Saturday, August 11, 2018

mistaken for ghosts

We both realized it was Indian Summer in Minnesota that day, though I was the first to actually say it. I can't explain my initial reluctance other than for fear of spoiling the moment, as though if by my silence it might somehow last forever.

It was right on time, in fact. That time of year we forget what the chill and rain portends, briefly allowing our minds to idle and our bodies to luxuriate in unexpected warmth.

"Well, I don't see any forecast for snow in the next week. If we get through November, that leaves December, January, February and March!"

She stated each month with increasing emphasis, the last with a determined authority. I knew then I had broken the spell.

bare birch
hidden amidst the pine
mistaken for ghosts

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Night of the Rockets

the fallen Doum palms
left lying in the sand
Night of the Rockets

Cedars of God

detritus, and camo webbing,
abandoned at the border -
Cedars of God

Bad Gateway

oilmen in cowboy hats
survey the Purple Line -
Bad Gateway

Friday, July 27, 2018


hot as the dickens -
the sleek fingerlings engorge
on sluggish minnows

5 a side

Ben Curtis / AP

5 a side
slog down the dusty pitch -
blistering crosses

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

corn too tall

62 years in this place, I think, that's what they tell me,
a white man with a boy's heart, bones and back bent,
forever crossing the road, looking for a place,
I talk to myself, already dead but never born,
how can you defeat me, since I am the dirt you tread on,
and holds you up, the litter from the trees, that feeds the earth,
my eyes, blue like the sky, my tears, falling like rain
onto corn grown too tall for their Fourth of July,
now I wait for the evening lull, to beseech the Spirit
with my song, lifted like dust and carried by wind
from the sound of the Drum,

"O' Great Spirit, please, help us, help us all "

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

too tall

corn too tall
for the Fourth of July
evening lull

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mother Land: retold

Stopped in at a garage sale in Dickinson, at the peak of the fracking oil boom, actually, located close by the border of Montana and Nowhere. That's the name of a town.

Just up the line is where Teddy Roosevelt nurtured his rugged manliness in the local Cowboy culture, only later to lose his sorry Progressive ass on a woe be gone Cattle Ranch investment.

Denizens of North Dakota, those rooted to the land, at least, suffer indomitable excesses of weather, while Teddy Roosevelt, once a sickly child cum Harvard graduate, had a Daddy who was a rich man, half a continent removed back in the robust confines of New York City.

It is not recorded if Roosevelt declared war on his insipid advisors. If he had, the concept of Banana Republic might be only a line of garish men's couture with a wayward appeal.

The lady who I bought the new-in-the-box router and self adjusting vise grips from was an elderly widow and permanent resident about to be uprooted by progress and big oil corporations with unlimited lines of credit. Not surprisingly, the two of us Norkis fell into an amicable conversation, me, full of questions, plying her for the wealth of information she had garnered over time. She seemed well adjusted to her situation - probably saw it coming - yet, a generally pleasant, and, intelligent person.

This wasn't the first Boom to come and go. dot Gov was better prepared, while owning the highest employment rate in the country, plus the settlers a century earlier had established a fair and equitable system to hold and repair property in their families. The cycle of seasons, weather and disaster was a known equity, except, perhaps those smitten with the endless sky and rustic promise of the land. Like me.

I was more alarmed than she, of course, having just arrived on a mission of opportunity, one I hid not too well, I suppose. Still, I was in awe of the massive economic shift I had realized, and the region experienced, so close behind the home mortgage crisis. The mass of humanity that had descended on the place from all corners of the world was something I'd never witnessed either. A telling perspective, a harbinger of things to come. If one knew the signs.

Generous, a bit lonely, like most Norsk we know, she spoke knowledgeably of her life, recent changes in the state as well, and I detected a dry humor beneath her engaging commentary. At one point, even, expressing her admiration for her life long home.

"North Dakota is the greatest state in the Union", she declared.

Her gaze met mine, and with that same clarity and conviction she had spoken with. Captured by the friendly, yet, mysterious irony - a wry spark of wisdom embedded deep in her eye - I believed in her, totally .

Only two generations prior, for that matter, my grandparents made their own destiny, a ranch and farm somewhere to the North, stories i heard, lured by free land, rich soil and endless vistas. I'd seen old faded photographs of when they were young, younger than I, the small town with its dirt streets, facades on the buildings to add some importance, pictures of rattlesnakes, a Halloween parade, a model T and one an illegible horizon - of wheat, stretching into faded white and beyond.
Change uprooted them, also, both drought and Depression. Until one day they arrived, out of the wilderness with children in tow, to disembark from a railroad car, under the eye of JJ Hill's aerie mansion on the hill, perhaps, to where the breadbasket of America brought its bounty to the northernmost port on the Mississippi.

It wasn't until later, quite by coincidence, I came across where the town once lie and the humble existence they'd attempted to carve out of that unforgiving plain. I wasn't surprised really.

wind from the prairie
dries my sleeves-
these purple flowers
all bearing thorns

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


I stumble through tall grasses
unseen, a snake flees

Monday, July 16, 2018

La Marseillaise

her perfect teeth
prominent on display
La Marseillaise

Saturday, July 14, 2018

hard red wheat: redux

drought, dry weeds
in every sign and billboard
a bullet hole

pheasant chicks in columns
march into the grass

the yearling's death cry
stilled with a penknife -
the only day it rained

curlews choose flight
over Blacktail Dam

pronghorn antelope
plunging across the road
hard, red wheat

a dust trail rises
with the horizon

Friday, July 13, 2018

antipode: an aerie come to earth or Finally: a draft is done

notes lilting past a clubhouse quite full
lads and rounders and cruisers and fools
none are admitted, none other o' course,
but for sweet dreams and wishes, a touch of remorse,
with honor and lies, like white on brown rice
something that's witty but nothing quite nice
just finding the time to offer a rhyme
from gangsters below to sweet chariots we climb
not too far removed from the city of thieves
beyond the high plains near prairies and trees
by the river with mounds above too

then far across the antipode sea
the sons an' daughters of beggars and thieves
the magic tones and loneliest odes
to jigs n' reels to rompers and stompers
the taking and sacking of those ancient coffers,
our ears are attuned to hear latent offers
and worse for them, much worse them that wasn't
the song sounds the same but the melody doesn't

shall I then be hanged, for false gods, harangued
for digital bastards we toast with raised glasses
for a sip of chianti, or a tune called a chantey
three meals and a rack or a night in a shack
to enjoy it? to live it? which is it, Herr Gibbert?
its that song you began, you're a dear lovely man
a voice like a bird I know what I heard
tell us a tale and one of the sea ...
give it here, please. Now! Give it to me!

bring us the boys then bring us the men
bring us a shaman now off with you then
tell what you see then tell it again,
something that's new, a surprise it's your due,
the truth vs lies seen with your own eyes
then bid us good fortune in perfect proportion,
smooth waters they lie, abide and by thee

"They're Coming To Take Me Away" 1966

Eulogy: Inhale (Hansha's Revenge)

(narrative style to Chopin's Piano Sonata in Bb minor)

the dirge did emerge, not too fast, arrived from the Quarter's deep depths,
gone then before them to what lie there ahead ~

~ exhale

a river rising above it's gnarled banks, the dead apprising,
small kami midst their ranks whisked away in its Hellish vortex

inhale ~

dead and lovely, a sigh, a girlish fart, danse cumbia y ko ko luce,
humanity's stank before the mast, now, walk the plank

"Muertos , Assaulto, Assaulto!!"

on the very day, one yet to be, twixt twilight's been and past ~

~ exhale

so suck it up, then ban all art, don't dare forgo old black jack,
our master, [we desirous] his disaster, [we inherit] even the Pope,
and all the Kings, as dear, wee Cyrus draws his knife

inhale ~

together now [never, how?!] . . . can we forgive . . .
feet dragging, pain nagging, delicious, pernicious
how absurd this lover's march?

then one last breath, we dead poets and drum and fife

I've found within the darkness
an existential angst
a weakness in my fingers
these edits attest to that
dallied in the scarcity
further altitudes of air
conjured up a coffin
that really was not there
to carry me will it bury me?
a question most won't bear
if I resolve to anything
its that death is only fair

Moanin' Charles Mingus


hyacinth bloom
more grand than any flag -
4th of July

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

jump out boys

the jump out boys
stare off at the azimuth -
first summer's day