Literature Tacoma Library Archives  07-11-1937 Swimming Holes

Published on September 3rd, 2013 | by Kevin Miller

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Three poems by Kevin Miller

Lifeguards and Humpies

In July he pictures the bridge
over the Cle Elum river, the reds
coming to die and first snow.
He misses the incremental return
of his winter clothes, long sleeve
shirts early in the morning, later
to be topped with a Pendleton
as November appears, wool
socks, and first frost, his official
marker to start whiskey season.
A man longing for winter misses
the dark, irritates those in love
with tan skin, beaches, and nights
when darkness means dim light.
His mate worries the rituals point
to dying, the big sleep, and he
laughs, pats his belly and knows
the cool comfort of adding rather
than subtraction, layers go on,
some layers never come off.
Even the need for socks at night
beats the windless pall when heat
applies its sticky compress.
He tries to remember January
during the ice storm when he sat
reading by the fire, did he dream
of cold beer, his grandsons swimming
at the pool, the young lifeguards’
perfect bodies so unlike the mottled
humps coming home to die.



Make Believe

My father’s ear, for example
one of a couple I had seen
for thirty years, still, in the box
the cup of its curl, the shape
in repose struck me dumb,
the perfect pitch for the man
who listened all those years.

We don’t hear the fastball
behind the head, it speaks
directly to the heart. The skip
is no murmur, its hot-wired
spark arcs in stop time.

Faith is a marble sack, each
rock a marble until the deuce
breaks, leaves us wrecked,
loose-kneed, soiled, faithfully
stepping in the bucket.



A Day at the Beach, No One Knows

milliners’ rules, hat pins, feathers,
the angle over the eye, seagrass
floppies in full sun cover bug eyed
shades, the art of cover, the once over
elevates the gaze, elongates the neck
graced in the loose coil of a striking
diamond print scarf, silk in wind
the quaking leaves as the off shore breeze
cools the bayside promenade zipped
with skaters, scooters, dogs, and one
man teetering west on a bike covered
in license plates and spinning pinwheels.

Pleasure Boat Studio published Kevin Miller’s third collection, Home & Away: the Old Town Poems, in 2009. Recent poems have appeared or will appear in Crab Creek Review, San Pedro River Review, and Massachusetts Review. He taught in the public schools of Washington State for thirty-nine years, and has lived in Tacoma for fifteen years.

Featured image of children at a Tacoma swimming hole in 1937 courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library Image Archives

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About the Author

worked in the public schools of Washington State for over thirty-six years. Miller taught in public schools in Blaine, Gig Harbor, and Olympia, Washington. In 1990-91 he was a Fulbright Exchange teacher at Grenå Handelsskole, Grenå, Denmark.



3 Responses to Three poems by Kevin Miller

  1. Thanks for featuring these poems. They are lovely.
    I know about those fastballs behind the head.

  2. Kim Deremiah says:

    I have long been a fan of Kevin Miller’s beautiful poetry. My favorite from this selection is “Lifeguards and Humpies” probably because I too will look back in July. Thank you.

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