The Tower by Matthew Milia

I hope that this summer
sweats through all my clothes so I can taste
some sort of Second-Comer
who’ll blow the lilac-breath into my face

Now I know I’ve had three wives
the first was your ghost, the other was mine
the last comes when the day dies and then
outside the trinity just cries

Frightened by the tower
spiraled with the wild windy night
I only have one father and
I, his only child, fear is my birthright

And who has a redeemer
towering above the summertime?
when sweat will make you cleaner
and spit is all I want instead of wine

We cannot stay broken
or darken violently with summer storm
we will climb the tower
and in the burning morning be reborn

Does Me In by Matthew Milia

Oh the storms come like a sickness, don’t they?
Blacking out the ceiling of the seaway
Mary-Lynn you should begin to blow home
Blow along the ditches of the freeway

When my body’s buzzing like a midway
Mary-Lynn, oh how thinly it stays
When my body’s breaking by the midday
And the touching-towns stretch to the bounds of my body
And all the mounds out from the ground are bulging hotly
Then I know it won’t be long before it finally
Does me in
For good

As we take a ferry to an island
Where all the deafening gusts look very silent
We’re every blackberry in the clearing pickin’
Who knew my slow heart could ever quicken?

When your body’s steaming from the doorway
Mary-Lynn, I have sinned in more ways
Than I could ever tell you with a straight face
But it gets so hot before the chill comes
So much will rot in its welcoming
Sweltering yard
And oh I know it won’t be long before it finally
Does me in
For good

Yeah, the storms have formed some sickness increased
Blacking out the thawing memory at least
Mary-Lynn you should begin to blow home
Nodding off, the bell rings some, the kingdom we did find
The ever-growing holiness we blinded and then put behind
Bouncing with the night-boughs that are heavy with their kind
Rushing with the snow-melt gushing earshot of what’s on my mind

It’s a love too large to use, too large not to lose or abuse

The Upper Room by Matthew Milia

Bad insulation forms
The sad creation of
One-heavy-eight-foot-long icicle
And there unridden sleeps
The frost-bitten frame of
Our sunken-in tandem bicycle
With an endless art for recycling breakfast
And an after-school comfort
Two costume earrings and
One matching necklace
And two black eyes
Two soiled halves of
One folded mattress
An island on ice
Nice and pliable
There on the floor
There are two bodies tangled
By the price of
Becoming unpryable
But they’re liable to be

Kicking around a small blow-up globe
Of the world that is see-through and
Still holding breath from your last abode
Where we filled it with air
The thick-carpet-world where the
Streetlamps explode
In the spring
At the dawn
With the smiling tears
Breaking the night as the morning flowed
Through my slight overbite
And your dialing ears
Piling the ways

The planks and the rails of the L lifted up and
Like a balcony
And the city’s light returns with its kills and it
Fills up my eyes
With its
And I felt very bad you know
‘Cause you’d never been to Chicago
And you’d been bugging me
And then you turn and you see me go
To Chicago with some
Other company
It’s gonna be the way

But our upper room was so insulated that
No holy fire coulda smoked us out
Touching the wounds my fingers penetrated
And they brushed and they hushed and they
Poked about
Three bobby pins on one bedside table
While three soft lamps often blasted out
On two shut-ins in one bulging cradle
Inflated within while there without
A wilderness did grow

So blow up a room and Saran-wrap the windows
In the winter
To make sure
It never leaks
Become entombed in each other’s shadows
That rattle and shift
With the wall and weeks
Two slanted ceilings and
Twelve suffocations
Waiting on hot tongues
But it rarely speaks
Despite one white candle
And night invocations
Bones and a bed frame
That moans and creaks
I see two parents in one sleeping visage
Beneath two soft tufts of swerving brows
Did you sense the burning?
Well that was my message
A marking to come build a room somehow
A burning breathing room

Silverfishes by Matthew Milia

A bright night kitchen moth and the washcloth that I use
For the refuse
That is littering all of your clues
Orion is dead and gone but something in it still
Belongs to me
The bright night I see
High hot-time all the braggarts drag
Their boats down to the water
She dragged down to drown each and every
Brown rag I bought her
The silverfish they ditch their skins as
The Saturday air raid begins
Pitching exoskeletons
Revolting in their molting
Don’t you know I’m just like that?
You can tell where I’ve been at
On every doormat I have sat
A relic so angelic
Oh the once-hard-biting night
Now ruthlessly a toothless sight to see

A shot down Telegraph with a hot laugh as we cruise
Through the sinews
Connecting all of your clues
The blinds they clap for
The napping overheated tangles
Daytime may climb high until the dusk sucks out
All that it mangles
Melting with the blacktop moms
On a bed of palms and psalms
Immersed in the universe
Of off-ramp proms and sitcoms
Sylvan Lake and in between
Perpetually like Halloween
I saw you
In the dormitory with the warming glory
Of the harvest
The pilings of the night are whiling out
Where their forms are the largest

Feeling about half as vicious
As all the silverfishes crawl
If I truly am a coward
Memory-fueled and fear-powered
I’ll be damned
But if I were
That gorgeous blur
I’d be

A bright night kitchen moth in the washcloth that I use
For the refuse
That is littering all of your clues
Tripped up on the alley weed
Through which I elbowed and kneed
The bottle of my beer emptied
And I was warm and fluid
The body is a bottle, I guess
That I would like to throttle, yes
Mottled skin and spilling sin
And a holiness so stupid
The heaven that I long to see
The undone linearity
I’ve proven
Is all the love I’ve tried to show
Buried where those buildings glow
And ruined?

Ringbearer by Matthew Milia

So look across at St. Hugo
Don’t they say wherever you go
He will follow?
So my dumpster fellow
Let out a bellow
In my name

When my father sleeps the house has lungs
You have heard those songs he’s sung
But sometimes
He wakes up with a start
I hear a confused cry come straight from his heart
And it’s sad

Oh your once-sweet teenage face
Episodically erased
You were perfect
In the safe sitcom vacuum
Ten seasons have been your doom

Oh the springterror
Be my ringbearer
Oh the spring-rot
The sweet-rank taste that I’ve got
When all’s forgiven

Springterror by Matthew Milia

Look at all the steam off the snow
We listen to the Top 40 country radio blow
Listen to the singer, trying to put my finger on who killed who
When it does linger, the sweet nostril-stinger of the spring’s mildew
Was it your will to take his pill orally?
Or did you act perfunctorily?
The lamp-shadow dampness
The safe world of campus
The water of your high school eyes
Some stadium
Some old college tries
There in my stomach the liquor heated
With every place I ever trick-or-treated and
We used to message through the ink of night
With skin still young and pink and tight
Back when the tongue thrust with all of our young lust
The dimple-chin brunettes who make simpleton pets of me
And yes I’m a heel, but with Peter’s keel
I will cut through the lily-pads
The moping mothers and hillbilly dads
And the billboard dentist from White Lake to East Lansing
With his Day-Glo halo sentence entrancing
The moon makes lake-water out to be a filmy skin
But who can begin to tell what skin holds far within
Oh the bathers
Oh the toweling
Your cells are saviors that ring wet bells growling and
You have the black eyes
Just holes filled with night skies
A saddening sweetness through your kid-sister-sighs
Where the Sylvan Lake Corner is flickering with childhood
And the mourner within me feels older than wildwood
And if I knew what part of me was wax
I’d try to truncate it with a black sopping night axe

Ontario by Matthew Milia

I held three strands
But I lost one
Dark as the lands
Surrounding Boston
On the train that backscratched the windows
The backs of the houses, pulsing the rain glows
That sick man so shiny in his slump
Doubled over like a water pump
He was dribbling out from his nostrils
Onto his ankles leaking like Aprils
Yeah the thaw had already begun
We could hear the earshot from your cabin
In the holy boldness your cheeks purpled and pinked
There in the coldness with some sort of instinct
Oh the fluency, me with my hands cupped
Catching currency that you made it erupt
The quiet of spilling right after the stilling
Why it was chilling our hot windowsilling
I see your stature when breathing and turning
Smoking the black blur as if something’s burning
Remember the gray-slate coming of some thrill
The low sky of too-late up on Bunker Hill

And the whirling eddies sprayed off the semi’s tail
The curling snow-traps of your hair
Feeling warm inside the swarms of hail
The foreign planet of some diner we found there

So my brother and I saddle up some horse
And watch the snow thinning with the thawing
Another will die, rattle me so coarse
Will it leave me grinning or awing?

In Ontario

Nerves of the Nightmind by Matthew Milia

All the vegetation in the settled world is stirring
I’m blurring into sun-burnt and heartbroken worrying
About how the day took such a long time to die
When it was reeking of women I once had on my side
But now that I’ve found another smell to believe in
I’m buzzing like hell just to hope I can breathe it
And resurrect the simplistic calm in some eyes
That are trying to find you or
Bury your nightmind
And it will take

Oh your tongue and the twilight marina
When so young and brave and still dreaming
Getting to know you lash by dark lash
The rooms where you sleep in
The floors where you crash
And gas-stations are pleasantly blowing
Thunder rolls for dresses you’re wearing
On a body so unknowing
Of what that blowing’s for or preparing
And patience is never affording
When prettiness and sweetness are pouring
Out from you and
Onto me and
Dampness of sweat is the sweetest recording
And you can lay with your head on my body
The worlds of the night and disease try to rob me
All the vegetation in the settled world is stirring
But stillness and calmness are all that I’m hearing
And it will take

One-Story-Carport-Houses by Matthew Milia

Shining in their thawing
Shining in their dawning

Under water towers
Glistening Sylvan Lake powers

Yards are overflowing
Lilacs and the knowing

That our bodies
Made this season come
Made the children succumb

That our bodies
Made the white-washed town
And glacial lakes strewn all around

There’s winter
Left in the cold wind
But the sky is warm and thin

And our bodies made

Driving Home, Christmas Eve by Matthew Milia

The churchyard is frozen
The Salvation Army is closing
Your child is dozing asleep
In the backseat
The radio purrs
The heater is sweeter than when your heart was hers
Going home

I can’t get sleep
Bethlehem is a flock of sheep
With no shepherd to cling to
An angel to sing to
Magi to bring you myrrh
The radio purrs

A mansion of saviors
I-75 is a dark roadway lined
With the wild electricity of the
Animal behaviors
The bodies of young deer
The fam’ly it leads to
The sacrifice needs to not mar
The bright beacon star

No vacancy taken
The landscape is bone-chalk yet wet with vibrations
From the lamp-lit gas stations
Our few constellations
To course lapping anger onto
A manger of patience

I’ll see you at morning
The sterile air coming
From the yard will come white light
The memory of last night
The sickness and thickness of the
Christmas glow swarming

Mohawk, New York by Matthew Milia

Standing 'neath the harbor house
The stars are dripping down
Your mind
Oh, your blouse
Are darkening Cannery Town

I’m a psychedelic on the railroad-red Erie Canal
The serrated town of Mohawk
Those engines are my only pal
They’re made of tin
They fall right in
But they do know

And that is why I say

"Darling, I had not even
Seen your eyes but now I know
They are charcoal
They’re not brown
The sounds are lustful
I should know"

Standing 'neath the harbor house
Your mind is melting on me
A doo-wop singing barbershop-fop
Melting now is all you see

They mean nothing, oh, they mean nothing at all

The Great Laketown by Matthew Milia

I once had me a good-looking, God-fearing
Girl from the hills in the dusk
But the sawdust and lake-rust from those days were nearing
An end, so the locals don’t trust us

But they are just locals, and locals are rude
The drifter knows more though his expression is crude
And I’m a little bit of both though, I’m not merely one

And everyone’s a local
Depending on where you’re from

The girls from the town walked up to my house one night
As the buried sun slowly went down
Their clothes were the shouting of pathos in moonlight
I felt shame and slowly looked down

Pleasure has a pretty face
Helplessness voices and salt-teary taste
But true pleasure has no eyes

And how could I see now?
Where would I be now?
Would I be free now without those eyes?

Us children were raised in hills that are landlocked
But we hear the sounds of out of view waves
The logs that were stacked against the house clanked and they knocked
But the wind is trying to behave

Innocence was lost on the most
And is now washed away like our burial coast
But not all the sand can leave you too soon

And what could I count on
If I can’t trust our dune?

They’re calling our lives from the North hidden waters
They’re calling our lives from the South, East, and West
They’re calling our lives out like half-broken daughters
When terror arrives to their sharp-bitten chest

This ain’t the only damned town I’ve been in
This ain’t the only lifetime I’ve run thin
The sky is a liar that I aim to steal

‘Cause I’m just a local
Thirsting for something real

Abigail by Matthew Milia

Abigail, the shore is frozen
Our tar trails have been bulldozing down
Your sharpened frown
Once had me possessed

Do you recall the crippled summer?
Your family all was in deep slumber
And oh how I loved their ways
When Leland’s haze still lingered
On my shadow

Your brother he didn’t have to die
Your mother she didn’t have to cry
Your father didn’t have to ask why
Summer was on your chest
As your eyes glow

All our drugstore lawns blew cool so fast
The mill was never built to last
The torturous thrill of sweating grass
Is this town’s only sorrowed
Trampled blanket

And if I was branded to your foyer
Through passing carpenters and lawyers
Agrarians and God’s own soldiers
I would never make it

Do you still dream of dangerous hotels
Wrapped in glares and daffodil smells
With your bare feet buried in weeds?

I still dream of snarled backyards
And being chased through nighttime’s discards
Where my fence reddens, rusts, and bleeds

And the curbs are haunted by the killers
Of memories of your back pillars
Where nothing wakens as it seems

All our rooms are hopeful mornings
Left like tombs when nights are swarming
And branching feathers fan our dreams

And your star was the saddest symbol
Flickered with your mother’s thimble
Pitiful and sun-soaked soggy
Beautiful inside the muggy
Ashamed of our bodies in the stream

Ah but spring’s dumbed voice is just like yours
And if I had a choice I’d do my chores
And my work would dumbfound
The restlessness found in you

And no one else could understand the truth
Of the soil burning back to youth
It’s just something that we found
But now it all thaws damp around you

And the streets are dry and bare, but they’re humming
The rooftops where the air stops coming down
To listen for the sound
Of the tests that surround you

I said, “Abigal the shore is frozen!”
Our tar trails, they’re all bulldozen now
Your bygone sounds are cicada-bound
They’re so shrilling, and night-smoke tarry
You should spill them into the starry
They are children, and no one’s sorry

The Deep-Yard Dream by Matthew Milia

Most of my dreams are robberies
The family dies, the child flees
Through backyards filled with enemies and
Fences fleshed by panicked knees and
Freedom is the deep-night there
The hurried-flight emergencies
Hospital-hell tragedies are finding me in countries

So far
From my home
So hard
The night’s grown
And it seems to holler and glow
So long

The neighborhood is ceaseless where
Backyards kiss like memories and
Nothing is like the hot nightmare of
Hearing them in melodies and
Dangerous cars pull in our driveway
Blast their brights into our windows and
Though they don’t have guns or knives they
Fill me with a fear that takes me

So far
From my home
So hard
The night’s grown
And it seems to holler and glow
So long

So when the backyards finally end
You’ll find me on dark-highway, send
My fear to all the highwaymen at
The foot of the dark-highway bending
Back into a home again
A driveway lit like a dead-end for
So long

Adirondack Amish Holler by Matthew Milia

So I am the eyes
That my father cried out
In our swamp sunk with doubt
In the dark yards of North Country aging uncles
Caught in the summer horrid
Endless and fluttered torrid
But all of my ditches
Were buzzing green as I grew taller

Family don’t know that
I’ve seen the road end
Far past the bridges where
Salt thaws out to the river
There on the roadside
Passing by I spied
Billboards that relied on
Only I to deliver
The dusk to the years
And old mirrors, in here

Now those windows still bring back memories
Supermarket rusting through the trees
Hearts drawn on invisibilities, like these
Aching spring please bring a ring
For the powder songs these orchards sing
And that shall string the one thing I have left

In Adirondacka, you are the fire escape alley gleaming
I’ve shed your red valleys dreaming
Of spring town streets and pink sky sheets
Adirondacka, harmonicas were
Blowing through the fairgrounds, darling
Life blows their scary sounds on us
But that is why the spirits fly in Adirondacka

So my twitching girl
When I kissed you our dock had been broken
And every word spoken
Were desperate desire seeds
Sown in your raging hair
Blown to your face so fair
But I died five lifetimes
Before I breathed just what I needed

No place is safe no more
Except sometimes in my door
I have found something that no one else ever touches
Oh Adirondacka, dust bowl harmonicas
Blew through poor houses
And all sorts of awkward crutches

The city hall poplars soon perfumed of death
The kitchen yellows soon paled every breath
The afternoon lethargy makes our home cleft, and left
Open wide as barns divide the supper swamp and gentle pride
From every side as sunset is upset

In America, the mayor comes
And walks among the green-park benches
Dreams are just like endless trenches
It quenches me halfheartedly
Adirondacka, I am the water you are pumping
The town-end glades are up and jumping
The narrow road
My past implodes in episodes that I’ve forgotten

We love our families
We love our twilight trees
We love our memories
Salt pours out to the river

There on the swamp edge
Skies north of the mountains
My eyes pulse like fountains
And salt pours out to the river

Kiss you in eye-gulps
As my piny heart yelps
In no other manner
Could salt pour out to the river
At dinnertime

Orion Town 3 by Matthew Milia

Smoking Turkish cigarettes in
The thumb of the Midwest when
The sulfur fills the trees
On the Fourth of July
You and I
We travel the gravel going home

Home sweet home, home my brother
Not one mind hones to another
Take these tones, and try to color me
And the liquor lotto store
The bathroom floor
See, we unravel like travels
Drunk and sore

Rosemont by Matthew Milia

Oh, I know everybody here’s been dying to get back to Rosemont Street
But that road was made of flesh and now it’s dead and now it’s beat
The sun burnt past every rock across the street from that cracked lot
Detroit air just breaths away and that sun died in a petrified way
Onto the driveway, table napkins blown away
Into the alleyway and summer is the strangest time of day

I’ve seen beauty far upstate
A century is all it takes
To turn a homestead to the ground
But there is one thing that I found
I ain’t seen these things in vain

And deep outside the siren’s wailing far from me on the still night
And through the yards the spores are sailing on the toes of those dreams in flight
To the north
Back and forth
Our moments make us off-ramp islands where language tramps and falls to silence
To forget
The TV set
And images of stranger feelings rape our walls and wallpaper our ceilings

I’ve seen beauty far upstate
A century is all it takes
To turn a homestead to the ground
But there is one thing that I found
I ain’t seen these things in vain

I was born to the lawnmower’s crying
And the drying of our gilded lot
Trust in God when our roofs are sighing, again
And the hill is crying thanks a lot
Watertowers are drunker than grandfathers
But they’re equally happy
All that’s golden was once eternally unfolding
Now dusktime is the glimpse to see it

But I’m a bursting piece, a questioning priest, like a politician out east
I’ve seen swimming pools full of darkness, on the brightest moonlit nights
And I’ve seen fairgrounds, heard their sounds, and in that ground lies just what I’ve found
Basements are now all we got with decade shades and days that rot
Landbirds flew over my head, flag at half mast no one is dead
Oh I know that that’s not true, but we’re so desperate, what else can we do?

I’ve seen beauty far upstate
A century is all it takes
To turn a homestead to the ground
But there is one thing that I found
I ain’t seen these things in vain

And everybody dying here has made it back to Rosemont Street
The roses shake, the sidewalk aches and
Detroit air is hissing at our feet

The Back-Lot World by Matthew Milia

I still crackle
Like a motel
Frontier spackle
Summer backyard
Shopping cart
In our shadows
Late-day echoes
Jesus Christ knows your
Freckled heart

To walk north as sun is setting
Hope of getting to
Your ghost-filled brimming field as
The still comes
All those churches
Splintering perches
Blacktown searches
Stooping faces
Placing childhoods

It’s a hot-town
Steam from the ground
Roads are unbound
Heart-strung and crowned
Through the lumbered trees
I killed a woman
She had it coming
She was myself and now I am free

Free to love you
You unspooling
When day is cooling rain clouds coming
Are lighter than the night
All is something
Lost in nothing
Your gravelly wiry frightening mind is
Built upon itself

We walk through the back-lot world
To the pioneer frontier where you forgot dear
Nights you should hold

Orion Town 2 by Matthew Milia

I’m going home, I’m smoking my last cigarette
The muffler shop’s shouting that she’s in the city
The north frozen landfill I just can’t forget
‘Cause it marks the town of my pity
Orion Town

Oh now Rochester, you son of a bitch
Your psyches and streets are a tumult of achin’
The awkwardest memories I just can’t unstitch
At least they know they’re not forsaken in
Orion Town

I-75 is the swallower of Christmas
The gloom of its gladness is night on our shoulders
Connecting our sorrows like ponds with an isthmus
Frozen and covered with boulders in
Orion Town

The yelling, the holler of the ghost I have squandered
The snow combed tight brightly mirrored false wonder there
That I did follow to the frozen water
As my family stood there and stared at
Orion Town