The god of my neighborhood is the abandoned grain elevator\ plunging into broken-windowed smiles north of the railroad tracks

[a wasp between screen and window pane]

Curved like rose petals, pieces of vodka bottles embellish the curb like spilled water

[thrashing on the sill]

If it could fit in an envelope,

I would mail you the old iron perfume\ the full moon rising before sunset

above the pedestrian bridge\ the bloody-lipped glint and warm rusty palms trespassing on the siding\climbing up the knuckles between flat rail cars


I love the train howling as it closes in around midnight\ the room painted light blue

five-gallon buckets heavy with tomato plants and dahlias

my home dirt brought to a new city\to become sanctuary


temporary like ballpoint pen on the back of my hand


I said, “I’m moving to Minneapolis, not the moon”\ to reassure

everyone who loves me someplace else\ but wrote then crossed off exile

it might as well be the moon\ I’ve never been alone like this alone

[a glass exhibit \ no escape\ no escape]

Leaning against the chain-link fence eight inches above the place the train passes under\ falling while standing still\combing my hair with diesel exhaust

What my mother would think\if she knew

My succulent dies\ shriveling droplet leaf by droplet leaf\ no amount of watering or not watering would fix\ I try not to take this dying personally

[crisp wings thick as eyelashes. torn]

Imagine the railway contained within this body\ engine housed under blouse under wire-framed lace under skin under bone

thousands of thousands of valves and vessels, aligned into tracks

rusting with each

breath\ persistent rhythm flaring from horizon to horizon\unstoppable\North and South\resolve

A quickening

[stillness, stillness, stillness again]


Please try not to read everything as a bad omen.



Anna Chotlos grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, studied English at St. Olaf College and lives in Minneapolis. Her writing appears in The Quarry, Our Hearts Still Beat, and on a square of sidewalk in Northfield, Minnesota.