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February 2008 - Miller
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Donna M. Marbach - 2008

  John N. Miller

                Bringing Home the Breadwinner

Come home, my boy.
Think how much I want you here
with Father gone.

Please come home. Your little brothers need you
more than the world needs one more English teacher.
I've scrimped for you, washed and ironed
other people's clothes, for all your weeks
in college. Dear, I need
a real man in the house. A working man.

Our neighborhood's not safe now,
you know that. I can't do the shopping
after dark, especially with no car.
The butcher's poisoning my meat,
the lady next door spies on me—
I've caught her at it.

Surely you can't love words more than your mother.
Who reads poems and such things?
I'll cook your favorite goulash for you
and we can share our memories
of Father — strong, a man to be respected.
I hadn't known you felt that way about him—
how could I? Terrible
the things you wrote! Those dreams.
Those made-up stories. Those love poems.
Didn't you ever send them to the girls?

My poor Sweetie! Now I know
you need me just as much as I need you.
All those writings. How did you manage
to hide them from me all these years?
They'll make good kindling this winter.
Don't wait till school lets out at Christmas.
I miss you, darling. Come home. Soon.

Arts & Crafts Menu Border - Ca. 1910

Though born in Ohio, John N. Miller grew up in Hawai'i (1937-1951), retired from college teaching (British and American literature, creative writing) in 1997, and now lives with his wife in an elegant geriatric ghetto ("retirement community") in Lexington, VA. Over the past five decades some of his poems have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals.

Formal and Informal Dinners
Place Cards:
"The clever hostess will see that husbands and wives are not seated side by side and even engaged couples should be separated. The hostess either tells each man, as she receives him, the name of the lady he is to escort to dinner or he may find this information on a card in an envelope, addressed to him." ~from New Dinners, ca. 1910.
Elizabeth O. Hiller

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