Listening to “Sandusky”

I must learn how
to describe each tiny movement
from solid green to a yellow brushed with red breaking 

into orange without  
these blocks of language. I turn up the volume
when this instrumental plays—sweet 

guitar sings vocal lines, the human voice
at rest. Seductively rich
baritone be still 

for these moments, while I work
on my lesson, a thing I am to practice
with my soul—
without a bridge.

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An Exhaling Introvert

Counts backwards
till she can’t breathe. She pretends
a message will appear 

at zero
on a screen addressed to her
from you. A different kind 

of marring,
you’ll be asking for it.
Hard on the lips, 

her pressure increases
as your resistance
goes down. Exaltation.

Chiasmus

What if I were the one
standing on a stage—you were
below it, looking up 

at me? If it were as simple
as reversing a spring 

trench coat, we would have pulled
those sleeves through
their fabric-framed sockets 

by now. And, still, these arms
would not be long enough 

to extend my real
offering to you.

Self Curate

If I were a museum,
I would adopt
the ampersand
before at. Swirls 

of entanglement mean
more to me
than a spiraling into
sense of place. 

If I can’t have home,
I’ll take the plural
loci, the many phases
of identity, the journeys 

over arrival, options
over commitment—
the possibility
of leaning into infinity.

Say the Word—Hotel

Hungover without
a drink, journals
are meant to be written— 

not read. Why does she
keep them? Why toss them
out? She could donate them 

to a sculptor
who might rehab their pages
into fiber and matter 

for a piece
of public art. Would the characters
she described, reconstituted, dreamed 

up
back then want
their say in the replacement 

of their sketchy heads,
insubstantial torsos, free
floating feet, even sketchier 

souls. Would they? Would 

the new artist listen,
understand, care?
Doubtful. He would be 

listening to his own
noise—not theirs, not hers.
She always relinquishes 

her power, struggles
with steps to the greater 

powerlessness.
It’s been years since she visited
the bonfire behind the old hotel, 

since she was willing
to sacrifice a hero, or two,
for the sake 

of someone’s sanity. Plain
garden variety walks on
solid ground. She’d be lying 

if she denied
there were any new ones
to release into the communal 

burn. Then again,
they are never
really hers to offer. 

And she’s no hero, so no 

self-sacrifice will
do. She keeps walking 

down this steep hill
humming a tune
she thinks she made up. 

You and I know she didn’t.

Father of Minneapolis Parks

The first in the city
to have electric
lights. A hinge 

to flex downtown
lane over lane flung
onto outdoor sculpture 

with a cherry on
top. I’m at the bottom
of this brown hill 

imagining a summer
evening: Civil
twilight and a great blue 

heron—my current hero’s
plugging in
near the Dandelion 

Fountain. He wouldn’t get too close
to the water. Weeds are wild 

flowers with a bad reputation. 

The way I build up,
demolish, recreate
my heroes, mine could be worse.

No Molesting Vegetation

I want to make a wish
at an artesian well. Take me 

to the old comfort
station near the 125-year-old iron 

footbridge. No longer providing relief
to men, women, children passing by, 

it aerates the pond. Who will
aerate me? 

From this curved history, I can see
a pond in transition— 

half ice, half water freed
from the long arm 

of Minnesota winter.  I don’t need
a hug from that set 

of limbs. I’ve wiggled out
of that passive 

aggressive affair. Lately, I take
winter in layers, leave it 

behind when the last chunk
dissolves to crack open 

a warmer motion.
I no longer dread 

seeing the old lover—he’s got nothing
on me these days. I know how 

to remain unattached. I’m ready 

to place my feet before the well,
to drop the coin in.

It Being March in Loring Park

Cattails mashed
and embedded
in what’s left 

of the ice shield
over the pond. Ducks
float in the free 

flowing water, other birds
hop along those complex layers
of solid. I see 

that same old wooden wagon
unhitched beside the iron
footbridge. The gardener’s back. 

I’m circulating
the park, making decisions,
walking on.

Female Jonah

A yellow cab double
parked, medium-sized U-Haul
behind it—I know 

these getaways
too late, arrivals
too early. When moving in 

becomes an art,
it’s time
to reconsider the vessel. Above 

or below it, I just want 

to crawl inside
the belly of someone’s home—yours?
Or, it could be mine.