SELECTED NOTES ON MAKE
While the preceding poetic territory relies on the insistent enigma of the writing process as a source of music, I offer these notes to readers interested in delving further into the minutiae of the text. Generally excluded are identifications of historical figures, place names, and other entities that might be located via obvious Internet keyword searches unless there is a detail to add not readily available to the public and which I deem of importance to understanding what is happening.
SPREAD 17 (LEARN TO LIVE WITH…)
FEAR OF VIOLENCE
A terror that has disrupted my relationship with America—and my family—since I was a child listening to a mother tell bedtime stories based on details of famous mass murders she had learned about from paperbacks carried in her huge purse.
For me, always, the tide is the gray-green current off Montauk, Long Island.
art that puts hair on my chest
Ref. to tiny snippets of paper found on my shirt during the composing of this poem.
COME BACK AFRICA
Ref. to the black-and-white film Come Back, Africa (1959) directed by Lionel Rogosin (1924-2000) and starring the mesmerizing Mariam Makeba (1932-2008); notable for its frank depiction of the Apartheid Era in South Africa.
have a good obey
Ref. to the once ubiquitous t-shirt (created by the artist Shephard Fairey: 1970-) featuring OBEY above an image of French wrestler Andre the Giant (1946-1993).
Emotion lacking full emotional content—a feeling preempted by inner obstacles.
SPREAD 18 (FORGET THE MELODY…)
gallows rope, good wood ruined, peeling sill paint, roach brother ETCStray details of the house I grew up in.
When a yard in an energetic city resembles an abandoned rural property.
THE TIMES GUT
Ref. to my father’s habit of tossing aside sections of the Sunday newspaper that collected around his recliner like the inky offal of a disemboweled continuum.
Homage to the curious joy I always experience when reading the name Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), one of the founders of the art movement known as Vorticism.
SPREAD 19 (THE DECAF COFFEE…)
w b web
Ref. to prophetic lines spun by poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939).
My great grandfather, Frank Miller, an immigrant from Scotland and a mechanic for the Milwaukee Road rail line, built a cottage on this Wisconsin lake. The place was magic to me. It made me want to run outside instead of hide from a difficult world: cool sandy soil, wildflowers, green lake smell, the whip-poor-will calling from pines.
Ref. to the courtly next door neighbor Mr. Hickey who always let pre-teen me in when I knocked on his door upset about events at home or on the playground.
Tree-climbing 18-year-old red-haired son of the Baptist minister who moved in across the street when I was ten and taught me how to tie a fisherman’s knot.
Ref. to the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, a summer event sponsored by the state’s largest newspaper that I participated in after I sold my comic book collection to raise funds to purchase a 10-speed Fuji bicycle.
The pink-hat-wearing writer I met in September of 1986 at 19 University Place in New York City, and married on December 9, 1989, in downtown Brooklyn.
Big Nick Nicholas
Saxophone player George Walker Nicholas (1922-1997)—nickname “Deedle dum”—was famous for hosting after hours jams in the 1950s at Harlem’s Paradise Club. I heard him play at St . Peter’s church in Manhattan in the 1990s.
bologna cut in squares and fried
Childhood meal staple I irrationally found more palatable if cut into different shapes before being fried in margarine.
sister dead at 44
For decades my talented sister Marianna Rose Miller (1967-2011) struggled with alcoholism and the effects of sexual abuse that occurred when she was a child.
michael dead at 31
Michael Current (1961-1992), high school classmate and visionary political activist whose work was responsible for the introduction of a gay rights bill in the Iowa Legislature in the late 1980s; he died of a diabetic crisis in Des Moines, the capital.
jack dead at 19
Jack Seier (1964-1983), president of my high school class and songwriter I supplied with lyrics; he drowned in the Mississippi River.
GUTHRIE HOOKER TATUM
Ref. to three musicians who taught me more about history than any book: Woody Guthrie (1912-1967), John Lee Hooker (1917-2001), Art Tatum (1909-1956).
duck creek, mississippi river…
Bodies of water—Iowa to Paris—that have lectured to me on many subjects.
Ref. to my parents, attorneys presiding over a home where no laws existed.
SPREAD 20 (STATUE HONORING THE STANZA…)
The 22nd draft not cooperating either.
Thanks expressed in a questioning tone to a lovely image that interrupts a text.
When one embarks on a harmless lark that ends up preying on them like a hawk.
don’t forget hair
As with the hair of a corpse, I find that a draft filed deep in a cabinet still continues to grow in a fashion, new lines occurring to me at odd intervals.
Initials of the pianist and composer Leon Russell (1942-2016) whose 1971 album Stranger in a Strange Land is on my Top Ten Supernal Albums list.