Shall We Dance?

For Steve and Colin

We three who sit in a tattered, sprung black
booth on the non-music side
ask

ourselves this. The confusion—
liver or lives, ecstasy
from a handful of pills or arms

dropping
from an invisible burden. It would kill
off two, would leave

the third alone

to hold the hollows
of an answer together
with her own hug

she wraps around herself.

No Empty

No time to mourn, to encounter
rubble in a hole
before retail monster walls
rise above. Dismantling 

December air, live
instruments and raw
voices not welcome
in this symmetrical disaster. 

Uptown bans all scars.

Uptown November First

This room is for music,
that one for shouting
on the fall down.
That’s how I remember it,
how I tried to keep it
straight. But when I got blurry, 

I may have released
my vocal chords wrong—a coloring
outside the lines. A tiny bird darts in
and out 

of the retro deco
signage above the south-facing front 

door. It’s locked. No more
food. One more night
of music in this room,
shouting in that. Tomorrow
the construction site wrapped thick
with plastic rattling 

a gentle November death
breath will swallow it
whole. And that’s that.

What Wants to Be Found

Not marble, shale, leftover concrete, pieces of a letter
her grandmother wrote the summer before she died. 

An article on the history of Saint Anthony Falls, milling along
the mighty river, grain refined into flour, torn photos revealing explosions 

about to happen between two people unraveling
their love. A chapter from a science textbook on estuaries, 

salt granules strewn across a diner booth table. A slice of ruby 

nagahyde laying on the pavement beside an oversized dumpster,
the blood stain spreading across fertile ground. She places everything side by side, 

doesn’t use a blender. Her thinking is as collaged as a map
of her love life before the end of the cold war—overlaps 

exposed, tale ends hidden, holes carved into the ice, she might go diving
into the river before it thaws all the way through. The need 

to be found has become so acute.

Faceless (from The Ecstatic Uptown Chronicles)

She was just a smoking pool
that night as any other. She belonged
to the faceless generation
till 

she found hers
on the back of an envelope
addressed to no one.