It smells ripe
today—the river. Hope
its wreaking havoc
is done by the time those waters
flow over your bed,
against your banks,
under other bridges
sturdy so far.

Won’t Turn to Stone

My criminal act concealed
for now we roam beneath bare
branches. Follow the river down

for a radical blossoming
before another cyclone wrecked
hillside. Sneezes for no reason—

there’s never a reason
to be so coy. Forgiveness begins
at the head of the falls.

Response to the 55th Chorus

“I also have all space 

And St Louis too 

  Light follows rivers
    I do too 

  Light fades, I pass.”
—Jack Kerouac, from the 55th Chorus of “San Francisco Blues” (Book of Blues

If this were a poker game,
I would be out
by now. I would be
reflecting on the morning 

heron in the stream
between little lake
and wetland infill. Would be
a reflection 

of myself on tip toes
hoping to see over
the Hennepin Avenue Bridge
rail to the pull 

of the big river
as it takes all the space
it needs to spread
these northern myths 

down Saint Louis way.
I would be out and free
to gamble away
another sunset.

Carp Queen

I am her
royal highness perched low
on the Minnesota River’s north
bank. A beer cooler 

my throne, a grain
elevator screeching
over the mucky muck
water cheers me on. My fishermen 

hook big
flapping bottom
feeders, then hand me
one of their poles, and I bend 

to pull the line
taut, lower, repeat,
the rod steadied against my royal blue
bibbed breasts. This battle becomes 

the day’s drama—
it against me, the queen
23 times its size. Finally,
when I do pull it ashore, 

a blotch of red in its gill,
one of my fishermen attends
to its release, the needle
nose pliers freeing it 

unharmed—give or take
a lifetime of post
traumatic stress
disordering its course. I am 

the carp queen sculling
the air with a regal wave
to the boys on a barge
passing before us on this sweaty river.

I hear their megaphone
pleas for me
to flee my banked fleet. But
even as I flirt 

with those towing
cargo (be it soybean
or grain or freeze dried
myths) to the Mississippi River 

bound for Red Wing, Rock
Island, Saint Louis, Ripley,
Natchez, New Orleans, somewhere
in between, my heart belongs 

to these charming men seeking
the biggest carp, the better quip
to pass another Saturday
too hot for its own Minnesota 

not so nice. They remind me. Her highness
is not so high
left alone on her portable perch, potable contents
sealed tight inside for now. Her highness 

is referring to herself
in the third person again.