Philip Miller






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Philip Miller graduated from Wyandotte High School, Kansas City, KS, in 1961, then received a BA and MA from Emporia St. University 1961-1966 (then Emporia St. Teachers College).  While there he studied with Keith Denniston and was editor of Quivira


Miller worked  at Kansas City KS Community College from 1976 until 2002.  While at KCKCC, he coordinated the college's Basic English program for over 20 years,  served as professor of English, taught creative writing, composition, and American literature (in the PACE program).


He was president of the Kansas Writers Association, 1987, and hosted their statewide conference.  In 1992, Miller was a founding member, then board member and now is an advisory member of The Writers Place, KCMO. He directed the Riverfront Reading Series from 1987 to 2004. 


Miller's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including Kansas Quarterly, New Letters, Cottonwood, Poetry, and Rattapallax, Coal City Review,  The I-70 Review, Thorny Locust,  Home Planet News, Literary Magazine Review, The Mid-American Review, Poetry Wales, and Gargoyle. His sixth book of poems, The Casablanca Fan, is being published by Unholy Day Press.  Miller also co-edited an anthology of ghost poems, A Chance of a Ghost, from Helicon Nine Editions.


Retiring in 2002, he now lives in Mount Union, PA where he edits The Same and co-directs the Aughwick Poet and Writers Reading Series.

Driving Through Kansas in Late Autumn


First you see

tar paper, clapboard, old red barn,

yellow trees against a sky

smeared gray.

Then these catch your eye:

tip of weathervane, slow

blade of windmill slicing

air, hawk’s slant wing,

curve of crow,

windrow of  dishwater hay;

rusty bristleweed, rooster comb

of dry sumac,

a stand of cattle splotched

eggshell, coal, burnt sienna,

before your eyes blur,

let landscape slide

to dusky field and ditch,

to umber, ash, and teal,

to thin streak of rouge,

to one long wash of bruise.


Previously published in Modern Images





I'm in trouble again,

something unexpected like the death

of someone I've fastened a bit

of connective tissue to,

and now I must consider

the fact of my own demise

the slow shedding like a skin

of my tough exterior

until I've become over-sensitive

to the weather and the dark,

to the ordinary passing of the day:

now I sense a pressure

as if time were rubbing

my cheeks the wrong way,

as if, with the strong arms

of a god, it were pushing me along,

my face against the wind

until I can feel my own wearing,

the way a boulder dissolves

in a river's swift current

as slowly as long afternoons seemed

to wear away when I was young

and held the dazzling sun

inside my hard gaze

and for a moment,

as if I were a god myself,

made it stand still.


Previously published in Branches Snapping,
Helicon Nine Editions, and Poetry





All poetry on this page
© b
y Philip Miller 2007 



Great Winds, Great Rains


Everything wears out, wears down.

Hair thins, the bald head shines,

the skull slowly surfaces.

One day you'll watch your body

walk away from its former self,

a snake shedding the ghost

of what it was, a flimsy curiosity

blowing into great winds,

dissolving in great rains.

And you'll become your own ghost

peering into a mirror,

noticing what you've come to,

that you've gained invisibility,

found higher ground,

and you'll know where you are

and where you cannot stay for long.

You'll turn toward the window

(catching a reflection

you'll see right through)

and watch hurricanes rip clouds

across a bone-white moon,

thin as a clipped fingernail,

and watch tornados howl and boil

and cold rains fall.


(Previously published in From the Temperate Zone,
Potpourri Press, co-authored with Keith Denniston)



Be That As It May


A hot wind that day,

and no rain for weeks:

my mother's voice,

impatient, shifts the subject,

her iced coffee tinkling

in a tall glass,

an eyebrow raised

at Grandpa's ruminations

of how things have changed:

morals, manners, not to mention

the weather, the price of coffee

and cigarettes.

It is the way she turns away

like a cat turns from a pair

of too anxious eyes,

as I did then, escaping,

but listening from a shadowy corner,

wrinkling my face,

saying a word or two

that would have added to Grandpa's

disillusion had he heard—

all this fifty years ago.

The way my mother clears her throat,

having heard the world is about to end,

and widens her eyes,

and as if opening a window

says, "Be that as it may,"

and suggests a walk in the garden

to see—with the drought upon us—

what is left.


Previously published in The Pittsburgh Quarterly


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