It’s not that we don’t believe her,

but that we already know

what she’ll say.  After all,

unless they’re getting paid,

no one who looks to the future

ever sees much good.

As the writer points out,

a story told long enough

always ends in death.


The skill would be to foretell,

not the fault in our stars,

not the inevitable bloodslide,

but those moments of joy,

the uncontrollable laughter

with your lover in bed,

the sense of exhilaration

in the grocery store aisle.


This, this is why Cassandra raves,

infuriated by our nodding,

our distracted agreement.

Yes, yes, danger and death

is coming.  We know. 

We knew as soon as we awoke.



A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joe Mills has published five collections of poetry with Press 53. His most recent, "This Miraculous Turning," appeared in 2014. 


Last year I decided to re-read all of Shakespeare, and I was struck by how evocative some of the stage directions are:  “Exit, pursued by a bear” or Enter the Queen with her hair about her ears.”  I had the idea to use these as prompts for poems, but I immediately pushed the thought away.  It seemed ridiculous.  Then, the poems started coming anyway, and they are some of the most satisfying pieces that I’ve written.  “Enter Cassandra Raving” comes from Troilus and Cressida.



Copyright 2009