Hunterdon Poets Workshop: Mary Richardson Miller


     “So I sit on the edge wagging my feet above the abyss.”

                                    Jim Harrison, Bridge

I wish I’d known this bigger than life poet,
I could have been one of his groupies, but
edgy, would have wanted him all to myself.
By the time he died, he looked like
a one-eyed badger beaten up by life,
a survivor kept alive by words, women,
dogs, birds, a lot of food and wine.
Once in Paris with another poet, he ordered
a thirty-nine course meal to go with
eleven bottles of wine and lived
to indulge some more. Edgy is what he was.
While visiting Rome he accused Keats
of sitting too close to his girlfriend on
the Spanish Steps. As much as Harrison admired
Keats’ poems, he felt edgy, didn’t trust Keats
with his girl; still, he overlooked bad behavior
wanted the poet to live and write again.

Edgy is what I like. Edgy is what I am,
but demurely, secretly. I’ve been in love
with Keats since I was fifteen years old,
edgy enough to fall in love with a dead poet,
sitting on the edge of a four poster bed
wagging my feet in time with the rhythm
of “A thing of beauty is a joy forever; /its
loveliness increases / it will never pass into
nothingness…” Like Jim Harrison,
I plan to indulge in life, dangle my feet
over the edge of my deck, dare myself to leap.
But, not before I’ve sung out my heart,
wrung out my dreams, fallen in love
with a few more poets, dead or alive.

Mary Richardson Miller

About the Author

Mary Richardson Miller is the author and photographer of a book inspired by working in Guatemala for seven years, The Women of Candelaria, (Pomegranate Art Books). Her poems have been published in Earth’s Daughters, The Rambler, Vox, the University of Virginia’s Hospital Drive and in their anthology, Formation of Identity; and in the Mayapple Press anthology Love Over Sixty: An Anthology of Women’s Poems; as well as in U.S.1 Worksheets, Verse Daily, and other publications. The Wild Returning is her first collection of poetry. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She attributes her love of poetry to the sound of her grandfather’s voice reading her the poems of Keats, Dickinson, and Yeats beginning when she was four years old.

About the Hunterdon Poets Workshop

“It is necessary to any originality to have the courage to be an amateur.” ~Wallace Stevens

“Imagination is the instrument of compassion.” ~Zbigniew Herbert

The Hunterdon Poets Workshop is a monthly (September-May) Sunday afternoon gathering of published and emerging writers in our community. Our dialogue on poetry crosses generations and cultures, as participants range in age from the early 20s to the mid-90s. Many bring drafts of poems to share or come for a poetry prompt. The workshop size is limited to eight, and members are always thoughtful and encouraging. It’s a privilege for me to help nurture the voices of talented poets and writers in our Workshop.

Vasiliki Katsarou, Instructor