Brain Mill Press Celebrates


Poetry Month



To celebrate National Poetry Month, Brain Mill Press is proud to dish up delectable poetry to whet your appetite. We’ll feature established and emerging poets, as well as BMP authors and friends, who tantalize with stylistic feats and a fusion of whimsy and the piquant. Poetry begets more poetry — dig in!

–C. Kubasta, Brain Mill Press Celebrates Poetry Month coordinator & contest judge

BMP National Poetry Month Contest

If “love calls us to the things of this world,” then poetry too can call us to think about challenging questions, difficult situations, and social justice, implicating and engaging the reader with the world we live in, in the hope that this engagement is a step toward wrestling with our better selves.

We invited poets to submit their poems (any style or form) of no more than one hundred lines to our Poetry Month contest. We particularly encouraged submissions from poets of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ writers. The editors selected a poem or poems each Saturday in April as the editors’ pick(s), and BMP poetry month coordinator C. Kubasta chose a grand prize winner.

Selected poems were published on the Brain Mill Press website and social media channels. Editors’ pick poets were awarded with a Brain Mill Press print book (and associated art gift, if available) of their choice. The grand prize winner received a full set four Brain Mill Press Mineral Point chapbooks from 2015-2016, associated broadsides, and a Brain Mill Press T-shirt. Poets retained all rights to their work.

Poetry and Essays

Dixie Highway

“The factory mats were replaced with white shag rugs, / and because I was a child, I was allowed to be the little animal / I was, curled up and hiding in that woolen nest / behind the driver’s seat.”

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Then Became

The heart’s vast and cratered purpose == a decade’s husbandry: / spread out like wild thyme, heal-all, / forget-me-not

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all mist / and movement
my daughter / is messing / with her hair / with her new / body
at the mirror

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Mothering the Sexy

“It all truly began in dingy strip club turned off-Broadway theatre across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal ten blocks from Times Square.”

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The Turf Chick: A Poetry Month Spotlight

Some said I was the female Pac, Some said I was the female Biggie, some said I was the female Rick, and some said rappers can’t mess with me The Turf Chick, Untitled I get up every day with a new goal on my mind, the same frown and the same broken spirit from... read more

Constructing ‘a Plausible Protagonist’

I remember / how we’d beg to skip church if / we went to Sunday school, if / we helped with the baby, if /
we’d mow that afternoon, / and the permission once given / felt like the hill rising up out of the ditch after / crossing the highway

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Count them lucky / Who know the opening / Of gates within, who / Seated as they are / Remain beside altars / Where blue and green / Sing arias.

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They didn’t tell me where the funeral was so I know it’s everywhere, / spilling over edges with its overwhelming hunger while I brew tea / the Russian way my mother taught me because strength necessitates / dilution.

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On the side of Key Highway / a tree is hung with broken / light: diamonds, circles, squares / of glass on wire that glitter / in the January wind. / We stand before it.

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Coyotes sound in the night. Hear it as promise or warning; either way, hear it as a signal somehow for you.

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Leave Your Indoor Voice Behind

“We hesitate to voice our opinions on subjects that are important to us because the media has put this idea in our heads that we should be ‘cool’ girls or girlfriends who don’t bother guys with our “silly” issues—like feminism—or else we will be a downer.”

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You’re twelve and in love with the boy next door / only you don’t quite know it yet.

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How I Will Do It

I will / love you under the yellow basement lights of the DMV / I will let you feed me foreign candies in the taxi to the airport / and on the plane I will give you the window

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Elizabeth Berry

2015 Contest Winner

At eighteen, my mother,
as lean and brown as a leather strap
covered her face and veiled her
to follow my father a hundred miles
from home.
Three kids in three years.

Elizabeth Berry’s poems are arresting for their authority and the intensity of their anger at where the women they speak of find themselves. Honed with plain language and sharp metaphor, her poems resolve nothing in their ending lines — and yet push to the reader to catharsis.

Read Elizabeth Berry

BMP Poetry Broadsides

Tanka & Me broadside

Tanka & Me broadside

A commentary on art-making and grace. The text is printed in two colors on 110-pound 100% cotton Crane Papers Lettra, overprinted on the chapbook’s signature interior illustration of a keyhole, which also appears as a printed motif.

My Seaborgium broadside

My Seaborgium broadside

A commentary on a mother’s love. The text is printed in two colors on 110-pound 100% cotton Crane Papers Lettra, overprinted on the chapbook’s signature interior illustration of the element Seaborgium, which also appears as a printed motif.

Fair Day broadside

Fair Day in an Ancient Town broadside

Reproducing lines from the poem “The Presentation,” the text is printed in two colors on 110-pound 100% cotton Crane Papers Lettra, overprinted on the chapbook’s signature interior diatom illustration, which also appears as a printed motif.

My Tall Handsome broadside

My Tall Handsome broadside

Reproducing lines from the poem “pretty pretty princess vs. the underworld,” the text is printed in two colors on 110-pound 100% cotton Crane Papers Lettra, overprinted on the chapbook’s signature interior illustration of an empty ball gown, which also appears as a printed motif.

Discover BMP Poetry

From “Me and Tanka”

You’re dull, she says, you can’t even

cross your eyes correctly. Your relationships last

five months because you turn so USUAL.

In your Secret Garden

you grow carrots and plastic wrap.

You like Lean Cuisine dinners.

You don’t have fancy shoes.

You hum poorly. And you’re dull.

I know, I say.

Then how did you make me? she says.

Grace, I say.



Now I want joy to arrange you.

Forget the spool, the queue.

May you crow from the prow.

Be your element’s namesake

and alive, know it. My Seaborgium.

My little radish bugaboo, my

pillowfoot jeweler. Sweetgum,

sing, sing to wake the water.


From “The Presentation”

This is my lordosis: look: my part.

It wants to feel the syllables your heart

putters.   I want your obsessive pulse

to part with mine only when universe

and starlight disentangle.   Dumb stud, come;

I’ll be the radiator and the heat

it hisses.   I’ll paint the memory

of you on my closed coffin lid and lard

my arteries with your untamed beauty.

I’ve assumed the posture of a rapt

ocelot:   I moan my smell to you:

swell with me:   boil with me:   glue

your sternum to my sternum and we’ll do

what blue jays do until Orion snaps.


From “pretty pretty princess vs. the underworld”


my tall handsome, you are always

hydrangea in my rib, popped open

always dazzle of salt on my punched lip


love of life

the he & me I will devour


we beneath black cherry tree

all fruits and crystals on your chest


you were my first body—now and always

forever and ever, in the pink bed rippling



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