The beating of wings, fragments memory leaves–each word, each
phrase draws us toward the sun: “I fly too high, / the sky there
uncluttered by restraint.// I am torched/ I am metal  I melt. I am
molten.  Unless I Came Back to Tell You soars, plummets, burns
images into skin, remakes space into breath, turns a colon into
a challenge, a cottonmouth into a river. Self is “a cave, a white
cloud, an open mouth.” We “Start with a word  watch it grow.
From a stitch, to a sting, to a sudden snake…” What an
astonishment this collection is!   Susan Roney O’Brien author
of Thira, Bone Circle and Legacy of the Last World. Recipient
of the 2020 Stanley Kunitz Medal.

These poems pull you in, as good poems do, to a world not
unlike Brueghel’s painting in which workers plow on blithely
unaware while Icarus falls unseen through the sky. Versions
of Icarus appear repeatedly in these poems through “rib-crack”
memories, “always falling from a certain-to-be-fatal height/
or else immersing into treacherous and deep waters,” even,
in a brilliant poem, helplessly witnessing the falling of a beloved
poet, as if in slow motion. The great achievement here lies in
Milligan’s strength and control in capturing our capacity for
resilience, for seeking beauty, the way mockingbirds hammer
at their reflections “in hope enough pain ruptures the world to an
open window again.”  John Hodgen, Winner of the AWP Prize
in Poetry

Unless I Came Back to Tell You walks the sharp and subtle land-
scapes of science, mythology, and the natural world. Milligan
shines a hard light on the shadows of humanity in a series of
implied and hemmed-in traumas told in lyrical snapshots both
ghastly and gorgeous. There is an immediacy and darkness in these
poems—reading feels like waking from a jarring dream, left with
the deciphering of pulled-apart memory and reality.  Andrea Janda,
editor of  Visitant Literary