IRON WHEEL by Greg Miller


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This slight volume by the Millsaps College professor, with its semi-formal verse, strikes a generally elegiac tone while brooding over the conflicts of being gay, southern, and religious. ""Word,"" in particular, sets the absolutist anti-gay sentiments of the Baptist South in the historical context of justifying slavery, and imagines suicide as one sad solution. Quieter poems create a collage of memories: doing farm chores with his father, his father cleaning corn husks for kindling, dressing chickens with his grandmother. The barnyard violence of ""Original Sin"" intrudes on an idyll of drinking fresh milk from the source, and the poet begins his deathwatches for friends and relatives, from stroke, old age, and AIDS. Northern places provide natural solace also, from clam-digging in New England to the image of an abandoned glass house, merging with its surroundings. Homosexuality here means both the sadness of a young boy exploited by his predatory teacher (""Poem"") and the lusts of an adult for a ""muscular, bare chested"" but wild ""Panhandler."" At worst, student-profound, Miller's modest verse occasionally rises to a hymnlike beauty.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago