Day 4,231

Urban archaeology—river
running—the falls
bring it—the power—Emily
dashes for all—what
would she have mused
about the Mississippi
if she had gotten that far? So far
into this overflow.

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Where’s the Frozen River?

I sit beneath a painting of Kerouac
in thick shades
of gray and try to digest

the fact that I am older than he
will ever be. I should
be so privileged to pass

Emily and Virginia. I’ll prefer
mine lilac and thinner
than the rim of ice

hovering along these northern banks
of the Mississippi. This January
moves unnaturally fast.

No More Delivery

On farmer’s market
day, she helps the blind
man find his time

to cross. The colors
of a vegetable stand meld
into one kaleidoscope

wish—to do
these things without
announcing them

as some addict’s letter
to the world. This is not
what Emily meant.

Distance Avails Not *

I like to correspond with the dead:
Tell Emily what it’s like to be
a woman alone
in a room 

in the 21st.
Ask Walt what he thinks
of the Brooklyn Bridge
127 years after 

the fact. The fact is
I can write to anyone.  I could
even choose to write
a letter 

to you who still breathe.

* from Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”

Another Circle Poem

Twenty-first century letter
boxers jump the fence
into a dog park, follow 

text messages on the tiniest
chance they might match up
all the clues leading them 

to the diamond ring
treasure. I’m back one
and a half centuries 

with Emily still writing
“my letter to the World
that never wrote to me.”

Emily Said It Too

This light has no logic.
It heats up tinted
images of you wrapping
around the walls 

inside my solar
of make believe. No outside
truth will seep through
to stain your well-defined 

face. The moment talked about,
its contracting destination
point, hangs 

in suspension. We 

don’t get there
from here. And that word
I meant to say, but
didn’t dare, is the only way 

to arrive at your timbre. It’s up
there too, with its swinging “y”
tail making an underline
exclamation beneath 

its other three
letters. They’re up
there to whip subtle
movements off 

their hinges. Big,
bold, block pronouncements
too heavy not to fall
eventually.