Lowell’s Briefcase

By on Oct 4, 2020 in Poetry

Robert Lowell portrait on a briefcase

On the seat beside him,
in the back of the taxicab
where his heart finally stopped,
was the briefcase he never lost.

Unlike lovers, his great troubled mind,
waking in the blue of shame, regret,
a locked razor in his hand,
this birthday present survived

the man himself. More poems were
inside, living fragments, lines,
verses in a day book mixed with
cigarettes, a pair of glasses.

Red dust, rocks pushed up
by an earthquake,
an iron church bell, lines,
sinkers, bloodstained hooks,

the fisherman’s net was still there
to cast on the widest water.
His broken body, purple face,
were taken away on a stretcher,

the books of tomorrow unfinished.
He knew the hero came home
at the end, not under full sail
but on a raft, emptyhanded.


Willim Miller's seventh collection of poetry, The Crow Flew between Us, was published by Kelsay Books in fall 2018. His poems have appeared in The Penn Review, The Southern Review, Shenadoah, Prairie Schooner, and West Branch. He lives and writes in the French Quarter of New Orleans.