Sue Blaustein


I live in Milwaukee. In 2016, I retired after twenty-five plus years as a food safety inspector at the Milwaukee Health Department. I’ve participated in readings at Woodland Pattern Book Center and Milwaukee Open Mic events such as Lyrical Sanctuary at UWM, and Poet’s Monday at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn. I am an active volunteer with Ex Fabula (strengthening community bonds through storytelling) and the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center.

Work of mine has appeared online in Stickman Review, Blue Fifth Review, Kudzu Review and in the poetry section  of CHEST (a medical journal). For a complete list of publications, please see my website.

In the Field, Autobiography of an Inspector, available in 2018. Order here


Business Drink My Wine, Plowman Dig My Earth*

Tommy is a brown and black pit bull,
brindled like hiking socks. He looks
on his side, absorbing sun.  Box headed
and narrow eyed, he’s reconciled
             as tortoises, draping
his flamingo tongue loosely, like
a tablecloth, between his teeth.  He lives
in the yard to my north and
yawning refreshes him, even though
he wakes in North Milwaukee. 

There’s a pit to my south too –
            irritable, tan Missy,
who snorts at softener steam
from the dryer vent.  She folds
            her articulate ears,
stretches a tawny line of nipples – she’s vain,
but ridden by undercurrents of impotence
and suffering.  She should be the boss,
but like this city under trifling leaders,
            Missy is thwarted and sour
            most of the time.

 * Title after Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”
First appeared in the 2015 print version of Mud Season Review

On These Acres

I walk down Holton Street Sunday
            as the sun goes down early,
tender with color in the gravity of mid-November.
Advance Die Casting’s overhead doors
and recessed exits are silent.  From one,
            an illuminated doorbell watches
            the western sky with me –

its wheat-colored beam as sentimental
as the rural late autumn of calendars –
            a cabin, and whitetail bucks
with hooves in a light crust of snow. 
The half-timbered tavern on Richards Street
            is sentimental too. Once thousands
of autoworkers parked across the street.

            Every eight hours, on these acres,
hundreds of ignition keys were turned, wrists
            and wrists revolving clockwise
together.  The tavern windows are crowded
with pimpled aloe plants and cactus;
            and one has a faded cutout
of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s decades old,

            from Commando or Terminator, shows
we saw at Northtown; the Budget, or Mill Road,
            which are gone. Everyone loved
hearing Arnold say hasta la vista. We laughed
            because he was oblivious – unblinking
as cycles or laws – when he was sent
            by the losers of the future
            to go back and revise the past.

First appeared on the curated poetry blog in May, 2011