poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Robert Miltner

I have had a developing interest in prose poetry and when Robert Miltner contacted Plan B Press it seemed like the right time to pursue that interest. Miltner sent two shorter manuscripts and I saw within the two an unrecognized theme, imagination and dream states within the awakened and sleep states of consciousness. Also, I got fantastically excited when I read the phrase “canyons of sleep” in one of the poems. Taking that line as the title, I wove together the threads of two manuscripts into this single more compact and tighter package—to the pleasant surprise of all concerned. The following poem is from Canyons of Sleep, published by Plan B in 2006.



The boy did not fully understand the words either as what they meant or the worlds they implied.

The girl from next door who was older was behind the stadium wrapped up with a new boy in his high school jacket, sleeves with the sports patches covering his arms which were wrapped around the girl from next door who was older, their eyes closed, both past talk now. He saw their lips press hard.

The boy knew this was not about him, or about his mother and father who on Sundays gave him and his sister cocoa and donuts on the back porch while they locked their bedroom door. The boy knew that what he saw was the future, his future too.

But he had no glasses he could use to decode the metaphysics of the boy and the girl from next door who was older, moving and noisy, behind the stadium, stacked one upon the other like cord wood: the smoke, the heat, the fire.

Robert Miltner teaches poetry in the Northeast Ohio MFA Consortium in Creative Writing at Kent State University. He is the author of ten chapbooks—On the Off-Ramp, Seamless Serial Hour, Box of Light, Fellow Traveler, Greatest Hits, Against the Simple, Rock the Boat, Four Crows on a Phone Line, Imperative, and Canyons of Sleep—and a full length book, Hotel Utopia, winner of the New Rivers Press book award, forthcoming in 2011.


Published in Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 2010.