Would Be Roadkill

Either these falls are shrinking
or this river’s high.
Traffic stops 

for you when you no longer trust. You’re walking
across blind
spots, a stone embankment and swerve 

to tease the dead. You have predicted
you would join those left-handed ghosts
when the right of way 

becomes cursed, your body,
upon impact 

a weightless parcel 

through early spring
air. It’s always an April day
just a half hour before 

sunset—civility
in dimming lights dancing off
city streets so many miles before 

the skyline disintegrates
into a watery horizon. It’s guess work,
and it’s hard to know when it will crest.

Leaving Hoosierland

A moving walkway is coming to an end, begin
here where passing through
is an industry. Will I speak
to strangers, you ask no one. I will
not use horizontal escalators
to get what I want, you state

plainly—rural routes
delineate a grid
unlike any you know now.
You remember how you did the leaving,
a wave from the way back window in the red
Chrysler wood-paneled station wagon

as your mother pumped the gas pedal hard
and away. East to Ohio was never enough. Farther still,

New Jersey, New York, Connecticut,
a town in Southern Portugal. An absence
for something, did you ever know, you ask. Some day you will
believe in the pedal steel
player’s sticker on an instrument he plays
that night in Indianapolis:

“Non-judgment day is near.”

Carp Queen

I am her
royal highness perched low
on the Minnesota River’s north
bank. A beer cooler 

my throne, a grain
elevator screeching
over the mucky muck
water cheers me on. My fishermen 

hook big
flapping bottom
feeders, then hand me
one of their poles, and I bend 

to pull the line
taut, lower, repeat,
the rod steadied against my royal blue
bibbed breasts. This battle becomes 

the day’s drama—
it against me, the queen
23 times its size. Finally,
when I do pull it ashore, 

a blotch of red in its gill,
one of my fishermen attends
to its release, the needle
nose pliers freeing it 

unharmed—give or take
a lifetime of post
traumatic stress
disordering its course. I am 

the carp queen sculling
the air with a regal wave
to the boys on a barge
passing before us on this sweaty river.

I hear their megaphone
pleas for me
to flee my banked fleet. But
even as I flirt 

with those towing
cargo (be it soybean
or grain or freeze dried
myths) to the Mississippi River 

bound for Red Wing, Rock
Island, Saint Louis, Ripley,
Natchez, New Orleans, somewhere
in between, my heart belongs 

to these charming men seeking
the biggest carp, the better quip
to pass another Saturday
too hot for its own Minnesota 

not so nice. They remind me. Her highness
is not so high
left alone on her portable perch, potable contents
sealed tight inside for now. Her highness 

is referring to herself
in the third person again.

Before Swimming Season

For MJ

 A duck nest beside an unpumped pool,
debris-laden, a feathered inn. 

A feline banquet surrounds the swill,
the outdoor plumber’s late again. 

An expansive tarp buckles in the mix,
ducklings gone from view, a child slips.

Three sisters twist their braids into rope,
shaking debris from the little one’s throat,
survivors are taking their first flight.

Metamorphosis in Two Spheres

A dime in the street
becomes two touching
a flatness tires can’t roll
away. Infinity sleeps outside 

before summer solstice
in the rain. With morning, it rises 

to become a figure eight
on air—hold the ice.
Keep going, dare
ascendance and serifs. By midday, 

it just might become
this ampersand above
tree canopies flirting
with young gulls and moths.

Heights (Day 2,304)

 And I know I will 

die. It could be now. How
will I lift this foot?
And I don’t, and I do. 

Stairs to an elevated pedestrian
bridge over nine lanes
of highway. The linking flight 

between two floors
within an office, a red
ladder against that brick 

wall.  A green one
in a park that’s crumbling
faster than I can reach 

the landing—any one over
water or a creek’s dry
well. I’ll never be 

a man on a wire,
a woman ready
to run for help 

when he falls.
It’s a healthy one—this fear.

Washington Avenue South

Before the street made sense, became a boulevard
with flower beds and urban strength
trees, she entered 

the roadhouse to seep
into wood. To be
the end. It is 

gone. She is
not. Up the long block—a lengthening
stretch of cars, do not 

honk, go fast, poets cling
to their voices under beams
compressing breath and scars.