Belief

By Josephine Miles 1911–1985 Josephine Miles
Mother said to call her if the H-bomb exploded
And I said I would, and it about did
When Louis my brother robbed a service station
And lay cursing on the oily cement in handcuffs.

But by that time it was too late to tell Mother,
She was too sick to worry the life out of her
Over why why. Causation is sequence
And everything is one thing after another.

Besides, my other brother, Eddie, had got to be President,
And you can't ask too much of one family.
The chances were as good for a good future
As bad for a bad one.

Therefore it was surprising that, as we kept the newspapers from Mother,
She died feeling responsible for a disaster unverified,
Murmuring, in her sleep as it seemed, the ancient slogan
Noblesse oblige.

Josephine Miles, “Belief” from Collected Poems. Copyright � 1983 by Josephine Miles. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Illinois Press.


Source: Collected Poems 1930-83 (1983)

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Poet Josephine Miles 1911–1985

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects War & Conflict, Faith & Doubt, Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Crime & Punishment, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Josephine  Miles

Biography

Lifelong California resident Josephine Miles distinguished herself as an educator, spending her entire academic career at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was the first woman to be tenured in the English department. She is remembered as the editor of anthologies and critical texts, as an author of books on poetic style and language, and as an award-winning poet who produced over a dozen books of poems. Her . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Faith & Doubt, Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Crime & Punishment, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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