still sweating

my mustache is still sweating i report
long after the ultimate frisbee game has ended
while the day’s heat climbs
darien, sweat-covered at 10something a.m.,
we lean in for a virtual hug,
a stainless steel bowl of just-harvested collards
carried in the crook of his arm
the color explosion welcome
held in a mason jar-turned vase
on the sandhill porch table and kitchen butcher block
of cosmos, larkspur and sunflowers
wherein a dog i love so much and i
reunite on the porch couch –
clearing all doubt about whether or not
dogs actually smile
the combo of lightning bug flickers
on top of lightning flashes in the distance
while we walk down the gravel
in the dusking

what sounds like rain
as i lean over piles of magazines,
cutting out photos,
is bugs bumping against the
glowing paper lantern overhead

from femme to butch in ten seconds

the comically gigantic NO SMOKING SIGN
in the hugest all-caps i’ve ever seen attached to
the comically gigantic fireworks store
in the hugest yellow and red firework store i’ve ever seen
just over the iowa state border
and into missouri
the trees, roadside, swaying and leaves flipping back and forth
in the wind, full and green and magnificent
how i imagine trying to dance those trees
same we we practiced dancing the shape of a room
or the movement of a sound
in that one dance intensive i took some summers ago in portland
this sky, these stars, these night insect sounds –
all home.
this humidity, this pond water
from femme to butch in 10 seconds jennifer says
about apple tossing the blue newsie-ish cap on

rise together

the only gay thing in it is the author’s name raye says
about “conscious loving” by katie and gay hendricks
what brings you joy she asks and i am grateful
to have that question back
in circulation
the firefly on/off glow coming out
as we watch the moon and saturn
rise together

keren and i joking
about all the ridiculous ways
to dismantle the too-bright streetlight
the sound of horses and a buggy
coming around the foresty bend at dusk
and the smallest light dangling and swaying
as we see it pass

i craft a patch

shoveling mulch with a woman
who tells me what she writes
and i shovel and shovel and shovel
as she holds the bags telling me
about her case against birth control
cloaking her christian right anti-abortiaon argument
with terms like feminism and empowerment
how i craft a patch
out of an old striped shirt
for an eye whose retina has decided
to detach

under a subtle sunset

the lilac-y purple of the chicory flowers and the
bright yellow burst of birdsfoot trefoil
flowering alongside the highway as i bike alongside the highway too
and call out to them like i would to friends
hey trefoil! hey chicory!
these flowers familiar as home

watering in the fruit tree section
i snack as i go:
three varieties of cherries
a handful of varieties of currants
plus gooseberries

something squeaking under a tray of perennial pots
in the greenhouse and how
i lift it slowly to reveal
a rumply bumpy greygreenblackbrown
toad frog

the not fledgling but not adult robin
(speckled white)
that goes for the red cherry on the ground
and when the robin comes back
several times
i toss a cherry
in the robin’s direction
crouched close to garden ground
sick kitty weightless on my back
under a subtle sunset
as if someone smudged the colors and textures with their hand
while i drop tepary beans
into the earth


the real thing is better

shirley on the sitting lawnmower
paused and looking up into the trees telling me
how she likes to stop to listen to the birds
and how this one she could hear over the mower
the basket woven from last year’s willow
that i carry down to the garden empty
and carry back up
filled with green
(arugula, spinach, chard, kale)
if you have never looked
at a blooming milkweed flower closeup
i recommend you should
and make sure to smell it while you’re at it
here’s a sneak peek
but the real thing is even better:

(photo taken from here)
the candle throwing its glow about us
as she speaks of the terrifying news
around immigration and border issues
including the u.s. planning migrant tent camps
on military bases
the chill of it enough to cool us
on an 80 degree night
the chill of it enough to be winter
if winter decides on not coming this year
which it very well could

too pink to name

i’m uncertain
if i’ll be wanted anywhere
e says

telling me about just starting seminary school
to be a pastor
and as a queer
she worries she might not be wanted
so i write her a poem
that says how much she is needed
and how when she lands with the right community
they won’t realize how deeply they longed for her
until she arrives
noa bouncing in the seafoam / mint tealblue booth
of viroqua’s new mexican restaurant
while we each take turns being
the interrupting cow
the deep blueblack
of driftless hills to the east
as seen from the highways we pedal down
blueblack turned bluerblacker
through the tint of my shades
the squeak of a garage door rolling slowly up
of the house whose address is 666 (washington st)
as we pedal past
the bunny
dangling by the neck in the grip
of graycat’s sharp teeth
and how the adorable bunny body bounce bounce bounces
as graycat trots across the grass
too hot and too pink to name
the sun setting sends a shock
of neon-adjacent color
across the northern horizon
from west to east
while jennifer grubhoes away
at the impossible weeds and i plant edamame round three

a name for the hills

jennifer and i tossing the moldy pieces of jokingly/lovingly called
homemade vegan cracker jerky
past the pine knob sign
sometimes thwacking the sign itself
sometimes sending it clear over
the rumble strips cut into the pavement beneath us
rattling our breath, our bikes, our bones
and how the cars that approach on them,
as heard from a distance, sound like farts
or jake brakes_______

unnamed phenomenon:
a name for the hills that we’re not sure
we’ll make it up but when it comes to it
we’ve find we’ve pedaled ourselves up to the top
and back down again

the paper boats we fold

the paper boats we fold
written with wishes

and fastened with construction paper flames
and filled with the purple yellow orange gold white pink
of wildflowers plucked on our walk along the way to the creek
where we let them go bobbing along on the surface
into the summer solstice
and the fireflies we stop and watch
on our walk back

to not re-ink the story

for solstice we talk
about sending paper boats
down the cool and ever-moving (even in wisconsin winter) creek
how this statement:
UPDATE (8:30 p.m.): Funeral arrangements have been finalized for Antwon Rose.
is too final
too quickly
for a human who was just breathing and doing other being-alive kinds of things
only eight hours ago
though i don’t know antwon
i want to grind the hours down to a halt – so slow
that time starts to tip – tumbling backwards into itself
which might allow someone to step in to whisper
into antwon’s ear
into his feet set on moving
imploring him not to run
even when every cell insists otherwise
and all that tumbling backwards into time
might also allow one of us to whisper into the ear
of the anonymous cop
and into his hand shaped around a gun
telling him
to not shoot
to not kill
to not re-ink the story
that has already been written
by cop bullets and cop hands
all over black bodies
how i want this poem
to be a balm
for all those
set to run
because of the stories
they keep hearing about themselves
arriving, always arriving in the form
of a brutalized body
not a balm to soothe the terrible things
into some sort of apathy
but a balm that undoes the message
unfurling itself hurtling alongside the bullets
that zing through the too still air
pausing time or bending it or slowing it down and speeding it up simultaneously or stretching it to one side or another
as they hurtle from machine into body
punctuating the too old and too still-alive story
that says blackness means killable