Monday, December 26, 2016


The wind has blown the seed off the wall
I will not see the chickadees today
the wind has blown the seed off the wall
the patio stone is a sheet cake of ice
studded with sunflower seeds
I will not see the chickadees today

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I Rent Out My Sweet Days

I am a renter of time
I rent out my days
all my sweet days
named for gods and Roman sons of gods
I rent them out

I can't keep a one, not a one
Can't put them up in jars
prick them all over with cloves
save them to the cloud
I rent out my days and I can never stop

I rented out today
to letting the populace know
Minnesota is getting browner
speaking in tongues never
spoken in Minnesota before
I wrote up this side's view
and that side's view
and was careful not to
leave out the views of the
people in the middle
and the dead

oh, let everyone in the land
of sky blue water
turn black as a December 2 a.m.
speak in caws and whistles
let the marble busts
at the state capitol wear the hijab
this was not worth
my precious today

I've rented out all the sweet
todays of my life
leaving no today left to write
down the important things
like I am me
like this was my was
like this is my now
like these are the monsters
my dog protects me from
but my dog is getting old

Friday, June 24, 2016

Request from the Communications Department

Sorry can we tweak
my deadline
for this task
just a bit
I'd blocked out
time to edit
your proposal
then I read
the first paragraph
saw your personal take
on the use of
the semi-colon
the word
which you have made up
in the belief
it is more redolent
of meaning than
the word lessons
the 14 subordinate clauses
that only Sir Nigel Hawthorne
as Sir Humphrey Appleby
could unclot
and I wrote a poem

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Father's Day - Donald Dotseth

I think of him as Donald
but even his mother called him Bud
Asked why in hell she'd married him
Mom a woman life happened to
while she was playing the lead
in a Technicolor musical in her head
said he had such good hair

In a snapshot he looks like the twin
of Lee Harvey Oswald
if Oswald had bought a better rifle
there must have been some ooh la la
the snapshot doesn't show
because when I asked his last wife
what he did for a living
she said there was always a woman
who would support him

He wasn't much
that kind of guitar-playing man
who is always about to take his songs to Nashville
but never leaves Minnesota
the little man with guns to frighten
women and children
the low-rent psychopath
doubtless, in prison, some bigger man's bitch

He was no one I'd want to know
But it's Father's Day again
Hallmark's got its cards out
power tool ads are everywhere
reminding me I have never
bought a Father's Day card
never written Dear Dad
never taken him out to lunch
and slid into the booth next to him
the fluorescent lighting
shining off our good hair

Monday, May 23, 2016

Miles to Go

I've seen it all twice over
been there and there
and to some places
if I'd been wearing the right hat
I might have called yonder
if it hadn't been patently obvious
there were miles to go beyond that

Many is the time I've been so
discombobulated I've misplaced
the moon behind fir trees
stopped in parking lots
to call for it by its first name
and heard nothing back
but the whispers of burger wrappers
blowing across blacktop

I've driven to the Gulf of Mexico
because it was on the way
to somewhere I thought I'd recognize
when I saw the welcome sign
but it was just another Salvation Army
in the land of one Goodwill after another
so I bought a no-name pop and a spatula
and kept on driving

Monday, April 4, 2016


I wore a wool peacoat with the collar high
stood on the rocks with a mug of hot tea
and looked out over Mille Lacs
as if it were mine

The sun rose a cut blood orange that morning
the winter ice broke up into chunks
floated away to the far horizon
and fell over an edge so sharp
I thought that people long ago
who thought the earth was flat
weren't so dumb after all

The March wind blew the water this way and another
the light glinting where it pleased to glint
every wave a different shade of blue
Mille Lacs a thousand lakes and one
all of them mine

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


From the kitchen I see you on the couch
where you are not supposed to be
where you are stretched out
just so
in expectation that the sunlight
that lay upon you yesterday
like a butter yellow blanket
will come again today
and I leave off scrubbing the sink
to come to you on the couch
and place before your nose
a large biscuit
bulk bin code 87789
because the sunlight you’re expecting
isn't forecast again until Thursday
because I would summon
that sun today if I could
for you
dog of my heart
but I can't
but I can give you a bone-shaped biscuit
and allow you to eat it on the couch
where you are not supposed to be