A Flood is to Come

Humming is our new M.O.
You know, since we have
to keep our mouths closed
and everything,
and the irritating tingle
somehow keeps us engaged.

Besides, there never
is any music around here.

What if the sky suddenly
dropped and everything
was immersed in thunder
clouds? What if one day
everyone suddenly became
afflicted with sleep paralysis?
Wouldn’t they be so horrified?

And the slush is warmed
in the night, suggesting
that a flood is to come.

God, I sure hope so!

It’s a lovely feeling,
this knowledge of being
precarious because
suddenly, everything
is even more immediate
and meaningful.

-r. miller

And So He Waits

The strife of becoming forms
a monstrous edifice that dominates
the image of the winter sky.
The reason why the image appears
blurry is that the pixels aren’t coordinated,
as if drunk on their function
of being one aspect of the whole.
Recently, I’ve assumed the role
of hangman – this page will be the gallows,
and these words each will be a noose.
Sometimes, my tongue loosens
itself to expel a rain of babble
so thick that it could be a noxious gas
hovering above a bay who’s locked
in perpetual night, and at the right moment,
disperses to reveal a moody stretch of water.
The wretched shore extends
eternally, it seems –
the moon screams from its charred blanket,
trapped as it is, wanting to jump
from its perch and into the tepid fluid
that fondles the sand.
Standing alone on a night like this
spells danger for the stranger with blood
on his palms, who also has no qualms
about leaping headfirst into the water
if it means eluding his pursuers.
The lucid dream of living piles up around him
with astounding resolve,
brick by caustic brick. The ensuing sickness
explains his hesitation on that shore.
What’s more, is that whether he jumps or not,
his ultimate fate remains the same.
So he waits, and he waits, and he waits.
The difference between waiting and doing
is the lack of distractions.
In the distance, a train clacks
along a rusted track toward
its appointed destination,
and cars are humming, idling at the crossing,
anticipating the lifting of the flashing bars
granting them access to the opposite side.

-r. miller

The Privilege of Knowing

Unwashed hands cupping
broken bands of light,
the subtle interplay of color
against this swollen backdrop.

The blacktop extends farther
than the eyes can reach,
the beach dips silently
beneath the sea.

None so cautious as we,
tethered to these nether-
regions with the tenacity
of a splinter of wood

nestled under the initial layer of skin.
The players are all useless,
wiped out and anxious,
wringing blue from tonight’s damp fabric.

The fabricated friction warms
only the slightest of heads,
and where the street dead ends,
we’ll get our answer there.

We came armed with a burning air,
chests up, raging
against social hierarchies
and the concept of disease.

And when these failed
to garner any appeal,
the game rearranged.
The changes, marginal,

hoisted like dusty pennants
upon the mast of our dissatisfaction.
The sense of my shoes
losing traction, and inaction

smoldering in the sheets.
And of course, the rain became sleet
in the bitterness. Whatever
is left over is ours to keep,

and we keep what distracts us.
Compilations of facts,
picture pop stars,
anecdotes and allegories,

the histories of lost cultures.
A coven of vultures hovers above
the carrion field, hunger tinting
their feathers, and now

we’re unsure on whether or not
to proceed. What happens
when the strength of the need

outweighs simple logic?
Will we be given the privilege of knowing?

-r. miller

-r. mei

Our Duty

The fiction presents its otherness,
an oppressive regimen.
Gestures, exhausted of potency,
point to newer states of indecision.
And therein rests the failure

of the transition, but we can’t
even think to mobilize against it.
Such is our way.
As the points of origin,
our duty is to the fiction,

to preserve it at all costs,
and ensure its flourishing,
even at the expense
of our own flourishing,
which is now the case.

This electrical current will slowly
erase all traces of a good time.
Did we have a good time?
The blue of a flowering sky
didn’t seem to provide one,

but that’s just how it goes.
As for the little bunches of weeds
you left on the door step,
these have gone sour
in the even sourer light

of September. I don’t think
they’ll be appreciated.
Our new sensibility was
an indecency that churned
within, the chopping block

set out in the village square
as if to impose the will
of those all seeing others
we learn to adore.
The more we see,

the less we are seen.
But here’s where it gets
interesting – every stumble,
every faux-pas in your life
has molded your perception

in profound yet imperceptible ways.
The unshakable allure
of errors and glitches
stuck to your eyelids
like exit wounds.

And what was that tune we used to sing
when things bubbled to a climax?
Our stage is set for newer acts,
newer scenarios to burn through
this stockpile of moments.

-r. miller

-r. miller

A Ruinous Trance

So much for these drafty walls
which comprise the halls
which comprise the house
of my paper head.

There are moments, once dead,
which now flare up
in a ruinous trance,
a dance of syllables

along the line.
Undoubtedly mine,
but how exhausting –
plumes of withering summer.

-r. miller

Lament

I have a weak heart, a heart
which thankfully comes
with an off-switch. Alone,
with my kitschy morality,
I bide my time, stuffing my tongue
with wads of tissue.
A government issue haiku
for my page of exhaustion,
fallacious rage misplaced
and steered clear
into the city’s center.
I come face to face
with my tormentor only to realize
we share the same face.
I waste him in a crash bang
of expletives. I make a mental note
of the encounter. Now,
a fountain shoots viscous streams
of petroleum into my withering eyes,
eyes stamped with half-
hearted goodbyes
and discredited truths.

-r. miller

Ted Campbell vs. Oblivion

Ted Campbell steps out into a night of unprecedented cold. With shivering hands, he pulls a single Marlboro Red from a battered pack, drowsily slides it into his mouth, and lights it. There’s an understated breeze, which nevertheless makes it difficult for Ted to get a proper flame from his Zippo lighter. Without fully understanding why, Ted is seized by the feeling that this will be his final cigarette. He sighs. He wasn’t expecting such cold, so he’s without a coat, and he regrets his complete lack of foresight. The night is dark – darker than anything he’s ever seen or experienced. It’s as if some massive cosmic hand had wrapped around the world and was squeezing and squeezing and squeezing. Ted isn’t exactly sure why he left the warmth and light of his home for this, this ego rending darkness, and yet here he is, compelled by instinct or duty or some other vague idea he no longer fully comprehends. These things are just words after all, and what is a word divorced from its meaning? Ted Campbell takes one more drag of his cigarette, his last cigarette, and flicks it into the void. He glimpses the red glow of the ember swirl round for but a second before it’s dissolved in the immeasurable, unfathomable black. Taking a deep, meaningful breath, Ted steps forward –

-r. miller