Too Big for My Skin

Desdemona

My momma never told a lie, she couldn’t when the truth was clear
Through stretch marks and crow’s feet, the truth is what she told me
Not through words, but through the curve of her hips
The gleam in her eyes . . . the memories on her lips
She is so beautiful, that her skin can’t even keep her concealed
She is so beautiful, that in her early days
she carried another life inside her, manifested the fire
Sending her existence higher...

Cold Night

Winter street scene, St. Paul, circa 1955. (Photo: Minnesota Historical Society)

My feet are cold—the car
is cold—the car sounds
like a bucket of bolts
Rolling down a hill—
it’s so cold that my breath
falls like ice from the roof...

Saint Paul Poet Laureate Carol Connolly: Poem for the Second Inauguration of Mayor Chris Coleman on January 4, 2010

Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman

We stand on the edge of a New Year, full,
it is, of endless possibilities. Somehow, we
climbed the steep hills of the year just past,
none of it easy, our seven hills dotted
with lights steady in the dark of night, hills
alive now with the beauty of a new snow that
stopped traffic everywhere.

Old Saint Paul

(Photo: Alex Lazara/Flickr Creative Commons)

Old Saint Paul, up and down your ripped up sidestreets,
kids roam, hands deep in pockets, snapping ice with each step.
Their mothers poke out of houses,
“Time to come inside,” they say,
waiting to hang blankets off shoulders
and brush the child’s hair from his face.

Secrets

Mural at Hmong Garden. (Photo: Liren Chen/Flickr Creative Commons)

I search the concourse for the family,
a family whose people
were swept away by a river red with blood.
Swept when a secret war ended.
Swept from the mountains of Laos,
Swept in one day from the steamy jungle
to Minnesota’s pre-dawn dark.