Summer, Upstate

from by Jacob Miller



Roxanne's got a new dog, a border collie,
she takes her out in the evening, leaves me to lock up at the library
Roxanne and David have been together almost 10 years,
but it's way too late to get married again.
They live back in the woods, in a house up on the hillside,
not ten miles from the farm where she was born.
the geography of a life can be hard to recognize
until the years and miles start to take on form.

Phil's on the library board, got a bad bad tremor in his hands,
he has be so kind to get taken seriously
and he wants me to come along and drive up to the race track
that made this town famous long ago
The whole way up he's cracking jokes and telling stories,
and telling me all about him and his wife's new condo
and there's an art so pure and simple in hiding all that loneliness,
so deep and abiding he can't let it go.

Now I stand, beneath the falls
rainwater tawny and wild
and when I drive back towards the east
I'll dream the water swallows up the town
I cannot carry such heavy weight
all of this life, it is not mine,
it is just lost and gone,
and lost, and gone, and lost, to me.

I rent this room from Pat, her big house is empty
she's glad to have the company, it's just been her and her dog for a long time
I used to be an engineer, she said, been a nurse for a couple years
working the graveyard shift in the hospital up on the hill.
I think she's hiding something, or maybe hiding from it -
summer days, she cleans the pool, the dog's asleep out in the car
but she knows I saw the cigarette she smoked out in the rain
after a methhead nearly died in the ER.

Gill's the only person that I know, under fifty,
she's only come around a couple times, she doesn't know that much about me.
It's not that much, I guess, but it's nice to get a smile,
and when we sing together she always asks if that Dylan song was mine.
Nervous for the future, loves the land too much to leave,
hoping to do good and someday find a job for her degree
out in the marsh, sandhill cranes break through the trees
their call is pure and unbelievable in the clear above the water and reeds.


from Changing Signs, released April 21, 2016



all rights reserved


Jacob Miller Grinnell, Iowa

slow music for slow feelings


page artwork by destini powell

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