When you sit down to write a poem
it mostly happens. I believe that anyone can do it.
Writing poems is easy, depending on the poems
you write and the audience you write to.
If you were a press and your goal was to make money
off of poems, then your audience would be donors.
I assume they are harder to write to than bloggers.
I guess an idea that blew my mind is
publishers would have competitions
and offer cash prizes and then after they rejected you
they would send out emails about
how they need your money. I never got that.
People asking for donations after they rejected your work,
as if the words you wrote lacked the luster
and the importance of the words of others.
I suppose certain grant writers get more money
for certain words, certain editors need salaries,
and certain ideas hit closer to home.
I mean, I am a father, a husband; I am white and male
(but none of that matters; but identity is chic now);
I have tried hard as any to get to where I am.
I would say I am a poet but by most accounts
and the emails I get, that means I am a failed poet.
I don’t make rent or pay bills off of my work,
it pays in smiles and a sort of pride
that only you and I would understand.
What I do is safe as a handrail on icy stairs.
What I do is very, very, very easy
because doing something you love shouldn’t be hard.
What I do isn’t exactly defined, thankfully;
in a scene you have to either be or not
or just keep going until someone notices you
and either says “shit” or “genius” or “you are that poet”
and that really depends on the time of year
and who you are close friends with,
and what kind of poem you read at the open mic, and how.
So, I have noticed, when you sit down and write a poem
it usually happens, and you can do it,
though I would say most are worried about perfection,
how other people feel about their ideas,
and would hide their art because
it might lack meaning, identity, or a soapbox purpose,
absolutely defined by others in a social vaccuum.
But we will never know. And that is why I wrote this poem
precisely for you. I find it a huge success.
Writing mostly happens, or I guess it doesn’t.
Easy as mom’s Facebook post or Trump’s tweets.
Easy as pressing keys and not marketing.
one time, jess and i drove to canada
in a small chevy truck. we stayed along
lake superior and its blowing winds. thought
cedar greens would snap. got to tofte at
about 8:35pm, couldn’t see the site.
a ranger called that morning told me they plowed it.
slept on hard rock ground, no foam mattress.
woke up found we were at the shoreline,
read a death in venice. made coffee,
warmed fingers, walked in snow. thought
of my dad and how it was 70 in the cities.
we drove north, had pizza at sven and ole’s;
i had a beer, got in the truck; then crossed
the border past an endless sea of pine, rocks,
and blue water mass. got stopped, wouldn’t
let us through. stayed at an airnb…
won loonies at some casino, tipped very well.
everyone asked us why we traveled north for spring break.
drank bulleit rye in a sauna and turned into a jerk.
got lost. got deals at target. watched
forensic files, ate pancakes, and we became
international travelers; drove to another country.
just like that, for a thought. and i don’t
know, thought i would recount that situation.
it was good. crossing borders, it was nice
seeing things outside of an america lens.
it is 6 degrees in frogtown, mn,
i am inside sick watching cspan
and a baby sleep in his rock
& play, wife in the kitchen watching
a cracked screen. my face is full
of snot, head full of congestion, watching
talking heads tell me about “fake news”
and debates and their influences.
(easy, i could take their words for it
they probably don’t care about mine.)
someone wears a bandaid on his cheek;
the president wants a deep dive
investigation; and the red hot chili
peppers had a forgotten album in 2004, says reddit.
i wonder about where i was at that time,
i don’t know how that all factors
into everything, but mostly i care
about what is right here, around me.
wooden floors and naked feet–pallid,
lemon sinks to the bottom of my mug
as a blue whale in the south pacific,
muddy water coffee waits on a tablecloth,
plastic snug on the windows, electrical heaters
and baby toys. a coat hangs slack
like yesterday. i know how hillary
felt when she fell into that van,
now i’m with her. now i am sick.
now i am achy as a lab skeleton cold.
mornings like these
leaves come crashing
through the limbs
of stiffening trees
where fat squirrels
bound like jack rabbits
in search of
something to call winter shelter
inside the silhouette paint
of an autumnal tie-dye day
inside, they spin at change
what sound of cut silence
delineated by robins call
a bus, the 67 going by,
and a “V” flown southeast
our house cat mows grass at
my pale naked feet,
on some cool broken sidewalk
merely rented–what to own?
entryway of flowery vine
as stairs coming alive
at this venture of fallen
dead photosynthesis–dry leaf dying
i imagine if it
thought to spark a moment
in the morning mind
of some drifter standing
i imagine it like
it was some actor being told
to “ACTION!” by
some muted invisible god
in the distance biding its time
(fall to the set)
this Hercules coffee
& sleepless dreams,
got me shaking the cold off,
happy to be seen.
do you see?
52 south past Greg’s Meats and a spired oil refinery,
if i were a plotting baddy it would be Mount Rushmore
for symbolism and confusion of the masses.
an open highway before us: droves on phones,
and couples on parade; the rich in their luxury sedans
and country in super duty small dick specials.
dashboard view of master photography, one that could
inspire a journey home, or west, or to new horizons,
something bold and powerful like in health magazines;
in old lands, which are new and no one could care less—
it means something on instagram or facebook or twitter
but beyond it’s malarkey. but really, i usually wonder about
the next rest stop; Gatorade makes me shit and coffee
makes me piss and light nagging hangovers do wonders
for my guilt and humbleness. kids on the way, us kids.
a dog barks in the morning minus its shock collar. this escapism
from a city to a town, needing to find something in nothing,
no more labels that matter, just gathering cut wood
from neighbors who are dead and the living ones
didn’t like their beautiful red and green maple trees,
still we did. logs season enough in a year to make
smoke, to make fuel, ash, what we rode in on. washed and
cleaned and we pulled our mirrors out and met meine Schwestern
am die Ecker squealing tires, snapchated that.
and then we were off to southern homes like ma’s pasta,
like baked goods revamped, like a road less traveled
what should be traveled more. sunday mornings
waiting for the paper, fixing engines to make money.
all is well, birds can tell, and i don’t get their songs.
where thunder bolted
crawled across our
pulling trees & dust
along its straight way
people jumped on fords
while blue and jet matters
a breath of fresh air
no one can breathe
seiche and fetch
a storm went
a storm stayed
a storm cried
more, more, more
and the weather didn’t think
this is all it could do
it just did what
it had to, it happened.
i woke up
tired of some sleep,
ready for fall,
i beg of travel
and good health,
family used to
all the funerals
to let me know
and i need