Surreal Ocean

Tide rises from all sides—this surround
won’t bring back my father’s words of advice.
In a dream, I refuse to walk along the granite bluff
with my sisters—this is no return to Ireland. This is

what gets made
up before dawn closer to the Mississippi
than any hint of salt. Pastels
on sleeves—watercolors in the sky—pollution

at dusk—can’t have a January
thaw without a frozen
plain. A surreal ocean
comes to mind.

Oral Savior

Shakes my hand
for choosing to walk
right past that survival

sign. No longer a tobacco
stained talker, I just smile
my way toward prevailing bluffs.


As he disappears
behind a mountain, she sighs
a sigh weighted in sadness,
in regret, in relief. As she remembers

each step they took
toward the bluff before night blanketed them
in desire, she sees a gull
on the rock she had reserved

for them. No longer a them,
she turns her back
to the ocean—no longer in need
of more salt.

Mississippi Burden

Release me
from these lucid dreams. The more
I try to control the mind
toward a reencounter with you in a garden
level coffee bar, the less 

I know about sleeping
flowers on this bluff
overlooking the confluence
of two rivers. What gets tended
in the dark could grow 

into more than what I believe, a grace
over dogma rising
from sandy soil. I am carrying fear 

in a basket my ancestral women transported
with time on their heads, by turns, to reach the big 

river, to spill
the contents into turbulent waters, 

to no longer believe in
the terror of the flood, the promise
of drought. So far, I am not 

balancing it
on my head, but on my left hip
below the heart. I’m still hoping
you’ll catch my right
to pull me into your current, to take everything 

from me, so I have nothing left
to drop.