Prose poetry by Teresa K. Miller
“They are so still you can pet the fuzz, but they shudder// I turned the desk on the slant to roll toward it instead of away/ only the corner of the corkboard stayed on the wall// Portuguese acres of gnarled brown trees/ bark peeled off in wide black rings// In every storefront a church and a man who wants to walk me home to my boyfriend because my skin is so soft// Except there is no cure, only desperate offerings/ oxygen therapy, elimination diet, blood transfusion, chelation// We speak in tongues, writhe on the ground/ broken headed//”
The death of a parent by vehicular homicide, the difficulty of meeting the needs of children with severe autism, the dissolution of identity and relationships in an era of unending genocide and terror by war — these three poetic sequences piece together an intimate mourning, circuitous and sewn, a symptom of grief and the recursive process of grieving. Each poem of this assured debut, encoded by fragmentary attentions that surface before the mind shuts out all signals of time passing without the missing, is a crystalline approximation of coping with loss. Through an exacting poetics of impression and submerge, sped sutures broken thoughts, snippets of conversation, incidents both witnessed and obscured into unexpected configurations until the scar that remains becomes yet another facet language can’t account for.
Cover art by Augustine Kofie
“Weaving these individual threads into a single plait, Miller’s form highlights her expansive entanglements, as well as her singular focused journey through mourning. ... What a gripping debut Sidebrow Books in San Francisco has recently released.” —Katrina Roberts, Los Angeles Review of Books
“In sped’s last units, when many of the themes of the book begin to be drawn together, you learn that you have absorbed the fragments and made them whole inside you without fully knowing it.” —Dennis James Sweeney, Tarpaulin Sky
Teresa discusses the personal genesis of sped on her website.
Praise for Forever No Lo, the first sequence of sped, previously published as a chapbook from Tarpaulin Sky:
“Miller’s elderly woman on a bus, salutation to a love one, and Iraq War carnage described above all fit together so eerily well — so well that Miller’s implicit suggestion is that these consciousnesses and events not only can belong together, they can be and really are fused. More so than through simple webs of causality, Miller’s chosen events are so compacted they become interior to each other, already dependent in this new arrangement. ... Miller’s Forever No Lo is a sleeper success — wide reaching and bold.” —Haines Eason, American Book Review
A two-time National Poetry Series finalist and graduate of the Mills College MFA program, Teresa K. Miller is the author of sped (Sidebrow, 2013) and Forever No Lo (Tarpaulin Sky, 2008) as well as co-editor of Food First: Selected Writings from 40 Years of Movement Building (Food First Books, 2015). Her poems and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, DIAGRAM, AlterNet, Common Dreams, Entropy, Empty Mirror, and dozens of other publications. Originally from Seattle, she tends a mini orchard near Portland, Oregon. More info at teresakmiller.net.