Saturday, July 25, 2009


We’ve been looking at voices from the poetic margins this month in the Weekly Poem series, & I’m concluding this with a short poem by Josephine Miles. Ms Miles, who was also a distinguished academic—the first woman to receive tenure at University of California, Berkeley, in 1947—was a poet of the everyday, which she approached with wit & insight; her poems also really defy categorization in terms of “school”; she had quite a unique voice, & an unerring eye for detail.

Tomorrow probably will be a day off here at Robert Frost’s Banjo central—not 100% on that, but that’s the likely course of events. This will be a busy Saturday—my monthly marathon Farmer’s Market gig (with triple digit temps predicted—yikes!) as well as some visiting & possibly the Adams County Rodeo in the evening. If we do go to the rodeo I’ll try to write something up for Monday.

Hope you enjoy this short but pithy poem about exclusion & acceptance, & I’d encourage you to look into Ms Miles’ works; they are a largely undiscovered treasure.


It's not my world, I grant, but I made it.
It's not my ranch, lean oak, buzzard crow,
Not my fryers, mixmaster, well-garden.
And now it's down the road and I made it.

It's not your rackety car but you drive it.
It's not your four-door, top speed, white-wall tires,
Not our state, not even, I guess, our nation,
But now it's down the road, and we're in it.

Josephine Miles


  1. I really like this poem - goes a long way to explain our impermanence on this earth. Another one for me to explore. Thanks John!


  2. Actually, that should read "towards explaining". (Motrin-brain, sorry.)


  3. Hi Kat: Glad you like this one--I think you'd enjoy reading J Miles.

    I like the term "Motrin-brain."

  4. loved the poem - AND the story of ms miles of whom i was not familiar - thanks for sharing - and have a wonderful rodeo time! jenean

  5. Yes ,John, I really like this poem,I also really like cars in poetry.I'm sure people are sick of me saying this ad infinitum but, for me, the only true perspective of the poet is from the outside looking in, all other vantage points are idle gongs booming in the darkness of vanity.
    Will check this poet out, thank you, John. :)

  6. I really like this post. The poem is a little gem, beautifully conceived and executed.

  7. Hi Jeanan, TFE & Dave:

    Jenean: Thanks--we did have a very enjoyable day. Glad you liked this.

    TFE: I love the phrase "idle gongs booming in the darkness of vanity." & I too like my poems with cars in them a lot of the time. Thanks.

    Dave: I agree. It's a poem that's not only well crafted, but also carries wit & feeling--no easy task in such a concise offering.

  8. This poem is fantastic...thanks for bringing Josephine Miles to light!

  9. Hi T: You're welcome. Ms Miles' books are I believe more or less out of print, but they do turn up in used bookstores, & I did notice the collected poems is on Amazon starting at around $26 (hardcover, tho). She is worth reading for sure.

  10. Great poem. I love it when someone master's a short form. Sara Teasdale and -- believe it or not -- Whitman come to mind. ST has a special place in my heart because my son read one of her poems at T.'s and my wedding.


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