• 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
readings & workshops
April 6 - Sep 28

Book Club: Readshops led by Karl Gartung

readings & workshops
July 3 - Sep 25

Dhamma MKE

August 1 - Sep 26

The Point Being: Works by Thomas Gaudynski

special events
September 21

¡Palante!: A Celebration of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture

readings & workshops
September 22 - Oct 13

Friction in Fiction: Developing Characters and Conflict

readings & workshops
September 26

Poetry Reading: Jake Skeets & Manny Loley

readings & workshops
September 26

Poem as Field – Understanding Energy in Poetry a craft talk with Jake Skeets

readings & workshops
October 2

Poetry Reading: Alan Bernheimer & Karl Gartung

readings & workshops
October 16

Poetry Reading: Timothy Donnelly & Bethany Price

October 17

Formations Series for New & Improvised Music

readings & workshops
October 19

Language as a Playground

readings & workshops
October 20

Reading: Peter Markus

readings & workshops
October 22 - Dec 31

Welcome Home!: A Veterans Writing Group

readings & workshops
October 23

Reading and Book Launch: Kathie Giorgio

readings & workshops
October 24

Urban Echo Poets

readings & workshops
October 27


readings & workshops
November 1

Reading and Screening: Trisha Low, Stephanie Young, and Zachary Epcar

readings & workshops
November 10 - Dec 8

Shifty Subjects and Unexpected Endings

special events
November 16

39th Anniversary Gala

Laurel Bastian

Laurel Bastian has work in (or coming soon from) Cream City Review, Margie,Nimrod, Button Magazine, The Madison Review, and others. She co-teaches a weekly workshop for writers in prison and is in the last year of an MFA at UW-Madison's Creative Writing Program. She's hosted several reading series in various states in the US over the last decade-plus, including a late '90s incarnation of Milwaukee's "Poet's Monday."

Selected Poems

Academic Interest

Laurel Bastian


In Feminist Literature I stow my snakeskin boots
under the desk and watch the girls. Call me a sleaze:
I say all's fair in Marx and War. Darcy, Macy, Mary,

Vespa, while you consider yourselves surplus labor
and fondle Firestone's ideal of sexless sex and sexless
work, I'm peering through your thin tank top, hoping

someday we duel death with your bare breasts and my
drag race skills, and I don't care what Freud says about
your hole, your little lack, that you want the sex of Dad

doesn't freak me out, I eye the meat of your ear lobe,
or the width of white strap where I could slip the restrictive
shirt in your third-story dorm room. Young perfection,

did my mother's God make you this powder-scented,
plump as new rain at five AM, untouched moon terrain,
wax god in the garden, waiting without knowing, without

your mind, that old bear having been busied with 70 cents
on the dollar and Calcutta? Monica, your waist is speaking
volumes and you don't even know how it's crying take me,

Leonard, like a double-fisted fox out of theory's bandstand
into a car with excellent upholstery.
You don't even know
what generations of learned fainting will do to a woman,

how it ain't the hole, it's the dead rib we gave you,
collapsible as dominoes. Let me pay you back with
dinner under a striped umbrella at the beach. Gloria,

I'm a born lover; sleepy Alice, who else will notice
the way a woman's wrist turns when at a loss for
words? Your skin needs no sanding. Your hair,

plaited copper. As you chew the end of a pencil and
murmur yes, centuries of patriarchy have buckled
your shoes, yes you are feeling a collective wildness,

the urge to jump up, shirk the generous dress made by
women in maquiladoras off your young, young, blushed-up
body, yes your father beat the ladies with a wooden spoon

over his knee, yes you have been the Other, always, the vessel for
seed and bloodshed, centuries have passed your grandmothers
from clan to clan down the dark enduring river with mewling

sheep and pots for dowry, and who knew love, then, who knows it
now, under the mortgage, do you hate your mother and her gagging
diaper pans, what pain is this that comes from being commerce?

Body, body, body, come back from your frozen stance.
RayBans at noon cannot hide the purity of my lust. I am
the boy who wants to lay you down on my soft double bed

and eat each plush digit like separate characters in need of
such personal tending. Which I will give. I will refrain
from pitching the yoke around your neck. I know your plight. 

I do the readings too. I'm certain Paglia would approve. 
You've worked so hard under this role. The scoop of bright
flesh dimpling above your elbow says why not take the

shirtless backrub for what it's worth?
 Cherubic, studious
Gladys, in the middle of revolution there are still natural
positions. They're the reason I enrolled.