Tag Archives: Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN: MILWAUKEE PEOPLE

BY ED MAKOWSKI

Screenshot 2016-07-07 11.46.07This poem is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.

We got

9 inches of snow

after 4 was predicted.

 

While driving home from work

I pulled over to the side,

knowing I’d get stuck,

but a black Chrysler

was beached in the intersection

spinning nowhere.

 

I started pushing on their trunk

then two other people

scampered up to lean in

and soon they were sliding away.

 

You don’t thank the other strangers

who also push a stranger’s

car out of the snow,

more nod and smile

at having completed

an unpreferable task

together.

 

My car was beached

on the 9 inches of snow

so I grabbed my shovel from the backseat

and started shoveling out

underneath my front bumper,

around the front tires,

under the doors.

 

then from behind

I heard a man’s voice suggest

that I get in and try, he’d push.

 

I turned toward the voice, then said,

“Oh hey Tony.”

 

He looked at me for a second,

“Oh hi Ed.”

 

Chuckling into the driver’s seat,

 

while tossing the snow shovel

on the passenger seat floor,

 

that I have the kind of friends

who offer to help

before they recognize you.

 

Ed Makowski is a poet and writer living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He writes and edits at a nature center and makes drinks at a tiki bar. Ed prefers two wheels to four, but it’s really nice to drive in a car throughout winter. edmakowski.com

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin: An Ode to Milwaukee

The author and a friend at a Denny's outside of Milwaukee.

The author and a friend at a Denny’s outside of Milwaukee.

BY KATIE MOULTON

This essay is part of the Great Lakes Review’s Narrative Map project.

O, Milwaukee, we should’ve got out earlier. O, silent L, we tried to make a better poem out of you. O, Lake Michigan, you’re one fat river, and ’Waukee, you’re a godless, Protestant drunk. To us, you were one night and a few blocks’ radius clung to the lip of the lake like a fever blister in summer—the hard slurp of somebody’s tongue that took too long to dry out.

We three came north for a friend we already knew we probably wouldn’t see again. A wedding under a high ceiling. The groom had left our landlocked town—we always knew it was temporary—for law school, Chicago, and a Milwaukee girl. We three, bearing no gifts, we travelers afar. M. and H., complicated Catholics, moved effortlessly through the murmured choreography. I fiddled with the straps of my high heels.

We only knew the groom, and each other. While strangers took pictures, we wandered along the water, which was ninety percent hard wind. We ate cheese because you told us to, Milwaukee. We drank your brand of golden swill; it settled our stomachs.

Maybe we should have left when we started giving our real names. Maybe when we tried to waltz but fell into a windowsill, and H. kissed me on the way down. Or maybe I kissed M. Or M. kissed H. Maybe it was every other way round. Maybe we should have left after H. rhymed labia with Lawrence of Arabia. Maybe, after the second time I failed to flirt a fifth of whiskey to-go! Maybe after the third time M. grumbled fuckin’ sconnie at the flower girl.

Sometime between the father-daughter dance and leap-frogging the parking meter—

Sometime between the red velvet cake and the after-hours polka club—

Sometime between the best man’s toast and the real Germans in the Best Western bar—

Sometime between when the groom asked us to stay and we didn’t—

Sometime between the pretzel salt on my tongue and the white-gravel shoulder where I prayed for puke and deliverance—we should have already been gone.

The next morning, it took us hours to find our way out of Wisconsin. We found Denny’s on the outskirts of the interstate, and a waitress whose nametag read KatieKatieKatie. It was like a tarot card I drew myself in crayon. KatieKatieKatie because I hoped no one north of Madison remembered my name. KatieKatieKatie because last night’s every slur reverbed thrice. And because our waitress kept returning, again and again, to remind me I was both infinite and repeatable as breakwater. M. and H. pledged to start a band called KatieKatieKatie and I wanted it so bad that my head actually felt better, because the greater ache had relocated someplace further south.

There’s nothing new about summer, or the end of it. Nothing new about sing-alongs and highways and knowing something’s over before it is. It remains to be seen whether a poem can be made from this stuff.

Wisconsin, we won’t come back for you. But, O, sweet Denny’s waitress, young woman with hair the color of wheat or chaff or PBR, you who let us nap on the vinyl cushion, who served us scrambled eggs with our chili nachos and didn’t ask questions, you will never see us again. But you were Our Mother of Milwaukee: We burned you down, and we left you your tip in quarters.

Katie Moulton’s prose, poetry, and criticism has appeared in xoJane, the Village Voice, Devil’s Lake, Quarterly West, Ninth Letter, Post Road, among others. Her work has been supported by fellowships from OMI International Arts Center and Indiana University. Born and raised in St. Louis, she lives in Bloomington, Indiana where she works for an historic theater and deejays for indie radio.

 

 

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Milwaukee: Home

Milwaukee

An excerpt from the 2013 Fall issue

BY JACOB FONS

Flight 115 from Tampa to Milwaukee left at 2:25pm, she had gotten to the airport the usual two hours early, and four drinks in. It had been over three years since she had been back to her childhood home and there was a reason for that, a damn good reason; she swore she never would again. Oh my God, what the hell am I supposed to do now? I have two hours before the plane even begins boarding, I can’t just sit here and watch all these moronic Mickey-Mouse fools. Her stomach was jumpy, nauseous, her hands unsteady and shaky. She ran to the bathroom and began ripping through her carry on. She liked to drink, a lot. But she didn’t consider herself a drunk, and she was pretty sure nobody else did either. Well maybe the cab driver did. Fuck him, she thought. He couldn’t even speak English for Christ sake. She had called the cab from a bar near her house, The Hideaway. She had been there many times, and everyone knew her face and name. It was kind of her new hangout on the weekends, and now, apparently, when she was going home.

“Go ahead girlfriend, you’ll make it. Just do what you gotta do up there then come on back. I’ll have a bunch of shots lined up for us when you get here.” Lana was a very sweet, flamboyant, and (use to be) Leonard. She always took good care of me when she worked. She was from Vegas. She never talked about her past much. I figured she probably wasn’t ever going back home either. She had her reasons. I had mine.

“I can’t do it Lana.” I started to lightly cry. “I can’t go back there and relive all those fucking memories. I just can’t do it.”
“Then don’t go, baby-girl. No one is forcing you to go, hun.”

But I knew I had to go. My father had been good to me, real good. I couldn’t let him down, and it was because of him that I was finally going back; back to Milwaukee. “One more Lana, then I have to go before I lose my nerve.” She watched Lana slowly empty the bottle of tequila and then it was gone.

Read more in the Fall 2013 GLR print issue. 

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