Tuesday 16 January 2024

Five Poems by Esmorie Miller



One Less Looking Glass

Pass(ing) on

Gone, from here








A reluctant acceptance: the move forward tethered to leaving her behind

Now continues a generation: with one less looking glass through which to view the world

Pass(ing) on: an ineluctable fact of life




Missing pieces

and stilled, by constant recall

The struggle forward, eclipsed only by a desire to carry out

Carry on

Counting blessings

Mastering talents

But absent protector, contesting anarchy, we are alone

Though, these all are the strife of ages

Acceding: recognising change

Assuming: legacies

Present(ing): roles defined only by uncertainty now




Love, linked across time, we move, carrying on

Steadfast, and reaching forward

One less looking glass: lessons assimilating




We are left standing, but tall

 Scales calibrating, falling, measured

Exchange(ing): one less looking glass



For Mothers & Fathers & Other Folks who Parent

For the importance of mothers and fathers and other folks who parent

For your nurture of important ties that bind

For your attentive gaze

Like sunshine

Blessing the earth

For your sourcing of life

For your cultivation of fragile seeds otherwise lost in times marked by gross perversities

For your toil against fault

Without your time spent in re/dress, we are lost for love and confined to dreams of distaste


For our longhaul drives from Blenheim, Hanover, to Kington’s Hope zoo

Entertaining and entertained by tiny, playful, large eyed primates, unrepentantly caged, sucklings, snuggled closely into the protective bosoms of parenting types whose resentful stares screamed accusations regarding their Hope/less confinement

For your contribution to our — at last enlightened age — to our protest of what once appeared entertaining

For your contribution to our ability to question the symbolism of a cage named Hope


For your Saturday morning wakeup calls 

Those blessed Sabbath Days of rest

Where most creation laid, deliberately, ceremoniously, tantalisingly — outside our reach, and our only sources of entertainment were those circumscribed holy and righteous

For lessons quartered out, across the years, which — as it turns out — reinforces our present ability to dedicate, commit, and proceed

These things now well celebrated, even amid our current steadfast repudiation of devotion

For your inability to curb our enthusiasm after sunset, as our raised, defiant voices argued freely — and often without chastisement from you — about the latest Reggae dance craze

Despite their usual designation of unholy and unrighteous

As with the sunset, we danced them mighty beats, trampling upon our earlier well pressed, now discarded, Saturday bests

For Your devotion to Our freedom to choose


For those whose parental fortunes are mislaid in time

Those whose mothers and fathers and other parental types failed to go their way

Failed to stand up, and ward off unfavourable circumstances

For those whose parental fortunes are otherwise confounded — no room for fault

Those exposed, without protection, to life’s sad refrains

Displayed upon misery’s torrid sidewalks

Homeless youth: ‘Spare some change sir?’

Animated hustler: ‘Will work for pay ma’am’

Sanguine contender: ‘Hungry and homeless, please show mercy and kindness, dear stranger’

For lives unknown to love and praise, seasoned to punishment and are the butts of bitter complaints

But whose fortitude yet remain firm — & grounded

For dreams of an/other & wise(ly), carefully structured life

For working towards something greater

For looking forward, always, with Hope


An Ode For my Friends on (Our) Precarity

Step one…

…on the way down

sucked through green starred straws

grande, tall, venti, cupped

dribbled out, falling in tiny flecks

Splatter by splatter

Splashed out, upon crowded, busy sidewalks

where precarity casts its widening net

 waiting down where it captures and holds the tiny drops of

eternal effort, no longer recognized

when all is gone

when the streets become home again.


Step two…

…on his way down?

the man at the library corner

stands, back against a door that does not open

for admission

a door marked only for exit

for evacuation, infernal, premeditated,

 attempts to escape the fires which burn you out

onto pavements where wily skateboarders

practice unsafe, unsound, passes

where cracks convey their bloody efforts

like tributaries seeking deeper waters

today, again, the man stands still by his exit point

posing with possessions

today a bag, joining yesterday’s box

with clear postal labels

splatter by splatter he goes!

clinging to the pavement

What should I do?


Step three…

…day 25: a descent, down,

on his luck, on the ground?

why stands he there?

by the path where the purposive, incessant footfalls

of 9to5/vers wage daily war with the pavement 

mornings, afternoons, evenings

and he sees me, staring, intrusive!

I look away, what can I do?


Step four…

…has it been a month, already?

four weeks he sat: waiting? paused?

hanging, precariously?

and now it has come to be

that time of the year, just before autumn

when the summer season, having settled itself in

has to rouse itself up, dig itself out

and head elsewhere, making way for change

where will he go, when the bitter unsociable winter

engulfs the Docklands at Surrey Quays?



Creator, I am Contrasted and Juxtaposed!

I. Creator, I want to check in, regarding the material you chose, these threads of black, white, and blue: these confounded colours. So Blackened has been my characterisation, I find myself always bruised, of black and blue! Did you know I would be? Did you know that in this life, I would be constantly contrasted and Juxtaposed? I have become Black versus White; Black against White; accumulating bruises; I am Black, bruised, blue.


II. Contrasted: To be contrasted I am considered an opposite, an antithesis, a foil. The definition can be solidified by using the word contrast in a sentence: It goes like this — ‘vivacious and highly intelligent, Jane was a complete contrast to Sarah.’ To be contrasted, is to be ‘other’, to been seen or depicted as a separate form from that which is most desired, or normative, or good. The nature of contrast is not a middle ground, a centre position, and this is seen in the use of the word in a sentence, in how the character of Sarah is described as complete in her difference from the desired, normal Jane whose description as vivacious and highly intelligent really brings home what Sarah is not. Contrasted to Jane, Sarah is less than, an antithesis of normal, less than desirable: Sarah is opposite.


III. Juxtaposed: To be juxtaposed is to be placed close together — these days as subjects versus subject and long ago as subject versus object; the aim has always been to achieve a contrasting effect, to emphasise difference. We can refer back to Sarah and Jane, to get a sense of what it might mean for subjects to be juxtaposed for the purpose of contrast. Sarah’s juxtaposition to Jane concerns both what is and what is not, the juxtaposition is intended to emphasise Jane’s superior qualities and Sarah’s importune, though subjective position, which while easily categorised as inferior to Jane, is more accurately concluded as: Sarah’s difference. For the ultimate outcome of being juxtaposed, while Sarah might be seen as Jane’s inferior, Sarah is also effectively regarded as a subject against whom being desired, normative, and good is measured and reinforced: Sarah is the foil.


Creator, I want to check in with you, to ask, did you know that Black and White would be so starkly contrasted and juxtaposed?


To Be Continued


A Cleansing by Fire, Known also as Grief


I brought the same with me

Here, to yet another place

I brought the same

This thirst for change

An ambition

 at once filtered through prisms marked by hesitation


But what a defiant investment in solitude

I recall now the sadness I incubated, in the house on Erb Street

Among Thursday evening housemate dinners, stirred fried hopes, grilled cheese expectations

A macabre, imprecise, indifference


I brought the same

This constant, unsettled repose

Delivered from the ashes of desires now razed to the ground

Desires now burnt through

By at once, too little, and too many sad refrains


I see days with mostly darkness

I see nights as bright as day

The same cleansing by fire, known also as grief


Esmorie Miller is a lecturer in Criminology, at Lancaster University. She has recently relocated to a rural seaside village, having previously lived in London. This big move has stimulated her creativity.

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