Late October Entropy

It’s not some kind of crown
shyness—these channels
of exposed sky. It’s not
the weight of a body

as it releases a final burst
of energy. The tiny white buttons
running down the back
of a wedding dress in another state.

On the same fall day.
She’s returned to eating 7
almonds a day as if it will
reduce numbness so easily.

It’s not as if he were ever a tree.
Or, if he was, she never knew
what kind. Or, the vegetable steamer
filled with red cabbage

and thawing peas
hisses at her again.

Or, each goth song that crowds
the airwaves this time of year
seeps in only a little.
“Oh, Bela.”

The 10-year anniversary
of everything being underwater.
Red velvet lined walls.
A random sweep through time

reveals just how little we knew
in 1983. And bless us all
that summer. As if the repurposing
of atoms had already begun.

So Far As Sojourns Go

You say multifamily. I say
multi-unit with a hyphen to hum
along the corridor. Who decides

how to count the bodies?
Do you include servants and boarders?
What about the quiet child who lives

next door? The clan knocks
over the terra-cotta pot.
The dirt-caked key beneath.

I don’t know how
to run a detached
dwelling. I don’t know how

to detach your hesitation
from the way I linger
in the deep end of an infinity pool

overlooking an ocean
with those lavish waves.
Not a tipped-over figure 8 in sight.


A single row, a ditch, a line
left to cross. It’s another Saturday

morning. Time to turn the soil
while waiting for the coffee

to kick in. No misery lights
are sweeping across the intersection.

A stranger cries out:
“You can’t run from death.”

You keep going up
the hillside in a city park.

You never wait
your turn. You take turns

being the antihero. Strapped
to a beat-up guitar, one of you busks

on a corner in perfect view
of a garden-level apartment

window well. The other sweeps
the margins clean

at the end of the night.
Underwater watchdogs swim ashore

before the next broken wake.

You always find a gem
of a word to mispronounce.

What about Maps?

What about them? I’m looking for him
on the wrong one. The wrong one

on the right map. The corresponding
position of another lost soul
dropping a cloth napkin
in the road

flashes and flutters. I study
the imprint left in the sand and dirt.

Isn’t “What’s your favorite color?”
the question to ask without asking?
The most intimate secret
to reveal to unlock an introvert’s

leaded glass window.
Stained with evidence of course.

Of another rainstorm.
Of another bear pacing because.
Of another language failing.
Of another myth collapsing

in the retelling.
Another one of the lion’s whiskers

gets plucked to trigger
one of the six types of courage.
The bear has whiskers too—
just not the vibrating kind.

An abandoned apartment building
up the hill catches fire again.

I don’t blame the squatters
the way they say I should.

Now that you’ve seen where I learned
to swim, let’s bring the rocks
ashore. The wetlands
have been brimming for decades.

Someone claims
it’s National Heroes Day.

It took too long for me
to realize the hero will never be
a boy. Another sister to the rescue
when the canoe capsizes.

There’s no way to see the entire box
in one frame. Cardboard, or recycled

wood slats, or chewed paper,
or apples softened in the sun
at high altitude. It doesn’t matter
how many Belgiums will fit inside.

The Take No Heroes Hotel
always has a vacancy.

I found her folded inside.
How the lake and sky compete
for the truest blue before it turns
gray along the apparent horizon.

The Cellar Door Was Open; I Could Never Stay Away

Another anniversary of a death,
followed by a milestone of living

in the same place
for three decades.

Why did you think 48 years
would be enough? Everything

was too much. I urged you
to get on a plane.

I took you to the City
on a train. The Island on a ferry.

Ten more years before
I would put down the bottle.

The one we could never pry
from your hand. Why

does every poem I write
about you have to end this way?

Why can’t I invent
a happy ending just once?

We did read poems aloud
on the west bank of the Saint Croix

that one spring day—my first
Minnesota spring.

It hit so suddenly
it knocked the wind out of me.

And nothing compares to arriving
to stay in your town

after civil twilight
on the second day in October.

So many cool breezes
across so many lakes.

The U-Haul truck you drove so well.

Note: The title comes from the song “It’s a Shame About Ray,” written by Evan Dando and Tom Morgan.