Karen’s Just a Kid by Matthew Milia

That photo of your dad at your current age
Splattered like the ceiling of the microwave
Now the TV's splattered too

Someone sucked the sweet milk
From the bottom of your bowl
Your mom's been sad
I think she lost control
She tried to call you but you let it ring
Each toll for you

Don't believe
Each summer evening
Will be grieving in any way for you

We all know the plan
And the glow from your suntan
Will orbit in the planetary
Through and through

Maybe Karen's just a kid
But I still wanna know
What she hid inside
Her little room

I'm feeling like a little boy
With nowhere else to go
With nothing left to taste
But spit and gloom

And how'd you get so prone to this
Exaggerated loneliness?
When you can't even catch your breath at all

And Karen just turned 21
And you still yearn for anyone
To answer when you call
But Karen's just a kid

That summer you went mad down in Waterford
Your mom and dad went unmonitored
You tried to call them but the line was dead

Now I can't even tell you what time of the year
We find ourselves
Or what hemisphere
Or the shape your mouth took
When you looked to me and said

You said
Don't believe each little evening
Will be leaving
Its tender mark on you
We all know the score
And the jacket that you wore
Belonged to someone you swore
Would be immaculate and true

Maybe Karen's just a kid
But I still wanna know
What she hid inside
Her little room

I'm feeling like a little boy
With nowhere else to go
And nothing left to taste
But spit and gloom

And the cops creep up 14th Street
At the stop sign in the backseat
I see some kid I knew in study hall

And every day the world just shrinks in
Some familial extinction
Till it's so very small
And Karen's just a kid

Appears on Alone at St. Hugo

Why Is It? by Matthew Milia

Today I didn't leave the house
But a friend came by for a visit
Oh, why is it?

I called my mom
I called my dad
I listened to some new records Anna had
Oh, why is it?

I hear your voice in every room
But there's no one there
There's no one whom
I'd like to know but you

Why is it?

That I can tell
That you see the world the way
I do and I might as well
Stay around to see
If you can tell
You're the one I wanna see
And selfishly
I need to know
If you wanna
See me

Today I didn't leave the house
Though the weather was rather exquisite
Oh, why is it?

I paid the phone bill
I sent the rent
I made a dent in Crime and Punishment
But I still wanna know
Why is it?

I signed some 25-cent checks
And forged my neighbor's name
For the guy from FedEx

But then I went back to bed
Why is it?

That I can tell
That you see the world the way
I do and I might as well
Stay around to see
If you can tell
You're the one I wanna see
And selfishly
I need to know
If you wanna
See me

I hear your voice in every room
Every room

Appears on Alone at St. Hugo

Abruptly Old and Caffeinated by Matthew Milia

Service to the landline
Disconnected in year twenty-nine
And the nervous black universe
In the soft pit of your mom's purse
Where the years hid
In the Kleenex
And the tears slid
Down her V-necks
And the spring thawed us
Like a carton of ice cream
But we woke
Didn't we?
In a nice dream

Sooner or later
The sad refrigerator
Is holding brands that no one knows

A young imitator
Is standing in the crater
And he's wearing your forgotten clothes

Now we're young adults with tongues
Burnt on boiling coffee
The asthma in our lungs
Burnt away so harshly

Back when we were
Elated from the moment we're created
But who anticipated we'd be
Abruptly old and caffeinated?

Show me how you felt
The night we heard the world melt
From my room in some year
In some life far from here
And tell me the new name
That you earned when spring came
How it burned in your mind
As I learned it a third time

Each single person
With a tendency to worsen
I seem to think that we'll be friends

Why don't you call me?
And tell me all about the little way
You're terrified that this all ends

For now
We're young adults with tongues
Burnt on boiling coffee
The splinters from the rungs
You sweetly plucked them off me

Elated as the red sun penetrated
It slowly self-deflated
And we're abruptly old and caffeinated

Oh, what'd you do today?
You sleep until the sunlight is upon your eyes
And you won't get your way
If you don't try
To reach into what belongs to you
And take it back
But you don't want to

My mother's neighbor
Saw my picture in the paper holding
A high school photograph of her

I look just like my mother
If you mixed her with another
And froze in time the way they were

When they were young adults with tongues
Burnt on boiling coffee
I memorized the songs
You sang them to me softly

Back when we were

Elated as the girls that you once dated
The lips all separated
And you’re abruptly old and caffeinated

Elated from the moment we're created
But who anticipated we'd be
Abruptly old and caffeinated?

Elated when from St. Hugo graduated
Downhill we will spill
Over-caffeinated

Appears on Alone at St. Hugo

Schemer by Matthew Milia

My scheme
Was to redeem
Every previous scheme I had pulled

I thought
I had my shot
That's why I bought
Something for you to hold

Till I came
Back in the name
That I had when I started out

But I can't recall how it went
Or what it was all about

So I go power-walking with my mom
Through the first profile she had
On AOL-dot-com
And I may as well
Sign on

My dreams are of old teams
For which I warmed the bench on
The game where my grandparents came

And Halloween decorations mean
A lot to me
To the spot in me
That's hotter than the autumn sun
But colder than the autumn's shoulder
When the fall winds run

I stapled my fate to skateboard kicktails
And rash attachments on desperate emails
I'm drowning in dry cleaning tags and safety pins

Do you think it's something you still can make matter?
I wake up every Sunday in the pancake batter
With all my soccer trophies just posed like mannequins

Twenty short years
In my narrow hallway house

The televisions muted
I've booted any spouse
On an anniversary that's hinging off the door
The furnace is a nursery
For the only child we bore

And how it
Roars with old spit
On the carpet I installed

With my knees
Was it centuries
Ago when oh, how we crawled?

When I came
In with the name
That you gave me when I woke

Gently, evidently
All our time was just some kind of joke

My scheme
Was to redeem
Every previous scheme I had pulled

Appears on Alone at St. Hugo

Swollen Home by Matthew Milia

Always clearing my throat
In the exact sound as my mother
She drip-dried my raincoat
That I took from my dad's brother

This October
Will fill the Silverdome
Swollen home

Always smelling those burnt
Plastic TV dinners
After soccer practice we weren't so
Hungry as beginners

This October
Will explode the styrofoam
Swollen home

Birthdays next week will
Make it all fast-forward
So I’ll press on your hot cheek till
I'm in the apple orchard

The cider mills of Rochester Hills
Where I rewind
And automatically
Taste the static we find

I'm tripping off you when I get that youth rush
Sipping off you when I taste your toothbrush
You were faceless in some weird dream that I had
On the basis that I feared that you'd turned bad
Empty Pontiac when the snows dust
Save a place for you outside my lust

Save a place for me when our homes bust

Appears on Alone at St. Hugo

Attention Students by Matthew Milia

Can you hear me mutter
Your social security number
As I clean my apartment manically?

I text myself to make sure
The world didn't turn to vapor
While you might've been trying to contact me

So I'll spend a mild winter
Having reconciled the dorm room printer
That duplicates your sick smile endlessly

They say your past was checkered
But with every dental record
I couldn't find a single cavity

And the night you wrestled me to the ground
It just felt nice to feel your touch
I'd rather hear the deafening sound
Than the silence of your absent clutch

So I brought you down to my world
With mention of how it once was
Attention students
Blaring in my ear

Will the man who she marries
Still be there in two Januaries?
I can't say
But either way, the snow falls

I should do myself a favor
And curb this young behavior
Before my tongue slips into
Foreign phone calls

Another heartbroken sighting
Of your grade school name
In your mom's handwriting
The slow decay sure get its way
Now doesn't it?

So as you update your status
Prostrate on the mattress
But your word choice
Was in a stolen voice
Now wasn't it?

And the night you wrestled me to the ground
It just felt nice to feel your touch
I'd rather hear the deafening sound
Than the silence of your absent clutch

So I brought you down to my world
With mention of how it once was
Before the roaring
Snowmelt left me here

Yes, I brought you down to my world
Where you can hear the soft buzz
Attention students
Blaring in my ear

Appears on Alone at St. Hugo

Sometimes I Feel Like My Arm’s Falling Off by Matthew Milia

Sometimes I feel like my arm's falling off
I've been reaching so long for you
But you're in the place
Where all the addresses erase
And there's nothing that I can do

Just slurp on my stasis
I fell in love with every waitress
From Sylvan Lake to Pontiac
Memorized their makeup and their eyes as they take up
A plate from here into the back

I'm aware that I'm disappearing
It seems to be the natural way

Oh, goddamn

Could you say you've ever been lonely?
Could you say you've ever really been lonely?
Could you say you've ever been lonely?
'Cause I don’t think you have

Sometimes I feel like our old answering machine
With an infinity of nights inside
Choke on the vestiges of soft-spoken messages
From a lifetime that crawled off and died

So I spin like a floodlight
In the sky above so bright
From the nightclub a couple miles from here
Where as kids in the danger
We'd solicit a stranger
To buy us cigarettes and beer

And I'm alone at St. Hugo
When there's nowhere else to go
When there's nothing in the slush to find I'm waiting for my mother
Or the touch of another
In the computer lab inside my mind

But I remember the feeling
Before the ceiling
Buckled under its own weight
I've tasted our fear since
The initial appearance
Of the expiration date

I'm aware I'm being evicted
I used to hold the skeleton key

Oh, goddamn

Could you say you've ever been lonely?
Could you say you've ever really been lonely?
Could you say you've ever been lonely?
'Cause I don’t think you have

Sometimes I feel like my arm's falling off
I've been reaching so long for you

Appears on Alone at St. Hugo

Congratulations Honey by Matthew Milia

Congratulations honey
It's once again that time of year
Your dad's Disability money
Seemed to make the bad things disappear
But it's even cold when it's sunny
It's even cold when you're near me
I tried to hard to be funny
I tried to hard for you to hear me

When the family storage unit closes forever
And you'll never hear the motorized ornaments again
In some white trash towns where the solace drowns whenever
The muffler putters away like a birthday balloon
Losing wind

I lost your name in the autumn
Is there something else that I can call you?
You left me down at the bottom
Is there something I could do to stall you?

Because there's 30 years of back-to-school tears in your eyes
With the cleaning supplies that smell like coming home
And the leaves that scrape in their escape, it implies
A familiar voice that's growing faint
On the other end of the telephone

When the family storage unit closes forever
And you'll never hear the motorized ornaments again
In some white trash towns where the solace drowns whenever
The muffler putters away like a birthday balloon
Losing wind

Thinking about some house I knew in college
Thinking about some girl I knew in 6th grade
Thinking about the taste of her apology
And the smell of the coffee that my dad made

Congratulations honey
It's once again that time of year

Appears on Alone at St. Hugo

Puncture by Matthew Milia

Coffee grounds and awful sounds of parental bones breaking
Rental cars picking up stars in the making
Meanwhile the backyard has new knives for grass
It punctures my bare feet
And soccer balls hissing gas

The night that the winds rose abruptly and broke the fence
The unctuous world acquired a puncturing consequence
We slammed the storm windows from inside the bed
And I got so frightened when you slammed into me and said

On the smooth tar behind our unused local laundromat
A one-gallon plastic jug of 2% milk that
Slipped out of somebody's hand on a shortcut
Or maybe they threw it just to possibly see what

White cream expiring on a black backdrop can be
Sticky and violent or suggestively sexy
Or blessed and infested with the creatures of the heat wave
Stuck in the muck where our heaven had its street paved

But it feels different this time around
The sunburned bodies where I walk through the town
Way upstate where I stated my homage
To each organism that tasted the knowledge

Of dying ecstatically each time we come
Down to the river where I pierced my thumb
On the sharp gills of the perch I was holding
When all of the thrills of the search were unfolding
For me

The night that you proudly said you were immortal
And I wondered out loud how that would be an advantage
I said I thought death might be a merciful portal
To filter the holiness that we pilfered from the wreckage

Of coffee grounds and awful sounds of parental bones breaking
Rental cars dropping off stars for the taking
Meanwhile the lazy love we both outgrew
Is reincarnated as a girl who tastes nothing like you

You look different this time around
Is your middle name Catherine now?
Is your mother asleep in the garden?
Is your father still weeping or hardened?

And where is your bedroom that I'm made to memorize
Where all the red fumes of morning will vaporize
Where all the angels of sweetness were murdered
Where the holy completeness of that song was murmured
By me?

I feel different this time around
Not so ignorant to what I've found
Deep in the crease of the least of my brothers

Appears on Alone at St. Hugo

Alive at the Same Time by Matthew Milia

Tuesday morning
Karen's in my bed
I can tell I might be in over my head

I haven't got a thing to do today
I'm swimming in the coffee
Trying to find a way

To tell you that I need you
And that it frightens me
But I'm agreed to
Stay around to see

And tell you that I love you
Whatever that might be
To be alive contemporaneously

I'm glad that you and I've
Been alive at the same time
It''s just the way I’m trying to say
That I need you

I hope that you and I
Stay alive at the same time
It’s just the way I’m trying to say
That I love you

I walk myself down Michigan Avenue
I need a drink to think about what I should do
Before you hit downtown it's a no-man’s-land
And that's exactly where I tend to wanna stand

Constantly older than I ever thought I'd be
It seems the world stays young
And moves away from me

You're a little younger
It doesn't bother me
Tell your father what we said about Radio City

I'm glad that you and I've
Been alive at the same time
It''s just the way I’m trying to say
That I need you

I hope that you and I
Stay alive at the same time
It’s just the way I’m trying to say
That I love you

Wednesday morning, Karen's in my bed
I can tell I might be in over my head
Seems there's nothing I can't do today
I'm drowning in the coffee
Everything's okay

Appears on Alone at St. Hugo

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

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

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

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

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