The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Holding my Selves Together by Margaret Rozga

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Callista Buchen, is from Holding my Selves Together by Margaret Rozga, released by Cornerstone Press in 2021. 

City Limits

You wouldn’t know the city was under a curfew
not here, not on this southern edge of Milwaukee,
where I grew up. Where I still lived.

After supper, people did their usual.
Next door Mr. Stanisch cut his grass, as he did every other day,
alternating with setting out the sprinklers to water the lawn.

Mrs. Ziglin sent Kathy up to the corner store for sweet rolls.
The Campions came into the Dutchland Dairy where I worked part-time.
It was hot. They bought half a gallon of fresh frozen custard. Vanilla.

The cop who lived across the street
never brought little Frankie in for a treat.
His lawn seemed to stay clipped without being mowed.
His wife had a bad heart, we didn’t see much of her.

Maybe he worked overtime during the riot, again for the marches.
It was hard to say when he was home. Our paths didn’t cross.
Except once. A year earlier, he had a point to make.

My friends from the Youth Council had stopped by.
Next evening Sgt. Stachowiak crossed 44th Street
when I was alone in the front yard.

Your friends
are more than welcome in
my neighborhood
as long as they
behave themselves.

Point made, he turned, took firm, flat-footed steps
back across the street to his house,
the impregnable prose of his lannon stone colonial.

His neighborhood.

Margaret Rozga’s fifth book is Holding My Selves Together: New and Selected Poems (Cornerstone Press, 2021). Two of her previous books were named Outstanding Achievements in Poetry by the Wisconsin Library Association in the years of their publication. As 2019-2020 Wisconsin Poet Laureate, she co-edited the anthology Through This Door: Wisconsin in Poems (Art Night Books, 2020) and the chapbook anthology On the Front Lines / Behind the Lines (pitymilkpress, 2021). In 2021 she served as the inaugural artist/scholar at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee at Waukesha Field Station and is currently working on a book of poems inspired by the Field Station’s ninety acres of restored prairie. 

Callista Buchen is the author of the full-length collection Look Look Look (Black Lawrence Press, 2019), and the chapbooks The Bloody Planet (Black Lawrence Press, 2015) and Double-Mouthed (dancing girl press, 2016). Her work appears in Harpur Palate, Puerto del Sol, Fourteen Hills, and many other journals. She is the winner of the DIAGRAM’s essay contest and the C.D Wright conference’s Emerging Writer award, and is the founder of the Carlson-Stauffer Reading Series at Franklin College. 


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