• Address 720 East Locust Street | Milwaukee, WI 53212
  • Phone 414.263.5001
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm | Closed Mon
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm, Closed Mon
Event Calendar
special events
March 24

Anne Kingsbury passes the torch to our new directors!

readings & workshops
March 28

Poetry Reading: Sherwin Bitsui & Bojan Louis

readings & workshops
March 29

Urban Echo Poets

readings & workshops
April 4

Creative Open Mic “Show Your Love of the River” Sharing & Member Meeting

film & video
April 6

aCinema Screening

readings & workshops
April 11

Poetry Reading: Luci Tapahonso and Margaret Noodin

readings & workshops
April 14

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series: Lo Kwa Mei-en

readings & workshops
April 17

Poetry Reading and Conversation with Roberto Harrison @ Brown Deer Public Library

April 19

Alash Ensemble

April 22

ACL presents Renee Baker Quartet, Visual Dark Scratch Suite

April 22

Woman: Frailty Thy Name, works by Renee Baker

readings & workshops
May 2

Poetry Reading: Rena Priest

May 13

Alternating Currents Live presents The Bridge

readings & workshops
May 16

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series Noel Pabillo Mariano

May 17

Formations Series for New & Improvised Music

readings & workshops
May 24

Poetry Reading: Urban Echo Poets

Archived readings & workshops
Dec 17 Saturday, December 17
7:00pm, Pay What You Can


Join us as we welcome poet Rodrigo Toscano for a program guest curated by Roberto Harrison.


Rodrigo Toscano’s newest book of poetry, Explosion Rocks Springfield, is just out from Fence Books. His previous books include, Deck of Deeds, Collapsible Poetics Theater (National Poetry Series selection), To Leveling Swerve, Platform, Partisans, and The Disparities. His poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Voices Without Borders, Diasporic Avant Gardes, Angels of the Americlypse, Imagined Theatres, In the Criminal’s Cabinet, Earth Bound, and Best American Poetry. Toscano has received a New York State Fellowship in Poetry He works for the Labor Institute in conjunction with the United Steelworkers and the National Institute for Environmental Health Science. Toscano lives in the Bayou Saint John Faubourg of New Orleans.


The Friday evening gas explosion in Springfield leveled a strip club next to a day care.


I remember the breeze right before…

Burs of—was it willow—slant-falling.

The gray sidewalk, schist granules, scattering.

A brown dumpster lid smushing its green plastic, sandwich meat.

A rat made its debut, but for a moment.


I remember an awning string’s knotted tip soft-thudding a windowpane

—tympani’s uneven beat.

The rustle of stray trash—bass strings, almost rising

—but never.

And the chopper, the chopper—spittletatootling, spittletatootling—

A proud boot landing on obedient asphalt.

The stern, uncrying chrome.

The flighty flames decorative gas tank.


I can’t forget the beryllium blue sunshades

—orange hued at a glance.

And the stars and bars, starched, pressed, bandana.

Nation Idol Gorge

But for a moment



The Friday evening gas explosion in Springfield leveled a strip club next to a day care.


Spartacus sprinklers (top rail)

Serial no. 21809A

Inspector 480F

Jiangxi Quality Products

Night Hawk Importers, San Bruno, CA

Roman Roads Distributors, Phoenix, AZ

Port of entry, Tacoma, WA

Tankard 10179.03

Inspector 4201

ILO quarterly report:

Case study 1142

Tingting Liu, 23, female

I.D. 41732

Platform 12, line 8, station 4

Muscular skeletal paralysis

3rd metatarsal taped to 2nd   phalangeal

4th proximal splinted to 5th distal

OSHA Region 1 final report:

Incident 2267, explosion (gas)

Inspector 505F

Sprinklers inoperable

Logic Tree branch 20

System of Safety failure

Mitigation device

16 drill holes stoppered

Weld burs not filed

Citation: 29CFR.1910.159(c)(12)

Notes: inspector 505F on leave

DOL budget sequestered

PUB.L. 112-25

District 2, 112th Congress

United States of America

The Friday evening gas explosion in Springfield leveled a strip club next to a day care.


I remember the plume right after…

Orbs of—was it cinnamon—black-rising.

Vapor gray whitening shingle powder rain.

A dumpster lid sheered off a gravestone’s angel face.

A hawk’s claws claimed the stump.


I remember two spouts of thin flame, blue, making an X

—mind’s waking dream.

The hissing of gurgling plastic, supplicant—sick

—stomach’s inner eyeball.

And the bathtub, the bathtub—sittin’ pretty—sittin’ pretty—

The hysteric roof flopping on an unfazed floor.

The wise, ever-wakeful steel beams.

The cheery glass—beaming—everywhere.


I can’t forget that purple doorknob

—horny at a glance.

And the plump couch stuffing foam, blazing, angry.

City’s Final Chorus

But for a moment





—Rodrigo Toscano, from Explosion Rocks Springfield (Fence Books, 2016)

Made possible with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts