"Even a hint of green:" Poetry from Milkweed Editions, Winter/Spring 2018

Just as the common milkweed plant is the site of metamorphosis for monarch butterflies, Milkweed Editions seeks to be a site of metamorphosis in the literary ecosystem. We take risks on debut and experimental writers, we invest significant time and care in the editorial process, and we enable dynamic engagement between authors and readers. Verse is honored to bring you these six poems selected from new books by Milkweed Editions. Links to purchase each book are within.


With my children
I more eager than they
through the rows
stooping with joy

Racing back to the car
far too many sweet quarts
berries falling like
red pebbles
on the green path


You are far from home,
a body in a field I cannot visit.
Even my eyebrows: blue,
and split at the seams with your mention.

Give me only muted color,
black roses, a brown glass bottle.
Nothing that exists or dies loudly,
nothing you ever mentioned in a poem.

Because suddenly there are poppies everywhere,
thrust from the cracked streets,
and I want to rip their red heads
from the stems, powder the remains.

My body is a bruise, purpled with loss.
I am tired of swallowing your name,
finding ink on each of your shirts,
red petals in the pages of books.

Revelation at the All-Girls School

Jackson: O Archangel, O ’96 Triumph, O unfiltered
flame in hand. What was that joke you told the class
about the burning bush? The joke was bush & not
much more. The bad girls’ legs were smooth as coconut
candles. I dreamt of melted wax. I prayed for the nicotine
shadow of your Pentecost. You paced the stage in your
Levi’s, harness on, quoting Christopher Marlowe in
your Mississippi drawl. I was a clever rosary. You were
a layman’s interpretation of the Law. What happened
with those girls? You said they didn’t have fathers. Said
they needed you like God. Like I did, only I was strong.
That was the year I cared my father never called, the year
I fell in love & denied it. Who could I believe? So I tried
to recite your passionate shepherd’s plea, but my sheep
became goats & my goats caught fire & they began
to bleat louder, right through the house: no applause.
Backstage all summer: Kind of Blue. Like worried notes,
they badly burned out for you. O Jackson, thou art sick.
O Jackson, thou art gone. Jackson: your wife’s hair,
barley & rye, waving in the Coltrane—it doesn’t make
sense, but it does. She had a small, pretty mouth, an edge
of sarcasm & a kind face like a clock in the country.

An Algebra Come Home

Morning slept well. The fruit vendor—an immigrant in a Paris
street market whose name I can access but don’t recall—sliced
a peach and called out to passersby, city dwellers, tourists to
try this heart of his, not too sour, not too sweet, ripe, ready, his
bare hands looked as dry as can be expected, the pocketknife
blade clean as well. Many refused. A few reached out and let
his quartered peach fall unto their fingertips furled like flowers.
They ate his offering then walked off with or without shaking
their heads, No thank you or Yes but no. You waited as you
chewed then picked four fruits, one for each chamber. He said,
“Gorgeous, you’re the one who’s mended my heart.”


I was not one of them. But I watched the users use.
Chantelle used only when she waitressed, part of her
self by the ice machine, smoking a cigarette,
while another part was bending over a stranger,

flattening a tablecloth, setting down a plate of
bronzed veal. Charlie the bartender drank no alcohol. He used
through the eye, and at forty the eye was terrible.
It is a city I remember only at night. I kept waking

up while the chefs chopped fish bodies into neat,
unnaturally square portions. And the kitchen smell
of yesterday’s mashed food, sprayed clean from the sinks.
The ghost in the walk-in, telling me he’s cold.

Charlie the bartender, already there when I arrived.
I watched him touch the needle to his blinking face.
He’d brace the eye with two fingers: a jeweler’s glass.
Nothing was itself alone. In this way, it all grew larger.

Up North, Sections 17, 18


Through my window
        brushstroked clouds
                on blue, trees
reddened with buds, fields
                with sun, there’s
        even a hint of green
                on this day for green.


        Last week a white oval
edged with lace, today
the pond gleams
        in sun, there’s
a red-winged blackbird
        fanning his tail, and
                there, that first robin.