American Triptych


perhaps you swam to Michigan

jumped off the ferry in sweet, freezing anticipation.
or maybe you snuck through the bottom,

the open border where the lakes aren’t hugging
the land with their wet wings. 

perhaps you rode a horse to Michigan

across the Mackinac Bridge at night in late
February, the branches of the White Pines white

as the sky is cold, your heart never galloped so fast
so hard, you never felt the darkness pull your reins.

perhaps you are a ghost in Michigan

floating from peninsula to peninsula
following the worst weather, logging every complaint,

collecting them for the day that the snow, and everything
beneath it, will be unpacked.


The air in Minnesota is the color of histories forgotten,
then erased, like boats and bogs, like dusty green,
like summer cement splashed with water. Minnesota tastes like
Kirby Puckett, like 38 hanged Dakotas, like two Indian ponies
off the highway to Rochester. It tastes like F. Scott burning
Benjamins in the Mall of America. Minnesota air sounds like
Prince’s guitar, like opening Grain Belt, like cutting wheat,
like the moment when Garrison Keillor stops talking, like

what happens when everything needs to be cleared away.
What do you think the wind is for? What do you think all
those lakes are for? Or the sky above or all those birds
who pick away what’s left, because we all arrive at our time
to go. Because there is another Minnesota being kept
on ice, deep below the soil layers of the mollisols,
alfisols, and histisols, where something warmer waits,
the source of rivers, because the next Minnesota will surely

come from seeds we forgot we planted. Minnesota will sprout
10,000 second chances. It will water itself from the spout
of the Arrowhead, sky-tinted, cloudy water, and we will
Scotch-tape it back together, plant a giant thumbprint into
its landscape, re-form Lake Itasca, and from it, the River
will flow again, winding like a stray piece of twine from the Largest
Ball. Let us do it again and again. Let us join hands and sing
to the North Star. Our tune will carry until the water freezes.
It will be oh so Nice.


California has decided to start living
more intentionally, put out all these fires,
maybe start Pilates, see someone

about the shaking in this one hand
that invented so many new shades
of forest that even the border forgot,

and California has put in paperwork to change
its state song, because “I Love You,
California” is too much of an ego stroke.

You can love yourself, but at what expense.
California put the Sierras on the market,
and I might offer over asking. A little sweat

equity, a new paint job, some solar panels,
and it will be ready to go on the market
as its own country. All it wants is for you

to want it. What would you give to live in an
idea? What would you pay to feel about a new
land the way you used to feel about this one?

JEAN PROKOTT's work has appeared in Quarterly West, Midwest Gothic, and RHINO, among others, she is a recipient of the AWP Intro Journals Award, and was a finalist for RHINO’s Founders’ Prize. Her poetry collection received third place in the Cathlamet Prize for Poetry with Ravenna Press and was a finalist for the New Issues Poetry Prize with New Issues Poetry and Prose. She is a graduate of MSU Mankato's MFA program, holds a Master of Science in Education, and currently teaches in Rochester, Minnesota. 

DEAN RADER has written, edited, or co-edited 11 books including Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon), a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award and the Northern California Book Award. Most recently, he co-edited They Said: Contemporary Collaborative Writing and Native Voices: Poems, Craft, and Conversations. Dean writes regularly for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post, BOMB, and The Kenyon Review. At present, he is collaborating with the calligrapher Thomas Ingmire on a series visual/textual projects. He is a professor at the University of San Francisco and a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry.

CHRIS HAVEN’s poetry has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Blackbird, North American Review, Denver Quarterly, Atticus Review, Mud Season Review, Fence, and The Southern Review. He teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

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ISSN: 1533 2063
FALL 2019