Almost Thaw

She waves to the engineer
as an abbreviated freight train passes by—

heading southwest. She’s running
northeast now on snow

and slush. Could be quicksand
in spots, could be something

to complain about. But
she’s already said “hi”

to a XC skier and a couple
of women with dogs. Already made it this far

nearing the north end
of Lake of the Isles

without getting frostbitten
or falling down. May as well lean

in and call it
January bliss.

Heavy Metal Detox

These are not

tears. A wind
chill emotion erupts

without warning. Who
leaves their dog

outside a café
on a day like today?

Two-inch thick
ice will last

longer than many

As I peel
on and off

layers of peace,
another January

gets sealed
shut. Another recipe

scrolls down
the side of a wall

outside a venue
that sells

no food. And these words
will not

be sung indoors.

Wind Chill Civil Dawn

Beautiful to watch
from a well-sealed
window. Nothing

gets taken
for granted. Feels like

a drop
in ambient thought.
The essential reveals

itself against a pale blue
cloudless sky. Another day

where hope just might burst
through burns awake
to break convection’s hold.

LaSalle Avenue

Ice bevels
on the sidewalks where property
owners forget what they own. Pedestrian
and unlanded, I perform
penguin walks for too many blocks.
And the sun—the sun, it taunts
the frozen landscape
to no effect.

(Day 3,014)

Beware ice beneath
the door mat. She
may knock you

down with newly retrieved
self-confidence. When it’s this cold,
the surreal slips inside

cracks in doors, walls,
boots, skin. Water is
life or death—depends

on perspective. More
life, she thinks, when she keeps
her balance across thresholds.

South 13th

Each time I look down
that street it’s another U-Haul
truck that captures my eye

for minimal detail. Dead
of winter, dead center
of the block, this month—

someone gets up and moves
away. Or it’s someone else moving
in. The weave tightens

around messages that near
miss home.

Black Ice

I will map my avoidance a story
above fear. Frozen
or thawed, it’s got fangs. Transparent
or glazed, it coats the edges
of my motion toward makeshift tunnel
openings. Burrow or bite, the shiny
isn’t always so sweet.

A Seasonal Man

For Steve

A spring rain
essence hangs in the air
on a Saturday morning
in October, triggers memories

of any season
up for grabs. We hunt for rats
in the NYC subway,
on its streets, behind

its garbage bins
in alleys. Summer in the City
always makes a statement
to the nose. Bad

puns and monotony
breaking drinks to keep us
warm on a Minnesota winter
night. I came unprepared. You

had no idea what you were
getting yourself into—out of.
On the west bank
of the Saint Croix,

we read through
all I had written
come spring. It came
so violently, I almost faded

dead away
by my own hand. Was it yours
that crossed out

the almost

18 years later—the slow
desperation of a soul dying
to be free.

No Molesting Vegetation

I want to make a wish
at an artesian well. Take me 

to the old comfort
station near the 125-year-old iron 

footbridge. No longer providing relief
to men, women, children passing by, 

it aerates the pond. Who will
aerate me? 

From this curved history, I can see
a pond in transition— 

half ice, half water freed
from the long arm 

of Minnesota winter.  I don’t need
a hug from that set 

of limbs. I’ve wiggled out
of that passive 

aggressive affair. Lately, I take
winter in layers, leave it 

behind when the last chunk
dissolves to crack open 

a warmer motion.
I no longer dread 

seeing the old lover—he’s got nothing
on me these days. I know how 

to remain unattached. I’m ready 

to place my feet before the well,
to drop the coin in.