The Mineral Point Poetry Series, no. 8 • Release Date: September 18, 2018

Print ISBN: 978-1-948559-13-3 • Ebook ISBN: 978-1-948559-16-4

Brain Mill Press offers This Is Still Life for direct sale in ebook and trade paperback. Ebook buyers receive access to MOBI (Kindle), EPUB, and PDF files, offered without DRM restrictions. Print book buyers receive a physical copy of the book as well as access to the ebook files in all formats.

Only a real talent could present our complicated reality so truly and so well.

—Sarah Gordon, prize-winning poet and author of Flannery O'Connor: The Obedient Imagination


Read This Is Still Life for the astonishing way it braids darkness and light. Read these poems for hope in a broken time. Whatever your reasons, read these poems. And do it now.

—Kiki Petrosino, author of Witch Wife


Tracy Mishkin’s This Is Still Life is an anthem against apathy; this collection functions like a hand mirror—if we turn away, if we refuse to see that “This is the semi-automatic summer //…the summer of our last presidential election, of finding out how long we can hold our breath”—we will be lost.

—Amelia Martens, author of The Spoons in the Grass Are There to Dig a Moat


Tracy Mishkin’s clear, practical language cuts to the heart of the quotidian to expose the hopelessness of the American dream, a circle of our own particular hell where Despair sleeps on a pool table with his head on the eight ball.

—Sherry Chandler, author of The Woodcarver’s Wife


An exercise in exorcising the demons of the malaise that grips the world many of us find ourselves living in today ... an illustration of how our endurance of hard and difficult things is itself an act of courage.

—Tipton Poetry Journal

“An anthem against apathy”
—Amelia Martens, author of The Spoons in the Grass Are There to Dig a Moat

Read Tracy Mishkin’s poems as an antidote to the “meat wheel full of teeth” that is the contemporary news cycle. Not because this dangerously clever collection soothes, or because it provides comfort, but because these lyrics are urgent without shallow or callous bids for the reader’s attention, and instead render the heartbreak of America as gorgeously as an old master’s Vanitas—it’s the beauty of the poems that provides hope, even as the menace of the grinning skull cannot.

This Is Still Life fully invests in the double meaning of the title as it uses the dirty minutia of domestic life to symbolically stand in for our ruin while pointing to how the sunlight gilds the dirt so sweetly, we can’t help but get up again in the morning. “Talk radio, speak / to my heart of all that I have lost,” Mishkin’s speaker prays, and we find ourselves praying, too, while the poems work polish into our hope.


Tracy Mishkin is a call center veteran with a PhD and a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Butler University.  She is the author of two previous chapbooks, I Almost Didn’t Make It to McDonald’s (Finishing Line Press, 2014) and The Night I Quit Flossing (Five Oaks Press, 2016). She been nominated twice for a Pushcart — both times by Parody — and published in Raleigh Review and Rat’s Ass Review.


Brain Mill Press commissioned a special 8 x 10″ broadside for This Is Still Life featuring hand-set metal type and printed on French Paper Company fine art paper in a limited edition of fifty, designed and printed by letterpress artist Lindsay Schmittle at Gingerly Press.

The broadside can be purchased separately or as a bundle with the print edition of This Is Still Life.

This Is Still Life Broadside 3


AN EXCERPT from This Is Still Life: Poems by Tracy Mishkin

© Tracy Mishkin, 2018
“Vision Problem”


Retinal floater drifting

like a jellyfish. Doctor says

come back if it’s worse.

Come back if you see flashes.

If you wake up blurry, come back.

If you don’t see color, come back.


If you only see color.

If it was his fault because

he didn’t bring a gun to church. Her fault

whites were outnumbered

at the pool. If he looked like

he had a gun. Played with a toy

gun. Slept in the wrong house.

In the wrong neighborhood. If

six foot four, three hundred pounds.

Mentally ill. Asthma. Accent.

If walking in the street.

On the sidewalk.


If he ran.


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