• 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
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exhibitions
November 28 - Jan 31

Vanessa German: Defiant Show of Unity

performances
December 13

Performance & Opening Reception: Vanessa German

film & video
December 14

Film Screening: Riverwest Film & Video by Emir Cakaroz

performances
December 20

Formations Series for New & Improvised Music

readings & workshops
December 22

Community Reading: Midwinter Day

readings & workshops
January 6

Workshop: Verbs as Images/Images as Verbs

special events
January 26 -27

25th Annual Poetry Marathon & Benefit

John Beer

John Beer is the author of The Waste Land and Other Poems (Canarium, 2010). Associative and imaginative, his work has been compared to that of John Ashbery. Poet Lewis Warsh wrote that The Waste Land and Other Poems "embraces and distills 'the bad dream' and all 'the muck' of the recent past, but the momentum of this book is full speed ahead." Beer's criticism has appeared inVerse, the Denver Quarterly, Chicago Review, and other magazines. He is a theater writer for Time Out Chicago.

Selected Poems

from Sonnets to Morpheus


John Beer

 

What did you have to hope for? A single sun
reflected in swamp water, in
a building's silver skin. "You don't know
what it is, but it's there, like a splinter
in your mind." Blank checks
pile up in the mailbox. Lunchtime:
singers in grey hats, ambling past
the statue from your first dream. Don't look back.

It's the same exact sun you saw as a kid.
I looked it up already. Everything else
starts slithering across your field of vision.
My flight to Bangkok leaves at 5:15.
I pack a pair of scissors in my bag,
a photograph, an apple, Leaves of Grass.


**


Unveiling, that's the stuff. I leave
a glass of wine on the table. Ten days later
it's still a glass of wine. I'm not myself.
A glass of wine the color of nebulae.
"Your men are already dead." We were warned,
elsewhere, and shouldn't blame the objects:
blue bottles, skin, your hand without a ring.
I traveled to Bangkok for business purposes.

A truck could snap his spine in half. Still he'd rage
to whisper the truth in a last gargling breath.
Nothing stops him: insidious drugs or robots run amok.
Out-dreaming the ones who dreamt being into being,
he hopes us along. In Bangkok, I'm trying to say,
I looked in a mirror and nothing looked back.