Devon Miller-Duggan

Two Poems

Prayer of Dismissal

Go. Spin off. Take off with other business. Leave my spine, my spleen, my liver. Or take them, make them new star trails in some needlessly new galaxy, though I have use and ownership of them. Set something worthwhile spinning. Take the winds winding themselves up to gnash at land and water somewhere babies aren’t. Take and leave. We’ve eaten. We are full. Set something, somewhere, right. Set something, somewhere, alight. Something that wants seeing, not burning. Take greeds, and creeds (which are the same). Do you have pockets? Capacious enough for the fractal screeds, which will continue to branch? Sic frangit crustulum—take my bad Latin and the crumbled cookies it was meant to joke about. Take thus this contract: you allow the sickening of lands, toddlers, hearts of trees & turtles, we table your tablet and bid you set your sights elsewhere in the Big you birthed. The only idea we have of justice is yours.


How to Accurately Predict the Exact Date of the Second Coming

Nothing will ever work
unless the bottom layer’s uncovered,
no matter how long it takes.

Because, my heart, I ran and did not turn,
though I counted each step.

Birds come in every color. Only serpents of the same
color can disappear upon meeting. Ditto, stars.

Because I did not see the salt
as every body’s season and keeper,
I turned the body inside out.

Try a new pattern.
It will take/require/demand/thieve
many failures to learn its rules.

Underneath the city that is God
I am salt and sand together
sifting through loosened fingers.

The order in which things are removed
matters or doesn’t, yet
it’s best to remove hearts & their nights
when they are closest to each other.

Take as much of each layer off as possible at one time,
as though archaeology were proximate to prognostication
or growing things, which need not match to gather power.

Though most of what I love survives because
the city’s dust will batter me,
it has been loved and learned to love
in spite of knives and hungers, even that and those
for which or for whom love consists
solely in stillness permitting observation.

I’ve been trying to decide
between learning to recognize myself true
or learning to know what I act/do/perform.
My true self was never a fire forest.
My true self was never a winterfogged city,
never a gondola/cardboard house/swaddle.
I was never thumbed scales.

I warned you.
Nothing will ever work,
even that which sings.



Devon Miller-Duggan has published poems in Rattle, Shenandoah, Margie, Christianity and Literature, Gargoyle, and The Massachusetts Review. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Delaware. Her books include Pinning the Bird to the Wall (Tres Chicas Books, 2008), and Alphabet Year (Wipf & Stock, 2017).