The Way The Salt Falls / Tracy Mishkin


The Way The Salt Falls

poems by

Tracy Mishkin

~72 pages, $14 (+ shipping)

Projected Release Date: March/April, 2024

An Advance Sale Discount price on this title has expired. For those who prefer to pay by check, the price is $17/book (which includes shipping & sales tax) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, 4416 Shea Lane, Charlotte, NC 28227. 

PLEASE NOTE: Ordering in advance of the release date entitles the buyer to a discount. It does not mean the book will ship before the date posted above and the price only applies to copies ordered through the Main Street Rag Online Bookstore.

Tracy Mishkin is a call center veteran with a PhD and a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Butler University. She is the author of three chapbooks, I Almost Didn’t Make It to McDonald’s (Finishing Line Press, 2014), The Night I Quit Flossing (Five Oaks Press, 2016), and This is Still Life (Brain Mill Press, 2018). She lives in Indianapolis with her family and fewer than ten cats and dogs.

The Way the Salt Falls sings in the spirit of an evolving lyric, its decidedly Midwest demeanor propelling the inhabitants we meet through episodes of mortality and curiosity. If “time is a trick candle,” as the voice of one poem suggests, Mishkin is immersed in the magic, offering a cast of everyday people who are anything but ordinary and sure to surprise. ~Mitchell L. H. Douglas, author of dying in the scarecrow’s arms


Lamentation, wry courage, and moments of stark truth permeate The Way The Salt Falls. Tracy Mishkin’s poetry is generous, beautifully carved, vividly imagined. It compels us to “navigate the past. And breathe”—despite global heartbreak and personal loss. When the world leaves us raw, Mishkin’s breathtaking lyrical precision (“my smile like silver trout / leaping sweet”) consoles. We urgently need the humanity here—“when the heart opens / does not close.” ~Alessandra Lynch

Rolling Stop at Ethical Intersections


When I was ten lying was wrong
and at nineteen I didn’t deathwish
every jackass who crossed my path.
I returned the extra change
at the hotdog stand.

Now I eat greasy salad
as a woman tells me her school is an island
in the ghetto sea. She is talking about
my neighbors. I say nothing.
The supermarket undercharges me.
Who cares? Next time, let the baby cry.

My boss tells me not to help the teacher
pour the juice, let the secretary stuff
her own envelopes. Why not imagine
the bitch ignoring the pain in her arm
until she falls, alone, and the janitor,
who’s known her twenty years, vacuuming
around the body with long, unhurried motions,
remembering to close the door when he is done?

Last year more Americans looked up
the word “integrity” than any other.
These things we are losing, we want
to understand them, know precisely what they mean.



Ocean Going


I’m waiting for the apocalypse
on the beach by my sister’s house.
Wildflowers grow from stone
and sand. I throw worn pieces of wood
into the ocean. Watch the tides whisper
something cyclical.

Boulders crouch together in shallow water.
The seaweed is brazen green. I wade in,
but it’s too cold. Retreating to higher sand,
I pass tidal pools where life gambles
on the waves returning in time.

I climb the cliff path back to the road.
From this height, the lichen and mussels
covering the rocks blend like mosaic tiles.





Some things I can negotiate, not
my best friend’s driveway. My tires flatten
her grass each Sunday. When I am early,
she appears in a white bathrobe, hairless
as an egg. Turning to retrieve her iridescent cap,
she does not hear me say that she is beautiful.

In these days before brain lesions begin
to hurt, we can sing camp songs, drink
six cups of tea. Often we sit outside so long
the moon appears, hanging like a tumor
from the sky. We are patio furniture,
motionless in twilight. I could grab a bag
of dirt, fill an old boot on her deck, spit
sunflower seeds over the laces to plant them.

My people do not walk away
and leave our sisters in lowered coffins
for the backhoe’s scoop and dump.
For her, I will shovel the earth myself.



Five Star Residencies


The long corridor to your room,
corner where a woman has stopped her wheelchair
in front of a sign.

The winter kale and pansies by the outer door.
You have not abandoned hope
or nail polish.

Slotting new batteries into your hearing aid
would be easier if you hadn’t broken your arm.

The batteries changed, you resume your burgundy cap,
your hair wiry and sparse. Once I snapped a pic
in the window seat, your grey-blonde head uplifted.

You call these past few months your summer of Job.
House with the window seat, gone. Cat, dog, mother
gone. Memory, balance, unsteady.

In a clinical trial, you were the poster child. The cancer
has not returned.

You tell me a story about a girl whose mother
turned away from her. I type it up, read it back to you.
The scraps we leave to appease the hyenas.

Heart failure sounds faster than it really is.

That fuchsia nail polish matches the pansies.

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