Poetry by John N. Miller

DEAD ENDS

Where the road dead ends
at a look-out point and a steep drop-off,
far below might be a lush valley
peopled once but now abandoned

or almost so, as at Waipio,
or there might be a stark peninsula—
Kalaupapa, with its dwindling
colony of Hansen’s disease victims;

more likely Kalalau,
a valley on Kaua’i,’s Napali Coast,
home to thousands of Hawai’ians
centuries ago, with only shades

of vegetation now, on clear days
when the wind sweeps rain clouds toward the sea;
while by mid-afternoon
shadows pool Pololu Valley’s depth

in North Kohala on the Big Island.
From the look-out you can’t see
remnants of the taro fields
that once sustained doomed settlements

where voices might be rising from the valley—
from hikers on its black sand beach
tiny in the distance, their sounds lost
at road’s end in a vast near-silence

of the wind, perhaps,
or in faint echoes of the waves’ implosions.

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About John N. Miller

A widely unpublished old poet with a promising past, John N. Miller was born in Ohio (1933) but grew up in Hawai’i (1937-1951). He returned to Ohio for his BA at Denison University (Granville, OH); then, after earning his advanced degrees at Stanford, he taught literature and writing at his undergraduate alma mater from 1962 until 1997. He and his wife now live in a retirement community in Lexington, VA.