Joseph V. Milford

1. Overhead Bayonet Joe = Aries
2. Mine Sweeper = Taurus
3. Radio Guy = Gemini
4. Crawling Rifle Guy = Cancer 
5. Pistol Joe = Leo
6. Kneeling Machine Gunner = Virgo
7. Mortar Drop Joe = Libra
8. Bazooka Joe = Scorpio
9. Grenade Thrower = Sagittarius
10. Lying Rifleman = Capricorn
11. Kneeling Rifle Guy = Aquarius
12. Flame Thrower = Pisces

i now have three of my childhoods
on burning leashes
the first dog is dangerous because
of its innocence—willingness
to devour anything, regardless of poison
he is only hunger and recovery
the second dog is a bit more frightening
he is starving—knowledgeable, able
to break the leash, but holds back
because he may kill the hand
who feeds him—the third dog is
terrifying—he no longer wants
or needs the food i provide
and he has already chewed through the leash
and he faces off at me, the old dog
and he hesitates, for a moment, knowing that he
will be leashing his childhoods soon,
waiting to put them down like he never could me


the used condom
in the alley of
my daily walk

conspicuous by the curb
stretched out in the gutter
in leaves and scuttle

an aboriginal or aborted
a constant plastique pod
of making love or so-called

soul-mates or fuck-buddies or not
and all that falls between
bones of roadkill and broken

glass on that street
something bursting and always
trying on that street

to find life, to find family
like the trees all around us
covered in plastic bags

holding all of the secrets
in their branches like
plastic apparitions

yellowed hung and lynched
whispering in the wind
meager flags of oblivion

semaphores guiding you
to things already crashed

Iñárritu and Lubezki (resurrection scenes in the film The Revenant)
resurrection by Dream of the Lost World
resurrection from Totem (bear)
resurrection from Earth (buried alive)
resurrection by Gunpowder to the throat (Song)
resurrection by Water (river as arrows fly)
resurrection by Air (falling Star)
resurrection by Fire (Shaman pyre, wolf, buffalo)
resurrection by Smoke (Healing Womb Tent)
resurrection by Snowflakes (Childhood Laughter)
resurrection by Castle Perilous ruins (the descent)
resurrection by Second Totem and new womb (Horse Belly)
resurrection as Savior (rescue of Pawnee Princess)
resurrection by Ice (Walking the frozen Lake)
resurrection by Language (writing in ice-cave)
resurrection by Civilization (Fort and Medicine)
resurrection by Revenge (Armageddon and Megiddo)
resurrection by Tribal Chief killing Nemesis (final shaman)
resurrection by Blood (Final Battle)
resurrection by Sophia (Ghost in the Woods)
resurrection of Will without vengeance (final glance in camera)


the patina on the others’ faces
a submarine dives deep into you
there’s no forgetting it—a tattoo
of a squid fighting a bloom of jellyfish
this is why we rub our fists in our eyes
in the morning—trying to work out
the salt of dream waves—the corona
you hide with your daft, punk sunglasses
the strategic wings on the eyes’ edges
which ask if you’ll be in the meeting today?
and will you be authentic when you are?
you are a drone flying over your own life
but you don’t know who is holding the controls
5G dogs jumping in and out of strangers’
swimming pools in abandoned foreclosed
squats as the Western coast of your country
burns to ash and melting syringes—i think
that it is strange that i always knew this
was going to happen, but as a kid, i never
thought that this could ever happen—i will
sled down the old hill on the trashcan lid
with you all holding the sparklers and
laughing as our drinks stain the snow red


like a handful of nails
in a bin 
at the hardware store

or every car
in a fast-food lane

or every piece
of curbside debris
as you drive country roads

the black lint
in your bellybutton
the self-detritus

or squirrels
are always just one squirrel

or avoiding mirrors
or a stranger’s hair on your shoulder

at all costs
the entire authentic life
has become periphery

instead of focus
or has it always been that
even when were chasing mammoths

the first symbol
you ever had—
do you remember?

that first shift?
the aspect that was
representative of the entire

machine and more than
the machine itself?
it creates a cultural addiction

to symbols, a starvation
occurs when the memes
are absent

the antlers
from the fog

what would you cut
out of yourself
if you could? what is your shame?

or, more precisely
at this point, what would you 
add to yourself shamelessly?

sticking your hand in a jar
of jellybeans at a candyshop
is now just searching the cloud

with your hands, your palms
this singing, vibrating
Kubrick obelisk cellphone

i like popping bubblewrap
when i get a package
better than the gift there

i forget impending Nature
(when you use the word “impending”
your readers go straight to “doom”)

and all of the turkey vultures
on the cell phone masts
washing their outspread wings in the rain

351: from After The Mermaids Are Gone

An empty gunrack
Unswept broken glass
A lost left shoe on the road
A crumbling warehouse
A half-sunken boat
A barn-house Frigidaire
A husk of a wrecked Mustang
A bar that used to be there
Every ancient train depot
A frame with nothing celebrated
A set of housekeys at the bottom
Of an ocean 

390: from After The Mermaids Are Gone

Old man
With it
In his hand
Finally places
The worn
Into the case
And closes it
And with
Burning pen
The wood with:

“ducunt volentem fata,
nolentem trahunt”


i crawled out of your house.
i walked to your house.
i ran to your house.
i biked to your house.
i crashed my car into your house.
i built wings upon your house.
i sat in the attic like its pilot.
i made myths of your house.
i fantasized killing myself in your house.
i flew over your house.
i buried a house under your house.

why did you leave?
kissing the infinite with your blue lips.
your skin I touched that morning, colder than an Arctic wave.

i stay in your house.
my hands shake all day
because the doors

can’t be opened
can’t be closed


i’d like to write a sentence as unctuous as the marrow.

Joseph V. Milford published his first collection of poems, Cracked Altimeter, with BlazeVox Press in 2010 and has another collection of poems, Tattered Scrolls And Postulates, Vol. I, from Backlash Press (2017). He edits an online literary thread, RASPUTIN, which publishes poetry exclusively.
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