WI/MN 2013

“Enough planning, un-planning, re-planning, and planning for a lack of a plan. I am packed, I am ready, I am waiting.”

— John Randell Cabot, Lake Superior, 1687


rain on the pavement
good light, power lines & their

Toluca, Tonica, Winona
Mammatus clouds, water
drips down, hits my
face when
I open the

A nut bar, worry of heartburn.
I went around the corner only to
have a cigarette.  But then Pat
has one and I wonder why I hid it.

State highway 6, Ottawa/La Salle-Peru
On the Illinois River.  Nice place?

There are a lot of windmills, and
an exit for highway 30 to Sterling,
to Aurora—where I went to school once…


We can’t make it to Pattison, State Park, WI.
The choices then are:
Brunet Island State Park
or Lake Wissota State Park.  We go
with Burnet Island.  We’ll take 53 to 29 to 178.
Cornell, WI.

Site 38, our tents go up
as the sun falls.  We sup at
Foster’s Riverview Inn.  The walleye
is half a fish; the Leinenkugel’s is
honey weiss on draft.


It is the morning of September 16, 2013.
It is cool and foggy.  I work to get the fire back up.
I am surrounded by no one.
I find a few good pieces under the picnic table at a nearby site.
We are breaking our camp’s back already.

That structure in Cornell—it is a
pulpwood stacker—not a
bridge, not an oil derrick, not the
Eiffel Tower.

Pat is driving, Anne is in her nest.  That leaves me,
riding shotgun, with nothing to do but—

The bag on my lap feels cold—
      the mists have risen, mostly—
the morning light is a mix of clear &
      yellow, a touch of corn, a touch of
how a power line lay against a
      background of bluest sky.

Sumac goes to red—Wisconsin
     is pretty country, like a mix of
rural Missouri, Tennessee, broken
     up by the purloined farms of Illinois—
Monday, September 16, 9:43 a.m.

The edges of the corn fields are cut away,
     cut clean, and being cut away moreso this
morning, two guys out there—I
     would’ve thought it was machine-done.

State highway 64, west

Soybeans—looking weedy—patches
     yellow, even brown—does that
mean it’s ready for harvest—or has
     some gone brown because it’s dead?

A yellow house, a red barn—

Corn does it, too—goes brown—now
      a field fully harvested, now one…
partially so? with even cuts along the
     edge but also through the middles,
making a clear path to where….

     A stand to encourage an osprey
nest—a few twigs, not formed—
     I look, I list.  But this NPR show
about inequality—economic—and
     my glimpse at futures this
morning—up, up—I think of
      capitulation—I am lost,
I have lost, I’m losing—I think
      of battles (accounts) to concede—
toxic, toxicity seeps into me—
      I make my North Country Camp List—
names of stocks I’ve heard, that I
      cannot evade: COST (your fucking muffins),
YELP (the all-knowing), SBUX (micro-tasty),
      FB (out of the owner’s mouth), RAI
(everybody’s doing it), TAP (do they really
      own Leinie?)—we saw wind farms &
I thought of GE, Vestas—we saw
      solar panels, on a swivel arm to track
the sun—this is America, this is
      the Assembly of God, this is life
that never stops, all around me—

      We saw a UNP loco hauling a dozen,
two dozen frames of Pacers, stacked
       two high—oh, three SHW semis,
their logo the same all these years,
       cover the earth, cover the earth—
News, now, of fatalities at the naval yard,
       in Washington, D.C.


     We heard barred owls last
night.  First, across the river—

     —I thought, at first, of a great horned owl,
I just heard part of the call, the
     first part, the “hoo”—

     But there was more:
mischievous barking, a
     laughing huffle-trill, wild,
maniacal, definitely not coyotes, but
     not far from what I’d ascribe to hyenas.

Crows, in the new-cut corn,
     finding odd kernels, crunching
them in their stony beaks, and then
      flying over to the next field,
to talk about it.

      Rice Lake, WI—8,320—
sister city, Miharu, Japan.


     Stopping at Norse Nook—”Restaurant &
Bakery”—”bakery implies coffee to go, right?”—
     I thought yes—bakery implies a counter,
separate from, and in addition to—the restaurant—

     I smell like a campfire short of
mid-range sticks—we have been
     seeing and just passed through a quarter of

     The sun is strong this morning,
I do not see a cloud in the sky—
     halcyon, pellucid—I get senses of
being in Mass./VT at near this time of
     the year for family, for my father’s home—
Ludlow—& into VT, Vergennes, Lake
     Champlain—the Contrary Opinion Forum
Question: in a song by Houndmouth—a reference
     to Ludlow: dad’s Ludlow, that Ludlow?
Let owls not be creepy.


Get Beastie Boys,
               “The Mix-Up”


No engine braking

No engine compression brakes

The biggest pile of firewood we ever saw—
                County road 2 toward Superior

Walleye Pike—one entree on a menu, how
           many fish?

I’m recalling her now, the restaurant proprietress
       saying how her husband, on the way home in a pickup
pulling a catering trailer had
       “smucked” a deer.  He went to look for it,
but he couldn’t find it; was sure it was dead.


Duluth: Electric fetus. Mostly
        little businesses, brand-resistant.

Bright, sun off of the water.  The bridge to Superior, WI,

        South 35.  Kids on scooters, walkers waiting to cross
what seem to be crosswalks, Taco John’s.  At a Holiday, a

        Train, audible, a couple of miles away.

We played disc golf at Mont du Lac
       it was a hike, I lost two discs—
one was Pat’s—that one I could see
       but still I could not retrieve it, for the
mud was too quick.

       The sound of an ice bag?  Yes, the
plastic and then Pat dropping it on the ground,
       then dumping it over beer in the cooler.

We are set now against a racy sunset.


On Tuesday the 16th, we make for Minnesota .  At 13:33 we are at the Ledge Rock Grille along the coast of Lake Superior.  The day is sunny and comfortable, we ask to sit outside.  Everything on the menu looks good: walleye cakes appear as an option on both the breakfast part of the menu and on the lunch section.  All parts of the menu are served at all times of the day.  With a mind to making this trip a “walleye tour,” I know I’m getting the walleye cake, but I want it in a sandwich.  I also get a fingerling caesar salad and Pat says how he can’t help thinking that “fingerling” is a dirty word every time he hears it.  The flies are kind of bad.  Regular house fly-looking flies but there seem to be more of them than I might normally expect.  They keep trying to land on us, on the table.  Other than that, it’s nice sitting outside with a view of the lake.  It’s sixty-plus degrees, the breeze is only light, and the sky is almost cloudless.   But I feel a little grimy—hemmed in by campfire smoke and clothes I’ve been wearing maybe a bit too long—there is a flag flapping, audibly—the tea is good.  I wonder myself whether it’s flavored or if it’s just tea qua tea.  Pat and Anne says it’s just “good black tea“.  Either not from a machine, or if it is from a machine, the restaurant operators make sure to clean the machine.  There are cottages here, more or less uniform—it’s a resort or a retreat-type place—from 61 North we hopped over—toward the coast—to 101.  

At 14:19 I write:

These days….they slip away
Mid afternoon lunch becomes a plan
for a better sunset shot—


Don’t sleep.
I am hungry and weird—
just thinking of her
I spillt half a cowboy.


salad bar
ice & croutons

I can’t make believe it
never happened
boat ramp

sausage pepper
blue jeans

Voices outside at the
celebrate not
wanting to quiet them.

I cannot fight
what’s coming—

What poetry
the phone
doesn’t kill,
kills the


For the moment, the only representatives I’m sending from 9/17 are:

she drank that hot
spicy shrimp mary
she can’t sleep now


I can push away reality
for a while—but
it’s not a season that
has an end—it’s
there again at every turn
of the page.


Pageantry and the infantile
mercenary army—
“You weren’t quiet enough last night.”

Ah, we hide secrets in our
luggage, but we won’t
bring all of them back.  A coin tossed into
the bottom of a fountain,
some things, thought of,
remain invisible…?

Bad handwriting, cramped prose—
all of these are possible—
but I don’t have to write about them.


We played our cards, we drank our drinks

such is love
such is love
such is love.

We saw a raven not in
Baltimore, we saw
a lighthouse
not along the shore,

such is love
such is love
such is love.

We said hello on Instagram,
we did our shopping at the
five and dime,

We counted down against
the start of time,

such is love
such is love
such is love.

There was a sleeping pot of chili yet
there was a stinging swib of anisette

such is love such is love such is love.


Echo star chamber
fish lime boat
ripple loon hat
orange bright
fish death
mist anger
cue street
bacon butter chips
Minnesota marshmallows
change, gear, tears, states
bread dinner alcohol


A ghost opened a cupboard &
           iTunes shuffle fell out.
We threw coffee onto the fog,
           to break it up a bit.
But instead our hair went gray,
           what hair we had, what
hadn’t already been claimed
           by microscopic ticks
              or slightly rabid skunks.


Hedstrom Lumber Co.
Smell of pine.
The color is starting to seep out,
gold and red (maple) and orange.

We are on the Gunflint Trail headed N/NW.
It’s been raining most of the day.
We passed but did not see:
Elbow Lake
Northern Light Lake
Greenwood Lake
Twin Lakes.

We pass Bearskin Lodge,
the other lodging option we looked at closely.
Flour Lake, Golden Eagle Lodge.
Windigo Lodge, with
moose statues out front.

Pulling off to a look out over Birch Lake,
we see a sign marking the “Laurentian Divide”:
water at this point
flows northward into
Canada’s Hudson Bay Watershed and
eastward into the Saint Lawrence Watershed.

Question: how are determinations as to
divides made?  Is somewhere out there pouring
marked water ten feet to the left, ten feet to the right
of that point and measuring it in said watershed days later?

A raven flies up out of some trees and crosses the road.
It looks like a crow, big and black, but more of both.
We could hear its wings flapping audible
like the blades of a great big loping fan.

I read multiple places that the bugs
are supposedly gone in northern Minnesota
at this time of the year.  Really?  I don’t think so.
These mosquitoes are militant and vigilant.


Iron Lake.
We turn off onto Cook County Road 92,
there is a National Forest Campground out here.
The clouds are dark and billowy; mammatory; puffy;
cascading; fulminating.

There is no one at the campground.  A vast fire has
swept through the forest nearby.  Now it is
quiet but wow are these mosquitoes vigilant,
aggressive—knowing and immediate.
How do they know to be here when we arrive?

Things I’m thinking about:
Mike Hauser
The Market
The drive back
How out of shape I feel.

We douse ourselves in deet;
they are going hard after Pat,
who is working on getting a good photo
of the clouds as they evolve over the lake


Loon Lake.
No loons but Pat calls it
“the prettiest I’ve seen so far,
“lots of little coves.”  I.e., promontories
popping out, falling back away.  Ten
minutes from Canada, no
loons though.


Gunflint Lake.
We go by an overlook, bang,
it all opens up, elevation change,
burnt land and trees in silhouette on
far peaks—Canada—
letting the rain call our stops—
when the rain stops, we
get out, look, eat sandies, sip
water, have a cigarette, see
the first loon—then
when the rain picks back up,
we’re gone—


Continuing on,
raining hard now,
visibility down, grey, misty
JCT 46—
man on horse signs

“Keep going?”

“Well, we’re just about all the way there.”

Now pouring.

Pat: “Not a bad route.”

Round Lake.
Trailhead for Kekekabic Trail.
Trailhead for Magnetic Rock Hiking Trail,
but it’s raining too hard—

Seagull Guard Station.
Through another burnt area, tall skinny—
“a natured black and white”—on
both sides of the road—spindly, branches
all but gone—rock outcroppings
black, red—igneous—

Reminiscent of Jackson Hole—
are there already books or a movie
where the plot surrounds the fact that
Old Faithful has stopped geysering?—
rain, rain—with the Gillian Welch, I
am getting sleepy—

Seagull Lake—Seagull Creek looks
pretty—marshes, grasses—”pretty”
says someone else—

The rain lets up a little, but we are still
in a burnt area, the largest we’ve encountered—
We are very near the end of the Trail—

Moose Pond Dr.—
“Let’s check it out”—
there is a phone box, the old kind.

Question: Where do
birds go when it rains?

Pat is parking in the handicapped.
“That’s kind of a dick move.”

“If suddenly there’s an influx
of people in wheelchairs
I’ll gladly move the car and get out
and bow down and
kiss their feet, which
they won’t be able to feel
because they’re handicapped….”


Last Full Day.

It is September 20th after all—not raining here—and I haven’t yet been outside—but I can tell it is cooler—I can see that there is more of wind than we’ve had.  It’s probably low fifties, wind out of the west at 6-8 m.p.h.  The humidity is gone from the air.

I got up around 8:30; I had gone to bed at 2 or 2:30.  I was pretty sure I heard a gunshot or two around that time.  I got a little paranoid after that.

I have done a few odd dishes, emptied the dishwasher, and made coffee.  I have begun to think about packing; the drive back.  Sure, there are many different activities we could tackle today but it’s the going back that’s on my mind—characteristic of a last day.  I’ve got my coffee though—and a half bottle of gin’s gonna need be drunk.

We played a no-real-rules game of Tri-Bond last night (Trivial Pursuit-like cards; read the group of three nouns, verbs, e.g, and then the other players guess as to what the group of three has to do with).  The game was a bit dated.  Answers included: “Parts of The Love Boat“, “former Miss Americas”, and “Actors of Dukes of Hazzard.”

We moved on to another round of Cards Against Humanity, this time annexing the third booster pack.

I don’t know if I happened to get another shitty round of cards but I had only one of my submissions accepted all night—in like fifty plays. The Random Player (Rando) whipped me good.  Maybe I’m resistant to playing the game the way it must be played if one wants to have any success—or maybe I just suck at it.


Wishing I could go back
to day one…

When the place was new
and our only duty was
to explore.

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