Joe Milazzo: “absolute clearance”





absolute clearance

one crewman is singing
as he sucks the old cellulose
(basically paper one contractor tells
me as if balancing the enormous sphere
of his expertise on the tip of this detail)
out of the attic so his buddies
(so I assume) can start
doing their remediation for us

later I hear him laughing
the laugh of a thin man
pitched high but languid
the space between each “ha”
a left foot working the sostenuto
almost as if he were laughing
at the reflex itself (maybe all the
involuntary stuff sardined
in the rising and falling of a chest) (maybe
the deus ex machina dancing
behind laughter’s stunts)

their day is done once
they’ve blown in new snow
drifts of fiberglass to hide
our home’s irregularities and
obstructions and penetrations
waiting for the crew chief
(one of those chummy guys
covered in pale orange fur who
we’ve never seen not
wearing shorts) to come
and inspect their work their talk
turns theological at least I hear
them talking about god as if
they know him (or it) or maybe
they’re gossiping about a pastor
who fleeced a woman of her
powerball jackpot but I think
their conversation is less a matter
of bullshitting and more one
of apologetics or anagnorisis (shut
doors sheetrock that needs to be
depopcorned and my own Sisyphean
posturing crossing up any interpretation)
but I think someone is under some
pretty terrible conviction
maybe the thin laugher has strayed
or keeps aligning himself with
error and his friends are endeavoring
to steer him from perdition baptizing
him in the mold and rodent pheromones
(shit and piss) that as briefly
ago as this morning (before
these men showed up on our doorstep)
were hanging above our jitters
our foreplay our role-playing our time
in front of the TV and now
to pad their hours they’re sweeping
out of our garage into the alley
and from there who knows where



About the Author: Joe Milazzo is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie, two volumes of poetry — The Habiliments and Of All Places In This Place Of All Places — and several chapbooks (most recently, @p_roblem_s). He is an Associate Editor for Southwest Review and the Founder/Editor-In-Chief of Surveyor Books. Joe lives and works in Dallas, TX, and his virtual location is


Image Credit: Mike Whye ” ATTIC, SOUTHEAST POST AND THREE BEAMS IN CENTER AREA OF ATTIC, LOOKING SOUTHEAST. – Fort Leavenworth, Building No. 17, 20-22 Sumner Place, Leavenworth, Leavenworth County, KS”  Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

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