Tart Cherries 

All that glitters isn’t blood, but still, a million needle pricks and tingling skin when I see their shock of red, the vacationing feeling that inhabits this land pre-midsummer. Reincarnation, their reality: the repeated sacrifice. The passion.


Seashell Nightlight

The room is sea-themed, I think, although this is lake country. A sin: someone has hidden light under a vessel. But light hides badly. The glow is not ocean or water, but a fear set aside for later.


Sacred Heart of Jesus 

“Do we really have to go? We’re on vacation!” 


Clearview Drive

A house, a lake, a softly chiming clock. A neighbor’s pool, a walk to the waterfront – both too cold. Sources of excitement year after year. I find my first and only fossils here. I carry them in a shopping bag through airport security.  



Remember how I used to say I liked to fish? Lies! 

I liked fishing in the abstract, by which I mean to say 

I liked to buy the bait, the fake worms set with glitter. 

I liked the minnows too – less so, the killing them. 

I mostly just liked novelties.


Elk Rapids

The town where I get my first fake leather jacket. The town with the store that sells candy cigarettes. I feel so adult! 


Aunt Sharon’s Baby Doll from Childhood

If this is eternal youth, then death may be preferable. But no one escapes the signs of age. Not even this infant relic. Her matted, clumped tufts of hair halo greying plastic. Her limbs, so unlike trees whose frames brave the winter; the joints are fraying. She’s exoskeletal. What mold grows inside?


Zebra Mussels

Because I like them, it surprises me to find out how they’ve poisoned this place. 


White Ceramic Crucifix

Hung over the bed, the figure seems large the first time, a sentinel in a town too small for crime. Later, I am unimpressed by the earthenware that shows no red of the wound, barely offers expression of suffering. It sprouts roots and fuses to the pale wall.


The Town Club

minus the bowling alley that wasn’t really 

a bowling alley minus the phone booth with the line 

always busy what is this place really except a refilled 

shirley temple, fryer grease, bloody mary 

olive from my father’s toothpick? 


The Holiday Inn

Because “togetherness” is a different word.  Because the world is not the piece of music you longed for it to be.



Family land. Non-family flowers. Beautiful regardless. 


Munson Nursing Home

crunch of un-tourist-trod snow

eye blue as death bewildered in its mirror

ring of younger eyes still 


neither recognizing the other


Munson Hospice

“A dismal place”


High Beams

a function of snow a function of woods a function of nights a function of aspiration pneumonia


Sacred Heart of Jesus

More dead in life, more alive in death? His face holds the sun at the front of the cathedral. The sun holds his face and the years collapse. His body — and I can almost believe the words I read from the altar. 


Horizon Books

Titles I picked out here: Tao Te Ching, God Is Not Great, The Waste Land and Other Poems, (god give me strength) Twilight. New Moon. Eclipse. 

“Let us go then, you and I”— ah, wait, it looks like it’s closed now. Damn. 


Sacred Heart of Jesus

Is she still here? She looks nothing like her. The ground is frozen; we bury her months later. I help lift the casket, my last sight of her is earth and cherrywood. 


Doug Murdick’s Fudge

Forget last words. I would like to know what my last confection will be. 

Is this fudge only special in memory? I remember the little plastic knife, how we sliced so thinly to extend the indulgence. 


The Jolly Pumpkin 

Turns out there are novelties yet. We try a new restaurant. I get a new nickname. 


Sweet Cherries

Only subdued is vitality palatable. 

For every fever, there’s an antidote. 

These seeds are darker, richer. The bruises, 

more plentiful. In the beginning, 

I am afraid to touch 

what was and now isn’t – cherry picking

too late in the summer, days no longer growing 

longer. But year by year, my bowl grows 

more motley. Each mark, less meaningful. 

Unrepentant against my teeth, the fly-bitten 

cherries still bleed out their sweetness.   

1 thought on “From the backgrounds of pictures from family visits near Traverse City, MI, “Cherry Capital of the World”

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