My Poem for National Poetry Day

Minneapolis

Most people live within 30 miles of their birthplace. I’ve been living in the same neighborhood for 15 years. I wrote this poem when I was 24. I’d been living on my own, in Minneapolis, for 6 years. I wasn’t making it in the city. No matter where I went, I felt like I was on the outside looking in. My outlook was bleak. Of all the unpublished pieces in my archives, I’m sharing this one for National Poetry Day because of its harsh brutal honesty.

In the Mouth of Minneapolis

Your check bounces at the impound lot
The city repossesses your job
Your schooling
Your girlfriend
You’re a convicted pedestrian
Serving out your community service
Not by the hour
But by the blister

Automatic teller machines scold you
Like a mother wielding a report card
The city shrinks down
With each negative digit
To its lakeside parks
And wooded bike paths
Now food and shelter have an expiration date
Your bar tabs condemn buildings
Beer pitchers turn from brown to yellow
From yellow to “Thanks guys, I’ll get the next one”

Traffic lights flash red as you cross the street
Lamp posts dim as you walk beneath them
Minneapolis does not want you to know where you are going
Minneapolis does not want you to leave

Your list of cabbies and escorts
Dwindles in your cell phone
Menu, options, erase
Menu, options, erase
The city shrinks down
To its chained table sets
To its three legged love seats
With the springs at your back

Now all you order is water

The man behind the desk
Looks at your wheatgrass hair cut
Your brown moss stubble
Your wild berry pupils
Last months employment history
Tattooed to your face
Minneapolis garnishes your wages
Before you could even offer up a clammy hand shake

Minneapolis wants you to work for her exclusively

Girls walk by with their pastel cardigans
Stitched to their shirts
With their eyes so big and blue
You know they’ve seen Europe
You’re invisible in your frayed shoe laces
Your tan line for a wrist watch
Minneapolis has laid a claim to you
Minneapolis wants to go steady

When you walk under bridges
When you pass through bus stations
You feel like you’re viewing homes
Un-taxable real-estate
Your hands in your pockets
Eyeing the benches
Kicking the dirt
Checking for outlets

You thought you were just passing through
On your way to someplace bigger
Thought you could get by on your looks
On your youth
Thought you could sweet talk
A record contract, a publishing deal
A bachelors degree, and a wedding ring
Out of this city

But Minneapolis will digest you
In her seedy underbelly

One thought on “My Poem for National Poetry Day”

  1. Thanks. Liked it. End line a bit cliche…but all the rest rang true. Didn’t get the 3-legged lover’s stool but didn’t need to. Strong emotional quality…poetry.

    Like

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