Enter Helena by Joseph Mills

She thought the role rubbish
but she had agreed to it
because he swore
there’d be a good part
in his next play:
It Is What It Is

something more than the usual
witch, wench, lady in waiting,
something, he had hinted,
with weapons
and the chance to use them.

She wasn’t naïve.
She knew the promises of men,
even ones made in daylight,
were as slippery as fish.

But you did what you could
with what you were given
and even if all didn’t end well
and it usually didn’t
then so be it.
The trick was to keep acting
like it would.

Joe Mills
joemills1A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills has published five collections of poetry with Press 53, most recently This Miraculous Turning. More information about his work is available at and he blogs occasionally at