Brain Mill Press is so pleased to present our first set of poets participating in Brain Mill Press Celebrates Poetry Month 2015. This group of poets responded to the poem prompt WORK. We’re moved and honored to present these poets and their poems to you.

On Growing Up

Elizabeth Berry

On the day that my grandfather died my grandmother lit a cigarette looked down at the stricken faces of her children and said well, we still have this farm to take care of. My mother, then eight, looked out the window at the cows that crowded the fence, waiting for food, for release from the swollen udders, and beyond at the hay, tall in the fields, and at the tractors resting in the sheds, waiting for the long legs of morning to walk up and turn the key.

At eighteen, my mother, as lean and brown as a leather strap covered her face and veiled her reasons to follow my father a hundred miles from home.

Three kids in three years.






Low money, no money, grocery store clerk, pregnant daughter, baby crying all night, no lights, pay that bill but another’s coming.

And so it went for thirty years. Yet every month they would drive back over the mountain as visitors, and sit, drinking tea until the cows moaned and the others rose to go to work.

Occasionally, reluctant to unclasp ourselves from the circle of laughter and soft shadows that floated down from the familiar ceilings, we would follow them to the cool concrete floors, and clanging gates of the milking barn. My mother, face lit by the glow of the yellow interior lights, moved quickly to lead, to coax the herd into position and nodded with satisfaction when they lined up, and did their jobs.


Audrey T. Carroll

Not the gentle crashing of ocean againstgrains of glass or the air againstphotosynthesizing branch

The crashing of steel against steel,wheel and rail complaining againstone another until one topples the othersends it careening

Time folds in on itself.

State to state or borough to borough?Concerns for type of steel bullet give way toconcerns for a mother traveling, perhapsby train that day

Rushing to an officethat no kindergarten teacher should have—Principal, maybe? Professor?Hers? Mine?

Time folds in on itself.

Longer I lookin the mirror, more I see herreflection staring back inthe way nose widens to smile,hand-me-down teacher’s clothes

Time folds in on itself.

Wake unsure what state I’m in.

Audrey T. Carroll is an MFA candidate with the Arkansas Writer’s Program. She graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from Susquehanna University.  Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Fiction International, Hermeneutic Chaos, Foliate Oak, Writing Maps’ A3 Review, The Cynic Online Magazine, and others.

Dedication Is Gold

Megan Ryan

I’ve started in schoolTaking detailed notesThat covered every pageStudying for hoursPreparing for tests.

I was an overachieverGetting A’s and B’sWas a valedictorian in 8thThen saludictorian in 12th.

College was the challengeTaking on monstrous coursesThat tested my skillsTo see if I had what it takes.

I tumbled and fell,But I didn’t give inKept climbing to the topTo reach the peak of successAs the sun shined upon me.

Five years passedGot my degreeNow I needed a jobEasier said than done.

Kept searching high and lowBeen applying everywherePracticing and improvingFor upcoming interviews.

Though nothing has come alongBeen about three years nowYet I’m not giving upI’m sure the time will comeWhen my dream job appearsFor this hard-working achiever.

Code of Iron

Kim Solem

Men of ironClimb the skySome will fallA long way to dieNo single one of themHas ever screamed or criedIn agony and horrorOn their deadly diveBecause Iron WorkersLive and die by this code‘When you’re falling’‘Meet your death bold’

Once Upon a Holiday Moon

Kim Solem

The Monday after HalloweenI laid down the law to my employees“You’d better be here on the jobOn both Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve”

And if you don’t like what I have to sayLook for someplace else that paysCause here in the good old USAIt’s your boss’s way, or the highway”

Much to my surprise no one protestedNot one dared even chirpExcept for old Mable,Who slowly turned roundBent over,And lifted up her skirt

Pulling down her bloomersAll the way to her anklesShe looked over her shoulderThen said with a smirk,“You can kiss my old bare assCause this girl won’t be a slaveFor some asshole of a jerk”

I was shocked to say the leastAnd before I could show Mabel the doorAll my other employeesTurned round, then bent overAnd let their pants hit the floor

Now I ask you my fellow AmericansWhat sort of countryAllows folks to moon their boss?Let alone even dareTry to back talk?

No wonder we send jobs to ChinaAnd some to CameroonNo one there would try to moonA rich and powerful tycoon

My tale of woe gets worseAfter filling out all those pink slipsWhen I left my office, what did I find?All my employees picketingIn long strike line

And you know who was leading it?That damn old MableHolding a hickory stick“Oh Shit!”

So heed my warningMy fellow entrepreneursBefore telling folks to dance to your tuneThere just might be oneEmployee like old MableWho’s not afraidTo show you the moon

Author’s Note: Forgive me but within every pretentious poet, there is a thirteen year old, dying to get out.

More Women on the Board

Karen Wellsbury

Not enough women on the board,mainly made of men.How they will be lured,not enough women on the board?Is this sexism to be cured,to break the male dominated hoard.Not enough, women on the boardmainly maid of men?

For this year’s National Poetry Month, Brain Mill Press & Voices wants to add to your #TBR pile, sing siren songs of unsung heroes, and signal boost living poets we should be reading more. By the end of the month, we hope you will have acquired 30+ new books of poetry and that they continue to multiply in the darkness of your library. Explore new voices & new forms — re-read some old favorites — play if you liked this poet, you’ll like . . . the old-fashioned way, algorithm-free — just poetry lovers talking to poetry lovers, as the Universe intended. Happy #NaPoMo2019 from Brain Mill.