University of Texas at El Paso

Joe Mills





Before the bee was scooped

into the car and hit me

in the thigh, so I let go

of the steering wheel,


we had been listening

to Seger, drinking Cokes,

talking about teachers

we would never see again,

the summer air washing

through the station wagon,

the summer sun assuring us

we could choose any direction

and end up somewhere great,


then we were arrowing

through an Indiana corn field

and Danny was screaming







The Watch


I tell my children we’ll stay for one hour,

and as they run from the swings to the slides

to the monkey bars, he walks over and sits

next to me.  We watch my daughter climb

a platform, and, just as she leans for a pole,

she becomes distracted, so she almost steps

into nothingness.  Be careful, I yell.  She looks

over with a familiar expression of annoyance.

Be careful, I repeat, and he laughs.  You can’t

watch them all the time and even if you could

I’ll get them eventually.  I say nothing, but think,

Not today, please, not today, and when I realize

he’s begun looking at the other children, I feel

ashamed at my sense of relief, but still relieved.



A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joe Mills has published two volumes of poetry – Somewhere During the Spin Cycle and Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers.  His third collection, Love and Other Collisions, will be released in March 2010.