@ the Saint James Hotel

It could be tattoos and piercings offered
in the old rail shed behind a grain
elevator that still groans and gives

forth. Could be barges propelled up river
to unwrap another image thrown
back in time. Or a black and burnished

brass Roman Candlestick
telephone and century turning pipe
organ in history’s hotel

parlor. If only my mother were here—
she would know what to do.

Red Wing

To be plum
with the river, or a bluff

quarried but still projecting
as a barn for the gods,

to be at all

bliss on a high bridge
or barge passing beneath.

Metropolitan Seething

I am urban
wildlife found in grain elevator
yards abandoned

then reclaimed. I emerge
from sewers with pride.
I’m not afraid

of you. Fly at you
on crowded sidewalks. Swim
beneath barges, sleep in the hollow

of your stoop. Nest
in your overhang. I am
no different from you.

Carp Queen

I am her
royal highness perched low
on the Minnesota River’s north
bank. A beer cooler 

my throne, a grain
elevator screeching
over the mucky muck
water cheers me on. My fishermen 

hook big
flapping bottom
feeders, then hand me
one of their poles, and I bend 

to pull the line
taut, lower, repeat,
the rod steadied against my royal blue
bibbed breasts. This battle becomes 

the day’s drama—
it against me, the queen
23 times its size. Finally,
when I do pull it ashore, 

a blotch of red in its gill,
one of my fishermen attends
to its release, the needle
nose pliers freeing it 

unharmed—give or take
a lifetime of post
traumatic stress
disordering its course. I am 

the carp queen sculling
the air with a regal wave
to the boys on a barge
passing before us on this sweaty river.

I hear their megaphone
pleas for me
to flee my banked fleet. But
even as I flirt 

with those towing
cargo (be it soybean
or grain or freeze dried
myths) to the Mississippi River 

bound for Red Wing, Rock
Island, Saint Louis, Ripley,
Natchez, New Orleans, somewhere
in between, my heart belongs 

to these charming men seeking
the biggest carp, the better quip
to pass another Saturday
too hot for its own Minnesota 

not so nice. They remind me. Her highness
is not so high
left alone on her portable perch, potable contents
sealed tight inside for now. Her highness 

is referring to herself
in the third person again.