11.27.17

Standard

On the surface, pills to gather,
a certain shade of mockery.
I plummet starving to wintry depths.
I in my might disclosing whims.

Whispers on the backtrack beat
sudden snow and polygons.
Delouse the forgeries
replete with best intentions
and the gullet bursts.

Sonatas, corpus, grafting.

My bothered blood lifting me…
Le sourire d’une saison morte.

-r. miller

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11.24.17

Standard

What is it that looms beyond
these minutes, that ambiguous presence
whose splayed hand contains
the rain storms and metallic suns
of Decembers past? When
did I see you last? It might have been
in the corridors of a dream,
but I have no proof of this. Rather,
what I have is a sequence of colors
and their corresponding sounds.
This room, lit by the little miracle
of your once-being-here, a dull glow
steadily tapering into darkness.
I had some things I’d wanted to tell you.
Do they still matter? Surely
the fact that they persistently arise
in my gutted heart like frost
on leaves of grass counts for something.
Not much, I’d reckon, but
my own reckoning is of equal worth.
I’d like to look you in the eyes again.
I’d like the feel of your lips
against mine for the first time
and every time after.
I’d like for you to know definitively
that I’ve been thinking about you.

-r. miller

Sunrise at midnight

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Hey. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Years, I reckon. Years which have only stoked the brushfire that is your absence. That might be too literary a way of putting it, but you know me. That’s how my brain works. I only really know what to say when there’s a pen in my hand and a fresh sheet of paper in front of me. My conversational ineptitude should come as no surprise.

Anyway, do you remember the last time we saw each other? It was a cold December night, like I said, years ago. You were home, visiting your parents for the holidays. I remember you texted me, asked if we could catch up. I didn’t tell you this at the time, but I was… To put it frankly, elated. I was elated because then, much like now, it had been years since I had seen you.

So all of those old feelings began welling up. Feelings that I’d developed for you, and that I then actively tried to suppress because I wasn’t quite ready for them. And of course, I told you “Sure, let’s meet somewhere,” and you suggested the old diner that we used to go to, way back when. I drove the forty minutes. You met me in the parking lot.

I remember thinking how stunning you looked… You were wearing a charcoal pencil skirt and a scarlet blouse, with a matching shade of lipstick. Your chocolate hair fell in airy waves about your shoulders… God, you looked so beautiful… And then I remember thinking that you were very likely always this beautiful, and I was simply too miserable to appreciate it. Those old feelings welled up even stronger now, but I tried to play disinterested. First mistake. When you saw me, you rushed up and threw your arms around my neck. I politely reciprocated your embrace, only for a brief moment before shyly pulling away. Second mistake.

We got a booth, the one you always liked, by the window that looks out over the main drag. You always loved watching the road, especially late at night, when there were only a handful of motorists out at any given time, and the entire scene became an incandescent panorama of streetlamps and big box store signs. You said it relaxed you. Given what a shit I was back then, I’d say you needed it.

We talked about what was going on in our lives. You, about your recent broken engagement and how hard it was finding an affordable apartment in the city; me about my new job and the poems which had recently been accepted for publication. We talked about the old days, too, before my stupid, juvenile hang-ups made a mess of everything. And as we were talking, I couldn’t help but marvel at the changes in you that had taken place since we broke it off. You seemed much freer, much more at ease with yourself. No longer the insecure girl you’d been before.

And then I thought about how little I’d changed. Because I was falling in love with you all over again, and I was just as frightened of it now as I was so many years ago. Surely you’d noticed. It was so obvious. The fact that I stammered ever so slightly at the start of each sentence, that I fidgeted with every container of half-and-half I’d dump into my coffee, and the lovelorn looks that would manifest on my face whenever our gazes met.

Why was I so afraid? It would have been so easy to just confess right there how I felt about you. The most natural thing in the world, and yet… I resisted. I grabbed that impulse by the neck, lopped off its plump head, watched the blood drain from the stump and soak the carpet of my imagination. Third mistake.

You walked in front of me to the counter when it came time to pay for our food. There was something sensual in the way you moved. Instantly, a myriad lascivious ideas swept over me: I wanted you more than I’d ever wanted anyone. Still, I kept quiet, though now it was because I was utterly ashamed to be thinking those kinds of thoughts about you, the poised and confident woman you’d become. I offered to pay for the both of us, in recompense for my transgression. “Such a gentleman,” you said. Not really.

I walked you to your car. A light snow was beginning to fall, the first of the season in all its underwhelming glory. We hugged once more, and this time, I held on just a little longer, allowing the feeling of you in my arms to penetrate every inch of my body. And as I reluctantly pulled away, our gazes met yet again. I could live forever in your gaze, you know. But… There was definitely a magnetism between us that night, because you thrust your lips against mine. I shut my eyes, felt the two of us dissolving into that kiss, and for a full minute, that kiss is all that existed.

I had to catch my breath after you pulled away. There was such an intense glow and warmth about you. It felt like a sunrise at midnight. All I wanted then was to let all of those feelings out, to run away with you to New York, Paris, Tokyo, anywhere that we’d dreamed of. But I didn’t. And all that remained for us was silence. You finally said goodbye, got into your car, and drove off. I lit up a smoke and drove my own way, forty minutes back, listening to “Sky High” by Ben Folds Five.

-r. miller

11.17.17

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One more narrative thrust.
Certain kinds of trust
ramble along the mind’s interior
without any introduction,
doing their own thing,
singing careless hymns.
More often, I’m startled
by the grim face I always seem
to be wearing when
the angels come jostling.
Time for a new hustle.
Autumn wives rustle fingerprints
with slick and sinewy
motions of the spine.
Further down the line,
my memory begins
to anthologize itself
and gets real dickish about it.
Just once, I’d like to sleep
through my alarms.
My anxieties.
The feeding frenzy in my chest.

-r. miller

11.13.17

Standard

Distracted by the pangs,
not a moment in sight
to advance splinters.
Dawn fringes
astride the weight of the womb.
Jurisdiction matters in our life across the hall.
The wall reaches out to touch
where our faces have been,
and in a manner of speaking.
Nothing was my discovery.
It might be that description matters less than I credit it
and that these perspectives are but coarse strokes of brush
that manifest an unsteady portrait.
It’s true my eyes are water
and so too my fingers, thrumming
hard gloss of book
while energy degrades energy
beneath a beguiling moon.

-r. miller

The View

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“So are we really doing this?”

A savage gust of November wind claws through the fibers of my wool peacoat, and I brace reflexively against it. I turn toward Rodney, whose resolute gaze is trained on the dilapidated plantation-style house looming like a vampire waiting to feed. He exudes a peculiar calmness as he puffs at his cigarette. Meanwhile, I can barely keep myself from doubling over with anxiety. How is he so calm right now?

“Of course we are,” he responds, finally. Not even a modicum of nervousness in his voice.

“Okay, but can I ask why?”

“We’ve already been over this. Because it’s necessary.”

“Yeah, you mentioned, but… I’m not sure I understand your grounds for making that assertion. ‘Because it’s necessary’ is hardly what I’d consider a self-evident truth. Not in this instance.”

Rodney takes a slow and gradual breath, as if intending to draw the cold into his body. I tremblingly fish around my pockets for a cigarette.

“Donny, you’re welcome to wait in the car. Relax in warmth and security, listen to music. Hell, smoke another joint for all I care. But this is inevitable. With or without you, this is ending the same way.”
A shiver storms my bones. I take another look at the house. To a certain extent, I can see his point. As I’ve said, it’s a rotten, crumbling place. The house sits in an isolated acre of dry meadow, if it’s still even a meadow at this point, surrounded by dense hemlock forest, and vastly removed from the rest of civilization, or even any main roads. I don’t know the exact history of the structure, but I think it was built sometime a little over a century ago, and has only ever had one family call it home. I forget what happened. I can surmise that it must have been bad, because its original occupants left or disappeared, and it hasn’t had any new ones since. It’s just been sitting here, leisurely degrading.

“No, I said I would help, and I stand by that. Just… I can’t help but feel slightly apprehensive, man. This is serious shit we’re about to get into, you understand that. Right?”

Rodney nods and continues puffing his cigarette. “I wouldn’t be so committed if it weren’t ‘serious shit.”

“God damn it, Rod…” By this point, I’ve managed to light my cigarette, taking drag after fretful drag. Come to think of it, Rodney always has been the more decisive of the two of us. Ever since we were kids. He was never one to back down from anything, no matter how utterly nerve-wracking. It was him, after all, who’d convinced me to cross the rickety wooden bridge that spanned the Big Creek to the lookout point with a breathtaking view of the entire valley in which our hometown is nestled.

“You won’t regret this, dude,” he’d kept telling me, while I stood transfixed on that dubious length of planks. I thought surely it couldn’t support the force of two nine-year-old boys as they traipsed across. Despite my best efforts, I was assailed by visions of myself breaking through the wood and plunging twenty feet onto the rough, dark rocks protruding to the surface of the water. But Rodney kept goading, and eventually, I yielded. He was right, it turns out. To this day, I have not had a single regret about crossing that bridge, nor our harrowing trek up steep inclines, through brambles and thorns.

But he’d been wild and enthusiastic in that moment. Now, he’s grave, determined. I honestly intimidated. But, fuck it , I’d made a promise to my friend that we would see this through together, and I was going to keep it. Sensitive nerves be damned.

“Okay,” I pant, “Let’s just do this.” I glimpse a satisfied smile flash across Rodney’s face. He picks up the aluminum canister which had been resting near his feet, and together, we march to our destiny.

——————

Twenty minutes later, and the sun is just beginning its ascent over the shadowy hemlocks. Rodney and I are leaning against the hood of his 2008 Ford, admiring our handiwork over a celebratory joint. It’s breathtaking, really. The exuberant flames feasting upon the old wood, the billows of lush smoke steadily smothering the dawn sky. I’d like to put it all on a postcard.

“And this was absolutely necessary?” I ask, passing the roach over to Rodney. He accepts it, brings it to his lips, and inhales deeply.

“Of course it was. But… Does it really matter?” Something like pride courses through his voice, “Just look at that view.”

“Fair enough,” I nod. He’s right. The view was worth it.

-r. miller