The language of Molly Brodak’s first full-length collection, A Little Middle of the Night, is ever shifting, brightly sonic, and disarming while exploring the margin between nature and art, darkness and beauty, dreams and awakenings. As echoed in one epigraph from Emerson, these poems capture “the Exact and the Vast” of consciousness in intense lyric verse with an angular and almost scientific sensitivity. Here is a speaker intent on discovery: “Oh whole world, we choose / another.”

This award-winning collection simmers with wit as Brodak confronts tragedy, childhood losses, transcendent love, and the question of art itself. Tinged with a suffering—“I was the littlest wastebasket. / I was my own church. Except— / scared, scared”—that rises above personal sorrow, her fierce and painterly poems redefine nature and art and what exists between: “Lately, there is spangled shade in my space / and a cold apple orchard to tend in place of consciousness.” As Reginald Shepherd said about the poems in Brodak’s first collection, the chapbook Instructions for a Painting, her world is “‘small enough / to sing in all directions,’ and large enough to take us there.”

“In Molly Brodak’s poems, peril happens—a real thing—and then a flashbulb goes off or night comes on, and after begins again. By turns wistful and darkly comic, understandably sad and necessarily defiant, these poems make their own consolation. To read them is to remember what poetry is good for.”—Mary Ann Samyn, author, Beauty Breaks In
“As Molly Brodak’s poems continually shift perspective from the self to family to history—they create a plurality of experiences that allow the reader to keep ‘turning under and under every buried thing / until deep [is] not under but across.’ And this distance across, this ‘from here to there,’ is made ever more strange and human by the obstacles of time and dream and illness that rise in these wonderful poems. It’s a journey of no easy answers, where ‘the future had scalloped edges,’ and is not something waiting, but something happening.”— John Gallaher, Laurel Review
A Little Middle of the Night is stunning. With expressionistic care and a gilt-edged blade of language, Molly Brodak’s wide-ranging voice reaches into the self and magically finds the shimmering world around us, the two-minded truth that ‘every knife / you push in a man / will want out.’ She moves through her richly textured poems with expert lucidity and plunges into the underneath to reveal the threat of violence, the fallible body, and the underbellies of this life so crammed with glitter and tarnish that angels blush.”—Alex Lemon, author, Fancy Beasts and Happy: A Memoir

Niger Lullaby 1

Poem for a Child’s Voice 2

Make Belief 3

Under Age 4

And How Did Your Rapture Turn Out? 5

Before Memory 6

Les Blessures Graves 9

The Horse Museum 10

Ought 11

Underneath Underneath 13

Underneath at All 14

Underneath (Side Effects) 15

Underneath 16

Diary of a Year without Pictures 17

Mild Peril 23

Going Back to Sleep 24

Mars Black 25

White Trash 27

Lake Superior 28

Appalachia 31

North of North 32

Funny Old 33

A Little Middle of the Night 35

Whoever Said Hell Is Not Beautiful 36

I Hope You’re Happ y: A Novel 38

Pale Yellow Throat 42

Lake-like 45

Lacan as an Australian Settler 46

Folkways 47

Cabaret Voltaire 48

Like Your Jesus, Only Mine 50

Roman Girls 51

Drawer of Cardinals 52

Vermeer Sounds 53

Snow White 54

Joseph Conrad’s Last Novel (Which Is Comprised Entirely

of Face Colors Used in His Previous Novels) 57

The Greek Theater 58

The First Poem 59

Ramp of the Chinese Dog 60

Scene from an Unknown Painting 61

Midwest Wilderness 62

Past the Sawmill 63

Real World Magic 64

Notes 65


Ever to admit my loneliness is unnecessary
and hedge in whatever frail danger is left in me

doesn’t explain why things feel so inside out.

The last dump and trailer on the edge of town—
which way to the wilderness? Which edge.

Let them think
we need to witness our own limits transgressed.

Let them think there are limits.

I was the littlest wastebasket.
I was my own church. Except—
scared, scared.

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Publication Details

Publication Date
82 pages
Trim size
5 3/4 x 9 inches