you were a book
before you became a tower

you sang at the top
of your lungs

in an outsized hoop skirt
while I rolled out

the reclaimed red
and black carpet

of our deeper learning
and now indecipherable equations

shelves and shelves
of color coded spine art

an older woman tentatively plays
the first notes

to Bridge Over Troubled Water
on a baby grand

a child builds a robot at home
the way I once built

my dearest imaginary friend
and her sunken garden

inside an Indiana ditch
from a patch of ditch weed

little did I know what I would be
ditching when the song came to an end

as the steel railing shimmered
beneath a sinking sun

and you and I continued to read
the sleeve liner notes in silence

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

Looking Back

You remember Dad
teaching you two, my big sisters,
how to play Monopoly
the evening Neil Armstrong took
that one small step.
The sun would not settle
into the sound for another two hours
on the island.

My obsession
with a silver wheelbarrow
had not kicked in,
the red one years and miles away.
I remember those small steps
to the porch fronting
that rocky beach, the water,
this shrinking land.

Dad taught me
how to tie my shoes
on those steps,
how to swim
in that water,
how to believe in the number
8 and infinity
under that sky.

Each of us remembers
a different moment
from a different angle.
We all remember
the black-and-white turquoise TV
that framed history for our family
that summer events piled up
higher than the sky.

And there’s the view
of all of us
teetering on the edge
of a gibbous form—
tiny, blue, marbelized,
permanently captured
rising above
the limb of the moon.