En Route

She writes about cities—Cincinnati, Red
Wing, Newport, Kent, Fort
Worth—before she sees them
to prepare her soul

for any embedded poetry
that might work itself loose
beneath her feet. Each place is a place
called home

for someone. No one
can knock her off
her footing without her consent.
She just can’t wait

for planes to land, trains
to pull into stations.

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The Depot

A young man in a loud
print shirt, baggy shorts, flip

flops, makes
a balance beam
from a track rail. Records

a freight train’s flight
through the station
to replay and give false hope to future

passengers dodging bats
passing under the eaves. Lights
from boats on moonlight

excursions and the Harbor
Bar across the channel
on the island with no name

transform the river
into a stage. Others wait
to travel west:

White Fish, Montana,
Portland, Oregon,
Chico, California,

eventually. For me, the waiting
will be longer than the journey home.

Single File

Did I choose this narrow
path, or did it choose me? No
matter, here I am climbing

up and around
a bluff to reach a peak
or some plateau

with the better view
ascending. Clusters
of visitors come tumbling

down—I can open my mouth
to greet them, can make room
for their passage without spilling

over
the ledge.
Or not.

Summer heat has reduced the surface
to sand dust. I imagine mud
and dank air

on another day. This panic when looking
down is my descent into anxiety
of loneliness or my anxiety
of influence. I can’t tell

the difference. Will it tell
on me?

@ the Saint James Hotel

It could be tattoos and piercings offered
in the old rail shed behind a grain
elevator that still groans and gives

forth. Could be barges propelled up river
to unwrap another image thrown
back in time. Or a black and burnished

brass Roman Candlestick
telephone and century turning pipe
organ in history’s hotel

parlor. If only my mother were here—
she would know what to do.

Red Wing’s Bay Point

She stands beside the wooden no wake
sign to calm those rumblings
inside, steps on a bed of soft,
overripe crabapples

by accident. Laughter
in the slippage. She’s been to the island no state
wishes to claim across the channel—prefers
it from this side. Terror is

a walk across the High Bridge that ties
Minnesota and Wisconsin together
along Highway 63. A club soda to gulp
in the Harbor Bar outside wooded campgrounds.

Yes, vista rather than destination.

Bliss

“He was BEAT—the root, the soul of Beatific. What was he knowing?”
—Jack Kerouac, On the Road

She packs up her traveling self again, seeks
a lightened load for a one night stand

beside the river and its Red Wing rumblings.
Any way to break

the ceramic cast
to her routine deserves a look. This romantic getaway

has room for only one
on the upper deck of the Empire Builder. First stop

and she’s off
tracks on the trail toward bluffs ahead.