Three Poems by Laura Passin


Late Storm on Lake Michigan


I dreamed a funnel cloud,

its black finger pointing

to a shipwrecked past.


My head’s not built

to stand this pressure.

This city’s a mistake


of human planning; concrete

swells the sky to nothing—

flat streets ooze,


no horizon—wind rakes the high-rise

glass cathedrals till they almost learn

to shatter, toys of nature,


battered and grateful for their scars.

My parents met here.

We’ve seen how that worked out.


You can’t love this city

for long: you must allow

the great, flat machine


to mold you in its image.

It won’t condone

the hills and depths


of marriage. Not Chicago.




Lake Erie


I learned to swim there,

too busy flapping pasty arms to view

the greenish tinge with suspicion.

The bridge of hands under my waist


—my mother and her mother—

tricked me into thinking I

was safe, unburdened.

Forget the ground:


the sand we kicked masked

cigarette butts, stranded fries

from someone’s picnic, rocks

so rough they cut your toes.


It was our filthy lake, a great one.

So the maps proclaimed.

Its blue horizon rose

to lap the border. You could go


to Canada! Someday,

I’d swim the cold divide,

see what they call home

along the other side.




Home, Sick


This is the wrong place.

Spin the globe under my feet:

Now it’s winter.


The ice storm just ended.

I am sick, home from school,

and the trees are glitter-drunk


and turned to glass,

slick, clacking.

The willow drips with armor,


clanks its jewelry.

I walk alone in the fever world,

moon poured liquid


on our backyard. Everywhere,

the things of this world are

cased in crystal: fierce chandeliers.


Time has frozen without me,

a perfect sculpture of itself,

blinding and clear.


Under the clicking canopy,

I touch the longest strand.

Its gleaming skin fissures


in my hand.



Laura Passin

Laura Passin is a writer, professor, and feminist at large. She holds a PhD from Northwestern and an MFA from the University of Oregon. Her writing has recently appeared in Prairie Schooner, Bellevue Literary Review, Adrienne: A Poetry Journal of Queer Women, The Toast, The Archipelago, and Best New Poets 2013. Laura lives in Chicagoland with her partner, two cats, and way too many books.