Enter Innogen, by Joseph Mills

She enters but has no lines,
a ghost character, and like her,
your name is in stories
in which you have no part.

It’s written in books
strangers have on their shelves.
It’s doodled on pages
stored in closets and filing cabinets.

It appears in letters of people
you don’t know,
and on lists for invitations
you’ve never received.

Someone travelling a highway
is suddenly saying your name.


About this Poem: A couple years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to reread Shakespeare. This time through the plays I found myself fascinated by the stage directions. These often are evocative, and I started to use them as prompts for poems. I expected this to be a small, perhaps silly, exercise, but the poems kept coming and kept coming.

A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills holds an endowed chair, the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities.  He has published several collections of poetry with Press 53, including This Miraculous Turning and Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers (2nd edition).  His sixth volume, Exit, pursued by a bear, was released in April, 2016. More information about his work is available at www.josephrobertmills.com.

1 Joe Mills H direct 1 (1)

Joseph Mills

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