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Noms for New Poetry from the Midwest Anthology

Updated: Feb 1


Cross Your Fingers For Our Poets!

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we nominated the work of three talented poets for inclusion in the New Poetry from the Midwest 2019 anthology published by New American Press. This anthology features poets who currently live in, pursued an education in, or were born in the Midwest. Cross your fingers for Bria, Milena, and Brian, and read their poems below.

For Avi, by Bria Rivet

This is how I know you, ladybug:

Her at the door, barely showing,

with a black and white picture of the best thing, the scariest thing.

I can just about see you, not quite all built yet,

and she tells me it's good, she's happy.

She is Persephone in the summer, not ready to go home.

She is smaller than I remember, younger—

bringing company, bringing you.

This is how I know you, baby:

Coming into this world, splitting open

the woman you came to put back together,

with your spring-window eyes and your cinnamon smile.

She needed you, darling,

needed your ricochet rage and your curious heart—

she longs so deeply for that fire.

Your daddy does not let her see how he fades

when she is beside him, how her light could swallow him whole.

But you, baby, you keep her warm, keep her soft.

You keep a light on for her to follow home.

This is how I know you, sunshine:

Enough hair to be messy, enough courage not to fear anything,

a laugh that sends monsters back into the closet.

You look for her in the dark, you know,

and her hands will always find your baby fingers.

This is how you'll grow, ladybug:

With her love, and her strength, and her kindness.

Keep your fire, keep your heart;

keep her within your reach.

See her standing, always, your little hand reaching back,

ready to pull her on with you into the dawn.

Let Me Tell You About White, by Milena Petrovic

Naked and strong always

alert

You can use her any

way you want

White has it all yet

she has no home

White when dirty the

color of bones

Unforgiving

Some see white as pure

I find her motivated and ready

coming toward me like a

revelation

White wakes me when I dream

I am falling

I last saw my mother

on a white mattress pad

My fingers cried to

touch white teeth

the whites of eyes

Her white pills in my hands like tiny gods

Present Tense, by Brian Burmeister

“It’s like stepping through a time machine,” he says. “Have you seen this?”

She sets their coffees down, Garfield ceramics steaming.

Morning reds flood the room.

“No.” She takes the paper, sighs. His index tapping at the words.

Her eyes scan, rescan. “They have to use wood? Like camping?”

He nods, says, “There’s nothing else.”

“Every day? In order to survive?”

He says, “Keep reading.”

She sits, keeps going.

He leaves to wake the children.

When he returns she asks, “Why do the police do nothing?”

“They’re part of the government.”

He pulls two bowls from a cupboard, says, “They’re all on the same team.”

She folds the paper, stands.

Kisses the children on their brows as they drudge in.

“So there’s nothing for the women to do? That’s it. Gather the wood and—”

“That’s it,” he says. “Simple. Die in the camps from starvation or—”

“But the things that happen to them out there.”

“I know.”

“It’s terrible,” she says. “So terrible. How can this happen?”

He pours Cookie Crisp into each bowl as she gets the milk from the fridge.

The youngest says, “Mommy, what are you talking about?”

And smiling, she says, “Nothing.”


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