Blanks

The public safety
building skyway has nothing
in its display case. No hint
of what got abandoned, what could become
enclosed in glass. She could

start over. Wind her way
through 7+ miles
of second floor passageways.
Could comment on the return
of Minnesota winter. But

another tabula rasa
might serve best to shake

her free of this burden of shoulder
shrugging routine.

On to Dusk

I come from the other
end of autumn
where black and white
frames get mistaken

for winter. But my mother birthed four
children—one for each season
in order. My brother came last
to claim the legitimate

snow and ice. I was born to bury
leaf memory in premature white—a virgin
covering before car exhaust
gets to it.

“The Most Fatally Fascinating Thing in America”*

“The stark, unutterable pity,
To be dead, and never again behold my city.”
—James Weldon Johnson, from “My City”

What if this is how it’s going to be—
atmospheric screen frozen,
no rebooting. Only one season left,
all natural warmth from the sun

a myth
our ancestors handed us
on a microwavable platter. The raw
movement dies from lack

of passion.
No more fire
in the belly, no more burning
desire to create friction—

to get next to you. This table wobbles.
That type set to tell on those paintings
has shrunk

to a grunt. I’ve lost
the secret code to maintain
an allusion. This uncoordination
has nothing to do with my left hand.

* James Weldon Johnson, from The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.

Sleep Demigods

If I am everyone
in this dream, who are you
to tell me how

it should end? The use
is mine—and disuse. You are
a figment trapped

in a smoke ring
I rarely produced. You are
the one my unconscious

heart won’t forget.
Winter afternoon naps
are the best. Caged trees

in snow banks stand
for a patience
I’m still learning to wake into.

Look Up & Down

It’s happening again—distortion
in the sky. Not another season
in sight. The man in a neon vest drops

his shovel. A bus rolls up—
wheels on a new white blanket.
Won’t last. Disintegration

at ground level. I watch from my skyway
perch—it is warm up
inside. Which one in stupid hat and gloves

is you? I gave up the search
decades ago. Now I extinguish the light.

Recount

Four children four
seasons—does it begin
with spring or winter?
It all depends—

whether we are dormant
before we live, whether
we can begin again, whether
autumn counts at all.