Devil’s Lake | Poetry by Carly Joy Miller

Spring 2016 Issue

Winner of the 2016 Driftless Prize in Poetry Learn more >

Carly Joy Miller: Nightshift as Slaughter

Hallelujah I’m purposed.

My bits lording the dirt,

weather a stain around

the high grasses. Gone the season

of kneeling to my femur

—or is it my humerus, some meat

graying the bone? Dark laughter

behind me—these steps, these paws,

I know them all. Amen for fright,

the gaudy shriek. The gauze

of new hair over me, amen.

Nightshift: Waiting for the Search Party

Cop it up to flashlights
for catching the sequin
glint from my dress,
for exciting hounds
without scent. Blame mud
for slushing my body
a twiggy thing:
a dead girl shackled
in burlap. Ripped
shroud. Feral cloud
cruel angle above
me. My voice a brute
lost to weedful dark, Lord:
discovering I am
without my legs
goosebumps the spectacle.

Midshift Contemplating the Horse

The animal I am rivered to odd-toed ungulate in my fever towards the war-horse how she meadows her name equus ferus to be caballus means yes to the ring domestic house now home running on electric blood hot for speed cold for heavy work warm for the in-betweens I war between bodies training my flanks to run wild horses couldn’t drag me away from the good meal horses graze the pasture dry 205 bones supporting their weight I wait for horses to nuzzle my palm down to my hock my ankle my heel healing in the sweat from my mane my lover noticed how I played with it long then chopped it to the bit revealed my neck for wolves to prey I was aware of my surroundings yet willed the sharp teeth the threat of an empty field except for me once in Monterey my grandmother asked for the dead horse and I obsessed ever since on how the living ride the backs of the dead in her case to slow her fear of the beast the beast the beast I embrace as the ground reaches under my nails to shift my fight-or-flight response to elegy

CARLY JOY MILLER’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Blackbird, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Meridian, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets, and was a finalist for the Stadler Fellowship. She is a contributing editor for Poetry International and a founding editor of Locked Horn Press. More from this issue >