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[before day one]

mummed the concrete rubble to the lake Ontario,
wear me down to my girders
The lake
the half-naked lake
slipping off its jersey,
started in with its cats' tongue

[Aug 8th – pull-off near Chicago]

Sand gathered out in rows
dog doing laps in the water
and the city already game
the morning haze
                in its court
seagulls and the day before last's
news park and ride park and ride
the little lot and water quiet and untidy

The sun checks off the Sears Tower
like a pupil entranced
glanced askance through bright black glasses
up inside – you could see it
this little pull-off
and put Michigan into the picture at the same
off-balanced instant
looking out with a cloud’s countenance
skimming the lake,
and having horizontigo
the periphery can be so
capacious when
you trace it

Never even seeing the living-in-the-Loop
lake rise go to work on its own
three legs, south of itself
combing the beach for example
tempering the Wabash Avenue run-off
with the glacial's
grooming city life to nature’s
this is the archetype of diversity

Even always seeing the lake
through the saliva

[mid-trip – Two Harbors]
Losing myself in the man
bragging to friends or family
brag to me
motorboats coming in out the mist and fog
like nicknames returning to relatives
sunset catches in their bow talk, the lake a burned-down
rec hall with one colossal rusted jalopy
of an ore dock towed beside
a fish this
big, says dad
a wallop like this, punches uncle
brag to me
a sibling this giddy
no cooler a dusk since
I can't remember
brag to me
pulling the truck up
reeling the boat in
letting the fish go; always the one
that got away

I would marry you family
just to be able to brag to mrs
sinking the sunset between the dishes
stacking them next to the taconite ships passing
the window sill on taco night with smoked fish
a black
fly this
noisy, joke boys
a tale this
tall– brag to me
yanking the youngest one against the wall
measuring the cowlick
boy clears the silverware
collects all the agate rocks
seen through the screen door
the Two Harbors skyline
of sundown on the ore dock

where me and mine lingered till dark
not a ship to tare between the two of us
just a ride to share...
one foot driven into the lake and another
pensive as a passenger
and the last two asleep under themselves like children
while fireflies escorted each other through our car
the tourist and work vista of Superior
remember that livelihood forever
a catch this lucky, hugs Cindy
brag to me
brag to me honey baby Bobby

[Provincial Park days from home]

This beach has more than two
sides, more than the lake
and the parking lot
and cultivated and sandwiches
farms and kiosked
aside it

And defies properties

I've peed behind every sorta
flora, I've scared away all kinda fauna
I crossed the lines
of r&r to bridge the banks of main and head
streets and waters
I tried myself
and had myself washed ashore to hamlets
face up, the whole time, my body
a petty viaduct
only a beach could host

I’ll change myself inside the Corolla
and diaspora footfuls
of mollusky
sand all over the inside
to motel districts
bring natural history like a service industry
escort to the outskirts of Canuck Sanduskys
where in touch more
with nature’s what they are
and a theme
park like Cedar Point would be a provincial
but amusement park all the same
where locals fudge for tourists’ wee

But this place
has more than the two sides; more than the lake and lot
and all-night and primitive drive-thru and camping

And defies commodity

This whole time my body held in feet
of tide; not diverting to the water – or exiting
but bridges fail all the time
nothing new – bridges’re being built
and rebuilt, all over these lakes –
construing the accounts of travelers
for; I came in, off the water
never having been
out there
I come in off the water never having been out there.

[Tue Aug 21 - Geneva-on-the-Lake for breakfast]

last night we
snuck into the state
park real  late and slept
in my tent, with the car,
on the paved driveway of a muddy site
we gulped the last half of the orange watermelon
like two giants at the wooded
peninsula of a stalk

flashlight between my knees making faces
in my sister’s armpit the blunt butter knife idle
throwing rinds around
like femurs and jawbones
swishing the melon's flesh the seedless, sheer
cleft flesh

last night it rained rain rained and nothing heard
the lake stir once from the downpour
the morning was too
quiet, black and slick,
we heaved off for Geneva then
before any sighting in the woods of us
grumbling with the sun soon too to clean
its plate
in the vapor of Erie lake

[Awenda Beach]

Shallow and so beautiful bay
it - makes - me naked
and no eyes look away I wanted to.

Come to the lakeshore
to be with things moving in no human way
waves that draw your feet like erasers  
wash the sun's rake against the lake's
floor as it were
hard honey
licking my knee
I think of you
licking your knee
of you
you’re joining me soon Pipi I’m so happy
getting cold out and warming up
by getting wet then drying out
overlaying the gloss of a rock with a silent nap
and sopping in the quixotic moss
half the flapping Great-Lakes-states map
folding water over itself
my eligibility, judging myself
lopping off tit and tongue
being a tan man
to share the bay with
I quiver to.

Be surrounded by moving things
that talk in no way, but move to talk move to talk
the trees sway as if brushed
with handles of water
and the birds live out dreams
of fish dinners and water in their noses water
makes a bed
lies in and
spills over without a word
verging on the perfect, with a grain of salt
for each fifth of the lakes
the shore drags in
my sun-dappled, gray boulder of an ass
I dig my heels in, the water spits
and brays mimetically in waves, the sand ensconces
the ripples at bottom
the template of a coliseum
my touch encounters as it effaces
I feel I will.

Fight an obscure peace awhile
is there a love that’s unhuman
that’s what we’ll have some of
You started to show me how, to live so abandonedly
like a little deity at play
bashing the sun into Georgian Bay

[Owen Sound after mom and dad left]

Dear Lady,

Thank you lady
you didn't say anything much
but spoke to my yellow shirt and drole jeans
and predilected head
all through this Tom Thompson Gallery
Fifty years ago you'd've maybe just glanced past me
a forced
entry into this collection
suspicious of the color, put off by the shape
you like the eyes, but
then you always do, old lady

… Oh, this one's guess
what this one's called, Bowl with Orange!
And together we stared at the limber chalk couple
studied in their midriff and rustbelt-like
living room's unbecoming leavings
at the center- the blue bowl
drummed inside- an orange
and a muted instrument at the edge of the frame
Maybe your girl-friend's
grandfather played such a bassoon
a family from Estonia?
who meagered to Owen Sound
and catched on the harbor wood
chips and fish
ladders a life
a loophole where change
can gaze at the same places
do you love it here? or paint it
the future facades
behind old ashcan paintings of your port and bluffs
and spears of pine trees that speak in indigenous
browns and greens
... Suggesting, one Hartmann, John
oh but my favorite's the more
traditional Ann Macdonald Duff
graphy? or bio-graphy? Speechless cannot nature
render accurately its circumspect people

I know next to something about this stuff
I too am a painter,
Apollinaire posed
a gauche of the surrealists, and likewise
the waters and shores sputter to my page,
I too am a writer, suffice it to say
Today you’ve helped me finally rend
the subject from its predicate, dear lady
Nobody speaks
for itself
do you.

[First swim of trip]

Lake St.Clair was a peacock, I was a pea
plump and pale
In the wild the male are beautiful
and bare their necks like candle threads and coo
to the cooped-up who swoon and wet their
matches as soon as they set eyes on the wild
I was a pea, the lake St. Clair was a peacock
the timbre of thermoses
of cold blue tea dropped gingerly from a maple balcony
the flushed crest of taileyes caressing the breast and mmm
kissing my shoulders in shimmering and murmurous
armor and candor; I lost myself
I wet myself, I came,
I peed
I shed my clothes and shyly went
I swimming
I carried my body in like a bike
I changed myself in the water
I paisleyed in the whorls
I asked for direction; tell me what to do I begged
My mom mused from the beach- a sandman,
across the byway- my dad a maid,
like a vacuum had the red corolla running, ever dutiful
But between Detroit and Windsor
I was in the company of aqua
lified city buoy
ant Lake St.Clair, and floated
in freshly sweat-salted water and counted ten
toes and on my back drifted, like a glass fork, with three hips
against the breaks of each mouthpiece
making a green’s sound

My first time
I wanted to be sensational
I thanking you
In nature the male are beautiful and I was a babe
palping my peas, I passing off poem for dinner
not to be a
la carted by the same old tired lines 
that nature’s always feminized and conquered.
Lake St. Clair was a peacock, iridescent and masculine
I was a pea in comparison
swallowed and slapped and lapped against his face
his fresh and sheared water
and face, I pied Ontario
flicked off the thumb of Michigan
and happily on the horizon
faced tomorrow’s rooster Huron

[coming off Killarney]

Hetero again.     The Killarney Park was all mountains; wild. This border town Killarney is the pool shed of mountains- so wild. Me coming around in a rain jacket looking like a lighthouse painted bell-yellow, like a junior fireman mixed up with a bear cub and fitting right in so wild.         I saw a big black bear as I headed up the mountains. From then on, strangling cowardice – and never can let go; it would flame up instantly, re-inflate. But I fought the goof of that bear…            Those mountains I was in. Like all that billowy gray stuff under rugs, unearthed. Or in bed-making, the pink  organza rumpled sheet flapped out- never settling. And there beneath are clumps of firs and birches clinging to white hulks of La Cloche and hanging themselves to each other to make one gorgeous lion-ant terrain. It Was So Utterly Wild and beautiful.           Yet in that wilderness, I’d suddenly desired the highway side-lands, the cattails by the pop cans. A creek, not pristine, juxtaposed to the road, and the drafts of cars.             The heterogeneous scene.      The lake's edge was unbelievably clear. Its cloudiness or clarity changed with each wane of the sun in cloud. The bottom, waterlogged in black branches of refused trees - some maybe even logged in the 1800's, mazed from moment to next, pocked by rocks and spinachy fazes like looking into the sun / looking down / and seeing eclipses in your reflection.        And the wind would come from far, besh in the treetops for a brief while, and then free of them, move on around the bend.            I thought of cars. Between mart stops on biways- buying clothes and groceries in one swoop, old people toting grandkids, taking curves with rare instinct, from far before the first caution sign and wooshing on with lights’ red tails around side-rails as if caught in a pendulum, then swinging free with a we, wee, who. Whew.   My body was as if dredged, inclined to see through the trees' reflections familiar hundreds of those short-cut car arcs. And forget the animals. The bear I was scared of / the teachers for which I was tardy / the same difference. Come on Professor Simon, give chase through the stoplights to one of my favorite dumpsters.            The wildest blue yonder’s no sky, or ocean even, or even Lake Superior - but the frontier, the edge of, where worlds knock  like bumpers and wake the weary driver with hands aged at 3 and 9. Curious about the sounds, no matter how dubious.            What are they?, coming out of the collapsing green, to patronize the lake-side fish cart?, and add their backwoods currency to the heterogeneous scene.

[Elk Rapids]

We went to the Elk Rapids beach to eat our fish and cooler.
Hispanic volleyball there and grandmoms

To find a bathroom we had to wade across the shallow channel onto the other side, the rich side - marina; boats; whites in shorts
hilarious bizarre and troubling. Crossing the channel against us,
a young adult, goatee'd and be'girlfriend
matching necklaces held up around their sun-burnt apples

The marina there’s bathrooms were private, a structure with a glass lobby
and keycard entry; we moved on. Two spoiled and handsome boys
passed us in the driveway,
preening perfectly-fit lederhosen gaily  
like neither one knew which was the mirror
and which was the dummy       We clung to the berm, on
to the public bathroom, across another channel
this time over a bridge, over garbagy water.
This bathroom building had no windows and no doors on the stalls
we went
we went pee
our shadows were flaky and white cinder blocks
we couldn't get the fish off our hands

Crossing back through the marina lot, we saw boats drove in, coasting
on waxed dollies
masts stiff above other boats and cars
a predation of the lot and Michigan bay beyond
We shuffled back into the tepid, first channel 
The setting sky was outrageous harmony
on the bay        all the Hispanic girls in big t-shirts over bikinis
tucked into capris,
rolled like killer whales in the shallows