Baymouth Bar

this is no east
of Eden / no fratricide
lake valley

the freighters
come and go
at all hours

the aerial lift bridge
goes up and down
to the same beat

the air numbs
the pain / named or not

I wake in another
hotel room
near another waterfront

for a few brief moments
cannot remember
fresh or salt today

cannot shake
the jamais vu

the sandy stretches
I misplace
beneath my feet

the very feet
I might not recognize
moving in the dark

I look up and wonder how
the aurora borealis
looks from this side

could be time
to redefine too cold
to swim in


I could repeat the one
about pretending to be
a tourist in my own town.
I could map a new one
based on a hungover memory
of a lake freighter,
an aerial lift bridge,
and a temper that refused to be

I could write
the color red
out of existence,
and the hotel would
still whisper home
to gravity’s
cooled-off night.

It hurts
the ghost.
It laughs
across a ford.
It blinks in unison
with the light
on the broken table.
It will hurt again.

This unnecessary body
balances against
a persistent wind.

The water tower!
Why didn’t I think of it before?

And the sky photobombing above
the way my dead father
would have insisted.

The Speed Limit Is


the Your Speed sign reads

you are going nowhere

so fast

I cannot keep up

with your duotone purpose

if I were you

I would confess

you suffer

from such severe

impostor syndrome

because you are

an impostor

those clowns

who wore masks

with your parents’ faces

painted on them

started it


your real mother and father

did speed away so fast

I cannot say where


it reads

keep your car blindness

to yourself

and the dirt

these vagabond waters
rush the story
of a seasonal creek

how many more times
will a hapless driver crash
into the side of the old red barn

no one grows anything
on a vine / anything for the new wine
on this strip of land anymore

a bend in the road
another dead man’s curve
threatens more than death

more than a man / where are the women
in this tangle of exposed
channel bed debris

I’m crossing the bridge
again asking for it
any answer to any question

that contains moving
earth along / I eat
the grapes I don’t drink

California Saudade

the small concrete
bridge I crossed
twice a day
for a week
arches over

a seasonal creek
bed bone dry and
filled with gravel
ferns and clover
growing on either bank

a week
among writers
free flowing
wine and conversation
and freshly generated

poems or
at least

the week
is over

here I am back
in Minnesota
with its hot nights
and Mississippi
high waters

I miss the Napa Valley
already / into this
longing for all
that did or did not
take place

poems begin
to ferment
as long as
I ever so gently
take place

If I Were Brave on El Bonita Avenue

too large to be a domestic cat
too small to be a full-grown bear
a streak of black fur with four legs
darts across the road at sunrise

not willing to investigate
I pivot / redirect my running route
to Main Street where everything grows
wild at a distance

a shrub / a lost cub
a fire hydrant / a dancing one
on hind legs / pronounced snout
and bulging pentagonal eyes

what if it were a black jaguar
or never before seen
melanistic mountain lion
I will never know how close I came