The Devil’s Workshop: Poetry by Tracy Mishkin

Hi, I’m Tracy, a call center veteran with a PhD and a 2017 graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Butler University. My first chapbook, I Almost Didn’t Make It to McDonald’s, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014. Five Oaks Press published my second chapbook, The Night I Quit Flossing, in 2016. My third chapbook, This Is Still Life, came out in September 2018 from Brain Mill Press.

I like to be funny and serious. I’m proud that my two Pushcart Prize nominations were from the journal Parody. I’m shopping around a full-length poetry manuscript entitled The Ire Barn. It’s a very serious collection about the times we are living in (I’m hoping the zeit doesn’t make geists of us all), but the title comes from a Tire Barn store that lost its first letter. Update: new working title of full-length manuscript is America, You Make Me Nervous.

Here is a list of my publications, most of which can be viewed online. Thank you for supporting my work and poetry in general.

“Prisoner of War” was published in Switchback. This is my most meaningful publication. It’s about my great-uncle Joe Bergstein, who survived the Bataan Death March and 3+ years as a POW.

Brain Mill Press did a special National Poetry Month feature in April, 2018 with three of my poems, including the previously unpublished title poem, “This Is Still Life.”

“Round One” and “Poster Child” are forthcoming in Sugared Water.

“Telling” was published in The Indianapolis Review.

“Triage” was published in Red-Headed Stepchild.

“Once More from the Beginning” was published in Hoosier Lit.

“Ocean Going” was published in Main Street Rag.

“Festival” was published in Anomaly.

“One More Bad Day” was published in Unbroken.

“What Work Isn’t” was published in Great Lakes Review.

“It’s on Us” was published in an anthology entitled Writers Resist: Hoosier Writers Unite, from Chatter House Press, available on Amazon.

“A Few Last Words about Us” was published in Blue River.

“After Setbacks, We Go Sideways” was published in *82 Review.

“Crime of Passion” appeared in the Indiana Humanities National Poetry Month feature for 2017.

“Sun Gone” won Honorable Mention in the Pendleton Warming Station Poetry Contest sponsored by Blue Mountain Community College.

“Decision at the Buzzer,” “Summer Camp with Salvador Dali,” and “Cyrano at Large” were published in Jokes Review.

“The Ire Barn” and “the way the salt falls from her hands” were published in Milk Journal.

“The Deadweight Machine” was published in Driftwood Press.

“Bar Mitzvah Road Trip” and “Swamp Rats” were published in On the Veranda.

“Walkabout” and “Alarum” were published in Poetry South.

“Mothers of the Disappeared” was published in Slippery Elm.

“November” was published in concīs. Scroll all the way down.

“The Unexpected Painting” was published in Poetry City, USA.

“Compassion” was published in So It Goes 2017, a publication of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. “Harmonic Convergence of the Prose Poem, Indianapolis 2020” was published in So It Goes 2016, and “Strike at the Grill” was published in So It Goes in the Social Justice issue in 2015.

“Recovery Bunny” appeared in Through an Open Window the Light Shines, a juried art exhibition about mental illness at the Minnetrista Culture Center in Muncie, Indiana, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I have posted the poem on this blog.

“The Plan” was published in Naugatuck River Review, Summer/Fall 2016.

“Bible Study” and “why I advise against plastic surgery” were published in Flying Island.

“Making Do” was published in Raleigh Review, volume 6.2.

“Pole Position” won Honorable Mention in the Indy 500 Poetry Contest, an initiative of the Arts, Culture & Youth Committee of the 100th Running Host Committee. Read the top 33 poems at

“Souvenirs from a Dry Land” was published in Day One and is available at

“The Thaw” was published in Clementine (Unbound). Scroll all the way down.

“Clinical Trial” was published in Mom Egg Review.

“Donora, Pennsylvania” was published in Panoplyzine at  and “You Got Me Wanting You” appeared in the next issue.

“Traveler,” “ghost bicycle,” and “101st Homicide, 2015” were published in Lockjaw .

“After his Mother’s Funeral” was published in Blotterature .

“Firebug” was published in The Tishman Review .

“After the Mayo Clinic” was published in Parody 4.2 and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015. “Art Therapy” and “Flight of the Bumblebee” were published under the title “Before and After” in Parody 5.1. They were nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016.

“She-Wolf Song” was published in the moon-themed anthology Full by Two of Cups Press.

“The Devil is in the Diving Board” and “Preemptive Strike” were published in Gyroscope Review.

“Metastasis” was published in  The Quotable.

“Vision Problem” took third place in the Social Justice category of the Indiana Poetry Awards.

“Sorority” was published in pioneertown.

“Aubade” was published in A Quiet Courage.

“Arse Poetica” was published in Gutzine: A Zine about Bodily Functions.

“In This Economy, You Take What You Can Get” was published in Rat’s Ass Review.

“Daddy-Daughter Dance” was published in the Fall 2015 issue of Hartskill Review.

California Dreaming” and “Memoir” were published in Postcard Poems and Prose.

“End of the World, Part II” was published in Little Patuxent Review and is forthcoming in New Poetry from the Midwest 2016 from New American Press.

“Judgment Call” was published in Amygdala.

“Self-Portrait with Pit Bull” was published in the Indiana Humanities National Poetry Month feature for 2015.

“Tired of the Beard,” “Love Poem,” “The Water is Wide,” “She-Wolf Song,” “the gazelle is still alive,” and “Revolution, Kansas” were published in Melted Wing.

“Relocation,” “Portrait of My Son from Several Angles,” and “Judgment Call” were published in Monday Coffee and Other Stories.

“Moon Chest, Ai Weiwei Exhibit,” “A Bird of Prey Always Has the Last Word,” “skin artist,” “Harmonic Convergence of the Prose Poem,” and “Berry Fields Forever” were published in Flying Island, an online publication of the Indiana Writers Center. “Following the Tailorbird” and “Snow Day” were published in Flying Island when it was a print journal.

“A Bird of Prey Always Has the Last Word” was republished in Best of Flying Island 2014.

“Becoming Light” was published in Sling Magazine.

“Good Friday at the Abortion Clinic” was awarded Honorable Mention in Making Waves: The Fourth Annual Abortion Rights Poetry Contest, sponsored by the Abortion Care Network (ACN) and Split This Rock in 2015. I have posted the poem on this blog.

“The Gleaners” was published in Word Soup.

In August 2014, I won second place in the Fountain Square Masterpiece in a Day contest with my poem “Masterpiece in an Hour,” which was published in Punchnel’s.

“Solitaire” and “Blowing the Whistle at Happy Tails Doghouse” were published in Reckless Writing 2013: The Continued Modernization of Poetry by Chatter House Press in Indianapolis, IN in 2014.

“No Punchline,” “Koan,” and “To the Children I Tutored” were published in Tipton Poetry Journal.

“Let Us Give Thanks to God” was published in Poetica.

“Implosion” was published in

8 thoughts on “The Devil’s Workshop: Poetry by Tracy Mishkin

  1. “Rolling Stops at Ethical Intersections”

    Mishkin poetry I keep in my head all the time. I can’t count how many times I’ve applied this phrase to situations. My goal remains to spring it into popular consciousness…

  2. Tracy Mishkin draws from what is at hand, laying out poems that are contained, precisely crafted, and relentless. She examines the “rolling stop at ethical intersections” and “divorce among the blackberries.” Mishkin explores what it is to balance between calm and calamity. In one poem a couple begin an early marriage inauspiciously but succeed in crafting a life together. In another, life is splintered when a teenager learns the father he thought was dead is visiting his hometown. Lot’s wife can’t keep her eyes on life; a dying woman names a stray cat Zoe, Greek for life. This poet shows the reader pain and love—and why we should not turn away from either.

  3. Tracy Mishkin has mined a collection of gems, her tools an incisive intelligence, a well-honed moral sense, and keen humor. Mishkin’s vision is unflinching, her craft uncompromising.

  4. Meditating on marital to mortal concerns, God, teenagers, ovaries, and blackberries and all of their accompanying perplexity, pain, and joy, Tracy Mishkin’s tightly crafted poems in I Almost Didn’t Make it to McDonald’s pack a punch and deliver it with wit and poignancy. Mishkin’s mind is a map of the broken and the beautiful. “Hope,” she writes, “is a purple door,” suggesting that hope is rare but imminently possible and that it is up to the inhabitant of the house to choose hope, as this poet does.

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