One Great State


Here’s a little something I wrote a while back.


I love this state. Conifer and Hardwood forests, rolling hills, farmland and prairie.
There is enough pink and black and white granite to make 10 billion headstones,
but we’re not the Granite state. That’s New Hampshire. We are the land of 10,000 lakes.
More like 12,000, and some don’t have names. For those that do, there are,
Angleworm Lake,
Bad Axe Lake,
Calamity Lake,
Dead Fish Lake,
East Four Legged Lake,
First Dog Lake,
Gibibwisher Lake,
Hanging Horn Lake,
Ice Cracking Lake,
Jock Mock Lake,
Kaapoo Lake,
Little Dead Horse Lake,
Magnetic Lake,
Nameless Lake,
Ox Hide Lake,
Pea Soup lake,
Quick Lake,
Rain Barrel Lake,
Skeleton Lake,
Thirty One Lake,
Unknown Lake,
Vegetable Lake,
Wawa Lake,
No lakes beginning with X,
Yodeler Lake,
and Zig Zag Lake.

And little towns scattered all across the state like,
Antlers Park,
Ball Club,
Ideal Corners,
Key West,
Pigeon Center,
Rattlesnake Point,
Toad Lake,
No towns beginning with X,
and Zerkel.
The town of Rice is not in Rice county, it’s in Benton County.
The town of Faribault is not in Faribault County, It’s in Rice County.
The town of Blue Earth is not in Blue Earth County, It’s in Faribault County.
The town of Becker is not in Becker County, it’s in Sherburne County.
The town of Cook is not in Cook County, it’s in St. Louis County.
The town of St. Louis is not in St. Louis County, it’s in Missouri.
The town of Cottonwood is not in Cottonwood County, it’s in Lyon County.
The town of Grant is not in Grant County, it’s in Ramsey County.
The town of Marshall is not in Marshall County, it’s in Lyon County.
As far as I know, there are no Lions in Lyon County.
And, The Mississippi River does not begin in Mississippi,
it begins in… Minnesota! in Itasca State Park, which by the way, is not in Itasca County.
And last but not least, I hear there is great fishing on Alcohol Creek!


Flea Market

a journey to the past and fond memories,
steel and glass chiseled and engraved,
of hand wrought goods and services.

a simpler time some would say,
but not so for those who lived it,
for those who’s hands cracked and bled.

for those who’s backs ached to create fine
wool, china, and hand carved wooden
tool handles, it was not a fond memory.

we see the past through our own eyes
colored by our romanticism of what
we believe, while knowing nothing of it.

the beauty of depression glass and
hand painted china, of riveted steel
and fire wrought iron to dress our homes.

the voices and the tears and sweat of
those who came before us would tell us
of the trials and sorrows of their lives,

and say, a simpler time? what you don’t
know of us could fill a library, go
home, read, study and think on this.

Of A Clear Blue Sea

I dreamed of sailing away on a clear blue sea.
Of salt spray, and the sun on my face.
I dreamed of you.

You stood on the deck, your hand on the rail.
With red hair shining, and blue eyes smiling,
you turned to me.

I longed for you, beckoning you to come,
but turning away, you looked out to sea.
I couldn’t move.

As you dove in the water, I was suddenly released.
I ran to you, arms outstretched, reaching.
You were there.

Under the surface you turned, smiling up at me.
And then you were gone, swimming away.
And I was lost.

The Beauty Of Nothingness

a thought arises, seemingly
from nowhere unfolding
like a blooming flower
filling my mind with wonder
at its simplicity and beauty
and then a shift of thought
and it’s gone and I, weeping
at its loss because it
seemed so perfect, so right
and now it’s lost and I
can’t remember it other than
to say it was the answer
to every question, every
person has ever asked.

and now I am alone with my
thoughts, drab and mundane
in comparison with the
perfection of THE thought
which was in fact so right
that my mind couldn’t grasp
it and it fled, disapparated,
dissolved into nothingness
but left its essence, a pure
quintessence telling me I will
never reach this height again.

saddened by the vacancy, the
hole, the blank space left
behind, empty at knowing I
grasped it for only a second
it now seems unreal, that
maybe I didn’t really think
it at all that maybe this
feeling is something else
that maybe I’m just hungry
and I go to the fridge
for satisfaction.

In Your Dreams, Quietly

For one who wanted to travel,
but could never find a way
we are doing it for you

Seeing for you, experiencing for
you, your memory holds us strong,
binds us together as we go

Giving ourselves to these places,
leaving our hearts behind and leaving
you as a token of our lost love

Your ashes now reside close
to home and in faraway countries

Across the sea and across
the mountains, places you loved
in your dreams, quietly
cherishing all you had never seen

We embrace the world for you
and give you to the nature
you loved so dearly

A Morning Meditation

A misty thunderstorm breeze
waves the flags of our fathers
over a memorial to their
sacrificed lives

Garden flowers bow
to each other in imagined
reverence like Buddhist
monks before morning meditation

A sound of thunder in
the distance premeditates
the weather’s intent,
a dog barks at nothing

The swollen river flows
endlessly in projected
indifference to the
surrounding landscape

Geese, marshaling their young
from the intrusion of
a human swim away from
shore to safety within current

And I with wet boots and
quiet regard cannot add to
or take away anything from this,
that will make any difference

A Leaving

The bitterness of his reproach
for what she gave but wasn’t wanted
lies on her skin, a filth
that washing will not remove

The heat that rises
from the foulness of his disdain
The prickles of sweat
as she turns from him

Having given what he
needed to hear
was all she could do

The sound of his house
key hitting the table
where she drops it,
the dull metallic
discordant note
of cheap metal

The Old Bookstore

It is an unassuming brown, brick building
with vines growing up it’s sides.
Cars and people pass by without
so much as a wink or a nod, but
to the initiated, it is a storehouse
of treasure worth more than gold.

A small bell tinkles as you push
open the faded green door and the
smell that greets you cannot be
described. As you try to put words
to it they fail and you can only
stand for a few moments and
breathe it in like a long lost memory.

An old shop cat languishes in a
ray of sun atop one of the shelves
from a cracked and dirty window as
its tail slowly slides back and forth
keeping the books behind it clean.

You are greeted by a tiny old woman
with snow white hair and dentures
that move ever so slightly as she
presents you with as warm a smile as your
grand mother did when you were young.

And here you will find mystery, and
biography and love. Oh yes love, a
whole section of pastel spined
romance novels just waiting for the
unsuspecting to fall in and drown
among the printed words.

How to and cookbooks, crime stories
and poetry. Auto repair manuals and
history. Science fiction and humor.
And you must touch them, hold them
in your hands and smell them, feel
their smooth, age worn covers with
bent corners and torn edges.

And you want to stay here, ask for
a job so you can come back again
tomorrow, and the next day and never
leave this paradise of the written
word, this sanctuary of knowledge,
this holy shrine of old books.

But you know you cannot. You know
you must leave and resume your life,
and on the way home you dream of
having your own old bookstore one
day. You’ll have a cat and a rocking
chair in the corner and a tinkling
bell on the door. And the door will
be green, and you’ll have gray hair.

On A Walk

Melting snow and traffic and
dog walkers, walking their dogs.
Wet paw prints and old oak leaves.
The river, taking a walk of its own,
migrating into the park.
The banks unable to hold back
the spring melt.
Barricades and sand bags,
sunshine and people in shorts.
Skateboarders and bicyclers.
Trees and shrubs bare but waiting
to burst with green.
Friends and lovers like
black bears fresh from
a winter’s sleep.
We shake off the cold,
warm tired muscles
and walk outside to find
the world still exists
under the heavy burden of snow.
We remember our lives
as we used to live,
in tee shirts and sunglasses
like they were nothing more
than dreams in sleep.
Dreams we recall on a February
day when the wind howls
and snow pours from the sky.
Remember, we think, remember
when we wore tee shirts outside
and walked with sandals
on our feet?
That’s just a dream, just a dream.

She Doesn’t Know

Talking about car tires
in line at the grocery store
with the woman behind me,
our lives so different.
Her skin so brown,
mine so pale,
and yet,
we have car tires to worry about.
I wonder about her
when I’ve gone.
When I’ve left the store.
Wonder why our lives crossed
at that moment,
in that place.
She doesn’t know
that I will use her
as fodder for the cannon
that is my keyboard.
Doesn’t know
that I will think of her
and wonder
if we could be friends,
or lovers,
or enemies.
She doesn’t know
that my mind twists
in a hundred different directions
at once
trying to decipher
all the sensory input.
Trying to make sense
of war, politics, pain.
Of love.
Trying to understand
something as simple
as a conversation
in the grocery store.
She doesn’t know.

Why Not Now?

Remember that night that you drank too much
and then you went outside and threw up on
your shoes
and then the world turned upside down
because you fell over in your puke
and saw the trees from the bottom up
and everything suddenly made sense?
Remember that time you were walking on
the dock and you tripped and fell in the
water and watched a fish swim past as
you thought you were drowning
and suddenly everything just seemed so right?
And that other time you were driving and
a car swerved into your lane and you thought
you were going to die and everything
suddenly became so clear?
You can’t keep having times like that because
you’re not going to make it through one of them
and you’re going to find out what the other
side looks like unless that’s what you’re after.
Those things that we grasp that we think we
just got to have aren’t so important when
you’re facing not coming back from something
you’ve done and you think, damn that was
stupid but hey, I made it all those other times
So why not now?
Yeah, I mean, why not now?


She was a contradiction in terms.
A lack of confidence gave her doubt

but she would pound you to dust
if she thought you were wrong,

needed you desperately
but didn’t need you at all.

Having no trust in love,
she loved fiercely.

Who was she who gripped my soul,
and gave her’s to me so freely?

Who was she who is reflected
in those she left behind?

Know us, and we’ll show you.


And now I sit alone,
with reminders of her everywhere;
rocks and pictures and paintings.

And now I sit alone,
not lonely, but sad.
Sad at the loss of her,

who shared my life
and sang with me in the car.

She who shared my bed,
and my most intimate moments,
is gone now, forever.

She, who’s laugh made me laugh,
who’s tears made me cry,
is gone now, forever.
I don’t sing in the car, anymore.

The First Time

There has never been anything
quite like a boy’s first slow dance
with a girl. The feeling of her breasts,
pressed against your chest.
The warmth of her body, held close.
Her breath, tickling the hairs on your neck.
And the lovely smell of her freshly washed hair
filling your teenaged senses
with indescribable feelings.
The song you danced to didn’t matter,
and it was over way too soon.
And the only thing you could
think at that moment was that
you wanted to do that again.
And again, and again.
No, there has never been a feeling
quite like that.
And there never will.

Nine Pelicans

Standing along the river bank,
dignified in their ungainly grace,
nine pelicans stand or sit and watch
like some prehistoric judges
as the river parades slowly past.

A little further along the bank
geese, flapping, fluttering, and
stomping in the mud, voice
their discontent, loudly, as if
the river is wholly unacceptable
in its proceeding and stance.

A deer, on the opposite bank,
lifts its head and observes
both groups, with measured
indifference, as it chews something
it found among the weeds.

One pelican raises its orange
bill in the direction of the deer
and then away, as if to say he’s
bored and determines this river
to be insufficient for his needs.

But he cannot align himself with the
unruly, peasant-like geese, he
being, after all, a pelican of
some standing, among his group.