I Don't Know When I Am Anymore by Matthew Milia

I'm the slush gush martyr
Of Keego Harbor
I'm the parter of the frozen Sylvan Lake
Water
And I'm in love with this crooked
Optometrist's daughter

And I don't know when I am anymore

I'm the cameraman
For the abandoned township meeting
Recording how your summer tan
Dissolved to snowy sheeting
Constantly awaking in the sneering bed of exes
We've repositioned Michigan
Now we're nearing the nexus

Still I don't know when I am anymore

And I am eagerly awaiting
Your next installment
And what dreaming of a Cheers reunion
In my old dormitory basement hall meant

But I don't when I am anymore

Date-Stamping Machine by Matthew Milia

The television is a date-stamping machine
It's playing a movie I saw with my dad
When I was fifteen

Some winter break
When every lake was frozen clean
A dirty snow bank, a worried low tank
Of gasoline

The television is filling up with snow
And the dense contents of every night I ever did know
Down Livernois at the Big Boy I let it go
But late at night the reruns bite of the
90s sitcom show

At the library you were a date-stamping machine
You'd stamp my hand when I'd come and stand
Against your desk and lean
In so sweetly, not discreetly nor obscene                         
Aw, my little date-stamping machine

Treadmill by Matthew Milia

I walk through Sylvan Lake at night
I gawk through the window at the TV light
Dripping off the wall of an old friend's parents' bedroom
Slipping down the hall from an old friend's parents' bedroom

Down the flight of stairs where we once lifted a treadmill
Up the flight of stairs back when parents still bought treadmills
And assembled it inside that old friend's parents' bedroom
Trembling with pride of possessions turned to heirlooms

Where the TV light now sifts outs to the dark street
The frigid TV light drifts down onto my dark feet
That creep along the lake
Just like Halloween is broken
A car alarm's awake
And a sleeping car's been woken

Across Sylvan Lake
Where I stand in front of this
Large estate where I once had my first kiss
The babysitter lied
The lips had all been flavored
The patriarch had died
My synapses all wavered

In the autumn night

Went Down by Matthew Milia

I turned 27
On the day of the election
Teleported rudely to some movie
We once saw

Despite my soft intentions
And Amtrak missed connections
I never thought you'd hurt me
Or desert me here so raw

You fucked over me
So I will not be seeing you
The way that shit went down's a shame
It's true

I never thought that we
Could be estranged from what we knew
Turns out I didn't know
A thing about you

Maybe you will wise up
When the puddle around your platforms dries up
I don't care, I won't be there
To hear your giggle then

With all your pretty knick-knacks
In your bedroom with my heart attacks
Is where I'll be when you try to see
The love we had back when

You fucked over me
So I will not be seeing you
The way that shit went down's a shame
It's true

I never thought that we
Could be estranged from what we knew
Turns out I didn't know
A thing about you

Song for Paloma by Matthew Milia

Winter rains and window panes
And the banes of my existence
Dish racks and the swishing smacks
Of Paris in the distance

Sign online for a Valentine
Or a version of the New Year
Impersonating some young face of mine
Seen once in her mirror

Paloma has a voice
That is womanly and choice
And throaty in the moment
That she speaks
Met her once or twice
And it always was nice
But I've thought about her
When the midnight sneaks
Off to the vague dark blue
Again

When every brand of love I've bought's been
Marked up and expired
And the smell of pencils keeps me up
When childhood's rewired

I've talked to her till the strange daybreak and dawn
Got reacquainted
I've walked with her on mental sidewalks snowed on
And ice-painted

I've kept a cabinet of French verbs and backup contact lenses
Imaginary rescues that I guard with self-defenses

I sang to her for one whole night
In the silliest of tenses
On some sweet night I'll make her sing for me
As my throat clenches 

Because Paloma has a voice
That is womanly and choice
And throaty in the moment
That she speaks
Met her once or twice
And it always was nice
But I've thought about her
When the midnight sneaks
Off to the vague dark blue
Again

Song for Ben by Matthew Milia

Coffee in the afternoon
Coffee in the evening
Temperature was opportune
You can smell the day's heat leaving

People getting famous
And they jet them to a distant planet
All that remains nameless
Can never be taken for granted

You kiss her and she tastes like gin
She tastes like pine needles
When you kiss she tastes whiskey
But these things don't impede wills

The car window is whistling
Your fingers smell like lighter fluid
The heater's on and hissing
And the equilibrium is humid

Late June and the tents are strewn
All across some lakeshore
All your friends and dividends
They impugn any ache, you're

Breathing in the color
And exhale black and white smoke duller
But beautiful to see
You're just young as you'll ever be

Song for Julie by Matthew Milia

Early winter morning and the moon's up in a gray sky
There's a girl with a duller sun and a black moon to color each eye
Up in Traverse City where the winter is so shitty
And the prettiness of blue ice
Is so sad

When the thaw sneaks in and the snowmobiles sink
Into the lakes
And all winter all you did was drink
And make a few mistakes
You can feel so bad

One night I was driving and the world seemed so conniving
Bit my face and wasted all the blood saved for surviving
Julie was a Catholic in the wrath of young Petoskey
Catholic blood, like summer mud, it's warmed up by the whiskey
And I went to St. Hugo, way downstate in Oakland County
When July comes it dumbs you to just buy into the bounty

Julie, in the summer when you're standing besides
The melted lakes
And everywhere you turn are the whitest of brides
Cutting wedding cakes

Early winter morning and the moon's up in the day sky
There's a girl with a duller sun and a black moon to color each eye

Wanna Turn by Matthew Milia

What keeps you up at night?
Anticipation or the fright?
Is there still a chance you might
Never wanna turn away from
Last year's holy light?

Do you still wear those wings?
The silver ones that I bought you last year?
I suppose those are the sort of things
That get put away
When foreign friends start to appear

I don't think about you down in that booth
In the end when you tried to look so hard
I think about the mornings and your chipped tooth
But I don't care about the truth
If you don't care about my heart

I go down to Waterford alone
I'm taking back the places that were mine
The flea market where faces made of stone
Make it known
The empty space beside me in the line

But I don't think about you down in that window frame
All the snows got in and exposed that risky flame
I don't think about you much of anyplace at all
Last year's holy light is too bright to cling to or view you
At all

What keeps you up at night?
Anticipation or the fright?
Is there still a chance you might
Never wanna turn away from
Last year's holy light?

'Cause if I met you tonight
I'd wanna turn
To try to do it over right

If it all started tonight
I'd wanna turn
To try to keep that holy light

I'd wanna turn

Christmas from a Deadmall by Matthew Milia

Mid-November
100.3
Have yourself
A Merry Little Christmas, baby

I hardly ever leave the house
I wish that I was back
In your little red shack

I am home from war or some tour of some blurry life
To some November world where
You're not my girl or my wife

Drive to Somerset Mall and my sweat pants fall
Move down Square Lake Road
In broken code
In a trance, all

That I could ever need
Is to know there's no loss
What could supersede
Your warm sheets, my Ms. Santa Claus

There's the subdivision
That my nana lives in, where
Christmas lives in basement boxes and
90s sitcom television

Mid-November
WNIC
I'll be home for Christmas
Alone with Bing Crosby

Drive down two-seventy-five
Inside my heated orb
Pretend I'm picking up your
Absent ghost from the airport

But I woke up in Frandor Plaza
In the middle of the night
There was no one there
Just blinding light

In fifteen years, Somerset Mall will be
Just like them all
Summit Place
Dump it all to waste

I pass the white roadside domes
Where the past plays indoor soccer
I pass the bright mansion homes
Where the dusk collects in lockers
I pass the night as it combs
Its way into my adult hair
I pass the light as the night
Stings youth with its sharp air

Merry Christmas, everyone
I see my world so undone
And gone
But where to?

Oh, you
Happy New Year too

(Last New Year's you past through here on the way to your new life and in the childhood bedroom of my father's house I made believe you were my wife.
Your car got stained white in the blizzard world, looking frozen like it had traveled through time through that blizzard world we knew together.
You left and I can't make coffee without being overwhelmed by the simultaneous reminder and absence of your simple sweetness.)

Merry Christmas, coffee pot
It's beginning to look a whole lot like
Christmas

Appears on Even Fuckboys Get the Blues

Somerset Solo by Matthew Milia

I'm going down to Somerset solo
The bummer that you met in the long-sleeved polo
On the skywalk where the passers-by talk
Sassy upper-classers and their bastardized "YOLO"
Carpe diem ideology free 'em from the prepubescent
Designer tedium

Treadmill motion on a retrograde track
Fanny pack holding such uncanny lack
Thinking about the freshman year Christmas dance
Bump and grind in tightening pants
Corsage pinned in my collarbone flesh
Teenage gowns of gauze and mesh

I saw the best minds of my generation pissed
Or brain-freezed up at the Tasty Twist
Ziploc'ed, unredeemed Chuck E. Cheese tix
That my grandma saved for me when I was six
We used to sneak into the Christmas Eve gifts
Now it's all spotty sex and Netflix rifts

Here's what I got you for Christmas this year, dear
A seashell which, if you put it to your ear hear
Me crying like a hundred manger babies
With my eyes frothing like a dachshund with rabies
Now you're the one to exploit my grief
The way they portray Detroit's need for relief

Fruit cakes, fruit flies, fermentation of piss
In the urinal of your new abyss
Your teary-eyed, weary pride, insipid blues
I'm gonna mention them in all my interviews
I told you not to stuff that napkin in that drawer
You're gonna find it someday and feel so sore

I wish I didn't wake to your dead lake eyes
There's a universe of images I'd rather cognize
Like my grandma's slender waist cutting cake at her wedding
Or my father's tender face
As a toddler off sledding
I hope your cigarette always stays long
And your dirty dishes clank to a Christmas song

That's Teemu's squeak-toy

A&W Orange and Brown by Matthew Milia

You taste like A&W
Orange and brown
Draw through your straw
Wash it all down
The strange age
The gas gauge
The rash upon my ribcage

But you'd never leave me in the lurch
Or deceive me when the search
For the morning
Gets boring
Mechanically scorning

Twenty-thousand broken tunes
A galaxy of afternoons
Birthdays of November ruins
Are soon to be my vehicle 

I'll be dozing in the divorced dads'
Devastated bachelor pads
It subtracts and then it adds
But all in all it's a miracle they do

That's when
I go where the college kids loiter
Just hang out and reconnoiter
The umbrage
The language
With each dumb pang of anguish

I think about how I spent my year
In a twin bed with young skin near
So blindly
Remind me
How you snuck that knife behind me

Some nights it's achingly ample
Some nights it's just a sample
Stamp a little dimple in the
Simple love you think is yours

But who's in your camp when the world darkens
Dampening with snarking grins?
The parking situation thins
When unwieldy eras lock their doors

But you know
I got a lot for you
But it'll never do
Oh, unless
Well, nevertheless

You go
Do what you gotta do
If you're not so true
I guess A&W
Is fading too

We'd walk through the town in an endless loop
In the rapidly melting ice cream soup
That stuck us together
In Frontier Ruckus weather

But ain't it precious?
The freshest scrape?
I faced rewind and erased the tape
And I saw
It all go
But I still hear the audio

Our sitcom plot line's terrible
It rots on the vine like a parable
Written by the veritable human punchline
You now kiss

I'll be driving around the Silverdomes
With the student drivers and mobile homes
The worst survivors of all my poems
Would never treat someone like this

I bet
Your makeup's indelibly smeared on that towel
I once feared it was permanently on me as well
Like the cinder
From that winter
And the slush along Dequindre

The ride that we got from the mechanic shop
From the Persian woman in the Mercedes drop-top
Her marriage
Miscarriage
We thought her stories bonded us in awareness

That nothing like that could happen to us
We were two of the luckiest
Bastards in the mastered art of
Barely ever giving a fuck

But in the end one fuck got gave
Two, if you count our literal behavior
The root beer, dear
Will you please save
A drop for me as you cutely suck?

'Cause you know
I had a lot for you
But it'll never do
Oh, unless
Well, nevertheless

You go
Do what you gotta do
If you're not so true
I guess A&W
Orange and brown are through
It'll be just like we never knew

Appears on Sitcom Afterlife

Little Henrietta by Matthew Milia

Little Henrietta
From the discount hair salon
I invented you to come undo
The torture I've been thrust upon

I'm a rolling pin
A half-deflated soccer ball
Left to brittle in the yard
In the spittle of the broken fall

I'm the scared aggression
Of a little dusk dog's bark
Middling and piddling
In the safety of the dark

Pontiac's been tainted
Rochester is done
Chipped toenails are painted
By the blacked-out friend that was
The carsick sun

But little Henrietta's from the same township as me
So natively she knows about
The coughing memory
Now everything I see is full of

Coffee
And the lofty little
Hope of love
Every day for you my
Lovely little one
Scratch your back and never slack
Or back away from our first day of profuse dripping sun
Darling

Some chipped-tooth baby doll I had
Stung me like that day
That I rode my bike into a wasp
Then Pizza Hut to wash away

All that stinging cruelty
You'll understand, I pray
The future is a creature that
Can only hope to lick the love
Its tongue tastes of today

But little Henrietta and the pillows on her bed
Where really we just kill
The memory that won't stay dead
With a tendency for spilling silly

Coffee
And the lofty little
Hope of love
Every day for you my
Lovely little one
There are three blades in my back
But two of them are yours to track
And see where they've begun
Darling

Little Henrietta

I have had three wives
You're my only ghost
The organs I have lost control of
The roll of film I can't dispose of

How your memory survives
Like communion host
Or floating with the burnt toast
That was coasting in my grandpa's daily

Coffee
And the lofty little
Hope of love
Every day for you my
Lovely little one

Appears on Sitcom Afterlife

Down In the Morning We Thought We'd Never Lose by Matthew Milia

Down in the morning we thought we'd never lose
I saw everything
It startled me
I briefly knew what you were gonna do

I sprinted that night all the way to the bar
'Cause I smelled danger all around our little star
The galaxy
Was blacker than the one I thought we knew

At the jukebox I stared across
At the display
You were putting on
I thought I'd gone to hell that day
Who were you when you were laughing
In that horrid way?
Next to him
What made it dim, our special day?
When we were

Down in the morning we thought we'd never lose
Drowned in your fried eggs
Half-asleep
I'd sweep the glory of your unshaved legs

I wonder where the moments go when they die?
The quotient's too imbalanced to ever truly fly
And that is why
They eventually just settle down to dregs

But on that day
The squirrel dragged its way across
The bike trail where we did fail
To save its loss
Maimed and lame is what we became
In the coin toss
All the same, nobody came
To claim the dross
It's piling

Down in the morning we thought we'd never lose
Where I'm still sleeping in
It's a lazy sin
Please don't wake me when you go to work

When I came to
The thought of you
Fiercely pierced my
Bothered skin
Grandfathered in
To fence the present tense
Inside a murk

I can't bear to think of where
The moments go
The underwear peels and reveals
A layer so slow
Do I dare to think of there
That others now know?
The pubic hair and cubic square
Of every strand of banded glow

Down in the morning we thought we'd never lose

On your sister's pull-out couch
Where you heard me vouch
For the existence of what's inside
It was true
Until it died
But what killed it?
You willed it

And I woke up

Appears on Sitcom Afterlife

Darling Anonymity by Matthew Milia

I no longer know your name
But I can't forget every single time you came around
Every time you came around for me
You came down on me so hard

I will never be the same
April spits a frigid flame
Of boiling memory
The neighborhood for me
Is black and perfuming
Lilacs fracturing in the yard

Now you don't mean shit to me
It isn't how it should be
Darling
But I didn't refuse you
No, I didn't choose to
Stick my nose in every single opening that's powdering

But the place where the ice glare
Tasted the sharp air
Of the open water on the lake
As it breaks
Oh the spring night
Oh the sting might wake me up to see
Your initials on the sacrificial version
Of me

Darling anonymity
You're planning alarming schemes
It's startling when you teethe on the cartilage
Of my ear and knee

What's the last thing that you said?
Will somebody find you dead
Inside my TV screen?
Grassier and green
The smell of gasoline
The summer's perfume keen
And so dense

I am always panting for
The smell decanting on your floor
The kidney and the spleen
The bladder filtered clean
The purity I mean
The prettiness
The preen
You, in a sense

Now you don't mean shit to me
It isn't how it should be
Darling
But I didn't refuse you
No, I didn't choose to
Stick my nose in every single opening that's blossoming

But that place where the ice glare
Tasted the sharp air
Of the open water on the lake
As it breaks
Oh the spring night
Oh the sting might wake me up to see
Your initials on the sacrificial version
Of me

Darling anonymity
You're planning alarming schemes
It's startling when you teethe on the cartilage
Of my ear and knee
It's harming the summers I have left
It's squirming
It's making such a mess
My heart is at the broken Dairy Queen
Where our kiss is melting with the rest

Appears on Sitcom Afterlife

Crabapples in the Century's Storm by Matthew Milia

You say that you've forgotten
But I know that you're rotten in your sweet little way

Like the crabapples
Themselves like ornaments
Fermented in the suspense
Of their sweet decay

Drinking Shell station wine beneath the Sylvan Lake willow
My prophesied Rebecca on my bike trail and pillow
I still see your cheeks so red in Pontiac summer
The pulverized sidewalk and the racing and the stupor
Or in danger, and the kids using a milk jug for a basketball
I'd risk it all to ask it all, to bask the fall again in splendor

Tracing your rotten spine

Oh, but when you hair was still long
Everything a new song and the heater and the theater
Soiled tights and the nights
Where we touched in standing darkness
The odor was magnetic and we wore it like a harness

My memory is freezing in your dead night winter attic
Evacuated all except for the electric static
Of our bodies sparking on the carpet and the mattress
Something made a tar pit out of what was once a fortress

Who can really say?
Maybe I took that for granted
But somehow my lips never left
Where the back of your neck slanted

Oh, my little wastrel
My sweet lost friend
My piss is in the tendrils
Of your rented house ivy
That ensnares the end
Suspended there 

Like the crabapples
Themselves like ornaments
That's what you said one morning
Looking out the back window of my parents'

Weren't some mornings so fine?

There inside that book I gave you
Maybe there's a line you wrote to remind you or to save you

Pretty "bois" sell shitty ploys
But mark down all they're telling
Catchphrases that vaporize
Within ironic spelling

But now the crabapples are in the century's storm
The World Series is over
And the world's collapsing in its form

I think of all those young names that day on the stones we read
Then cold Arizona Iced Tea when the cemetery scorched us red

Now I am blind to your weekends
The snorting kind of your new friends
But there's a lot where Washtenaw ends that you might recall

I know the way your body bends
In the parked van where still impends
The smoking frozen moment and
The cataclysm of it all

And I know your girlhood diary pens
I read it back to you with tenderness
Inside that summer bed
Across your mother's hall

Did I die inside the cleanse
Of blinding-sun Lake Huron lens
Where we were perfect?—that depends
It's all just sand and squall

Do you still hum when night descends?
I thought it was your calmness then
But it's your motor panicking
With the animals trapped in your wall

All the boys that you fucked over
Eventually got out of Ann Arbor
Honey, how come you're still stuck behind
The counter?

The streets we used to take
The cracking of the lake
I'll never get that final point
You were barely even trying to make

Appears on Sitcom Afterlife

Very Well by Matthew Milia

Burning smell of black-dyed hair
Bathroom bit by winter air
You shit-talk your old lovers
What's left 'neath your cold covers?
Your father's shaky tacit holds
Ankles strangled in the folds
The fitted sheet at the feet of spring
Come see me when you can't sing
Any longer as things go
Mouth all full of filthy snow

And you wouldn't know
But I still can't believe
And that smell
The burning hell
Of the tress
And what can I tell
You but yes?
And very well

I wake up to a joke so deep
Laugh myself right back to sleep
Walk along the thawing shore
That's pawing at my young drugstore
Where last I saw your baby teeth
Glinting as I fell beneath

And you wouldn't know
But I still can't believe
And that smell
The stinging swell
Of the day
Has shown me the way
And what can I say
But very well?

And you wouldn't know
But I still can't believe
About that smell
The way it fell
Indelibly spry
And how am I?
Can't you tell?
I'm very well

I'm very well

Appears on Sitcom Afterlife

Sad Modernity by Matthew Milia

Summer, 2007
Drunk at the wedding
Of my former enemy

Those days
I was still stuck in my young ways
Back when the fresh-faced girls
Were still a friend to me

The theme song
To this sitcom
Don't have shit on
Our greatest episode

I still think back to
All that shrink-wrap you
Placed around your heart
As it overflowed

But who knows where we are?
Now that my first car
Houses nothing but the stuffing
Of the pain of mundane joyful suffering

Sad modernity
Had its turn with me
Baby, did it have its turn with you?

You moved out to Seattle
You won the raffle
At work for the waterpark

You drove me across
The country black with loss
But something in the dark
Well, we made it spark

But who knows where we are?
Now that my first car
Spun itself into the median
On I-75 this evening

Sad modernity
Had its turn with me
Baby, did it have its turn with you?

My mom's there
Selling menswear
In the lens flare
Of some little memory

Summer, 2027
Drunk at the wedding
Of my newest enemy

Appears on Sitcom Afterlife

Bathroom Stall Hypnosis by Matthew Milia

How does one little girl
Manufacture so much gall?
Your little body's swelling with it all
You're gonna need a bigger room
You're gonna need some strong perfume
To keep those boys interested enough to call

Being young is no excuse, friend
When you're old enough to flush that loose end
After you cut those lines in the bathroom stall

Is your microphone malfunctioning?
Or is it finally broken?
Mine's so loud it's ringing in your wall

So when you look at a photo of us in our prime
How do you not fall apart each time
You think of me?
Or do you not think of me
Very readily?

Bathroom stall hypnosis, doll
Kicks in when that latch closes
Although I'm told the snow gets cold
Through disillusioned noses
And when no one's bearing witness
Will you still be the princess
Of the bathroom stall?
That's all I wanna know

How does one little girl
Pull the wool constantly?
The dry cleaners ain't 24-hours, you see

It's ok to take a break
It's ok not to fake
To be that girl I thought I knew you to be

You tricked that kid in the bar smoke
Into thinking he was in on our joke
Well, he don't know the pattern
Now, does he?

Vitriol is poison
I'm just trying to get some noise in
Before you turn the power out on me

So when you think of our feet in the sweet hurried flight
How do you fall asleep each night
You think of me?
Or do you not think of me
Voluntarily?

Bathroom stall hypnosis, doll
Kicks in when that latch closes
Although I'm told the snow gets cold
Through disillusioned noses
And when no one's bearing witness
Will you beg for forgiveness
In the bathroom stall?
That's all I wanna know

How does one little girl?

Don't call me from bathroom stalls when
The heavy nightmare falls in
I can't help you now, I'm quite afraid

Well, I know that nightmare
Yeah, I've been living there
Since some little girl
How does one little girl
Make me feel so goddamn
Betrayed?

Appears on Sitcom Afterlife

The Splendid World by Matthew Milia

This year's robin's breast is not as red
The entire nest is underfed
Every bed I've made has broken down

The AA meeting is letting out
From the parking lot where my mother let me try out
Driving my grandfather's car when I was just fourteen

If the splendid world wants to end and rid us
I wish it'd just get on with it and forbid us
I can't keep track of what I own

My brightest day was poisonous but agile
And then you decay in a way so fragile
In the sticky shade with an ice cream cone

Whatever happened to the little sailboat
We kept behind the shed but only once made float?
I used to climb upon it onto the roof

And now the earwigs climb the trashcan
I figure I'll become a sort of watery man
Pissing in my night backyard
Distributing the proof

You can keep a record of all your meals
And the way that each day feels
Safe and well-preserved in some hidden cavity

But all your private and precious locales
All your hidden heavens and all your pals
Are gonna succumb to the brutal gravity
Baby I know

The splendid world is immune to flattery
It burst me on the sidewalk like a run-over battery
All my metallic innards come pooling out

To try to name this is to be less famous
If I were dumber and detestable I'd be more successful
But on the sharp scorched grass
There's nothing else to sing about

Appears on Sitcom Afterlife