TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Smoke in the Shape of Teemu with the Shin Guard in His Mouth
I'm Tired
It Is a Drowsy Heaven
All the Blossoming Is Is This
Before M-5
Further Thoughts on Density and Bathroom Tile Coolness
Lasting Advice
I More Regularly Used the Word Ambition in Song as a Younger Man
Somewhere between Saint Joseph and Chalmers
Light Things Lifting
Only-Child-Smelling Best-Friend's Older-Brother-Age
Our Lady of Refuge
Morristown Fiction
Once They Sneak in They Are In/All Deposits Final
The Juice of What Was
The Fish Dave Caught
Overnight
Troy
Detroit Riverwalk West

Smoke in the Shape of Teemu with the Shin Guard in His Mouth

When Teemu was a puppy—
his hyperness caged
in the back room where dad
would sneak menthols, blowing at
the window's black night glare—

when I'd
wink through the missing doorknob

(when blood would billow
like its own sort of smoke
in the bent
ear)

when I’d spy on our genetic miasma
granted brief shape
by
the young-dad
breath
(granted brief shape
by the young-dad
smoke):

I swear
the world had not yet really
even been born.

What was that pre-natal world of
permanent lilac—
of neat new rooms
nail-gunned in new carpet
newness

(unlit cigarette newness—
fresh coffee newness, the
internal organs of
the lilac
turning itself
inside out
newness
newness
newness)?

When the lungs
are young and soft
like lilac skin

the smoke from
fathers
promises something
intense—

a holy
perfect
cough
in some
far-off
inheritance.

To approach now my parents' age then, to
lose track of anniversaries of Teemu's decrepit
death—to surrender the house and its eternal
backroom to modern bachelors
memorizing our
local gas station
ice cream
selections

to abandon our stains is to give in totally
to the sickening stomach
of nightmare nothing.

When—
in the near future—
an ambulance races up
St. Joseph Street

whirling like a seizure
of Christmas-colored
sound

what will it mean

that by the time it hits
Walce
the sirens have been
extinguished
and the brakes
have again
clutched to
the speed limit:

what has died inside

to cause our efforts
so suddenly
to quit?

So, in celebration
of my infinite asking—

can
this
really
be
all?—

I have filled the coffee pot
with Easter candy crumbs
and crabapple dirt

the smoke of our breath

stirred with clothes hangers
from the floors of our closets.

I have pissed in each corner of the backyard
like a puppy made ecstatic
by its own mechanics.

I'm Tired

At the end of the first warm day
the sky turns lilac above the station—
like an upturned bowl
collecting maybe milk
maybe blood
that clouds up as they mingle.

The spring night, voiced by
dogs
peevish in the alley
and the growl of amateur motor-sports enthusiasts
screeching westbound on aging 94
toward a vague Ann Arbor
with violent urgency

voiced by the
splashy sound from the Sunday night
wine bar minglers
that wraps around my building
and up into the static of my bedroom.

We wanted warmth and now we are too hot.

We wished for age and now we are too old.

The dogs yap about how you feel ancient
but are even older now at the end of that thought
than at its beginning.

Who cares.

Your mother calls and makes a joke
and you hear a sweetness unique to this world—
one you desperately wish will never expire
like the milk mingling with lilac in the warming sky.

Please, let it remain
somehow and somewhere
other than small talk reminders
on voicemails
you never deleted.

Eternal knives
will be
the reminders of that sweetness
and the recorded voices of
its breathers
once their breathing
has stopped.

Eternal knives
will be the milk
and lilac in a polar sky
frozen into
the world's
fanglike daggers.

You nod off briefly—
standing upright at a urinal in Target.

You calculate your current
social media stats and whether you have
enough coffee left
for the following morning.

Everyone in this town could use a night in.
Everyone in this town begs for the breath
of a hyperventilating other.

The motorcyclists should muzzle their mufflers—
slow to a crawl and capsize gently into the newly
softened ditches of spring grass.

Fall asleep and make drowsy love to the present tense.

I can
hear the Ann Arbor college kids snoring from
here. Their girlfriends, concocting
drastic moves in secrecy dreams.

Fall asleep and make drowsy love to the way
things were
and always will be, in certain secrecy
dreams.

Close the wine bar and mute the techno.

Shutter Target until tomorrow and carry the kiddos
off to bed humming the theme song to "Bonanza"
with a soft galloping motion, like
my dad did for me
once.

Let us nap now—
lest we fall deeply asleep in our 40s and never
fully reawaken.

Let us make drowsy friendship with the sacred
grandparent/grandchild window of
brief temporal overlap.

Let us pet the alley dogs into silence, telling
them stories of our suburban origins
that are now ending.

Where dad cut the lilacs too short and they
never quite grew back. Where we sold the house to demonic strangers
who get drunk on our half-empty containers
of laundry detergent.

It is a nightmare and a heaven simultaneously.

Let us make some sense of it
or at least get enough rest
to grant it enough humor
to function
upon waking.

It Is a Drowsy Heaven

When you order carryout from the bar
down the spring alleyway
but never go to retrieve it
because you wanted more to feed your curiosity
of what the person who answers the telephone's
voice might sound like—
male or female
casual or hurried
dulcet or graveled—

because you wanted more to feed your curiosity
of what the person who answers the telephone's
voice might sound like
than you wanted the cheeseburger
with cheddar cheese both on top and stuffed inside

curiosity more
than wanting to stuff the cheeseburger, itself, into
your aging mouth capable still
of elasticizing back to its attractive-youth shape
every now and then
when screwed up into a certain rare innocence—

you know then
that
you need to find better ways to get your kicks
on a Wednesday night
in mid-April.

And every few months you do a deep-Google search
for the travel soccer coach
who cut you from the team at age 12

by whose surgical excision your mother
lost her sole social identity.

(I somehow found his current phone number and
slammed my laptop
shut.)

Current life
is applying to a Craigslist ad
to write a shitty clickbait listicle
boasting your state's quirky attractions

and not getting the gig.

So—
in a suburban salon my cousin gives me a younger
haircut as my mom thumbs a magazine in the mirror behind

and I see all the sweetness blooming within our pathos

there—
coating the single fake tooth
denture
on the table beside her.

The broken springtimes
within us
are coated, too, in a film—

abrupt sweat
and
absolute
grief

slicked petals
dripping pollen and
hamburger grease—

and the acidic perfume
your mother likes
(that you can never
afford enough of at
Christmastime)

will turn a rancid
nectar
decades from now

yet
still
things feel OK

somehow
most
of
the
time.

All the Blossoming Is Is This

It wasn't as depressing as it looked—
to eat a Subway sandwich

all dripping 12 inches
by myself

outside Cobo Hall, facing Canada
with no Red Wings
applause to be heard
or deserved.

Springtime is nothing
but the internal sweetness
of all things
wishing to escape.

In scabs and sap
the young transplants ooze
from slender necks—
trees and girls alike—
along the modernized river-walk
where the Detroit River
squeezes beneath
evening's eventual
thunder.

When spring finally settles
and I re-remember once again
the world's potential for infinite stillness—
the diagonal streaking
of dense backyard dusk, the
sound of birds slicking off molecules
with no resistance, the sad infinity
of forgotten perfection:

I damn it all and make love to it
simultaneously.

The grotesque perfection is the only
beast with which, anymore, I
am truly capable of
making
love.

There is sour beer I suck in
with a force
as my neighbor throttles a lawnmower
down a repaved alley.

At night
when the river is distant
invisible ships
let go of booming calls
too slick to withhold.

The things we pose and inject
will rearrange themselves anyway
as we sleep through the storm.

The things we force down
will eject with an ease
or turn inside-out
like nervous little
flowers.

All the blossoming is
is this:
the grotesque revealings—
the internal springtimes
we could no longer contain.

Before M-5

When the tropes
of lilac and dusk have
bled from my world, you

will be the only
denseness
left for me
to enter.

But it is
exclusively
in lilac and dusk
that I see you
anyway.

It is at the denseness
of two things mingling
in ferocious overlap—

marked by dusk
marked by lilac—

that we ever really meet.

It is not Ann Arbor
and it is not Sylvan Lake or
the exact distance between but, rather—

the galaxy of distances
and all that is capable of overlap, contained
there within.

The day we drove
the entirety of Pontiac Trail

I felt myself keenly
as I was
at every age
I have ever been.

We took a nap
inside the beading car

in front of a video store—
as if the voyage were that demanding.

Remind me again of the metaphor
embodied
by my choosing to piss into
a dry bathtub
stranded in an open field

instead of the field
itself.

What shirt were you wearing
beside me
at the secret point of land

counting
whitecaps?

That the dusk
and the lilacs
are so brief
is the only metaphor
necessary.

Find me sometime
in abrupt coolness
licking
abrupt dense darkness

straddling the inky pit
where two yards meet

between the skunk
and the possum

counting aloud
the number of blossoms
I feel tantruming
in some lost organ
within me—

in the dusk
and lilac
we dim into
a holy vagueness

where I saw you
most clearly.

Further Thoughts on Density and Bathroom Tile Coolness

There is a secret world
brought to my bedside
this spring

a resilience

as if answering
superstitious
desperate prayers
I hadn't even bothered to
utter, tugging

on bells
dangled
in scorched grass
by accident.

Perfected versions
of my grandparents
and father
arrive at my apartment
finely dressed
with trim haircuts
in a car-washed miracle
of modern
mechanics
and a full gas tank—

they ask me to drive

and to show them
my barking
breathing
son of a bitch
city

in its soft humid prime
preferably
at the hour in which
the oily sun
slips through the cleavage
of automotive headquarter
skyscrapers
like a necklace
dripping into the liquidy
lap of Belle Isle.

The mansions
I drive them past
are dead inside
but they don't need
to know.

My grandparents
cough with joy

and satisfaction

as my dad awes at
the dusk
and the lots
filling

with glittering
darkness
or the visible
leaking of light

with bird voices
breaking from exhaustion
or amazement
and popcans exploding
from surprise
fullness

and on this evening
they are all
my children.

I no longer dare
to dial the number
of our expired landline
2
4
8
6
8
2—
(these numbers
made of morning breath
trailing off into a thin film
of disintegration—
like tissue paper
gossamer as
egg yolk
in the toilet bowl
the night you were up
forever
crying
and coughing)—

no sound is there to answer
the phone
now

except the ghost whisper of
distant cocker spaniel bark
and the swift
squeal of an armchair recliner
collapsing
into ecstatic
relaxation
after making love
to the permanent
density
of
night.

Lasting Advice

When you remember the can of beer
on the veranda
that helped you start this poem
three days ago

open the screen door and retrieve
it.

Then
fearlessly drink the
contents:

1/3 warm beer
1/3 April rain water
1 dead hornet that cannot
hurt you
now.

You toast to the night
that has just
fallen
and to the crack-house guard-dogs
down the alley
that will not
shut up.

Cheers the recent spring novelty of
open
windows
and
therefore, night freighters
that sigh upriver

and
therefore, airliners
constantly nearing impact
with your bedroom

or so it sounds.

Do you close the windows
when you masturbate
tonight?
or
do you allow the world
its own erotic
participation:

a perfect breeze
a hum
a sense of gravity, pounding

or is it from the swish of these
perfect things
that you wish to detach?

Why is the most lasting advice
you remember from your dad

to always urinate immediately
after sex?

and why do you prefer Irish Springs—
a soap
that floats—
simply because it's what Papa kept
on the dock
to bathe in the river?

Will your son also inherit that toothbrushing
quirk
that triggers a violent
gag
reflex?

Will the galaxy of trivia
in your sock drawer
alone
become a
board game
for future generations?

Here is some advice
from a young man startled
by the distant entrance
of middle-age far up ahead
on I-75 North
past dark
indefinite Pontiac

where he once saw
only the sleepy eternity
of lying in a field
with his head on the taut
sweatered stomach
of a well-off Christian
girl:

ask your dad
while you can
when he is there
in the passenger seat
beside you—

what made him weep
when he was your exact age

when mom said
they were living together
for the first time

in the Keego Harbor
upper room and
he'd drink 100 beers
and

cry
about his life.

Ask him what exactly
the matter
was

because you are
currently
starring in its made-for-TV

reenactment

and you want to get the part
just right.

I More Regularly Used the Word Ambition in Song as a Younger Man

When
at the first of May
the dandelions wage an overnight
sweep
across the slick chest
of Detroit

you wonder which feats are
marked by instinct—
sexed-up and mindless—

and which germinate by
desperate ambition.

The dandelions make love to the city
with stalks thistly
and raw.

The dandelions are a sex
unto themselves.

They sprout and sweat and suck
at the sun with petals
of a billion ambitious
tongues—

nectared and heavy.

We wonder if ambition or mechanical instinct, both—
and the vegetative creatures of their production—
are as useless as the Sharpie insignia
on the back of your hand
granting admission to last night's rave.

In the sacred house
that is always for sale
you count the closet stash of
Beanie Babies
stuffed with cushy dollar signs
or perhaps
the dandelion stems
of '94.

You wonder why your mother's ex-boyfriend's
T-shirt is that which you find
most comfortable
to wear to bed.

You wonder why the motorized fan
will blow the teabag strings
out of the mug
into miraculous air-steams

like tampon cords
hovering
in underwater
slo-mo

but not your own tired body
into sweet
levitation.

When the spores of dandelion
fill the bulges
of my closed eyelids—

eyelids
that kiss each other
in awkward
contact

wake me with the news
that the petty struggles
of my lame ambition
were not for not

even if it's a goddamn lie

as pathetic as
the eventual man
signing into his father's dead account
to up his Instagram
likes.

Somewhere between Saint Joseph and Chalmers

(for David)

The things we want have already been secured—
their celebrations dripped throughout summers
before even our births.

And though they wait to be secured again:

we shouldn't worry.

It is the shared wanting between us—
the action and
not the object—that pulses
and matters.

Our want wells us both
with the same fluid
that
neither can see
but hear only in the voice—
trembling.

And if we've forgotten as much as we've learned

about the hot deck waiting
for you and me
to sit at the day's end
of your teenage job

or the contained infinity of college-town
night

or our sacred dogs'
respective whimpers

or our wicked cycles of this fucking country
endless and fevered

—if we've forgotten as much as we've learned

then I wish to learn and then forget and then
learn and forget some more
over and over
and over
in our shared wanting

forever.

*

I wait for you
at a Leo's Coney Island immune to age—

at the imagined nexus
where Telegraph and Woodward
will never meet.

We are 19 and sunburned to our
half-Mediterranean bronzed pinkishness.

In a certain booth
where the napkin dispenser
is inexhaustible

and, like a tide, the waitress
is never not approaching
with a circular grace—

there, we will be this way

forever.

Light Things Lifting

Do you feel a letdown
when the sheets
and sweat
of summer sex cool
in the twisting aftermath
and coat you
in a chill?

Or after devouring
the Applebees steak
upon remembering the
existence
of customarily gratuitous
gratuity?

Can you smell the air
thick as a steak
garnished with blossoms

welcoming your waitress
after closing
as a newborn
delivered
out through the alley door
into the welcoming night

waddling
home to feed her cat
waiting in a pitch black
unconsciousness?

At least you know that
you are capable of an impressive
capacity for zen

kneeling backwards
into a car seat—
sitting shotgun

playing mind games with
yourself
to successfully start
a stream of urine
into the open mouth
of an empty bottle of
Vitamin Water.

At least you are
capable of returning
physically
to the sites
of subtle moments in your life
when something
wonderful
and savage was felt

no matter what
letdown may have
followed.

Take one last piss
in the lilacs of luxury
surrounding
your father's backyard—

in that ring of garland, walls
of velvet and wax
from secret lungs
breathed suggestions
into
the flowering mechanisms
of your inner ear.

The tin wreckage of soccer
rebounding nets
encased in all that
rotting satin
will reassemble
and stake
a marker into the eternally
locatable back bedroom
fixed forever
in relation to
Square Lake Road
and Middlebelt
despite the desperate suck
and pull of
petty
outer space.

Make love beneath
the crabapples'
blossoms—
white
and heavy

the soft pulpy
bulbs
squishing
beneath two bodies
into the sodden floor
there beneath.

Like garbage
blooming
beneath the raccoon's
crafty
claw
and spinning upward
into an umbrella of orbit
when the pedals
catch breeze:

there is no letdown
in the reversal
of the hellish
into the
holy.

Only-Child Smelling Best-Friend's Older-Brother-Age

Let us make an adventure
of how little we deserve the spring's
return.

When my mother calls
telling me not to bother
with anything special for Mother's Day
but reminding me as well
in that same breath—

there is a genius in cunning timidity.

I'm made timid by the robin's relocated stare.

I am undeserving of all that is
re-awoken

and unsure what must occur
to allow myself to
re-awake
as well.

Only in my memory do I recognize
the plump currency
juiced out and dripping
from all things.

Only there am I deserving.

When my dad sells the house
involuntarily

I torment to imagine what we will find
in the backyard shed
permanently matting down the
early June grass.

Perhaps some force
will have collected there
an eternal catalog of things thought
discarded:

the broken-arm lawsuit cast,
Teemu's collar and lock of fur,
the missing key,
the secret note
from Jackie's organ,
the blender of sleepover chocolate malts,
the baby bunny skeletons,
the discontinued maxi pads mom wisely hoarded,
the enormous front teeth my young mouth
produced yet
could hardly contain.

Display for me these things or strew them about
a springtime world
where the garage doors grease with a
slicked-up fury

greased by the eager
juices
of teenagers sneaking out
and
teenagers sneaking
in

where the robins' wings clap out
horrific remembrances—

a springtime dusk
that I hardly deserve but
would rather die
than to
divorce.

Display them for me
or let me make an adventure of finding them

there—in the one corner
of the neighborhood left
somehow untouched

(maybe in the Banish family's garage
that always smelled of
older-brother-age
waiting
just ahead)

where I wait for myself
in perfected form

naked
having lost
nothing

with eyelids clapping in
a fury of disbelief

like robin wings

lost in the density of
night.

Our Lady of Refuge

I am stranded in gravel and the shrapnel
of forgotten recyclables
30 miles south of
my early heaven.

Like a mallard's neck
caught in the 6-pack rings—
a strange dead city has looped me
captive to pace
blocks of sun-bleached
detritus.

In the spring
I left my apartment
and learned to digest
the flowering garbage.

My insides—
like a lakebed
sunk in tarry muck and the
eellike sways of twisted vegetation—
blossom in bulges of silvery trash
and the internal blemishes
of bruised lilac.

I remember though
kinda
clearly
a banquet
to the north.

We did not pace in abandonment
then.

We wandered and slinked
between the inland lakes
freely
like the beery breaths
of newly
not-children

too sweet-hearted
or enraptured by
each other's raw
stinking summer
alive anatomy

and greased underarm
similitude

to ever be embarrassed.

When I escape my pacing

crawl north through endless layers
of scorched living rooms
and backyards skewered together
with
arrows impaling soccer balls
legs broken
pets maimed and whimpering
in the shadow
of the barbecue—

when I return:

will the Ferris wheel
of the St. Mary's Fair
spin wildly
unmanned
and propelled
by its own centripetal
longing

will the little lakes
flush in whirlpools
sucking toward a past
that
no longer has form?

Let me arrive at the cement shore
of Sylvan Lake
and roll into
it.

And in that motion
through closed eyelids
let me find
that exact afternoon light—

of drawn blinds
in the back bedroom
of my parents' house

that one day

when
so tired from
teeming life
I fell asleep
perfectly
before the sun
dropped
dead.

Morristown Fiction

I broke your mug (the one
with the woodpecker)
today, while doing
the dishes.

It wasn't on purpose—
I don't think.

But when things slick up
we sometimes relax our grip
when it just feels right
to let it loose.

It's getting hot now
but part of me is
still on the frozen bike trail
kicking snow into your face

in the most playful
exhibition of fearing
terribly love's inevitable
dissolution.

Even there
in the horrid lighting
of La Rosa Market

where we warmed
with the complimentary
coffee
which all but melted through
the bottoms of
the styrofoam cups

your face glowed with
the ideal personification
of every moment
I've dreaded would eventually
burn a hole through me
and drain
out
similarly:

with all the cough syrup
and all the chocolate syrup
and all the syrupy Vicks VaporRub
massaged into my chest
by mother at midnight

draining out
like all the coffee—
small lakes of coffee—
we spilt on Sundays
like a ritual
and never bothered
to clean up
(also like a ritual)—

draining out
with every fluid I ingested
in our carport kingdom
before fatal
eviction. (The fumes

have been sucked into the lilac
lung and it is me—
I promise—
that drips there
beneath
its petals.)

Now
more summers have passed
than the number
that we spent
combining our sweat
into a rare
and potent
concoction.

Skipping across
the whitecaps
like stations
on someone's dad's
boat's radio

searching for a place to
land.

If I land
in some foreign
future
back at the
forsaken place—

with the length
of St. Joseph Street
breaking its tiny bones
to reach
Morristown or
Canaan or
the tongued caverns of my
back molars

I will scan
like a radio
melting in the sun
for an
identical replacement
to your woodpecker
mug

right in the place where we
found it all
the first time

and
you know

I will search helplessly
there

for you
as well.

Once They Sneak in They Are In/All Deposits Final

10 a.m and I'm
standing here holding
someone's Best Buy receipt
from
1996.

Suck me back through the
automatic sliding doors—
were they automatic by then?

Suck me back like
a pneumatic tube at the credit union's
drive-thru.

My overripe body is the retroactive
glistening
deposit.

When I awake by a voicemail
10 minutes before my actual alarm
from a woman at some doctor's office
asking if I, a doctor, have the
test results for a certain patient—

I wish that I did.

I wish I could do more
for
everyone.

Let me be the newly trapped
housefly
that got in through the crack
you leave in the window
while
showering in summer—

when it is still full of vigor
and curiosity
to explore
the space

(like me, too, I think:
the day I moved in
some sorry March).

And though the fly
becomes anemic—
like this metaphor

undoubtedly reused
each spring
(when I rewrite the same
song
in different words

finding creative ways
to rebreak the same tongue)—
it'll growl to a halt
(the fly)
or sputter in bursts
of desperate response

to the outer world's
ghost trains and barbecue
birds
gliding with cartoon halos
above Nana's potato salad
at the glorious moment
of death.

And though I secretly
release Papa's gerbils
from the tennis court traps
before he can dunk them
in buckets
like powdered donuts
in a final
Folgers—

there is only so much I can do.

I wish I could do more
for
everyone.

Such cliches are the dreadful
housefly and train whistle
and ambulance dirges
drowsily pissing their sounds
into the hot and bothered
stillness of early summer
bedroom
at the moment
of morbid masturbation
and imagined climactic death.

Bless the cliches of joyous depression.
Bless the evictions from our holy lands.

In the petty struggles the glory is
emblazoned
on dead receipts.

There is a rash across my overheated
body
alone and outstretched
in a bed
of sunken time.

There are two wiry hairs
deriving from the single follicle.

With the creatures of summer
struggle
sweating or panting
I am married
to a single origin of death's
birth
and birth's death.

It makes no difference

and I will still smile
in ecstatic gratitude

when the next arbitrary
wonder
slips through the ever-ajar
crevice

to startle my fancy.

The Juice of What Was

Wondering to what forms

the green grapes and cantaloupe
of that perfect day
have now decomposed and
scattered.

What is there left for me to love?

I love the juice of what was.

Still tarting a region of my tongue
when I bite it by accident
and feel the stab of you.

I love the unspoken feeling
and, less so, the language
I desperately arrive at
regarding it.

If I were to skin my knee
continuously
along the trailer park sidewalk
spanning Keego Harbor—

where we once floated
like mercury on heat

a perfect summer element—

then I could feel it again
more acutely
than if I were to, say, list
every business establishment
linking that distance.

I do wish
though
that
instead of cells

my body were the connection
of nail salons
coney island restaurants
optometrist offices
pet groomers
and the gas station

(the nearest one, that
I loved so much [prior to
renovation—
where the bathroom
was identical
to the domestic ones
in our
uniform
neighborhood
adjacent]).

I will always love
the things I ever loved.

My love for my world

local and enormous

cools unconsciously there
face-down
on the wetted tiles
of my father's bathroom

(the larger one, clean
as it was [when my mother
still lived there]).

Let me die on that
midnight bathroom floor

in the lovely world
stilled and frozen
with perfection.

I will be reborn instantly
from a mysterious litter
inside the cabinet beneath
the sink.

Like Teemu—
slick with birth
in the Vankers' mud-room
turtle
sandbox

I will exit and love it all

with newborn
blinded
eyes

all over again.

The Fish Dave Caught

Yes, I'd like to be captured
in the summer infinity
of doing the dishes
after that great meal you made
with the silver bass
Dave caught from
Lake St. Claire
caked in animal cracker
crumbs—

doing the dishes in the rushing
water
turned a bit too hot for comfort
but stinging and warning of
wild activation

and laughing at settled dusk
when the questions
"how are you" and
"what are you doing in there"
are infinities in themselves.

Overnight

Overnight
there are foreign profusely
dripping blossoms
in the trees outside the
Greyhound station on the brink of
downtown.

Why does the still
spring air
through a window screen
at dusk
resemble the soft
static of diagonal rains
buzzing in a bloody
pink?

Overnight
you have
quit your job and moseyed back
to the pockmarked highway
half-covered in fallen rotting fruit
in the ripening season.

Why did I hurt my mother's
heart
when she had me unwrap
the framed photo she
brought me
as a gift
on no particular
occasion?

How can I communicate
to her
that my heart cannot
bear another reminder
of the pounding love
relentless and severe
between us
that cripples me daily?

Overnight
murderous sirens
distancing and approaching
turn back to the
barks of morning dogs and
confused birds.

Overnight
your social media
statistics have dropped
to dismal figures.

Overnight
someone cut your
father's hair
and improved his mood
and notion of self-worth
dramatically.

Overnight
your grandmother can
hardly make it up the set
of stairs without creaking like
a floor of crushed popcans.

Why do you hear such footsteps
in other rooms of your apartment
overnight
when there is no grandmother
present?

Sit with me
please
both sets of grandparents
dead
and
alive in my cramped apartment
in this neighborhood of
foreign profusely dripping
blossoms
that can smell of heaven
and death at once.

Sit with me
and let us admire this immaculately
framed photograph

a gift from my mother—

it is of the train station

(the one at the end of my street
collecting wind
like an open mouth
left chapped
and gaping
overnight).

Troy

Elatedly poisoned
with the bourbon
your grandpa gets for cheap
at the military base
out by some forgotten
airport—

turning your secretive
insides a
suburban green
tarred out
in tennis courts
and virginal gardens
before you:

is this
where you
flirted with
expiration dates—

with glistening mortgages
and
the slick wires
of orthodontic
summers?

I've staggered upward
the endless
ramp
of the landscaper's trailer

to brush
the back of
my hand
lovingly across
this perfect subdivision
where

the windows
no longer wish
to break
the bones of
our forearms
with locked jaws

as we grab at
scented money
from the
early June
sky.

When the wind and
light
change with an abrupt
unbecoming aggression—
nothing but hot breath
insisting and
repositioning
our houseplants
presumptuously—

I sit then
in Papa's immortal den
with
Dorito-dust fingers

sucking at
my annoyance.

So fragile is our
perfection
that even
the bitchy weather
can brutalize it
with a pushy
punctuation.

How horrid—
how wonderful
to madden with the stormy breeze
that
commandeers the maple branches
for its tongue
its larynx
its showy
operatic hissing
in a circular
pounding
of intensifying
vanity.

Could our perfection
be any
more
high-maintenance
if it tried?

In Papa's den—
even on the outdated
desktop monitor, a
dense paperweight morgue—
the Facebook profiles
of not-so-recently-deceased
high school
acquaintances
will load in unpredictable waves
of resolution

rushing and lulling
as if manned
by an invisible wind
within the system.

But to suck at
the greenery when motionless—

as if the new summer
has stunned itself
by the chemicals
of its own existence

(like the pubescent

himself
frozen
in his parents'
bathroom

agog at the odor
and hair
germinating
in
little summers
across his every crevice)—

to suck at the puberty
of the world

as the grandfatherly blowhard
or the late-20s
heir
to
the
wilting garden
of car batteries
and fertilized
carnage
our sweet
sour bodies
compost

to suck at the puberty
of the world

to suck and suck
and suck
is
the only
heaven
there
is.

Detroit Riverwalk West

Where
the coughing
white men
in cargo shorts
and this season's
knockoff Tigers jerseys
smoke long cigarettes
fuming
like gestures
toward the older

black men
at the railing—
men
beautifully
slapping the panting
fish

silver
as glinting coins
onto
the fresh
blacktop—

I wonder what it is
they really store
in their cargo pockets

and what it is
they really
aim to hook

there
at the ancient
bottom
of the overheated
automotive
river.

*

For all we aim
to protect or
assail

a final summer arrives—
broken and
motionless:

the summer of
toenails
piling
behind the headboard

of sex frozen
in its
fever

mindless July
snowing in
cellular
flakes

concealing
the 5th grade ulna
splintered inside
the wilted
white cast of
moist
skin

reeking of its own
dank
containment—

there

on the torn-up
carpet of the
once
perfect home

intruders laugh
wickedly

and peel at
our heaven

the rind from
the flesh.

© 2015 Matthew Christopher Milia