Next Day

No stethoscope will help you
detect my grief. Carefully packed into
38 years and a day to measure
a deeply buried stolen blue

rhythm. Nothing borrowed,
no return to sender. Smoke
from Canadian wildfires
finally clears.

Her face appears
for a mere moment
each time I climb, reluctantly,
into a car. Then she’s gone.

A 22-year-old
voice I can’t hear
above the chainsaw buzzing
through a bright morning.

I understand clearing the lot
to make room to shelter
those in need. Still,
it breaks my heart

to expose that residual green
pulse of life in the elastic
branch that refuses
to be cracked.

A row of magnolia trees
brings aromatic shade
to the trail.
Suddenly, everything

in bloom. Her

laughter muffled,

then gone—


Anatomy of a Sidewalk

First, forsythia in the sculpture garden.
The arbor ready to be entwined.

“How does it feel to be
the tail end of what’s real?”

Written in bright purple
chalk beneath the shadow layer.

Then, tiny green buds
on maples, patches

of Siberian squill appear
out of nowhere in the grass.

“Did you hitch your wagon
to the wrong horse, or

your horse to the wrong wagon?”
Scratched in the glass

with a crude knife.
Sargent cherry trees

in the Peace Grove
along the park’s southeast

entrance trail suddenly shout
“Spring!” Your entrance. Your future

colonnade tosses you
down the hill. Throw another

robot conductor off a bridge
into a Minnesota lake.


and another shoulder
season evaporates

into gasping for breath
in stagnant air.

Try to ignore
the used syringe

and stray chicken
bone in the street

beside a higher
than needed curb.

Watch your step.
Every straw and pencil wedged

in the gap between
sidewalk slabs triggers a fear

of needles, a fear
of addiction, a fear of slipping

inside the city’s
stormwater underbelly

where a hidden creek is dying
to get out. “Did she

try to possess you too?”
Spray paint on a concrete

tunnel wall. A mist

puts a smile on your face
as it fills the night

with an early May mood.
No thunder or sacred

branches cracking apart
will spoil it.