Carly Joy Miller

Ceremonial Psalm



Blessed art the wild boys

who cross reveries, all sweet

milk, sweet tongues.

Leave them, small as pins,

under a sky that folds

like an eyelid.

A kiss quicks a valley

of thirst, and Lord, never

let them thirst.

Must I saint

myself at the altar

of your thighs, house

your sweat, cross

myself three times before

bells chime for more

salt. Wound me instead.

With no music left,

play metal and dust

along my false ribs.

Measure my years in plums

and water, stones

and fire. In grief.

River my grief.

Blessed art the drowned

boys, shot

boys, boys with shoulders

wide as wandering

albatross. In fable,

hours drear on

with no sound.

Wound me into a thousand

clouded rooms occupied

with boys I could love.

If not for restraint.

If not for whims.

Each boy creases

his room, mercies

a corner in waiting.

Each lover I name

Lord. Each Lord a new

ceremonial of wings.

Brute Litany



If gourded, if brooded,

my Brute, grant me


grace: Carousel

of knives. Gossamered


peach undressed

to pith. A glint


of skin: Velvet

your horns against


my thigh. An antlered

opus: Moon water


against reeds.

How blue. Caged


where lake frosts

the throat. Can’t you


hear the rigging,

my ichored o


my murmurous one?

Like animals, choked on fruit.


CARLY JOY MILLER is the author of Ceremonial (Orison Books, 2018), selected by Carl Phillips as the winner of the 2017 Orison Poetry Prize, and the chapbook Like a Beast (Anhinga Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Rick Campbell Chapbook Prize. Her work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Blackbird, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, West Branch and elsewhere. She is a contributing editor for Poetry International and a founding editor of Locked Horn Press