Latitudes Off Kilter

Close enough is never enough
to align your hips
with my waist
no matter how long I ride
this train going south. I overshoot

the dream by a zone
or two. It’s up to me
to make adjustments. In your permanent
state—you won’t budge. But
weather is everywhere—weather is

god. I am everywhere wondering where
you’ve gone to weather god.

And He Said Renewal Only Happens Within

“Throw the calendar away—gonna find a jukebox of steel.”
—Jay Farrar, “Jukebox of Steel”

Don’t ask me to set a date,
to plan my release
from this worn Sisyphean trail—
uphill with no benefits. I only know
how to drop

put my flame
to other things. By sudden impulse,
I hear a message transmitted
where I thought

communication was shot. God
wears new clothes.

Colors of Imperfection

How to wash a wall
clean escapes me. The stained
yellow frame
of life happened
has marked where the black

and white Flat Iron
Building photo hung
in elongation. Always a phallic
comment, but that’s not it. And
now I want to hang you—

your black, white, and gray
evocation of guitar and train—
your one fast move or I’m gone
tour memorabilia on that spot. But
you won’t fit. A black line

from the edge
of a chest of drawers,
a tiny crack
in the new frame
I’ve bought to hold you in.

A collection of flaws—not a god in sight.

Unnatural Causes

To identify where
it all went wrong, when
isolation became a drug
as potent as anything

ingested, when ingesting
became impossible

to pretend to be
some kind of god
with flame-retardant wings.

Nine Eighteen

Don’t draw a line through
this day yet—late
afternoon and still sleeves
are optional, blinding light
from the sun’s reflection
on a fender, her footsteps
reflect nothing but promise
of a moon sighting tonight.

Brown Foams

“What is the Mississippi River?—a washed clod in the rainy night, a soft plopping from drooping Missouri banks, a dissolving, a riding of the tide down the eternal waterbed . . . down along . . . and out.”
—Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Heavy legs won’t lift
the feet so easily over
cobblestoned walkways
on the West Bank. I make believe it’s winding
north, but I’m the one

doing the twisting slowly upward. The water flows
south over falls that used to be
natural spilling below. Louisiana
steam has backwashed against the current
to fill up this Minnesota atmosphere.

It could happen. Anything is possible. Weather is everywhere—
weather is god. I am everywhere
weathering god.

At Northrop Auditorium Watching the Martha Graham Dance Company

Hand over palm of other hand,
no one sits
like this anymore. But I
do it because I
want to invoke a god 

to this dance
I watch, wondering if
it’s being done right. Because I
need a divine
answer to this mortal question: 

Is it ever done right? 

I wonder what happens if
my heart stops racing
long enough. There’s a girl
who was born yesterday—
and hers is beating just right.

Prayer (Day 324)

When I look at the moon, I believe in God
in phases. Because he who rapes the body no
longer rapes thought, I said, “no.” 

When I look at the moon, I believe in God in pauses
revealed in shadow giving consent to light. 

When a new moon gives back
the whole sky, I’ll begin
to believe this body is mine.

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.