Tag Archives: Minnesota

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 Of all the unpublished pieces in my archives, I’m sharing this one for National Poetry Day because of its harsh brutal honesty.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

An Outbreak of Cabin Fever

Some of us are so in tune with our Seasonal Affective Disorder that we prep for it. Here’s a manifesto for those of us who plan for hibernation. A lyrical tribute to agoraphobia, full of rhymes, mixed metaphors, and alliteration.

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An Outbreak of Cabin Fever

Sensing an epidemic on the horizon, the birds evacuate. Seeing an infection spread across the leaves, the squirrels dig fallout shelters. Watching the clouds, we wait for an air born agent to whiteout the earth, and blot out the sun. We sense an outbreak of cabin fever, a transmission of isolation.

Stocking up on comfort foods, we can our emotions before they go bad. We insulate our hearts before they freeze shut. We look across the bar for something to wrap ourselves in, to heat our beds when we get the chills; an autumn romance, a snow blind date, an eleventh hour Valentine.

Fishing for compliments, we feed our egos just incase we have to live off of them. We bait our lovers to tell us something that will last through winter. Something to quote in front of the mirror. We ask them to pad it out to keep us warm, to fill it with enough hot air to inflate our self images.

Stuffing our pillows with short term goals, we rest on stockpiled New Years’ resolutions. We count plans like they were sheep. They always seem more realistic once we’ve fallen asleep. Our calendars are crossword puzzles begging to be filled. We write list poems in our daily planners, haikus under our reminders.

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Filling our DVRs, every night is movie night. Building endless streaming queues, we binge through every TV series. Every weekend is a marathon. We’ve watched The Wire. You don’t have to tell us about it. We’ve seen every frame of Breaking Bad. We’re way ahead of you on that. While you’re catching up with The Walking Dead, we’ll be digging into series from the seventies. We’re half way through Night Gallery.

We stack books, when we run out of shelf space. We fold pages, when we run out of bookmarks. We have so many options, all we ever read are spines. There’s a hardcover propping up every lopsided desk. There’s a paperback on every surface. The nightstand is cluttered with cliffhangers. The coffee table is teaming with tragedies. The toilet is flooded with fables. Escapism is always at arm’s reach. Fantasy is always a couch cushion away. Distractions are falling out of the ceiling.

We may be alone, but we’ll never have to be alone with our thoughts. Continue reading An Outbreak of Cabin Fever