The Book of Props

Wayne Miller, Author . Milkweed $16 (83p) ISBN 978-1-57131-435-2

Transformations—from the everyday to the wondrous and/ or haunting—are everywhere in Miller’s elegant second book. The poems are at once dreamlike and fervent in their will to cleave to the material world. “Sleep gives the body back its mouth,” writes Miller in one poem. Elsewhere, the shouts of a beaten man become “flashbulbs/ striking the river,” and a lightning storm becomes a meditation on loss and clarity. In the title poem, everyday objects—a hammer, glasses, a cup, a matchbook—take on mythic significance, as if they had souls of their own, and a lover’s kiss becomes “another object pressed/ between them.” Miller (Only the Senses Sleep ) mixes what is with what we perceive and what could be without explanation or commentary. A series of poems labeled “notes for a film in verse” continue Miller’s exploration of the intersection of observation and artifice, this time through whimsical characters—a tightrope walker hiking telephone wires across the country, a pair of distant, angels talking to scarecrows, a girl fascinated by cement trucks, a drawbridge operator in a bar. Miller remains a poet to watch, and one who strives to ”separate/ the seeing from what’s seen.”(Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
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