates
formlessness & desolation
comprised everything
(however antithetical to actual substance)
that was spontaneously no longer
nothing

from where     for the love of sanity     did that ocean arise?

& why (never mind how)     pray tell     was it raging?

Of the untold passions
we might’ve presumed preceded
all extant matter & manner of cognizance
why did we resort to imagining rage?

Do we unknowingly float
upon the ocean’s foamy resentment
at the resonant indignity of not yet
being not
nothing
but still getting scapegoated for concealing
the primordially shapeless absences of
nothing
with its own nothingness
(unjustly condemned for the volition & malice
that nonbeing precluded it from possessing)
even as it     itself     was entirely concealed
in the total darkness we all know is really
just another way of saying a whole lot of
nothing?

To wit     aside from being a bit fishy
the story does lend itself rather poorly
to proper revelation
amounting     no doubt
to the non-existent body of water in question
being (or more precisely not-being)
rightfully fraught
that antiquity could do no better
than to liken it in myth—
in its purported (not to mention impossible)
shared subsistence with
nothing
before the beginning began—
to Phorcys     the weedy-bearded
progenitor of the gorgons…

Is it any wonder the artists should depict
this mystic transference of hot air
as the wisp of a ship
dissolving into the mist?

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

 

Everest

Everest

“…since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,
 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
I will mock when calamity (…)

overtakes you like a storm…”             Proverbs 1:25-27

Icefalls—
freezing streams of tears
formed in the weather of her own invention—

rip a hidden dominion
of chasms
beneath

this Mecca we faithfully revisit
upon surviving each prior pilgrimage
& restless penance at base camp.

No snow-blind bid for ascension
will leave its trace upon this cruel, white slate,
as cold-pierced flesh, violated senseless, chases

the gossamer promise of substantiation
in the biting night silence,
scaling massive vertical icy rises that crest

on the barren horizon, as intimate as distant;
in this alien nest we recognize
lies the black womb’s waif—

the silky red dawn
drawing its first cerulean-cradled breath—
heralding the bloody miracle of life & death.

So tiny are these pitons & ropes
we follow toward willful, brutal injury—
they mark the fabled way through

this bone-strewn wilderness
to the sun-frozen summit,
her brimming lids blinking in feigned oblivion,

now hiding her sinister eyes,
now revealing
contrived glimpses of rapture.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

 

Confessional

“Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes
on Thee
And I’ll forgive Thy great big
one on me.”     Robert Frost

Toilet-Paper-Art

Today I used a piece of toilet paper––
so ingenious how the squares are perforated––
as a bookmark.

I marked the beginning
of a story in a journal
I pretended to mean to read soon.

My pretensions in the bathroom
are no more elaborate, I’d guess, than those of any other,
so why don’t we confess them, even to ourselves?

Confessionals are outfitted nowadays
with porcelain appliances, brass fixtures,
marble vanities with stacks of prayers in paperback––

(we futilely pray no one presumes these rituals
of bargaining our way out of bondage
to repugnant functions)––

to function as the ultimate ruse.
For no sleight-of-hand swipe performed
(however carefully) with unrolled, folded squares,

nor the most careful illusions of luxury
contrived of bodacious poses above prodigal devices,
will lessen the strain of such unnatural squatting.

Nature will still call from night’s drawn curtain,
beckoning us to the primal business

of dangling truth.

bidet kitty