‘There is a town in Poland
where every house silenced by a suicide
gets its front door painted black. Elsewhere,
they bury all the deed with music boxes.
Here, we do nothing out of the ordinary.
Maybe we forget to walk the dog.’
-from Dictator, By Which I Mean the Mother Brandishing a Pistol with a Piñata over Her Head
Man, I love watching people have fun with language! At times I forget that it is not just ours to use, but to invent, to conjure, to transfigure. Michael Mlekoday’s work does exactly that. The way he takes words and places them on the page next to each other shocks me, even if I am reading words I’ve been seeing & spelling my whole life, he has a way of ordering them into new, surprising phrases that leave me feeling all kinds of outer space, but also right at home. His work harbors a Midwest sensibility of family, race, home, and the politeness and magnitude of our joy/sorrow that makes me feel like I am standing in the middle of a blizzard in St. Paul, the world around me blind white and I have no choice but to sing. These are poems that make us work for that song, too. His titles are just plain delicious and the poems that lay under them are no slouch either. His work is that of a working man, of someone who is fully aware of the possibility of hands. These poems scream with sparks and gears, they work & sweat, laboring stanza after stanza and I have no choice but to rest when I am done, amazed by the ways in which I have been moved, reminded of the simplicity and majesty of our lives. Michael has a book coming out as well, and when The Dead Eat Everything comes out, you best run and grab it. Folks, I am HERE for Michael Mlekoday and you can be too. His work (which is everywhere) is just a google away, and you will be that much closer to understanding the true potential of a poem.