• 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
November 28 - Jan 31

Vanessa German: Defiant Show of Unity

December 13

Performance & Opening Reception: Vanessa German

film & video
December 14

Film Screening: Riverwest Film & Video by Emir Cakaroz

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

Joanne Diaz

Joanne Diaz is the recipient of fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of My Favorite Tyrants (Winner of the Brittingham Prize, University of Wisconsin Press ) and The Lessons (Silverfish Review Press). She teaches in the English Department at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Selected Poems

Two Emergencies


          after Bruegel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus


These days, I don't see just the tiny legs
          of Icarus flailing
in the ice-cold waves, the plowman
          steering his obedient horse,
and the shepherd looking up to expose
          his face to the radiance of the sun.
I see the warhead that was stored
          in an unlocked potato shed
in a small Ukrainian town, 
          I see it smuggled across the Caucasus
to Iran, I see it hitting the surface
          of the water in the nanosecond
before the nuclear holocaust.
          When I remember that it's not
a question of if but when,
          I can imagine everything
within the frame of that painting
          and that final explosion.
Today, in El Bruc, there's only one
          pharmacy, one grocery, a public
swimming pool, and a bar, and from here,
          I can hike all the way up
to the Black Virgin of Montserrat. I can eat
          salchichón and Manchego every day
as a merienda, and I can watch
          the grape leaves crackle and drift
from the trellis to the outdoor table
          as a man, at ten in the morning, 
drinks his beer and listens
          to the car radio. Everyone's doing their best,
acting as if a bomb isn't
          about to detonate at any minute, 
and some act as if bombs
          haven't detonated at all. Two days
after the Towers became ash,
          my mother bought me a toaster from Kmart
and asked about my wedding plans
          as she would have on any other day. 
At the time, I thought callous, but now
          I think constant. I like to believe
that we have evolved because of figures
          like Icarus, but you don't have to be
an Old Master to know that isn't
          the whole story. That plowman?
Of course he heard the splash,
          the sounds of a drowning man. But he
had no idea how to swim, no interest
          in knowing, and you'd have to be
a goddamned idiot to abandon your horse
          and create two emergencies
where there was just one. Why not
          tend to your own horse. Why not
go home to a crappy toaster
          that sticks every time you push the lever. 

from My Favorite Tyrants (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), 
winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry