Poetry Friday: Take a (line) break

Dive into new poetry from Minneapolis publishers.
Every Friday in April, dive into poetry from Minneapolis publishers.
MPR New graphic

In honor of National Poetry Month, The Thread is celebrating Poetry Fridays. Each Friday in April, we will publish a selection of poetry from local independent publishing houses Coffee House Press, Graywolf Press and Milkweed Editions.

Today's selections come from Hieu Minh Nguyen, Jenny Xie and Martha Collins.

Collections featured on Poetry Friday
Collections featured on Poetry Friday
Courtesy of publishers


The narrow clearing down to the river
I walk alone, out of breath

my body catching on each branch.
Small children maneuver around me.

Often, I want to return to my old body
a body I also hated, but hate less

given knowledge.
Sometimes my friends—my friends

who are always beautiful & heartbroken
look at me like they know

I will die before them.
I think the life I want

is the life I have, but how can I be sure?
There are days when I give up on my body

but not the world.
I am alive. I know this. Alive now

to see the world, to see the river
rupture everything with its light.

"Heavy" from "Not Here." Copyright © 2018 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Used with the permission of Coffee House Press.

MPR News is Reader Funded

Before you keep reading, take a moment to donate to MPR News. Your financial support ensures that factual and trusted news and context remain accessible to all.


Eavesdropping on a mother
needling at her mule-brained son

stopping by the side of the road
to examine the dry socket of Agios Georgios

the root of this self-denial is long
all those years I was spared of seeing myself through myself

Now the stifling days disrobe
distance giving autonomy the arid space to grow

I'll rinse later this afternoon in the sea
then compose lines to you of reasonable length

to say the opening you left is wide enough for me
but I'm stunned to love aloneness

"Epistle" from "Eye Level." Copyright © 2018 by Jenny Xie. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press.

Leaving Behind

November 2015


Open up for close
out    soul-clothes    everything
has to go    closing

down time    call them all
saints    souls     my own gone

ones: Andy    Marcia    Mary    Alice
Mary Anne    cloud of all    carried out


outside my window: locust, cloth
of gold    on the ground: its yellow

tabs    linden hearts    sweet gum stars
like cutouts from the same . . .

paper-napkin ghosts fill a tree near
the house where a year ago my friend—

rust-colored chrysanthemums    rust-colored door


door to door the angel no the Lord
passed or did not pass—

the angel opened the prison
door    doors to pass through, out
or in: our millions, more than any—

in the other story the Lord
said: to put a difference between


between one and another
a gun: at one end it's a good

gun because at the other's a cell
phone pill bottle toy gun nothing a

Trayvon    Tamir    Dontre    Michael
Laquan    Eric    Rekia    John:    call

them out and the others, Black and many

"Leaving Behind," parts 1 - 4, from "Night Unto Night." Copyright © 2018 by Martha Collins. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.