The Sudden Country


In stock

poems by

David Mills

Poetry book, 92 pages, $15 cover price

ISBN: 978-1-59948-422-8

Release date: June 12, 2013.



David Mills

David Mills has an MA in Creative Writing (New York University) and is a cum laude Yale graduate. His first book, The Dream Detective, was a small-press bestseller. He has received Breadloaf, New York Foundation of the Arts, BRIO, Hughes/Knight, and Soros fellowships. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Fence, Jubilat, Callaloo, Rattapallax, Reverie, Brooklyn Rail, and Hanging Loose. For three years, he lived in Langston Hughes’ landmark Harlem home and performs a show of Hughes’ work. His poems have been displayed at the Venice Biennale and Germany’s Documenta. He has recorded his poetry on RCA Records and written for Rolling Stone. He was commissioned to write plays for Julliard, the folkdance “Tarantella,” and ekphrastics for the exhibition Stalwart: Christopher Carter’s Art.

David Mills has a painter’s eye for the body. His singers, artists, political prisoners, and lovers are portraits wrought in a language that is detailed, erotic and intellectual. The result is a vivid combination of wildness and refinement. The Sudden Country glows with the heat of human history and human carnality, the heat of blood pulsing in this poet’s gifted hand.

–Terrance Hayes,
National Book Award Winner, Lighthead


David Mills’ poems are infused with passion and fresh intelligence. In this collection, the sheer variety of work-the many angles of entry into voice-compel the reader to stretch his notions of what poems can do and ask where has poetry been all my life? I’m always electrified by poems that surprise me. It doesn’t happen very often, but these pages hold some real voltage.

–Tim Seibles,
author of Fast Animal


Syllables and Lipstick

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
–Pablo Neruda

Your lips silk pillows where my dreams rest.
Where do conversations end and kisses begin
when syllables and lipstick wear the same breath?

My dreams are six seas where I’m seldom wet.
Your breast: black bass swimming in your skin.
Your lips: silk pillows where my dreams rest.

Sometimes silence has gotten up, has left,
when our mouths are crowded with sin, since
syllables and lipstick wear the same breath.

At night when the moon’s an uninvited guest,
and your curtains become a womb for the wind:
your lips silk pillows where my dreams rest.

At daybreak most stars tend to speak of death
as Helios cracks the light in their ribs.
Now syllables and sunlight share the same breath.

Our tongues are the ways our mouths confess
to the voluptuous trouble we’re in.
Your lips: silk pillows where my dreams rest,
where syllables and lipstick wear the same breath.


This Murdered Earth

After the Sweet Briar College Plantation Burial Ground
Sweet Briar, Virginia


It opens out into emptiness.
A paradise of trees bereft of leaves.
A tattered pink ribbon–frayed scarf around
a rusted rod. A wooden stake-a numb
-er 17 atop it-leveled now.
Even in death the ancestors are not
allowed to claim this murdered earth. After
a day’s long, hard light in the cemetery,

I almost spit but swallowed it and held
the piddle born inside my kidneys. Forced
my body’s brewery to honor the gone.
A branch sneezes beneath me. Three turkey
vultures row the inverted ocean. These words:
a prayer, a briary sky punctures and frays.

A Parable of Skillets
(Jamaica, West Indies)

Sand, hard as toast, burns
the balls of my feet.
The sea is an epic I nibble.

Paya and Granny’s azure
eyes soak the ocean.
Daddy returns with a skirt:

Dee, this is Mer’lyn. We grew
up togetha. It was hard
dough bread and St. Ann’s

Parish. The way him fingers drink
her smile. Montego Bay deep.Breathing
in the steam of a crime.

an ocean away frying
chicken: a southern Baptist

limerick: a Eucharist of fingers
and grease. I know something
is wrong. My tongue is

a red hot coal; my words ashes.
But daddy teaches me to close
my mouth one tooth at a time.


If you would like to read more of The Sudden Country by David Mills, order your copy today.

SKU: 978-1-59948-422-8 Category: Tag:


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