• 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 - Jun 27

Book Club: Readshops led by Karl Gartung

readings & workshops
July 3 - Jun 30

Dhamma MKE

readings & workshops
October 22 - Jun 24

Welcome Home!: A Veterans Writing Group

readings & workshops
February 2 -23

Three Windows into Writing and Revising a Poem with Kathleen A. Dale

February 11 - Apr 5

Tarot: The (Re)Making of a Language

readings & workshops
February 26

Poetry Reading: Jennifer Elise Foerster + Zoë Johnson

readings & workshops
February 26

Seeing in Invisibility: Poetry as revelation at UWM Libraries Special Collections

readings & workshops
February 27

Urban Echo Poets

readings & workshops
February 29

Visionary Narratives: A Workshop in Drawing Inspiration with Laurence Ross.

February 29

Reception for Tarot: The (Re)Making of a Language

readings & workshops
March 1 -29

On the Front Lines, Behind the Lines: Writing Protest Poetry with Margaret Rozga.

film & video
March 6

aCinema Screening

readings & workshops
March 12

Creative Confluence: Research for Hybrid Writing, a conversation with Heid E. Erdrich

readings & workshops
March 12

Poetry Reading: Heid E. Erdrich

readings & workshops
March 14

Poetry & Pi(e) featuring Vida Cross + Chuck Stebelton

March 19

Formations Series for New and Improvised Music

readings & workshops
March 20

Poetry Reading: Mark Bibbins + Elizabeth Hoover

readings & workshops
March 26

Poetry Reading: Eli Goldblatt + Charles Alexander

readings & workshops
March 28

Poetry Reading: Tara Betts + Jennifer Steele

Tony Trigilio

Tony Trigilio's recent poetry collections are The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood), Book 1 (BlazeVOX Books, 2014) and White Noise (Apostrophe Books, 2013). He is editor of Elise Cowen: Poems and Fragments (Ahsahta Press, 2014). Trigilio directs the program in Creative Writing/Poetry at Columbia College Chicago and co-edits Court Green.

Selected Poems

[Barnabas steps through a secret panel]

Barnabas steps through a secret panel
in the wall of Josette's bedroom: proof

for me in 1968 that a vampire lived
inside the walls of my own house;

no matter how rationally my mother
explained that no living or undead

creatures could exist inside the inside of
our home, Dark Shadows made me believe

in a world of paranormal certainty
(as did her books on the Salem witch

trials); my natural supernaturalism
diminished slightly as I got older,

overwhelmed by the insistent claims
of reason, the same dull round of everything

we already know: my childhood city,
Erie, Pennsylvania, was a state of mind,

a malaise, a place where homes
did not come with secret panels,

all the factories were shutting down,
Welfare milk and cheese supplemented
our weekly groceries, and we swam
in a polluted Great Lake barely safer

than the fetid country ponds on the outskirts
of the city; to this day, I still feel a little dirty

when I go out to dinner with friends
(my family couldn't afford to dine out,

though my first job was in a restaurant,
age 16; my boss, nicknamed Zorba,

later convicted with his brother, Larry,
of trying to kill Larry's wife, Josie,

with the knife he showed off during
slow periods in the kitchen; when Zorba

attacked her, Josie ducked and was scalped
—her testimony sent them to prison):

if you grow up poor, you assume everyone
is watching for the inevitable moment

that reveals you're a fraud—I expect
my fellow diners are waiting for me

to paw the food into my mouth with dirty
hands, slop it down in grunts and belches;

no surprise Erie's on my mind, the decrepit
rust-belt city of my childhood, long undead

before I was even born: I inaugurated
this summer (June now in Chicago,

metallic fish odor of a different Great Lake
clinging to my t-shirt every time I come

back from jogging) with a trashy true crime
tome, Pizza Bomber: The Untold Story of America's

Most Shocking Bank Robbery—any book
that sneaks the phrase "The Untold Story"

into its subtitle is pure candy—the tale
of Brian Wells, doomed Erie pizza delivery

driver who robbed a bank with a bomb
strapped to his neck and was blown up

before the bomb squad could rescue him
(bonus movie trivia: Erie provided several

location shots for the film adaptation
of Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic

novel The Road—my squalid hometown
representing for audiences worldwide

what the end of civilization looks like).

Originally published in TriQuarterly 145 (Winter/Spring 2014)