Strays

Not exactly a rip
current but enough of a drag
to rearrange her.

Where are we?
Where’s our stuff?

See my car beyond
the collapsing seawall?

Identifying cars has never been her
strength. A weakened
swollen left foot

finds relief
in the cool salt

water. Nothing hurts
in this moment. Gang

shootings happen weekly
back home. Heads down, eyes
locked in, a knot

in the throat that can’t be loosened
by the contents

of any of those 10,000 +
lakes. By blood soaking into a little sister’s

sleeve. And swimming here
in a dress, she wishes
she could be more lost.

Rain Before Heat Waves

Steam doesn’t rise
the way she dreamed
when she could

remember to watch
for it. Infrasound below
a register she recognizes

could still
cause a syndrome

or vibration
or jarring

thought to be
released into wind
bursting overnight.

Toughened or Tempered

A mural on a sound
barrier wall won’t disturb

the peace. A movie
flashing on an ice rink dasher

board will not melt. But
air measuring

14 below zero Fahrenheit
with 35 below wind chill will

make your eyes sting. And who will shed
Dutch tears?

Prosaic Dream

You are not in
her dream—merely fragments left
behind to prove

you were here. A small sketchbook,
a pair of socks, one
thick glove, a trace

of your carefully constructed
thought. She handles
the sketchbook but

finds an old-fashioned band
flyer with a letter scrawled
on the back

more appealing. Scans
the words—sees her name
near the bottom of the page. Slanted

forward. You know what
they say about that. And then

she wakes up. No idea
what the letter said
about her or who

it was addressed to. It’s 20 below,
and the cat’s licking bedroom
window blinds again.

Lake Effect

What if
one of those 10,000
got lost—would it turn
up across town
tucked between
the circular one
and that snake? What drains
her tonight
will relieve
her some morning
down the road—a mysteriously
winding one. Could have been
stolen, could be returned
before dawn.

Day 212 (When I Am Home)

I am New England dirt,
the taste of beets out back.
I am not brownstone—
not urban by birth. I am

still in quarry depth,
the scent of cars rusting beneath.
I am not ocher—not red
iron ore impure. I am sipping

fresh water from a claw-foot tub
turned spring, overflowing
to Bone Lake at dusk
and warm. But I am not

the moon to be collected.
I am not forty jokes memorized—
not working a room,
timing accent and plot. I am

ready to mark this laughter
the colors of a flower bed
against brick. I am the line
drawn purple—blues and reds

of a road map
preparing to fold everything
I am
(except magnetic north) in place.

Minnesota Deuce

Twenty years into this
relocation west
of the Mississippi, I will

become the original
version of Another
Girl, Another Planet.

Just for today, no
cover. And maybe tonight.
And perhaps the next

full moon lighting
up the river’s only
natural falls.