Exiled from Main Street


the autobiography of a Midwest town


by Anonymous



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Clash City Rockers


we were born

in this nowhere town,

with no heroes,

stuck on some nowhere highway

with too many excuses

and too few exits.


the last one to cry was always the mother.

she had too many worries lined up

and ready to take over.  

in order to make sure the children were fed

she made herself stand hard

against the losers and shakers

because every dollar counts

when you’re flat out of love

and your belly’s full of empty promises

from all the men you’ve been pawned to.


what I remember most,

after the sun beat its way out of reach:

the smell of cigarettes,

wet clothes and stale perfume

drifting up from the downstairs apartment.




When we were five years old…


When we were five years old,

there were mountains with imagined lands,

on the other side where everything was possible,

where everyone knew magic,

spoke in colorful tongues;

we were the explorer/conquerors,

determined to tame what we couldn’t understand,

determined to keep it brand new.  


cars muscle through greasy streets,

one hundred dollar bill is enough to turn

a boy into a man.




The Keeper’s Tale*


he says-


that fucker should’ve known better


she tosses the wet towel into the sink, closes her eyes, turns around


he says-

two more days and it wouldn’t

have mattered a bit


her hands begin to sweat for no reason, she starts to swallow her pride


he says-

now the poor bastard’s out

of work and already three months behind on the mortgage


she shakes her head in agreement but her mind just walked right out the door


he says-

I need a beer-

what’s for dinner-

tomorrow’s gonna be a bitch


the rush of a river muffles his voice; she’s gone and this time for good




*directs and performs work to prepare for casting and flushing a blast furnace




The Coolerator Plant


the smell of turpentine, the feel of ash


smoothed into the sign of the cross


mumbled Latin and a railroad spike


trembles; a white sun winks us awake


and turns the air uncertain and silent


unwilling to let us take a breath


this train leaves gray in our veins


fills us with smoke and steam


then drowns the light from our eyes




If Mary Tyler Moore had really lived here


she would have taken a job as a waitress

or maybe something in the more respectable

secretarial/office worker profession,

a real career girl onherwaysomewhereforsuregirl


she’d save her money, hide it from Rob

in the bottom of a sugar canister -

no, flour

because she knows there is no way


he could ever find it being only interested

in dinner work

breakfast work fucking on demand

sleep work


because she is patient,

she would bide her time, wait

for that just right moment when she knew


there was enough money stashed away

grab the next bus to anywhere, leave a note for him

taped on the refrigerator

she wouldn’t be angry

not really

that wouldn’t be like her




Reason #1 to not believe in god


He hates this town

and every time he speaks

of it you can see his eyes

roll and a smirk


spread across his face.

He closes the Steel Plant

for kicks, tells Gabriel

it was either that or flood


the Mississippi, says

he’s bored with water,

wants something quieter,

longer lasting.


Something that would move people,

shake them and start some action

is the way he puts it.

This town never was sharp


but word spread wild

and the mean breath that blows

over Superior fills our lungs

as bars empty and wives leave -


husbands grind their heels

in black dirt and wait

for the miracle that never happens.




1977 - Rocket to Russia; Lust for Life; The Clash; P-Funk Earth Tour


Gary Gillmore Faces Firing Squad, First US Execution in 10 Years


Missy went all the way

says its time to go home now


but somehow we’re not ready

enough to make up the right excuses



“Son of Sam” Killer Is Arrested In NYC


Last call means nothing

anymore - give us enough rope


someone will roll and we’ll all pitch in

to pay the tab




Know Your Rights -

a public service announcement

with guitar:


never return to the scene of the crime, it opens

possibilities better left for the dying


keep everything of value to yourself

except the easily identifiable


slough those off on the losers and naïve

they never know to quit trying so fucking hard


guilt can be deceptive, it is a hand gliding down

a woman’s thigh - a click when the hammer is cocked




King of the Road


Specifications: Wheelbase, inches: 108.0; Weight, lbs: 3,200; Number built: 1251

Base price: $4,473


Standard Engine Type: ohv V-8; Displacement, cid: 428; Fuel system: 1 x 4bbl.;

Compression ratio: 10.6:1; Horsepower @ rpm: 335 @ 5200; Torque @ rpm: 440 @ 3400


Representative Performance: 0-60 mph, sec: 6.0; 1/4 mile, sec. @ mph: 14.3 @ 100



Kelly was riding shotgun,

white shorts, black top

bra strap just off her left shoulder


more than ready for the world

to open up, she refused

to be swallowed whole


it never really was a challenge

and everyone knew it

would end in her favor




The Holiday Boys


Tony-boy- busboy


tonight there are two moons

one is full, the other half asleep

lying in the water


Jeff-Bob- bar back


two birds fly a straight line to the sun

it’s easier to see the clouds

when our mouths are dry


Cody- room service waiter


moonlight casts a shadow into the sea

after midnight our glasses

will be emptied again 




After hours party


Tony-boy acted like he thought he was slick but once you got

to know him you knew it was a routine. He always ended up alone

at the end of the night, no matter how hard he tried to play it.


Missy played it like she knew what men wanted. She didn’t

realize she would soon be married then a quickie divorce

after an even shorter affair. Tony-boy didn’t know it either


and if he had he wouldn’t have cared. He thought he saw

his chance and warned us: by the time I count ten you best

be longoneouttaheremotherfuckers



dead bolt



bodies wasted



names that were forgotten

before the drinks were poured

down the sink



into thirty-two equals eight

again equals two and once more

equals bored



more minutes and she won’t care

who she wakes up with  




The Holiday Girls




the truth of a flower will spill

from its petals

after the falling rain


Becky-popover girl


three birds on a wire

there are two different songs

but only one sun



Beth & Michelle-hostesses


sky slowly darkens

the sound of a water jug cracking

awakens our thirst




Julie’s been working for the drug squad




she’s the woman with red spiked hair,

pierced lip and four point GPA, who crushed

on Joey Ramone - carried papers in her purse

and knew all the lyrics to every song on Doolittle.




works 8-4:30, walks to the train,

never takes no for an answer-

the joke’s on you, she knows it

but never lets on




in ‘82 dropped out of college to paint

the world red - lived in New York

until the colors started to fade then moved

to Montreal with a promise and $375.00




her mother was a dancer, her father told her

stories about how they met in Paris

after the war - how she was too beautiful

to stick around for long




she walks out of the crowd, hair slicked

back from rain - everyone notices

but no one says a word




When everyone who ever knew you

is dead it will be as if you’ve never existed


there’s dirt under our nails

mud on our shoes

we get stoned in the parking lot


someone lost their lighter


someone forgot to buy beer


someone got killed






crushed singles

and the odd

five but mostly

nickels and dimes

stacked in puddles

watching crooked

and barbaric men

get tended

by the barmaid

with wasted hair

and a mouthful of sin.



1:  Start out going SOUTHEAST on S 8TH ST/8TH ST S/MN-55 E toward PORTLAND AVE S/CR-35 S.  0.1 mi

2:  Turn RIGHT onto PORTLAND AVE S/CR-35 S.  0.3 mi 

3:  Turn RIGHT onto E 15TH ST/15TH ST E. Continue to follow 15TH ST E.  0.1 mi

4:  Turn LEFT onto E 16TH ST.  0.1 mi

5:  Merge onto I-94 W/US-52 N via the ramp on the LEFT.  2.9 mi

6:  Take the WASHINGTON AVE N exit, EXIT 229, toward CR-81/W BROADWAY AVE.  0.3 mi

7:  Turn LEFT onto N WASHINGTON AVE/WASHINGTON AVE N/CR-152 N 0.2 mi  8:  Turn RIGHT onto W BROADWAY AVE/CR-66 E.  0.1 mi

9:  Turn LEFT onto 2ND ST N.  0.2 mi

10:  End at 22nd Ave N & N 2nd St Minneapolis, MN 55411 

Estimated Time: 8 minutes Estimated Distance: 4.22 miles




money talks, bullshit walks


betty lives upstairs of the bar, everyone says she’ll do it

for money - a wink, a nudge, a dare

and a ten cent phone call, won’t change facts:


all the one way streets in this one horse city

lead to the same conclusions


last call gets called and you’re locked, loaded and ready

to roll - she whispers Buddy Holly died for our sins

pours you a drink, takes your money

and you go home alone




Charlie don’t surf & we think he should


we’ve got nerves of steel, wounded


friends and answers for everything


the future is set and the past wrestles


us to the ground, hot fun in the summer


time and we’re still waiting to graduate


from the excuses given to us by our fathers 




nothing is the same except the skyline at night


she wanted to paint her name

on the water tower


star light, star bright


said she was afraid of heights, I told her

the color of the sky matched her eyes


the first star I see tonight


the last rung was rusted

almost through


I wish I may wish I might


I can still feel the cold

beer inside my jacket pocket


have the wish I wish tonight


can still taste the bitter tang

of autumn




The Last Picture Show


year by year passes by with a rush


until a murmur is all that remains


of yesterday; there will be boasts,


puffed up false pride and put-on


bar room courage and in the end


you will know what it really means


to crash - how it feels to have sounds


pushed out of your head and blood


stop dead in your veins




Unsent postcard to a woman in New York

found in the left breast pocket

of his funeral suit


the streets seem to narrow as today gets longer

and the longer our fists stay clenched


the sooner night will fall

unceremoniously into back alleys


drunk with no place to go

I have not withered away


but am buried under boredom and grayness

lost in a monochromatic life




Cleaning Day


inscription from a ring

found at the bottom

of a drawer

hidden under some socks

wrapped in a mono

grammed- JSL- 



Vous et Nul Autre




A Drive-by Memory


faded black and white tiles

the smell of beer and whiskey

sticking to the floor

unfiltered cigarettes

half empty bar glasses

the anticipation of digging

out loose change to pump

into the jukebox

the whir and click

as vinyl gets dropped

the slightly sour taste of olives

mixed with the scent of mint

and wood smoke

lighted beer signs and velvet

nudes above the bar

men’s voices ribbing

muttered shits

and laughing goddamn’s

bells on the pinball

machine the soft sound

of the lever as a boy pushes

the buttons on the side

blue chalk and the smooth shiny

wood of the stick

a mist of talc then a crack

as the balls splinter

right out of the rack

a clunk and roll after one drops

into the pocket but most of all

catching a glimpse of a bar stool

a pair of bare legs swinging




a two minute play with no dialogue


two men at a table are playing gin

both probably about the same age though one looks older

they are expressionless and never make eye contact

they simply draw and discard

there are four longneck bottles of beer on the edge of the table

can’t tell if they are full or empty

can’t tell who the beer belongs to

the scorekeeper reaches over and looks at the other man’s cards

this action does not interrupt play

they continue as if nothing has happened

the scorekeeper lights a cigarette

takes a drag and after his next draw

lays his cards down because he has made his hand

the other man lays his down to be counted

gets up and walks out of the line of view

the scorekeeper adds the total to the score and collects the cards

he changes seats

smiles as he shuffles and then deals






i. there are two, the second

being built in the early 80’s - this refers to the first

though it is no longer in use


ii. opinions do vary but historians

are in general agreement about this assessment


iii. illegal within the city limits

rarely enforced

it became a rite of passage for teens


iv. now considered common

at the time an isolated event

and cause for gossip


v. the founder’s day parade held every year in August

discontinued in 1977


vi. went on to become a well known artist

died in NYC in 1987; complications from AIDS


vii. in 1979 the property was condemned

sold to developers and is now The Depot Marketplace


viii. was lost for a number of years, resurfaced

briefly in 1991 and has been lost since


ix. its popularity declined after the introduction

of legislation that regulated specifications

completely out of vogue by 1982


x. means exactly what it says




Train in Vain


the day I forgot what your voice sounded like the sky


burst open and gray clouds snaked away slowly under


the horizon. downtown, a train whistles to a stop, steam


from ninth street - obscure and intangible - mingles with sweat


on my brow. if i could change the shape of my thoughts


into triangles, their hard edges and sharp corners could make


my eyes believe again. now, there is nothing left but circles


and my final confession is a broken window - redemption


a flat, endless highway blurred by the sun.






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