I Met Rebecca by Matthew Milia

I met Rebecca in the summer I forgot my tally
In the back, behind the bowling alley
Where my street

She opened all the blinds up in my room
She pried open my mouth
And out spilled my gloom
Just as it sometimes
Tends to

We walked up to the point
On Sylvan Lake
It got to the point
That our skin burned and baked
So we dove in

When I met her father
Our clothes were still wet
When I met her sister
Those secrets were not told yet
I wish they'd never been

By 9 p.m., all of them
Carport lights are on
They buzz on through
What does ensue
Till they blend into the dawn

I met Rebecca in some house
In a dream I had
Murderers and worshippers
And random fandom stabbing at us
Till we made an escape

Where she wore some dresses
That to my eyes were gossamer
And the hard truth impresses
That I'd die at the loss of her
So I wrap it up in ribbons and tape

By 9 a.m., all of them
Metal things reflect
The nightmares and the bright sun-glares
That force me to protect
My love

Bike Trail by Matthew Milia

On the bike trail of pale white chalk
Where I surveil the loading dock
That's chipping in the wailing shock
Of the mercilessly electric creatures

The deranged men who shirtlessly stalk
The desperate features in their walk
Until they melt like boiling caulk
On the metal of the blacktop bleachers

The summer has an open hymen
The Sylvan Manor baseball diamond
Rattles hot with tattletales
So frailly shot into the night

Christopher keeps the receipts
For all the love that no one eats
In the glassy office complex suites
Behind which the ditch heats and squiggles

Where all the deathlike little birds
And the yearlings in their little herds
And the perversion of my words
Gets trapped and sweats and frets and wriggles

In a grouping of the tower spines
And the flaccid drooping power lines
Where I'm recouping what is mine
From the placidly eternal

Hot day when the sprinklers vent
A burning rubber aqua scent
And evaporate all that I've meant
About the mercilessly electric creatures

But how do they hone the drone and tune it
To the gargle of the backyard AC unit?
It rattles hot with tattletales
So frailly shot into the night

Granduncles of St. Lawrence County by Matthew Milia

Papa's standing sort of bovine
In the shrine of his brother's room, the priest
Recently deceased in this North Country heat
Lunch meat on the kitchen counter
Mary's counting bug bites on a sunburned shoulder
I'm counting sacramental rites and old crucifixes
All my great-uncles' nights of cocktail mixes
Are over
Then we encounter
Accidental modern radio hits
Spits his brother's boom-box
From the room walks Papa and then sits
And then it's

Where the handicap tourist-trap putt-putt courses
And trailers patched with corrugated scrap metal and divorces
Well, I got a granduncle and he lives inland
Where the pure manure summer vapors get fanned
By electric fence whir and a wave of the hand
Of the Amish infants standing barefoot in the sand
While the gas-station kids hang out idle and bland
At the Subway

Well, him and Anne died down in some dim town
Where he built a swimming pool into the swampy farm ground
Where the accumulation of the dimming pounds down
Since the 70s

The pool
Has a cool blue aqua shade
Like the Gatorade that my dad likes to drink
Where you'll peer into the pump-house, dear
Or the diving board where you laid on the brink
But please don't freeze or fade
Like the bottles of booze
That snooze beneath the sink
And if my reasoning gets frayed
It'll cauterize us tauter ties someday
I think

When the roofers jump in the seaway
At midday in their jean-shorts to cool down
We'll go down to Morristown
And bask there in the decay
And ask where our summer glories drown
With the subtle carnage of the bloated rock bass
Sucking in the bright sky summer boat gas
Floating there
As we boated past
Slinking through the stony Thousand Islands
That go sinking in the water with the slickest absence of violence

In the musty attic loft
I knew your young sore ecstatic soft

The waitress' language was blaring out, "Can you
Bear the despair of the typos on the menu?"

I wheeled you through the field with the billboards
You wheeled the Ford to the sordid Price Chopper
Where every shopper was leaning in the struggle to stand
Like the green copper-stained gravestones that sink into the land

That night
Earthworms were squirming their way through my dark feel
Some sermons found permanence on ancient-burned reel-to-reel

If permanence is arbitrary
Who decides the summers where we will
Be forever?
I'd like to meet that thing
It's a dimming thing

I Buried You So Deep by Matthew Milia

Abigail, I buried you so deep
It's a wonder that they found you
Down by where the pregnant lilacs weep
Well I guess I should have drowned you

But the water was froze up
And your memory rose up

I've made many beds in many towns
Hung like heads 'neath starry crowns
You're the only weight I could wish for
But you don't pin me anymore

And the buoyancy abounds with a pull
Nothing ever drowns full

The water was froze up
Your memory rose up

Abigail, I buried you so deep
I remember when I found you
Down by where the pregnant lilacs weep
I remember when I found you

The Black-Ice World by Matthew Milia

Out in the night the world freezes
It pleases me only to know
They say in the wilderness Jesus
Felt his moment slow

I’ve stayed inside for a few nights
Been four or five in a row
Outside the teeth when the frost bites
And pretty girls go

The world’s frigid harshness
Is clear in the darkness
Your soft skin is clearly unwelcome
Your soft heart is part fear and part dumb
But I love you more than I can stomach
And the world’s love is a frozen phantom

Out in the night the world freezes
It teases me outside to go
Silent and sterile the peace is
And deadly it steadily blows

Junk-Drawer Sorrow by Matthew Milia

As the windshield wipes and exhaust pipes
Are coughing out some winter
It’s a splinter of what I once contained
And I suppose the whole world glows
A little for the squinter
But you recall when all that fire rained

And nothing very solid
Ever thaws away the squalid
Junk-drawers that us whorish people know
And while the junk collects interminably
Other things will certainly
Thaw away so swollen with the snow

I’ve mythologized the worlds you’re from
The nervous taste of chewing gum
Some high school faces
Basements you protect
But in the spring a cork I’ll find
In the side-yard to remind
The New Year’s souvenirs
I must collect

The sun looks pretty hot today
The snow’s about to rot, they say
So maybe I’ll drive all the way to Lansing
If nothing’s able to stay static
Perhaps we left some strips of fabric
Bloodied up and streaming
In the fencing

And is it possible
That the hospital
Is waiting for all?
Without stall it will bawl all
The life out of you

But nothing is ever lost
The piled past is cataloged and tossed
Into where it is stored in
Some vestigial organ
It pumps inside of me
The bile and the memory
The bathroom tile of ivory
The carpet sponges so absorbently
Nothing is ever lost
Nothing is ever, ever lost

By now I’ve declared you drive a hard bargain
It’s a pardon every time I hear its name
When my tongue’s stung by every dripping juice-hole in the garden
My world goes mute, my cute words dumb and lame
For the dental office arthritics and mental softness heart-critics
Who can’t process me or the sophistry I live in
I will pluck the soft weight of ripe love
The sticky teenage-sweet type of
Respite that the black night bites are given

Where it's probable
I’m unstoppable
By all that tries
To chastise the damp eyes
My world contains

Birthday Girl by Matthew Milia

Birthday girl
Blue dress
Soft face embrace
In such foreignness
Three birthdays
This spring
Mark this darkness
With some blossoming
The deep world
I knew
It was because
Of you

Although the Volvo is running well
I can smell some
Sorrowful fumes

The blacktop of the IHOP was
Scorched for us
A chorus of buzzing
Street-lamps still looms

Hotel rooms, Oregon
I can't keep up the recording
Of our days, so slick
Bit my nail down to the quick

After the laughter does rise and swell
Like a bell
It falls back to earth
There it is, it perishes
Where it fell
Straight to hell
Now, what is it worth?

But birthday girl

Thermostat by Matthew Milia

Meet me in the Christmas mall
If this fall I’m swollen
With hot air the heaters blare
Which no one is controlling
And filling up my entire world
And making me feel so young
But old enough to notice that
The thermostat has been stolen

Hey, my best friend
A smile so narrow
Can point like an arrow
To the end of you, and
Oh, how we tend
To pray soft and lowly
For past worlds to slowly
Mend and then
Render tenderly

A brilliantly thawing overpass
The slush shoots out sun like a magnifying
Glass in your eye
Oh my, what it can imply
Makes me cry
You were not so impatient then
Commuter stations of black-night men
God, it makes me think of when
Where was enough without why

Hey, Mary-Lynn
Some moments are frozen
And constantly chosen to win

The grin from within, yeah

Oh, it's always been
So why weep over
Some grade-school sleepover again?
It disintegrates and
The red-faced shame mates with beauty

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

Is that just what you do when you get bored?
Send a postcard to the Lord
Of the opposite gender
No need to stress, no return address
To fear it may come back to sender

A deer knelt down on the midnight crown of
Someone's front lawn bathed in our headlights
They're white as suns but now we're the ones
Flooding other people's windows with brights

Oh, my little punctured cup
What am I gonna do with you?
Every time I fill you up
There’s something spilling out of you
And filling up my entire world
And making it all so wet
I do believe I can never leave
Every person that
I’ve ever met

Black Holes by Matthew Milia

Though there are so many black holes
The JCPenny and the back of Kohl's
Where rot a lot of things
I can't say

Oh Nicole, your trailer park
Can console any darkness
Spooled around the ground-floor patio
Where the tomatoes
Once cooled in your young night
Don't let it dim your eyesight

Of the divorced split-level mansion
The exit of forced expansion
Now miniatured
The furniture sharpens its imprints
Into the carpeting since
We've dozed off and napped
Is it preserved and plastic-wrapped?

Little Caesars, birthday night
Our dads have seizures and they bite
Their tongues before the rug-burned floor
Where we learned how to die
Where we wrestled, laughed, and tickle-tortured
Till our love made us cry

So Jacqueline, when are you coming home?
Your organ bench is warped and wrenched and so
Many nights I see your bedroom window lights
I guess the widowed ghost ignites

Because they left that house in Union Lake
And I had my First Communion cake
In a weight-room clubhouse of their apartment
Where the freeway air of 275
Rushed when they were still alive

So I extend my endless thanks
Grandchild pranks and oxygen tanks
Hissing to the daytime TV
Where you and me
Crossword puzzles, I was ten
With some promotional pen

And now the doorknobs and windowpanes are
Dripping wet
The dead night is pressing tight against
The glowing light of a heated home tonight
The time machines of television sets
Oh, Mary, let me see that lotto-heart
Let the auto parts break down and die
Wheel around the squealing sound of a
Shopping cart
Smile down the grocery aisle till you
Softly hang your head and start to
For a while

In Waterford, the discount stores
Sneezing in the freezing rain pours
Sunken women drunken on some far-fetched wrenching dreams
Drenched in Starter jackets of their favorite first-grade teams

Though there are so many black holes
Jacquelines and orphan Nicoles
I know
They all know

All the girls in their smooth teeth
Jot death dates on their loose leaf
I don't know if I'll ever die

Eyelashes by Matthew Milia

All of your debts
That blow to me like harmonizing trumpets
Then fall so ugly on all of me
How much harm will the harmonizing be?
As you take away from me
All of my nets
Where all your silverfish
Used to come right in
I wish you'd let them come again
Not bellied up or smelling of the sin
That you're proudly musking of with
All your regrets

June again
The milk times ten
For I have two new mothers
Giving birth to all the men
My brothers who will molt to others
I'm a thief in the prime of life
A belief that the summer is my knife

A pine tree straighter than a mascara applicator
Bristling and whistling through the needles
Your eyelashes are like needles
How they brown when the sun comes down
And the heat just rises through the needles
Your eyelashes are like needles
Up so tall where a dead phone call
Pumps through the wires, through the needles
Your eyelashes are like needles

Your eyelashes are like
All of your debts

Epiphanies and Revelations by Matthew Milia

Epiphanies or revelations
Too tired to label
The fix to your situation
Ah, but you saw the sky
Today and tomorrow
You love me when I’m gone
But don’t you
Run off too far, though
It’s nice to
Have someone to miss

Surprise me once, show me you know me
If I was mistaken, I’m sorry

I ain’t looking to last
Where the sidewalk fixtures’
Shadows are cast
As rosebush songs paint me pictures
Such sterling mixtures of glory
I just want a love that will stay when I turn
My back to St. Lawrence, to see what
Torrents I can burn
So my love will learn that I love her

At the bottom of Dollar Lake is an old truck
And the boards from the bar where my folks first got drunk
And all kinds of litter that flickered and then sunk
To the shallows of our town’s lagoon
Where I say
“How could you love me
When I am so frightened
By the phantoms of my mind and how they are tightened
Around all that I find in this world that’s brightened
By a magic so tragic each day?”
Aw, but love don’t exist neath the realest of coffins
And real ain’t a place that we’ll have to dwell often
Epiphanies will tumble and soften till
Love’s all that’s left to be found

It’s the epitomes of revelations
You’ll all choose the latter
But be so much gladder
With your salvation in the sand
And the fear of sincerity is a disgrace
The shadows of your mind should not take the place
When the turquoise that you find is the kind of trace
That binds to the skin
Inside and within
The light that shines behind your face

Our heads are dead in the dread of tomorrow
And when the sky clears our fears will be hollow
Your suburbs are seasons darkening and sullen
The harbors are fleeting, the waters are swollen
The theater’s erupting, the midway is caving
The streets all connect in a way that needs saving
The parking lot trees are bending and rotten
And so you are too for the love that you’ve gotten
And forgotten
You’ve forgotten

Ogallala by Matthew Milia

Take me to Ogallala
Where I’m still a new face
Where I have a good case
That I am sincere
Where that night is calling
Where the snow is thawing
Where I have no fear

I remember haunting the darkened landfills
The stars were smoke
But they spoke in short shrills
I held a firm hand
But she turned to lake sand, falling
The trees, the trees were tombstone markers
They kissed each other, blowing darker
In some childhood loss
Elastic chaos

Take me to Ogallala
Where everything real is reeling
Where the transience is healing
Where I stand on my own
Where the wood planks line the floor
And no one knows the horror
Of the truth I did disown

The moon can light those trees in many layers
The highway to Ogallala bears
Five-thousand lakeshores
Five-thousand new doors frozen
The towns I haunt, the world I’m needing
Is just Ogallala’s child bleeding
On that dark-shore gaze
Inside my doorways

The intensity, I know, comes in splatters
But the dreams I see
Are still all that matters
And oh, it’s a great thing to see my road exist
And when my intensity’s consistent
I’ll lead you down, I’ll take your wrist
To Ogallala

Our houses in the snow are filled with patters
But the homes I’ve known
Have been blown to tatters
But the homes I’ve known, they still exist
And when these nighttime lives escape me
I’ll see them there, the homes I’ve kissed
In Ogallala

Weeds and Life Among Them by Matthew Milia

And I remember the song I used to sing
“I belong among the weeds
Amidst the overhanging trees,”
I would sing

And you should remember the song you used to sing
“I belong atop the road
Where the lapping seeds were sowed,”
You would sing for me

And I remember the storm was wet like birth
And the hail would lick the weeds
And the battling of trees
Above the earth

And you should remember the air grew calm and thick
We would lay among wet weeds
And the drops dripped from the trees
Onto our faces, sticking
Like the weeds

Winter and the Preacher's Daughter by Matthew Milia

I know your blurry winter roads
Like the back of the hand that is Michigan
But the things they do to me
Is something I will never see
It’s something I will never understand

She will be standing there
‘Neath the frozen bluff
The moon’s legs will come skating
Down the hill intimidating
And I’ll be harmed by what I’ve farmed in my

Clothes do so very little
When the cold’s coming from the heart
Homes are in the middle
Of the years, that are departed

In the horror, in the terror, in the helpless
Selfishness I found in me

She will be standing there
‘Neath the frozen bluff
The moon’s legs will come skating
Down the hill intimidating
And I’ll be harmed by what I’ve farmed in my

Mona and Emmy by Matthew Milia

Mona’s buying milk and honey
From the summer bins in Milford Market
Outside the door at six
The green bulb clicks on
I work nine to five around the hiss
Of the ice box compartment
When I punch out I want to set
The night to bitter flames a-lickin’
The town and all the passion stricken down

And Emmy’s twenty years removed now
From that morning in July
When her father held her in his arms
And dipped her freckled neck down ‘neath
The river water as flies
Were darkening the brightness
And all of the baptismal whiteness
But darling all those of our likeness
Were born so very ready to live
And to die

I know my way through the neighborhoods
From Mona’s house to the interstate
I know my way to the greatest things we got
Traveling acts, they leave their sounds
For railroad tracks in other towns
But I want to hold to something longer
Something meaner, something stronger
At eleven thirty the town’s alone, again

And Emmy used to say she loved me
Used to be oh so proud of me
When she saw her father in my eyes
When I dipped her golden head down ‘neath
The river water swimming
The pine shine all was dimming
The kitchen panes were pitch-dark within
I thought we were only kidding till
Your father cried

Mona, you’re my only friend
We could take the interstate
Though you know the interstate dead-ends
Will it lead us to the milk and honey
Is the Promised Land just a funny
Way to say the strangeness never ceases?
‘Cause Emmy, you have baptized me to pieces

Appears on Way Upstate and the Crippled Summer, Pt. 2

June Is Our Mother's Name by Matthew Milia

People barking
They’re calling the good old summer down
They’re gonna have a filthy roll around

Birds are speaking
They’re wondering why we’re singing
High notes for the air to kiss onto the

But you love your tune
And I love my tune
And you love my tune
And I love your tune
In harmony they croon
All throughout June
Together they bloom
Something like
It’s a little bit like this

Mine’s back again
It’s my only friend, I’m gonna send an old lake-bottom to

Insects knowing yards are bathed in light
They don’t sleep at night
It’ll be alright, when my farmhouse is with

Haven’t seen you
In years, your fragrance is pouring back
With the mugginess of the black
Midnight holiest way to say
June’s my mother’s name

Appears on I Am the Water You Are Pumping

I Do Need Saving by Matthew Milia

Just like the brown bulbs of your eyes
The stars are certainly dead
But something makes them shine
When I hover right above your dark-bed
And I know it’s not me
Illuminating through your face so well-fed
But it brightens the
Parts of all your skin I ever wanted

You are a dark savior
I do need saving
All our hot behavior
Will not deliver me

The lilac-breath
Is hot and still in
The first hours of the evening
And what is left
In my will when
The lilac-breath is leaving?

You are a dark savior
I do need saving
All our hot behavior
Will not deliver me

And what a dangerous drive that was
So young and dark
Jefferson Avenue
I imagined I blew
The spark of a bullet
Into a tree on Belle Isle
While you were steering
Your father’s giant car
I kept hearing
Far, far, far away
Some childish dirge those
Merging semi-trucks would

How Could I Abandon? by Matthew Milia

Your kitchen window
Where I would do the dishes
Neck-deep in the wash and drunken
Do your windows still glow
Like the gaping orifices
Of a burning pumpkin?

How could I abandon my only companion?
But I did
The night strikes at random
And I was not planning
To dim

Now early Aprils
Fill my nostrils
With the road-kills
Of the skunks
Every spring-girl
Handsome and plural
Are swaying sloppy high-heeled drunks

Now that
I’ve abandoned my only companion
Yes I see
She halved the burden
Now it’s been expanding
And hurting horribly

And it used to be
Early Aprils filled my nostrils
With such possibility
Now the sun’s my maker
And forsaker
Undertaker and
I’m guilty

Pontiac, the Nightbrink by Matthew Milia

The nightfall’s like a house of mirrors
The shuttered deadmall and the Sears
Where my mother worked for years
In the nineties

The drugstore dried out parking lots
A fluorescent crest of snow still rots
Piling in the handicap spot’s
Blind-freeze there

The touching-towns have special wants
M-59 and the salad-bar-restaurants
Something in it always taunts my

When I’m smoking goddamn Pontiac
And the hidden end of the Amtrak
Woodward and the good word crack and the
Exhaust fills the air

A cul-de-sac
Has sweetly softened
The coughing memory
Dulled and black
Far too often
Black ice on the greenery

And all the women
Sap me with their sadness
And now I’m sad too

But Pontiac’s not
The heart of darkness
But freezing on the brink
Where I am at
Some fading starkness
Where the brains of darkness think

The firmly-fixtured-fast-food-beacons
Do not dangle, do not weaken
Neither does the heart I’m seekin’
In you

Mary-Lynn you wouldn’t know
But you do too have holy glow
But how am I supposed to show
You you?

‘Cause your voice through those holy nodes
Marked me like the salted roads
Chalky white, the night forebodes
The coming

‘Cause your throat throttled northtown boys
From the Rochesters and Troys
They will also hear your noise
Drumming low

The wilderness of floating text
The endless half-conscious of present tense winter sex
Do you see how it connects
In me?

Because they touch in such awful blurs
Their cough is full with all it remembers
Draining the stripmall containers
To find me there

The Silverdome, the Palace
The silt-slush road and all its malice
Sweethearted and waiting for me

Your face flushed like a toilet
Where I could only soil it
To unearth all my worth so futilely

St. Joseph is black-ice-gripped
And all the mailboxes are very tightlipped
With the way they know my name

And all the black ice ever gives
Twenty swerving adjectives
Repeating and cheating in our game

In Pontiac the night falls like a whim
Looking back, the night just seemed to brim
Down the track, dangerous and grim
In the black we all look so dim

And the night has a yellow-gray-glow
It’s as though
The whole world’s my halo

The grocery story bright light
Aisles of the night
Piling the blackwhite

The whole strip-mall plaza
Wheezing with asthma
On your miasma

The night has a yellow-gray glow
It’s as though
The whole world’s my halo