Troubleshooting & Other Shelters

Your drought year
is his neverending storm
of waterspouts in the sound
and splintered piers down-island.

Her search for the right river
to rest beside begins and ends here.
Their walk becomes a run.
A mile becomes nine.

The scratch of leaves skidding across
pavement awakens owls above
and a whole rafter
of wild turkeys below.

Soon, they’re strolling
down the sidewalk
like they own the place.
You know the kind I mean.

A jet leads a wedge
of geese across a clear sky,
or so it seems,
till the moment passes—

the plane heads east,
the birds going south.
You break a glass
in the sink.

No one hears you shout:
“Testing, testing.”
Your right hand holds
the red light, your left

lands here
where silt loam
and decaying litterfall
cradle her head.

Nothing will trouble
the waters tonight.

Whoever says there are no accidents
never lived inside this danger
hollow. You both know
what it means to eat dirt.

How To Reclaim Your Own Narrative

When I see
my former self
lost in a dangerous dance—
eyes closed, hips swaying
without a sound,
knees slightly bent,
the same song playing
for the eighth time that night—

I rush to my current closet,
summer clothes not yet rotated
to the back so late
into October,
plan my attack.
I can still revenge dress
in all black
with black leather boots,

vicious vixen lipstick
(remember lipstick?),

a haircut even shorter
than my 25-year-old one.
She may be a sturdy little scull,
but now I’m the oar. She may swoon
and run faster and farther,
but I still float.
And these days and nights,
I go further.

More Fog than Frost

this October.
It’s time
to stop
breaking weather
records. Where

did this climate come from?
Waterloo? Saint Louis? New Orleans?
Where did our old one go?
Duluth? Thunder Bay? Fairbanks?

the radiators
begin to
rattle and hiss
at night. Leaves

scattered on the sidewalks
do not speak in brilliant color.
Lots of brown, some yellow-green,
very little burnt orange or red.

I’m fine—really.

“We been runnin’ ‘round covered in gas,
playin’ with matches, oh.
We’ve been runnin’ this thing,
burnin’ it down, down.”

When Leon Bridges
begins singing
“Don’t Worry,”
it’s over
for me.

October is my flame season.
Can’t erase the memory
of seeing those fire trucks
(not red) in front of my apartment

house in
New Haven
that beautiful
fall civil
twilight. Lost

in the soul
of the thing
I can’t quite reach.
I wish I wrote

“the plane
tilted, dropped
and rose,
and the whole
earth slanted”

the way James Baldwin did
in Another Country.
I wish I was on a plane
about to land at Idlewild.

I wish
JFK was
alive when
I was
born. Longing

for that lover or piece of land
I never met. Saudade floats—
never sinks. I will never forget
where I learned to swim

the Vineyard)
or who
taught me
(my father).

“Okciyapi (Help Each Other)”*

Lost in slow motion
walking through
a sculpture garden
at civil twilight
on a too warm fall day,
you hear someone whisper:

“Niśnana śni.”**

You don’t know the language,
but the land does.
Cool water droplets
soothe your muscles.
Those clouds in the sky
won’t produce any rain tonight.


* New sculpture by Angela Two Stars in Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

** Dakota language phrase “Niśnana śni” = “You are not alone” in English

Bird of Prey on a Wire

A humid October morning.
Your favorite season shrinks
more each year.

Women still needing
to reclaim their bodies.
Your body. How did we get back here?

29 years living
in one city. More than half
your life. How did you get here?

The driver is 11 years gone.

A few nights ago, an explosion.
The lights go out. The music stops.
The owl does not survive.

You’re all alone
in the dark
with your thoughts.

A day later,
you get trapped
on the wrong side of the tracks

when the longest freight train
passes through,
rattling on and on.

The blue morph snow goose is gone.
Wild turkeys have returned.
How did that rabbit on the trail die?

You stay outside
almost long enough
to see the sun set.

You hear a rumor
lumberjacks and
lighthouse keepers

are making a comeback.
Not necessarily in that order.
Sirens in the rain.