Single File

Did I choose this narrow
path, or did it choose me? No
matter, here I am climbing

up and around
a bluff to reach a peak
or some plateau

with the better view
ascending. Clusters
of visitors come tumbling

down—I can open my mouth
to greet them, can make room
for their passage without spilling

the ledge.
Or not.

Summer heat has reduced the surface
to sand dust. I imagine mud
and dank air

on another day. This panic when looking
down is my descent into anxiety
of loneliness or my anxiety
of influence. I can’t tell

the difference. Will it tell
on me?

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.


“He was BEAT—the root, the soul of Beatific. What was he knowing?”
—Jack Kerouac, On the Road

She packs up her traveling self again, seeks
a lightened load for a one night stand

beside the river and its Red Wing rumblings.
Any way to break

the ceramic cast
to her routine deserves a look. This romantic getaway

has room for only one
on the upper deck of the Empire Builder. First stop

and she’s off
tracks on the trail toward bluffs ahead.