Monday, December 16, 2013

Be Still and Listen to the Dog Dream

Be still
And listen to the dog dream
No matter
That the neighbor’s sidewalks
Are shoveled down to the concrete
And yours still look like
An icebox cake
Someone forgot
To personalize
Sit still
And listen to the dog dream
No matter
That the fact sheet
Selling the joys
Of regular colonoscopies
Is half-written
No matter that love
Is elusive
God gone
And Vincent Price
Your latest crush
Has been dead since 1993
Sit here quietly
And listen to the dog dream
As if nothing else
Matters in the whole world
Except the whoop whoop whoop
Sound he always makes
Through his nose
Is exactly like a WWII submarine
Just before it dives

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Absence of Love

She had not thought
it through

She had pictured

Nothing lasts forever

She had not known
that each day would begin with it
go on with it
end with it
days would become weeks
weeks become seasons
seasons become Generation This
and then Generation That

she had not known
it would be like this
the daily presence
of the absence of love

Friday, November 15, 2013

Still dream of love, but the dreams are different

Lover man, hold the front half
of the dog so I can
pull the stickers out of his ass
Come sit with me at the Unitarian Church
and sing Arlo Guthrie
Can you be home in time on Tuesday
to speak man to the gutter man?
He only hears customers
who have a prostate
Here, eat half of these fries
my hips are wide enough
to birth bulldogs
Say What did you just say to my wife?
to the saggy pants in the parking lot
who thought I was alone
Let us go then you and I
to the compost heap
before it rains
your turn to drive

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weight Watchers 7 a.m.

Viewed as protein
the Weight Watchers leader
is on the stringy side
even basted frequently
she'd get all tough
on the grill
meat needs a bit
of marbling to cook up
moist and flavorful

I guess I could try marinating her
perhaps in orange juice
with a little Dubonnet rouge
and four twists of the pepper mill

Nah, too stringy
not worth it
besides there's something wrong
with a woman who does the wave
and crows with joy
because shake powder is on sale
remember mad cow disease
nah, I can do better
than Miss I Weigh My Lettuce
all around me
every occupant
of every green plastic seat
is potential pot roast
and carrots
are zero points


Oh, I ate both my bananas
I said out loud to no one
I meant to save one
to eat in the break room
at the table
under the healthy snacks machine
two rows of Snickers
three rows of Fritos
one row of Little Debbie snack cakes
always out by Wednesday
so that I might be
remembered as the healthy one
I've always found
that memory is a dog
who doesn't want to go out
to pee in the rain
and needs a little push
and a firm word

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dreaming of Vincent Price

In bed Vincent Price
says "Non-adherent?
Sounds like he was
Passing the buck.
Have a cheese knot.
An old St. Louis recipe."
And the dog sleeping
In the exact center of the bed
Makes a noise
Way back in his throat.
It might have been his opinion
About the kinds of things
health care professionals
say when they don't want to say
I don't know to help you.
Although it’s just as likely
The dog way back in his throat said
"Ooh, cheese knots
No one makes cheese knots
like you do, Vinnie."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

This Where

Not la-di-da
You never saw that
But you thought your jeans
Would be 501
Your shirts J Crew
And your shoes would
Once have had horns
And your husband would dig
Enormous holes
For little trees
While you stood near
Making helpful comments
And in the years to come
Out the kitchen window
You would watch them grow
As you hand washed the good china
You never put into the dishwasher
And brewed the coffee
For after dinner in little cups
And here you are
On your best days
Dressed head to toe by Monsieur Walmart
Standing and talking
To your rented maple
One palm pressed to it
As if there's something
A century old maple
Who has seen a thousand moving boxes
go past on a thousand pairs of legs
Can transmit
Something you lost
Something you forgot on
Your way to this nowhere
This where
This where you never saw you'd be

Monday, September 16, 2013

Staying Clear

I have decided to stay clear of God
step around him like
stepping around shards of a glass
that will never hold red wine again
step around him like
stepping around the corner
of White Bear Avenue onto Maryland
step around him like
stepping around the man lying in Pappy's parking lot
who looks like he is dead
who says hey mama I just be resting here a while

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I begin my work day
by eating for breakfast
my lunch
of leftover dinner
while reading the
suicide stats
for Dakota County

It’s too early in the morning
to say something profound
about air and eddies and currents
and how one person rides
and another person is lifted
and another person plummets
to the ground

Let’s just say
that I lived in Dakota County

in 2007-2011
and I am not unaware
that I am eating
fried potatoes
with thyme from my own garden
and 224 other people
are not

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No Use Crying Over Spilled Dreams, I Said to the Dog

No use crying
over spilled dreams
I said to the dog
tears running down
my ugly face

That's milk
no use crying
over spilled milk
he replied
as if
in that moment
in that universe
I have created
out of remnants
stuffed with pocket lint
held together
with twist ties
what I needed most
was idiomatic

Goddamned mutt
I told him
I asked you for a little sympathy
and all I got
was copyediting

It stopped you crying
he replied

Monday, July 1, 2013

Homeland Security in the Parking Garage

Prison jumpsuit orange
isn't anyone's color

They keep their eyes
fixed on their zip-tied hands
and the clanking
of their leg shackle shuffle
echoes off the stained concrete walls
as I pass by the Keep Your Distance
Homeland Security Van Loading sign
with my thermal mug of tea
and sandwich
and little bag of taco chips
in my non zip-tied hands

Mindful of the guards
their upper arms straining
the sleeves of their black polo shirts
I only whisper Best Wishes
in my head

A bit of Christian kindness
you might think
More likely an acknowledgement
of my good fortune
to have had ancestors who came seeking
the streets paved with gold
long, long ago
when anyone could walk them

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Power Outage

Playing Aces Up
by the light of the candle
from last year's
Christmas centerpiece
not the only reason
I left it to mingle
behind the armchair
with six months
of dust and dog hair

The fake fir tree scent
is all wrong
in this air as humid
as Godzilla's sighs

(I'm sure Godzilla sighs
though on camera he only
exhales streams of fire
I picture him with a glass
of self-warmed saki

In the flickering
the knave of clubs
looks just like the knave of spades
Let's just call it spades
when the dewpoint's this high
it takes too much effort
to squint

Sheets of rain slam
against the window
funny how water
with the whole outdoors
to play in
always wants to come inside

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Petals have fallen

this is proof
Earth spins
on its substantial re-bar

Petals have fallen

this is proof
that life
had not stopped
although perception
may have given
a different reading

Tulip petals have fallen

time's passing
makes no sound
that's all

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In Prior Lake Before the Last Snowstorm

3 crows in a cottonwood
shift allegiance
this branch, that branch
you and I
no, you and I
piss off, the both of you

That loud whisky throat crow talk

3 crows in a cottonwood
each choose a branch for one
staggered high, low, and
just a bit lower
like the last three unsold
Halloween tchatchkes
hanging on the last
unsold Christmas tree
75% off in January

When the crows stop talking
it is time for all living things
to hunker down

3 crows in a cottonwood
under a snow-sodden sky

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


You wish your second grade teacher
whose name and face you have forgotten
and everything about her except a vague impression
of taupe colored nursing shoes
would appear just long enough
to clap her hands twice with the thunderclap sound
only God and elderly schoolteachers can summon
and call out "Enough! That's quite enough!
I want you to put your heads down on your desks
and not another peep out of you!"


Saturday, January 5, 2013

At Dale Road

Between two rows of trees
Tall with maple and birch
Thick with sumac and the fallen
I can only see out
If I look straight up
I walk

One thousand birds talk
A dozen different dialects
Can't see them
Can only hear them
Can't hear the cars on Woodbury Road
Can't hear the dog's tags jingle
Can't hear the crunch of my boots on the snow
I hear nothing but the conversations
of a thousand birds

My mother's daughter
Never could resist a coffee klatsch
I whistle the only bird song I know
Quarter note high, quarter note low

Deafened now by silence
Oh my god
One thousand birds
A colony of birds
And I have stopped them breathing

One second
Two seconds
Three seconds, four
On the beat of five
The conversations start up anew

I can't resist
Absolute power corrupts absolutely
I whistle my two notes again
One thousand birds
go on talking in a dozen dialects

I have been absorbed