Chloe Yelena Miller

Two Prose Poems

Volume 14:4, Fall 2013
Prose Poem Issue


No. I shake my head. No. Stomp my foot. No. The shelved ceramic tchotchkes shake. No. This is not true. No. Will not be true. No. Cannot be true. No. You are alive. No. I will visit you. No. You will point your crooked finger at my middle, ask if I gained weight. No. Ask me to turn around so you can see my bottom and decide, “no,” I didn’t. No. Then, you will make me take thirds of dessert – homemade double chocolate chip cookies. No. You will congratulate me on my publications filled with your stories. No. You will tell me to keep some secrets, like the lentils you ate as a child. No. Poor people’s food, those lentils. No. You will tell stories of other people who die. No. They are always the good ones. No. You are still here. No. You will not be left behind, planted in Newark, New Jersey. No. Newark. No. New Jersey. No. Where you were born. No. Where you skipped school to go to matinees with girlfriends. No. Where, one Sunday afternoon, you walked across the dance hall, swinging your hips in a long skirt. No. Where your brother told you to put out your cigarette because, he said, you looked like a whore. No. Where you lifted your eyebrows, cigarette always lit. No. Newark. No. New Jersey. No. Where you lived. No. You are not buried there. No. I will drive you to the supermarket and you will think you are whispering. No. But you will be shouting about the woman with the undone hair. No. She will look at you and you will stare back. No. We will divide our plastic bags of food, and then one large container of strawberries, on sale. No. We will drink tea with lemon and maybe too much honey spilled out of the sticky plastic bear. No. Next time, we will use a spoon. No. We will sit on wooden chairs in your kitchen with the wallpaper roosters. No.

You will stand at the front door, waving, as I drive away. You will lean out the door to watch me. I will roll down my window to wave. I will worry that you might fall. You will phone my mother to tell her I stopped too long at the stop sign at the corner. You will tell her I should be less afraid. No.


Returning home

Work finishes. Leaves shadow-speckle the stucco. I unlock the door. You take my bag. You slice the round loaf, flour on your hands. I mix sea salt, olive oil in this bowl we found in another city. The one with a low river.

I ate grilled fish last night. There is much to tell you. How trees lean towards the sun even at night.


Chloe Yelena Miller is the author of the chapbook Unrest (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She has published work in the Cortland Review, Narrative, Alimentum, and Lumina. Miller was a finalist for Narrative Magazine's Poetry Prize and the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. She recently attended Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and has been a resident at Vermont Studio Center. As an MFA candidate at Sarah Lawrence College, she worked on Lumina and later on The Literary Review and Portal del Sol. Miller teaches writing online at Fairleigh Dickinson University. More information on her website.