Oakland Poet: D. Scot Miller

December 18, 2009

D. Scot Miller is a Bay Area writer, visual artist, teacher and curator. He sits on the board of directors of nocturnes review, and is a regular contributor to The East Bay Express, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Popmatters, and Mosaic Magazine. He is currently completing a book of poems (cool), his Afro-surreal novel, Knot Frum Hear, and has recently published his old fashioned manifesto simply titled: AfroSurreal.

I asked him about how Oakland has influenced his creative process and what he's working on.

"I'd been living in Oakland, talking care of my newborn son, when I finally found the peace and the community I needed to start writing poetry again. At the time, I was neighbors with Marc Bamuthi Joseph, right down the street from giovanni singleton, and would see Victor LaValle or Ishmael Reed walking around The Lake.

There was something about the schedule (Early bedtimes, consistent meals, plenty of fresh air) that seemed anathema to the "poetic process" of my younger days in San Francisco (which was just the opposite). There were actually more places to read my work in Oakland, and more people who "got me" when I did. I began to produce serious, internal works along with "out-loud" pieces.

Right now, I'm looking for more places to read my work and seeking collaborators (co-conspirators?) for public pieces in larger spaces: theaters, studios, galleries...oh, and an agent. man, I need an agent!"

mari mac all drest
in blak
twist dove body
til he neck snap
put bird beak
o’er my teeth
forced to say
just words of peace

All The Copper
Alone or clustered
in gutters
on corners
around payphones.
I pick up pennies
tails or heads up
shining or covered in muck.
Resting in my hand
from forty-five years ago
beginning, becoming
in supple brown
almost like chocolate.
Almost like wood,
but red
corpuscles passed along
daily in
America’s veins
The penny is the only copper coin here.
I line it up next to a nickel, a dime, a quarter
on my cluttered desk.
Next to the white metals
I recall its names:
awaiting an imminent parcel lunged from a truck bed
body braced, buckle-kneed from the weight that is and will be
Spat out of our memory like the gnarled southern drawl
that spat it in
the aftertaste is a disgust and shame
that lingers
leaving forty-nine pennies on a garbage can
Old Abe
Unshaven and thin
Facing east while the others
clean shaven and plump
face west
I rub my chin
copper wire whiskers
beginning, becoming
I brush the coins
into my Bazooka Joe tin
take them to the grocery store
and cash them in.
I buy potato chips
a pack of smokes
a bottle of wine
I sit on the stoop
smoking and drinking
watching the cars go by
like an inventory
of my umber worth.

Afro-surreal Generation

The energy went to building Tupac and Biggie Smalls
Pez dispensers,
Sun Ra and Henry Dumas facing each other
on a palette of twilight,
Derby hats, burkas and
And remember its thronged
The pressing of face and corpuscular beat. The rush
to connect to
those eyes,
that coat,
those sandals,
tattooed knuckles.
Wonder how much done for
How much done for
lack of.


Her father was
her husband. He’d
call before he’d visit.
‘cause I’m a black boy kissing
her pink face, flushed.
hide in the attic
in my boxers.
I had no idea what damage I was doing
to myself.
His furrowed voice
the smell of our sex
as walls filled with muffled new moans reverberated
inconclusive evidence.
I did not know who was getting screwed or why.
He’d leave and
she and
her mother and
me would laugh at
the cuckold
Once a week,
for years,
I’d fall in love with revenge.
Skewered on the
picket fence.


Awakened brother catatonic
deified expletive
flayed gargoyle
heathen icon
jack-of-all-trades jaded jalouse jargon
jejune jewelry jiggle joker jockey
jouissance journeyman juvenile joyride
jubilee juke jump juncture juxtapose
karmakennel lefthandedleitmotif
machismomania nabobnarcosis
obtuse patina
quirky razor satyr
tightlipped usher
village wand
Xenophobe Y Zerosumgame

Align with the single star
boxed in the mighty voice
jackpot spills in orbs and cubes
into black cashmere sacks with glowing
blue brims
we remove the mirrored funnel,
open the beaten and stamped package
wrapped in copper.
smear cobalt across our palms.
snippets of paper crinkles
feet shuffling sand, on wood,
on granite,
a guttural wail
of shuddering light rails with
teeth mashing.
What worlds exist through
the pinhole?
Did you ever place your pupil
flat the screen?
That dot of light,
on the television,
right after you
turn it
It’s just your memory now.

Oakland Poets is our weekly feature highlighting The Town's talented wordsmiths. If you know someone we should feature or would like your work considered, emailKwan@oaklandlocal.com.