Blood Puppets

I’d prefer to play it cool, baby.

yknow, this stately ventriloquism doesn’t look good on me.

I’m still high, so fuck it; the girls
love it when I play that heavy metal shit
and make sure they’re
a get-on-my-level kind of bitch.

Antiquated models
flicker out like a wet match. At
long fucking
you’ve asked me to embrace the past
and fuel this crusade
on a wave
of red-hot

There’s no immediate danger, but
you might want to step back.

I’ve attacked these walls so many times, and
the blast radius isn’t known
for its pretty colors.

If you were any other
type of girl
we’d already be dancing to the proximity mine explosions.

Syncopated showmanship, but
there’s no balaclavas in the amphitheater.

I know its last minute, but your nighttime clothing
will have to suffice–but, baby, don’t
you dare wear white.

This is a fucking horror show
you’ve signed up for, and
we don’t discriminate
bloodletting animals.

Cannibalistic performance, and
the witches burn the pure ones
at the fucking

Monsters in the making, and
we’re all out of
silver bullets.

Willie Watt



The weeping willows hadn’t been silent since the night you disappeared. The neighbors filed noise complaints. The fire department dropped by. We’ll just have to cut the trees down, they concluded.

Aman, on the corner, protested. She tied herself to the weeping women. Hush now, habibi, they can’t silence your pain. They arrested her. The trees were torn down. Their bark was sold on Amazon for pain relief.

I still hear the women weep for you. Though you’re not here and they’re not here.

Your brother wrote to me. You left your skin in the-man-who-took-you’s mailbox.

I imagine you out there. Your skinless spine tilting toward the sky.

They never found him guilty. They never found him. You never told. The willows weep. You walk. He walks (faster).

On Facebook you left lyrics as breadcrumbs. I’m sorry if I smiled at you.

Another depressing ambiguous status, someone commented.

Are you okay? another asked.

Everyone else just gave thumbs up.

As the witness of your pain, I won’t ever look (away).




and I’m standing on the knife-edge of a drunken populace, and I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to be my friends, or the friends of friends, or I’m supposed to greet them with a smile and welcome them to the alcoholic bohemian reverie – it is my house, after all – but she shows up fashionably late, dressed in black, blending with the crowd, congealing with the monolithic mass of swaying/drinking/sweating bodies, mingling with all these other girls I used to fuck, and she acts like she’s only there for the cheap vodka and the thrill of violating the local fire code.

and there’s an entire bottle of blue hairspray in my follicles, and I’m drifting through the comic book characters and vampires and political archetypes and obscure pop culture references, and there’s a drink in my hand and debilitating nausea in my stomach, and it isn’t because of the triple-distilled whiskey, but because I’m crystal-sure tonight will be another puzzle piece stolen from the cardboard box of sanity, and playing the dangerous hand of authenticity would redact any possibility of grabbing branches in the postmodern turbulence and dragging myself into the watering hole of sincerity, where her revolver-shaped flawless smile doesn’t feel like a bullet to the chest delivered at twenty-four frames per second.

and she’s only been here a few hours, and we’ve barely interacted, and she’s leaving now arm-in-arm with the group she came in with, and I foolishly tied my high to the idea of cracking her code, because even after the sex and the long hikes and the conversations that felt like they meant something I still have no idea how to establish any kind of permanent connection, anything utterly perfect in its imperfection, like it could/should/probably-never-will-be.

and I’ve got her against the wall now, and I can’t remember ever kissing someone like this before, and I hate myself for the unwanted/unwarranted passion, after all the months fortifying defenses specifically for a moment like this, and it all did nothing in the end, and I hate her for kissing me back just as hard, and I hate her for the subtle moan that lights a kaleidoscope under my synapses, and I hate the way her hip curves to the pressure of being thrown against the alabaster and the way she loves it, and I hate her for leaving, clothes on, without a care in the world, after the moment subsides, and I hate her for the tight black dress, the round brown eyes, the way she fucking obliterates every part of me that thought I was past this shit.

Willie Watt


She was tired from the fire. Tired of having no name. No eyes. Just a silhouette sighing in the night.

People make me feel so small, she whispered to Talib.

Talib nodded to her as if she were real. She didn’t know how to tell her that her skin is made of ashes. One gust of wind, and she’s just unseen particles.

At her funeral, Talib called all around to find her name.

I don’t know, they said. She’s just mother of Malik.

She’s always been wife of Kaleb.

Talib lit a candle for a face. The silence rose in a snake of smoke to no real place in particular.


David was dizzy. Probably from drinking. But also from social anxiety. He downed the remainder of a lukewarm Pabst and crushed the can in his palm, shuffling nervously through the crowded living room towards the kitchen for another one. He’d had five already. May as well make it an even six.
There were four Others lingering around the frig, chatting about something. Politics or gossip… Bullshit, basically. If David was going to get a beer, he realized that he’d have to somehow slip between them, interrupt their conversation and – worst case scenario – get sucked into it himself. He heard his heart pounding against his ribcage. Felt his forehead growing warmer. Taking a deep breath, he took an awkward step forward.
“Excuse me,” he mumbled before grasping the handle of the door and pulling it open. The four Others had put their discussion on hold. David’s hands trembled as he fumbled through the loaded frig for a cold Pabst. After some difficulty, he managed to locate one and closed the frig with a barely audible “Sorry.”
“S’okay,” one of the four Others sighed. A girl, probably 19 or 20, with dyed black hair and too much eyeliner. David felt her annoyance in his bones. He’d never seen her before, or most of the people here for that matter. He’d come to this party – against his better judgment – at the behest of his friend Tess, but now, she was nowhere to be found. She’d gone off with some of her other friends shortly after she and David had arrived. He was still pissed at her for this.
She knows I have awful social anxiety, he thought, Why the hell would she just throw me to the wolves like this?
There he was, alone, guzzling Pabst Blue Ribbon, standing in his own little corner on the fringes of a party whose host he’d yet to meet. The alcohol had not produced its intended effect of calming his nerves enough so he could actually engage the other revelers and enjoy himself. He decided to go out on the back deck and do what he normally did in these circumstances – chain smoke.
It was a mild later summer night. The weekend after Labor Day. The air was balmy, the sky was clear and peppered with blazing stars. David stuffed an unlit Camel between his lips. There weren’t a whole lot of Others out there with him. Two girls he didn’t know were cuddled up together on a weathered deck swing. Three guys and another girl stood on the opposite side, laughing and passing around a joint. Hoping he wouldn’t be noticed, David lit his cigarette and slunk into the far corner of the deck. He gazed up at the night sky, trying his best to clear his head. Just keep drinking, he thought.
Some time passed. By now, the three pot smokers had gone inside, the couple on the deck swing had dozed off, and David had smoked roughly five cigarettes. He was working on a sixth. He’d long since finished his beer, but found no desire to get another one. Too many people. Suddenly, he heard his name called from behind. He turned his head. It was Tess.
“David!” She half-shouted, “I have been looking all over for you,” She ambled up to him, spilling some of the contents of her red Solo cup on David’s windbreaker.
“Shit, I’m sorry about that,” she slurred and attempted to rub the stain out with her palm.
“It’s fine,” David forced a semi-smile.
“Why are you out here all by yourself?” Tess asked. The aroma of tequila lingered upon each word.
“I’m not by myself. I made some friends.” David motioned to the passed out couple on the deck swing.
“Honestly, I just needed some air,”
“There’s better air inside!” Tess laughed. She was hammered.
“I’m fine out here,” David tried to assure her, but after some thought, said “Actually… I think I may just jet…”
“What do you mean? Why?”
“I kind of just want to go home, smoke a bowl, and watch Adult Swim.”
“Well how are you gonna get home?” A painfully sincere look of concern came over Tess’ face.
“I dunno. Walk I guess. I only live a few blocks from here.”
“I think you should staaaaaaaaay.” Tess implored, tugging at David’s sleeve as if that would suffice as a convincing argument to persuade him. ”
“Tess…” David began, carefully going over in his head what he was about to say, “Tess, I really didn’t want to come here in the first place. But you swore – swore – that it’d be fun, that we’d have a good time, and I’d be glad I came. Then, as soon as we get here, you go off with your friends and leave me alone amid complete fucking strangers. You know that I have crazy anxiety about this shit. I can’t loosen up. I can’t have fun. Fuck, you’re the first person that I’ve talked to in the two and a half hours that have gone by since we got here,” David exhaled deeply. The two were silent.
“Listen, I’m sorry man…” Tess finally said, “But I still think… ” here she hiccupped, “I still think that you should come back inside and hang out. We’re listening to Converge and push moshing. It’ll be fun!”
“I mean, that’s great and everything, but… I still think I’m just gonna call it a night. I’m just not feeling okay.”
“I understand. Alright David. Be safe getting home. Watch out for hoodlums!” The two friends hugged briefly and bid each other farewell. David walked down the steps of the deck to the backyard, then through the gate and finally onto the sidewalk. He lit himself another cigarette, inhaling deeply, and savoring the robust flavor of genuine Turkish tobacco. He blew a thick plume of smoke at the night sky, which now seemed much clearer, more inviting. Feeling calmer, David started for home.

-r. miller

Jeremy and the Cockroach

Jeremy focused on the bloated carcass of a cockroach resting serenely in the grass near the headstone of someone he’d never known.

The name on the stone read “William J. Wilson,” and he’d been born in 1912, died 78 years later.

This was irrelevant to Jeremy, who was fixated on the roach carcass in the grass. It’s glistening black bulk was swarmed by numberless ants, small enough themselves that roach they feasted on probably seemed a behemoth.

It was a piercing, clear afternoon. The sky, a cold blue with pure white clouds scattered like sailing ships. This was also irrelevant to Jeremy. He’d ingested six hits of acid roughly four hours ago, and he’d already had his fill of the sky. Now, he wanted to examine the roach.

The way the ants moved about lent the impression that they were springing forth from the very bowels of the dead thing, and then marching back within. Emerging and then returning, emerging and then returning. And how fluidly they went about this! Emerging and then returning. The perpetual movements of birth and death.

Jeremy entertained himself with the thought of this hungry swarm of ants gestating in the belly of this massive cockroach, gnawing their way through its innards and bursting forth in brilliant procession. Devouring the flesh of their surrogate mother and when sufficiently gorged, returning to her rotten womb to drift satisfied into their eternal slumber. Their decaying particles would nourish a new brood of ants, and the cycle would repeat.

Jeremy smiled.

“How wonderful life is!”

-r. miller

The Long Road Home

There’s something cold about the way he kisses me, soft twin bows cool on my spine, or perhaps it is the skin itself, so unused to the high north chill, that recoils and quakes at the simple touch of wind, door frames, quiet embraces where I don’t expect them. He, a half-conscious agitation of dreams and uneven breathing, winds himself around me and fits his head in the curve of my neck. I remember 500-piece puzzle sets I used to assemble when I was small, stubborn hands jamming the wrong pieces together and trying to fashion a picture that gave sense to the mess of edges and empty space.

My foreign words are fluent now, smooth expressions of nebulous constellations, but for the life of me I cannot translate this: his assured sleep and blithe sighs while I try to slide myself from under his arm and out the door, telling myself that it’s simpler if tonight’s the only collateral damage to account for. We, embodiment of continental drift, Pangaea disassembled by convection and slow subterranean waves, dreamed of love infallible, unwinding over the ocean until one of us found our way home.

He stirs the moment I put my first foot into the night, bleary gaze taking in my half-obscured silhouette inching over the ledge. He grips my hand and tries to pull me back, consciousness dawning quickly now, and I lean to kiss his neck. “I’ll come back for you,” I said, and closed the window on his fingers.