• 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
August 25 - Oct 1

Exhibition: Vicki, with an i, organized by Michelle Grabner

September 21

Formations presents Steve Nelson-Raney & Binder-Mollerskov-Schlei-Westfahl

film & video
September 22

aCinema: // In Silence Arrives the Tempest // Waiting on Paradise //

September 23 -23

Reception: Vicki with an i, organized by Michelle Grabner

readings & workshops
September 28

Poetry Reading: Stacy Blint, Rebecca Eland & Mark Tardi

readings & workshops
September 30

100 Thousand Poets for Change MKE

readings & workshops
October 5

Poetry Reading: Feliz Lucia Molina

October 11

Exhibition: Jen Bervin, Tactile Lanuguage

readings & workshops
October 12

Offsite Event: Justice for All: Selected Writings of Lloyd A. Barbee

readings & workshops
October 13

Poetry Reading: Caitlin Scarano, Paula Carter & Freesia McKee

October 22

Alternating Currents Live: Tom Rainey & Devin Drobka Percussion Duo

readings & workshops
October 26

Urban Echo Poets

special events
November 3

Join us on Friday, November 3rd for our 37th Annual Anniversary Gala!


readings & workshops
November 8

Poetry Reading: Matt Cook

Elizabeth Arnold

Winner of an Amy Lowell scholarship, a Whiting Writer's award, and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Fine Arts Work Center, Yaddo, and MacDowell, Elizabeth Arnold has published four books of poetry, The Reef (1999), Civilization (2006), Effacement (2010), and Life (2014). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Paris Review, Poetry, Slate, Kenyon Review, Conjunctions, and The Nation. As a Ph.D. student, she discovered an unpublished novel by the British poet, Mina Loy, which was published by Black Sparrow Press in 1990. She teaches on the MFA faculty of University of Maryland.

Selected Poems

Flow Dynamics

So lightly and invisibly I hardly knew it,

river of blood descending without joy back to the heart
through the frail vein all that time

—the largest of the body!—

shredded then dissolved ("obliterated")
and there was a sudden seepage

into surrounding tissue

instead of the blood pouring out as you'd expect forever,
and a new vein formed to bypass what was gone

like a wide meander

even the smallest flood ends, and the river
goes straight from that point.

But in my case the thin-walled base-ends held

forming an anabranch, a section of the river
that diverts from the main channel,

rejoins it downstream.

Local ones can be caused by or make
small islands in the watercourse

but sometimes they flow hundreds of miles

like the Bahr el Zeraf in the south Sudan that splits from the
Bahr al Jabal of the White Nile, doesn't return

until Malakal

instead of leaving behind,
as it could have with the blood being old,

a full-fledged oxbow lake

that before too long
will blister in the sun, become

a little blue scar beside the heart


What Is A Person

capable of feeling
while in contact with another

—to interface that way with god?

I look at the red-tiled roofs outside,
at all the angles

facing the white-blue cloudless sky

like the creases in Bellini's angel's
silver-blue dress, Tintoretto's white one

that's practically transparent in his

Annunciazione at the San Rocco
—cloth complex as thought!

Then the bells start, flood the void.



The Hoopoe

It was an accident
a few days after the mother bird,

having not that long ago flown north

across the Mediterranean,
pecked at the window

every morning for a week,

one facing the other
like two portholes in my attic room,

so angrily it seemed

at the threat she saw (herself)
threatening her chicks,

one of which, grown, flew

quick as bats darting all around the trees
and outbuildings of this

Tuscan medieval castle

the night you called from Egypt,
your voice a dim light barely getting through

the atmosphere

of the great hall the valley makes
—right through my room


but in this case the long
downwardly curve-beaked hoopoe

exited the morning

with its sparkling off the vines' leaves hiding
the fragile grapes

and the olives' dull leaves even

—out of that, back into.