Poet Matt Miller was born and raised in Lowell, MA. He is a graduate of Yale University and Emerson College. His work has been published in a number of literary journals, and he has worked as a Visiting Professor of Writing at New England College. He has taught writing workshops at Harvard Extension, Cambridge College, Endicott College, and Stanford University, where he was awarded the prestigious Stegner Writing Fellowship.
In the poem below, “The Plows,” Miller brings all corners of a mill city in a state of frozen aftermath to life, with the use of gritty, jarring and, at times, personified imagery. The poem is from his Pushcart Prize-nominated collection, Cameo Diner. You can order the book at <loompress.com>.
Like trick ink into a sketch diary,
this town of mills and bridges fades
into the blink of morning that an ice
storm has left behind. The river cricks
arthritically with floes that rub
cozy as lovers against each other.
Icicles fang from power lines,
from maples and pines that creak and clink.
Upon their pikes are impaled the ghosts
that haunt alleys and garbage cans
with groans of winter. Thick chunks
of ice are scattered in the streets
like teeth busted loose from brawling
frost giants and which no one has bothered
to sweep up. Until, that is, the trucks,
muscled by big Detroits, rumble
their diesel hearts out of park, hubs locked,
clutches grinding. Grunting behind
diamond-plated plows they shake. They scrape
the daybreak raw of quiet and ice.
Throwing off sparks, they tear concrete
from out under the silver glow of lanes,
avenues, empty lots, and two-
car driveways. Iron shovels
furrow through crystal. Buckets dump
their salt and sand. The sleepers wake
from under cotton tents to a dawn
choking gasoline through their windows.
Gears shift for torque. The gray and hard
begins to grid across the town
as the plows crush out the glowing pearl
of snow that had thrown up its light,
for a few hours, against the horizon.
Posted on Mon, February 13, 2017
by Frederick Duquet