july 31/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

A wonderful morning for a bike ride! No altercations with assholes! Noticed, as I biked over a bridge, how much the creek was rushing. Sometime soon, I’d like to bike along the creek to Lake Harriet.

swim: 1 mile
lake nokomis

Swam a mile this morning off the big beach. It was windier than I expected. And chillier. Just 70 degrees. I had goose bumps as I entered the water. Swam 6 little loops/38 minutes. Swimming into the wind and the waves, I breathed every 6 on my right side. Swimming away from it, every 5. The water was yellowish, greenish, brownish and opaque. Couldn’t see anything below me, no streaks or flashes or shafts of light. Had no problem seeing the vertical white buoys–well, I couldn’t see them through my central vision until I spotted them with my peripheral vision. I think I saw one kayak out there. No other swimmers. Just me. Very relaxing and mechanical, steady. 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left. Metronomic. Maybe a little less than a quarter note = 60? Not sure. I like turning into a machine, gliding through the water. About 30 minutes in, I felt like I could swim for a few more hours. I liked how the wind rocked me.

Last year, I discovered Roger Deakin’s fabulous book, Waterlog. I finally bought it this summer, using a birthday gift card. Here’s a passage I’d like to think/write about:

…swimming is a rite of passage, a crossing of boundaries: the line of the shore, the bank of the river, the edge of the pool, the surface itself. When you enter the water, something like metamorphosis happens. Leaving behind the land, you go through the looking glass surface and enter a new world, in which survival, not ambition or desire, is the dominant aim. …You are in nature, part and parcel of it, in a far more complete and intense way than on dry land, and your sense of the present is overwhelming.

I like the idea of the water world being a reverse, almost an upending. I’ve played around with that in some poems already. I’d like to push it some more. I’m particularly interested in the lack of gravity and weightlessness. Deakin’s also writes:

In water, all possibilities seemed infinitely extended. Free of the tyranny of gravity and the weight of atmosphere…

july 30/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

run: 3 miles
trestle turn around
59! degrees

Ran much earlier this morning–at 6:45. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to be out so early. I love summer mornings. I’d like to try and get up early more often in August. Ran without headphones. Made sure I noticed the river, slivers of sparkle in the sun. Difficult to see through all of the trees. Running past the Welcoming Oaks noticed a new stump, almost level with the ground. Oh no! Which one of my friends has been chopped down? I fear it might be my favorite: the tree that leans, arching its back, almost as if to say, “Heyyyyyyy” or “Watch out!” I hope not. I’ll have to go back and take a closer look. A motorcycle rumbled by, blasting the news on their radio. Saw other runners, walkers, roller skiers, bikers and 3 in-sync rollerbladers. Noticed in the tunnel of trees that, in addition to the clearing I’ve been writing about, there’s another one, created by the stone wall that Delia the dog likes to jump up on. Could really smell the sewer this morning, especially above the rowing club. Yuck! Heard some birds. Whooshing cars. Ran the 3 miles straight without stopping, even though my left leg felt tight. Wish it wasn’t so difficult.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

Mostly, biking isn’t too bad, except for when someone is going really slow and I need to pass them. It’s so hard to pass with my vision. I can’t trust that I’m actually seeing if a bike is coming. Today I didn’t see the bike coming, tried to pass, and almost got in the way of another biker. He was so mean about it, his yell still echoing in my head. At first, I was devastated, feeling so bad about my vision and my mistake. But then I remembered how many bikers I had encountered who did the same thing I did and I didn’t scream at them. My conclusion: this guy was a big asshole.

swim: 1.2 miles
lake nokomis

Made it to the lake early and did three little loops. They were late setting up the buoys so it was a wetsuit rebellion. People just started swimming, not waiting for the lifeguards to announce the start. I joined them and did only one loop. So many swimmers! So many swimmers unable to swim straight, almost routing me! But who cares? The water was wonderful. Warmish and calm. Clear. Smooth. I felt strong and powerful and relaxed. Did a lot of breathing every 5 and sometimes 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right. There is something special about swimming loops outside at a lake. One of my top 5 all-time favorite things to do.

MORNING SWIM
(from Where I Live – New & Selected Poems 1990-2010, W.W. Norton, 2010)

Into my empty head there come
a cotton beach, a dock wherefrom

I set out, oily and nude
through mist, in chilly solitude.

There was no line, no roof or floor
to tell the water from the air.

Night fog thick as terry cloth
closed me in its fuzzy growth.

I hung my bathrobe on two pegs.
I took the lake between my legs.

Invaded and invader, I
went overhand on that flat sky.

Fish twitched beneath me, quick and tame.
In their green zone they sang my name

and in the rhythm of the swim
I hummed a two-four- time slow hymn.

I hummed “Abide With Me.” The beat
rose in the fine thrash of my feet,

rose in the bubbles I put out
slantwise, trailing through my mouth.

My bones drank water; water fell
through all my doors. I was the well

that fed the lake that met my sea
in which I sang “Abide With Me.”

Love the line in this poem about there being no line or roof or floor to tell the water from the air. And the fish! I almost forgot about the tiny little minnows I saw at the big beach. Swimming in the shallow water. Pretty cool.

july 29/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
66 degrees
humidity: 89%

Forgot to look for the river again today. Instead saw lots of green. A few slashes of light purple. What are those wildflowers? Green with purple all over the edge of the path. Didn’t hear any rowers. Car after car after car passing me on the river road. No birds or annoying squirrels. No rollerbladers or roller skiers. No Daily Walker.

Babel
Kimberly Johnson

My God, it’s loud down here, so loud the air
is rattled. Who with the hissing of trees,
the insect chatter, can fix devotion

on holy things, the electrical bugs
so loud the air is stunned, windy the leaves’
applause redoubled by the clapping wings

of magpies? Who with their whispered psalm
can outvoice their huckster cackle, the trees
blustered to howls while the tesla bees

whine loudly to the shocked air? O who
can think of heaven in such squall, shrill wind
of trees, magpie wings, and throats in fracas,

the bluebottle static, the air stupid
with the shrieks of devils,— of angels,—
who in such squall can think of anything

but heaven?

Love this description of the noisy outdoors and the air, which feels so much about it all: rattled, stunned, shocked, stupid. And those hissing, applauding, blustering trees!

july 28/BIKERUN

bike: 5.7 miles
to lake nokomis/1/2 way back

Biked to the lake for open swim. As I arrived, it thundered and I heard the lifeguard call out, “Open Swim is delayed for 30 minutes.” Bummer. Then, after waiting for a few minutes, the sky unzipped and it began to pour. Waited under the overhang of the building with Scott until it stopped. Thundered again. 30 more minute wait. So we left. Double bummer. At least I got to see a rafter of wild turkeys in a field across from Locks and Dam #1 as I biked to the lake. Pretty cool!

run: 2.4 miles
river road path, north/south
75 degrees
humidity: 87%
dew point: 70

I am currently on day 62 of filling all three rings on my apple watch. Decided to run so I could keep up the streak. So hot and humid! For the first time this year, I saw haze hovering around the tunnel of trees. It was raining as I ran. Not too hard and offering no relief. Encountered some idiot teenagers playing catch on the running path under the bridge. Two of them almost threw a ball over my head as I ran by them. I gave them one of my vigorous disapproving head shakes which my daughter says are very effective in shaming. Why did she say that? Have I given her one before?

What Lights Up…?
BY KEKI DARUWALLA
excerpt

what lights up
the lightbulb filaments
of your recall Old Man
this streak of fire
through the thin wire
of memory and mind
what line
from which poet?

I love this opening stanza! Definitely one to memorize.

july 27/RUN

3.1 miles
two trails
80 degrees
dew point: 61

Another hot one. Listened to my audio book as I ran, partly because I’m enjoying it and partly because I need to finish it so I can move onto the next one. It’s hard to keep up with books these days. Audio books are great but I can’t skim them like I could a regular book. And regular books make me tired so quickly. Lots of traffic out on the upper trail: bikers, walkers, other runners, strollers, dogs. Was happy to turn at the 44th street parking lot and run back on the lower path. So much cooler and quieter and calmer! Turned off my audio book. Glanced down at the river, through the trees, a few times. Think I heard–but didn’t see–some rowers. Encountered a few walkers but no other runners. Startled a squirrel–at least I think it was a squirrel. Marveled at the green and the occasional breeze.

Summer Breeze/Seals and Croft

See the curtains hangin’ in the window
In the evening on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin’ through the window
Lets me know everything’s all right

[Chorus]
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ though the jasmine in my mind

[Verse 2]
See the paper layin’ on the sidewalk
A little music from the house next door
So I walk on up to the doorstep
Through the screen and across the floor

[Chorus]
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ though the jasmine in my mind

[Bridge]
Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day’s work
And you’re waiting there
Not a care in the world

[Verse 3]
See the smile awaitin’ in the kitchen
Through cookin’ and the plates for two
Feel the arms that reach out to hold me
In the evening when the day is through

[Chorus]
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ though the jasmine in my mind

july 26/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
70 degrees
humidity: 87%
dew point: 65

Hot and humid again. Legs really sore 2 miles in. Listened to an audio book instead of the gorge. What do I remember from the run? Encountering one of those annoying lime scooters on the walking path with the tunnel of trees. Feeling strong for the first mile. Trying to avoid wandering branches with wet leaves. Don’t think I saw the river at all. Noticing how the clearing in the middle of the tunnel of trees constricts as the days thicken. More leaves, more green, less light and space and room to breathe. Sweating so much with the high humidity and dew point.

july 25/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

So windy! Gusts up to 23 mph. Biking the last stretch around the lake to the big beach, I could feel the wind wanting to blow me off my bike.

swim: .7 miles
lake nokomis

Got to the lake early. The plan was to swim small loops until open swim started then do one big loop, but it was so windy and choppy–even white caps!–that it was difficult. Going one direction, I was swimming straight into the waves. Tough. Almost stopped after one loop, but decided to keep going and did a few more. Watched the lifeguards trying to set up the orange buoys on the choppy, wavy, windy water. It was taking so long that I didn’t have time to stay. As I biked up the hill, 15 minutes later, I could still hear them trying to line up the buoys. Oh well, I still swam some. It would have been fun to swim in the choppy water. I like swimming in choppy water. A fun challenge. Plus, it’s a cool experience to be gently (or vigorously) rocked. Last fall I wrote a lot of lines about waves. Here’s a few that I especially liked and that I’m hoping to put into a poem:

In the summer I swim across the lake.
When the wind is just right it makes the water into a cradle.

And when the wind is wrong
the waves become a washing machine.

I swim through a spin cycle
and reach the far shore scrubbed clean.

july 24/RUN

5K race
downtown Minneapolis

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@torchlight5k

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Not too hot, but hot enough. Not my fastest race, but I finished strong.

What do I remember from the race? Very positive energy. Happy, joyful people. A better than average version of the National Anthem. A car trapped on the bike path because the road was jammed with runners. The woman driving calling out to her friends in frustration, “I just want to get out of here!” A woman wheezing than giving herself a pep talk. An annoying boyfriend calling out to his girlfriend, “You can do this! Only 2 minutes left. This is what all your training was for. How many people can you pass?” This was annoying because we had a lot less than 2 minute left and him saying that made me feel like we would never finish. Very demoralizing. I’m pretty sure his girlfriend was irritated too. I didn’t see her pass anyone. After the race, walking on the gravel trail through Boom Island, 3 runners passing us with such positive energy, so happy to be running on this trail.

We took the train downtown today, which was fun and much less stressful than driving. What do I remember from the train? Crowded heading downtown; Twins game tonight. A fantasy-fiction loving teenage girl trying to convince her mom to read more fantasy fiction. Her mom, calmly and repeatedly saying, “I’m more into real life.” The girl, relentlessly retorting, “Fantasy fiction is sooo much better than real life. You can learn a lot from the wise old wizards!” Okay, this isn’t exactly what she said, but close enough. On the way home, 2 pissed off Twins’ fans, complaining about the game and how slow it was going–over 2 hours in and only the bottom of the 4th! Dropping lots of f-bombs.

The Runners
BY IRVING FELDMAN

Here or there hundreds of them, phantom-like,
bobbing in place at street corners, then
lifting their knees suddenly and leaping
into the densest, loudest traffic
(of briefest trajectories, of shortest views),
in transit yet at ease, breathing, loping,
like bearers of distance and pure direction,
darting half naked out of nowhere and
where, where in the world are they running to?
swift and solitary, silent beings
who, should you now step into the path,
have dodged away, or, if you raise a hand
to stay them to speak, immediately
are gone: who are these runners who create
in their gliding such fine, singular spaces
among the street’s vociferous jargons?
—as if each one were a still, wordless message
or question one would answer if one could grasp it,
this one, that one, sliding past, going away,
while you stand there, your hand raised to no purpose,
your hidden heart rejoicing that the quick heel
won’t soon, won’t ever, be overtaken,
although you, as you have longed to, suddenly
disburden yourself and follow follow.

july 23/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

3.1 miles
two trails
66 degrees

Cooler this morning. Listened to a playlist running above, some rowers running below. Noticed that the dirt path at the beginning of the lower trail is more old asphalt than I realized. How long ago did they stop paving this trail? Could see the river sparkling serenely beneath me. Heard the rowers. Encountered some walkers who had no idea I was there. When I called out, “excuse me,” one of them dramatically flinched. Never know how to handle these situations. Sometimes I find it funny, their frantic gestures. Other times, it’s annoying that they’re blocking the whole path and I can’t get past them without startling them. Encountered another walker, an older woman with hiking poles, listening loudly to a speech. The women speaking was calling out, “we’re not the problem, we’re the solution!” What is she referring to? Who is the we? What is the problem and what is the solution?

Cliffhanger update: the leaning tree trunk near the 38th street steps seems to be leaning more. I almost had to duck as I ran under it. Is it lower, or am I just forgetting how lean-y it already was? Will it lean even more or fall or be removed soon?

Ended my run right past the small clearing in the tunnel of trees. I’m stuck in my writing about it. Is it because it’s more magical in the early spring before the trees have filled in? When I look at it now, it’s still a clearing but it doesn’t make me feel dizzy or like I’m floating as I run past it. Maybe I should look at earlier entries about it?

A Kind of Meadow
BY CARL PHILLIPS

—shored
by trees at its far ending,
as is the way in moral tales:

whether trees as trees actually,
for their shadow and what
inside of it

hides, threatens, calls to;
or as ever-wavering conscience,
cloaked now, and called Chorus;

or, between these, whatever
falls upon the rippling and measurable,
but none to measure it, thin

fabric of this stands for.
A kind of meadow, and then
trees—many, assembled, a wood

therefore. Through the wood
the worn
path, emblematic of Much

Trespass: Halt. Who goes there?
A kind of meadow, where it ends
begin trees, from whose twinning

of late light and the already underway
darkness you were expecting perhaps
the stag to step forward, to make

of its twelve-pointed antlers
the branching foreground to a backdrop
all branches;

or you wanted the usual
bird to break cover at that angle
at which wings catch entirely

what light’s left,
so that for once the bird isn’t miracle
at all, but the simplicity of patience

and a good hand assembling: first
the thin bones, now in careful
rows the feathers, like fretwork,

now the brush, for the laying-on
of sheen…. As is always the way,
you tell yourself, in

poems—Yes, always,
until you have gone there,
and gone there, “into the

field,” vowing Only until
there’s nothing more
I want—thinking it, wrongly,

a thing attainable, any real end
to wanting, and that it is close, and that
it is likely, how will you not

this time catch hold of it: flashing,
flesh at once

lit and lightless, a way
out, the one dappled way, back—

I like how this poem demands many readings, some of them out loud, for me to begin to understand it. I have not yet read it enough. So far, here’s what I’m drawn to: trees and moral tales; trees as hiding/threatening/calling to; trees as Chorus; the double-meaning of stands (represents + a group of trees); the worn path as emblem; trees whose twinning of late light and the already underway darkness.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 1.5 miles
lake nokomis

Today’s open swim was so crowded! Hundreds of swimmers. Too hard to see them all in the sun. So I only swam 2 loops and an extra mini loop off the big beach. The water was choppy but I didn’t care. Couldn’t see much but I kept swimming. I felt strong for most of the swim until suddenly my right shoulder hurt. Now, a few hours later, I am very tired. Swimming in the lake is the best. What joy to still be able to see enough to swim and bike!

july 22/RUN

2.75 miles
lake harriet
77 degrees
humidity: 46%

Ran around Lake Harriet with Scott this afternoon. Less humidity but still hot and sunny. Not much shade at 2 in the afternoon. What I remember most: the gross, fishy smell; dodging lots of people; the shshshsh of the sand on the side of the path as I ran over it; trying to sing The Commodores’ song “lady…you bring me up when I am down” and “na na na na na naaa na na na naaa” and having trouble mid-run; running an small extra loop to get my final exercise minutes and overhearing a man say to the woman next to him, “people are running right now?!”; running up hill a lot. A good run.

Postscript
Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Love this poem for so many reasons: the ocean wild with foam and glitter, head-strong looking heads, being neither here nor there but a hurry through which known and strange things pass, big soft buffeting catching the heart off guard. This morning, when I was walking with Delia, I thought about how different one’s experience of a landscape is depending on whether you are walking or running or biking or riding in a car.

july 20/YOGABIKERUN

bike: 5.2 miles
torchlight 5k packet pick-up and back

Biked on the river road, over the ford bridge, up the hills in highland park to the packet pick-up for the july tradition: torchlight 5k. So hilly in St. Paul! Biking over the ford bridge is always beautiful–after the rain, the river was a calm, steel blue and the air was much cooler. Still not shifting into different gears when climbing. Speaking of climbing, thought about today’s stage of le tour de france and the brutal final climb while Scott and I biked. Those bikers are such bad asses.

run: 3 miles
trestle turn around
69 degrees
dew point: 59

Thunderstorms this morning, so I ran in the afternoon. Listened to my birthday playlist from last year and tried to stay relaxed. Ran all 3 miles without stopping, which was harder towards the end–my legs were sore, but I think it was more mental. Too easy to stop and walk. I didn’t today. Maybe it was because I got so mad at the two walkers that were hogging the entire path, cluelessly spreading out over the entire thing instead of sticking to one side? Felt pretty good. Ran each mile faster than the last. Kept running, but payed attention as I ran by the part of the tunnel of trees that I’m writing about. I’ve been thinking about it as a wide open, spacious room, but it’s more of just a break in the trees. A pause. I recorded some thoughts into my phone when I was done:

Only, just a brief pause. No room for rumination. Only breathing and being before the leaves lock? the leaves thatch? the leaves lattice? the vines envelop the forest again.

Found this great poem via twitter the other day:

Sixteen Theses on Walking and Poetry
by Mátyás Dunajcsik
translated by Timea Balogh1.

  1. Walking is the poetry of the urban space.
  2. Just as a poet uses the same language as everyone else, only for other things and in other ways, a walker walks the same city as other pedestrians, only with a different purpose and perspective.
  3. Walks, much like poems, are composed via selection and arrangement.
  4. Just as a poet sometimes uses strange, obsolete words, a walker often comes across seldom visited places.
  5. Just as poetry can sometimes cleanse trite words, calling them back to their original meanings, a walker can only really see a city if he keeps in mind the original purpose of the places and buildings in it, even if they serve new purposes now.
  6. Just as the poet has the power to give entirely new meanings to certain words, the walker sometimes also uses certain places for things other than they were originally designed for.
  7. The poet is always ambivalent about the grammatical rules of her native language. A good walk is always a little illegal.
  8. Important poems change the language in which they are written. A truly important walk leaves lasting marks on a city.
  9. Both walking and poetry are forms of catastrophe tourism: just as poetry begins where everyday conversation ends, likewise the walker looks for those places where the fabric of the city unravels.
  10. The empty spaces left behind by buildings demolished or never built are as sweet to the walker as the unsaid and the indescribable are to the poet.
  11. Poetry is a language’s living memory and conscience, just as walking is to a city.
  12. A reader most enjoys poems written in his native language. The most exciting walks are always the ones we take in our hometowns.
  13. But actually, all poems speak in their own mother tongues, just as every walk reveals a new city.
  14. The foundation of both walking and poetry is the breath. Its rhythm is determined either by words or by steps.
  15. Just as there are one-word poems, so can one step be considered a walk.
  16. Poets and walkers look up more often than other people.

Love all of this, especially the idea of poets using language differently, walkers walking differently; walking and poetry as forms of catastrophe tourism–looking for places where the city unravels; breath as the foundation for poetry and walking; poets and walkers looking up more than other people. Cool. I’m really interested in the connections between writing and movement, especially in terms of walking, running, swimming and biking.

july 19/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
82 degrees (feels like 89)
humidity: 76%
dew point: 74

Hot, so hot. Even though I was only doing a short run, I brought some water along. I drank some of it, the rest I poured on my head. It started out cool but by the time it reached my back, it was warm. I definitely struggle in the heat. Ran 1.25 miles, then walked a little, then mostly ran with some walking. Noticed that there were a few more stones stacked on the old boulder. The tunnel of trees was soothingly dark and deep and green. Not steamy. Made note of the fact that the part of the tunnel I’m writing about now is almost midway between the path openings and just before where the 4 fences meet. This part of the path is also just above the mid-story trees. I’m planning to play with the idea of mid/middle of the story in my prose poem. After turning around and heading back, I stopped for a few minutes to look at this same, mid-story spot. How the trees open up into a wide area that seems to float and breathe, not tight and confined but loose and spacious. Today I noticed (again) how you can just see a small bit of sky at the top. Could it be river instead? Surely it’s sky.

This Maggie Smith poem is the best. Reminds me of the recent interview with Aimee Nezhukumatathil and her idea of wonderment: (So I think it’s a practice. I think we forget how to be in wonderment. And I think it’s a great, I don’t know, responsibility. But also, it’s contagious. When you hear someone say, oh my gosh, I love how the silver on a silver oak is winking at me, that kind of thing, it’s hard to not notice something yourself. And then someone else will notice something and someone else will notice something.)

Poem Beginning with a Retweet/Maggie Smith

If you drive past horses and don’t say horses
you’re a psychopath. If you see an airplane
but don’t point it out. A rainbow,
a cardinal, a butterfly. If you don’t
whisper-shout albino squirrel! Deer!
Red fox! If you hear a woodpecker
and don’t shush everyone around you
into silence. If you find an unbroken
sand dollar in a tide pool. If you see
a dorsal fin breaking the water.
If you see the moon and don’t say
oh my god look at that moon. If you smell
smoke and don’t search for fire.
If you feel yourself receding, receding,
and don’t tell anyone until you’re gone.

july 18/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

2.5 miles
two trails
77 degrees
dew point: 70

Hot! Thick air. Sluggish legs. Listened to an Agatha Christie audiobook on the upper trail, the gorge on the lower trail. Also heard some kids up above somewhere. The lower trail was a little muddy from the recent rain, especially the mulch-y leaves. Writing this a day later so I don’t remember much. Ran for two miles before stopping to take a quick walk break up the stairs. Pretty soon I’ll have all the ups and downs and turns of this short trail memorized.

Cliffhanger: a fallen tree leans across the path, near the steps up to 38th street, held up by the trunk of another tree. Will it fall soon and hit someone walking under? Will the parks department remove it? Will it stay here all summer?

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

On the way to the lake muttered “jerk” under my breath at one idiot driver. On the way back muttered to another clueless driver, “ass.” Aside from that, was hot and happy to be able to see well enough to bike. At one point I wondered, has my brain just memorized the path? I’ve biked it 100s of times and have carefully noticed all the curves and curbs and craters. At the last scan of my central vision, it was almost gone. How can I see anything? Brains are fascinating.

Cliffhanger: There’s a short stretch of trail, right before and after 28th, that’s “officially” closed for construction. Even though signs are blocking the trail, you can still get by them and the trail/road are still bike-able. When will they start construction? How many more times can I bike on this part of the trail? Will it take the rest of the summer? What path/trail/road/sidewalk will I bike on instead? Update as of 4/3.20: still closed!

swim: 2 miles
lake nokomis

Another wonderful open swim. The water was too warm, almost like bath water. At times it felt heavy and slow, like swimming in place or through simple syrup. Other times, it felt fast and smooth. I stayed on course the whole time. Swimming to the little beach, I could see the buoys enough to know I was swimming straight. On the way back, I could only see them when they were right next to me. Instead of sighting with buoys, I used the kayaks to line up the path. The third time I was swimming back, my goggles fogged up and I really couldn’t see anything. I didn’t panic but I still don’t like swimming without being able to see something–the roof of the building, the light pole, other swimmers, buoys. Glad I only swam 3 loops. After biking home, I was exhausted!

Achingly Beautiful How the Sky Blooms Umber at the End of the Day, Through the Canopy
Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Summers spent practicing in the apartment
stairwell: hand on the bannister, one foot after
another. Did I ever tell you I couldn’t walk

until I was three and then sort of dragged
myself up and downstairs until I was seven
or eight? That burgundy carpet.

I’d stop to breathe and look out the window,
over brick tenements, toward the Capitol
building. Oak leaves so full of late summer

sun even I thought, “Obscene” and stood stunned
for a moment. My God. The urge to rest like the birds
on the phone wires, chatting like barristers

at the end of the day. Myself the useless
Ambassador from the third floor. I was the last one
up so the door was left open. I can still see it gaping

from two stories down. Sometimes music played.
Sometimes I’d smell supper. Neighbors stopped
to say hello. Achingly beautiful how the sky

looked as I stood after they left. Nicer somehow
in the middle. All the trees tucking blackbirds
into their darkness. It really did take this long.

What a beautiful poem! I love the oak leaves so full of summer that they were obscene–so true!–and birds chatting like barristers and blackbirds being tucked into the darkness by trees.

july 16/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

run: 3.1 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees
humidity: 83%
dew point: 66

Hot and harder today than yesterday even though the dew point was lower. Ran 2 miles without stopping then walked then ran again. Listened to headphones. Someone has placed another small stone on top of the ancient boulder. Noticed that at one spot in the tunnel of trees my view filled with a green canopy except for at the very top. I could see a thin line of sky. It looked like air at the surface with me under green water. Cool. Faintly heard the rowers on the river. By the end, felt slow and tired but happy to be outside and moving.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back

Started my bike ride in a soft, steady rain. Ended it in sunshine. Didn’t mind biking in the rain at all. Less bikers on the trail. No chaos by the falls. The creek was high as I biked by my favorite part of the path, but not over its banks yet. By the time I reached the lake, it was much warmer and brighter and the buoys were already out.

swim: 1.35 miles
lake nokomis

An hour before open swim it was pouring rain and thundering so I wasn’t sure if it would happen. But it was clear by 5:30. I could see the buoys without any problems on the way to the little beach but hardly at all on the way back. Almost ran into the lifeguards on kayaks a few times–well not almost. I saw them in time, but I was headed straight for them. I blame the lifeguards. Too close to the buoys. I heard someone else complaining about how close they were. One lifeguard was almost on top of the final buoy. The water was warm. Too warm. I can’t imagine how hot it would have been swimming in a wetsuit. The water was also calm. No waves today. It felt thick and heavy at times. Breathed every 5 and sometimes every 6. Since it was the free night it was more crowded with lots of slower swimmers stopping and floating. I didn’t run into a single one which was amazing because I didn’t notice some of them until I was almost on top of them. Saw some planes in the sky. No sailboats or fish or ducks. Felt strong and straight and joyful. What a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday evening!

Springing
Marie Ponsot – 1921-2019

In a skiff on a sunrisen lake we are watchers.

Swimming aimlessly is luxury just as walking
loudly up a shallow stream is.

As we lean over the deep well, we whisper.

Friends at hearths are drawn to the one warm air;
strangers meet on beaches drawn to the one wet sea.

What wd it be to be water, one body of water
(what water is is another mystery) (We are
water divided.) It wd be a self without walls,
with surface tension, specific gravity a local
exchange between bedrock and cloud of falling and rising,
rising to fall, falling to rise.

july 15/RUN

2.85 miles
two trails
79 degrees
humidity: 81%
dew point: 71!

I think 71 is one of the highest dew points I’ve ever run in. It felt hot, but it was cloudy, so that helped. It also helped that I ran less than 3 miles and that I ran the second half on the lower trail. I’m really beginning to enjoy this trail. I wish it was longer–only a mile and a half. When it’s not so warm I should try running the dirt trail down by the falls. As I’m writing this entry, a few hours after my run, I’m thinking about surfaces.

surfaces

sidewalk: smooth and cracked, partly covered with dead leaves, weeds, berries, containing seams between slabs, sloping down to the street

street: rough, hard, uneven, freckled with manhole covers

grass: soft, thick, concealing uneven ground

paved path: asphalt, mostly smooth and wide, separated from the road and the bike path, hiding a big dip between the 36th street parking lot and 38th street, hard to see until you remember it’s there

stone steps: awkwardly spaced, avoided if possible

dirt: soft, packed, soothing, slippery oozing squishy after rain, riddled with rubble, pockmarked with past pavement–abandoned, recycled by the gorge, angled leaning to the right, dropping off steeply

more paved path: half rotting leaves, hardly ever flat, up up up then down down up down up down up then over the small bridge with the tiny cave that Rosie and I walked by years ago and imagined was a troll cave where they fed you sprinkled donuts and gave you a bright yellow raft to float down the ravine to the river

more dirt: mostly dry under the canopy, held in place by thigh high retaining walls that double as obstacle courses for daring dogs who delight in appearing taller, flanked by black wrought iron and chainlink fences with tree trunks for posts, slowly sloping down to the savana where wildflowers stretch as high as my shoulders and (almost) smother the narrow trail

more stone steps, a slick iron grate, gravel, dirt, grass, then paved path again

Song of the Open Road, 3
Walt Whitman – 1819-1892

You air that serves me with breath to speak!
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!
I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.

You flagg’d walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides! you distant ships!
You rows of houses! you window-pierc’d façades! you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!
From all that has touch’d you I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me,
From the living and the dead you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me.

Such unbridled enthusiasm! Oh, to be willing to embrace joy like Whitman! To be unashamed to relentlessly use exclamation points! I think I’d like to use his form here and write a poem to the gorge.

july 14/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 2 miles
lake nokomis

Open swim! A wonderful morning for a swim, even if it was too warm and sunny and windy. The water was the choppiest it’s been this year, which didn’t bother me at all. The buoys were way off to the side but since they were in line, I didn’t mind. I swam strong and straight and steady. Mostly breathed every 6 strokes. The rough water gently rocked me. Sometimes the waves were off to one side, sometimes it was like swimming into a wall. At one point, near one of the buoys, I felt like I was swimming in one of those forever pools where you swim in place–is that what they’re called? Loved the swim today. Love being in the water. Always have.

Out of Water
BY MARIE PONSOT

A new embroidery of flowers, canary color,
dots the grass already dotty
with aster-white and clover.

I warn, “They won’t last, out of water.”
The children pick some anyway.

In or out of  water
children don’t last either.

I watch them as they pick.
Still free of  what’s next
and what was yesterday
they pick today.

july 13/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/south
76 degrees
dew point: 62

Hot! As usual, the first mile felt fine, but then I warmed up and it was hot. Still, a nice morning run. Started just before the elite triathletes in the Lifetime Tri race biked by. Got to see the leader zoom past. Heading north, he was only a few seconds ahead of the next racer, but by the time he passed me again, 15 or so minutes later (I think), he was way ahead. Pretty cool to see. I didn’t hear any helicopters so I’m pretty sure they no longer show this live on NBC. I remember watching it 15 years ago up in the UP at my parent’s house, when my mom was still alive. The first triathlon, other than Kona, that I ever watched.

No deep thoughts that I can remember. Spent a lot of time wondering when the racers would come by and then, when they did, when they would come back after looping around at Franklin. Also was distracted by a few runners up ahead of me. I think my second mile was a lot faster as I unwittingly tried to catch them.

Later, after the run, took Delia the dog on a walk by the gorge. Noticed that the 4 rocks usually stacked on top of the big boulder at the top of the tunnel of trees weren’t there. I think I’ve seen them missing another time too. Will someone stack some more before I run by the boulder again? And, if so, who? Walking down through the tunnel, I noticed the few times the sun filtered through and the gentle noise of cars and bikes whooshing above. Also, payed attention to the spot, right before the bottom and the 4 fences, when the path seems to float above the forest and where the trees open up into a wide, airy amphitheater-like space. Too layered with leaves to see sky. Up above is green, down below is too. Running by this spot, I feel like I’m flying or floating in green. Walking, I’m slow enough to notice the layers of green and brown, the lack of blue and the openness of it all.

Love how green works in this poem. Bright green sins, the tree still green.

Summer
BY CARLO BETOCCHI
TRANSLATED BY GEOFFREY BROCK

And it grows, the vain
summer,
even for us with our
bright green sins:

behold the dry guest,
the wind,
as it stirs up quarrels
among magnolia boughs

and plays its serene
tune on
the prows of all the leaves—
and then is gone,

leaving the leaves
still there,
the tree still green, but breaking
the heart of the air.

july 11/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

3 miles
two trails
67 degrees

Just a few degrees cooler and an hour earlier makes a difference. An easier run. No walking. No headphones either. Lots of cars on the road, lots of bikers on the path. Heard the rowers but didn’t see them. Greeted some runners and walkers. Listened to water dripping out of the sewer pipe. Don’t remember thinking about anything except how, even with all the sun, the tunnel of trees seemed dark and thick and beautiful today.

Our Valley
by Philip Levine

We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis and back

swim: 1.7 miles
lake nokomis
water: 80 degrees

A great night for a swim! Mostly breathed every six to my right, but switched it up a little with some 5s on right and left. I need to write some more poetry inspired by these breathing patterns. The buoys were lined up very oddly–too far off the big beach, angled too sharply near the little beach–which made it difficult to sight, but I didn’t panic and swam without seeing. Well, I could see the first two buoys but not the third one closest to the little beach. Don’t remember hearing any planes or seeing any fish. Noticed a sailboat in my peripheral vision most of the time. Felt strong and a little sore in my right calf. Was really tired at the end of today. So much exercise!

Almost forgot about the water temperature. So strange: pockets of freezing cold water mixed with warmer water. The water was extra cold just off the little beach. I like swimming through this really cold water–a sudden surprise, very brief, then warmish water again. The water is 80 degrees, which is more than warm enough for me. I still hear people complaining about how cold it is. I can’t help myself from thinking, wimps!

Breathing
BY MARK O’BRIEN

Grasping for straws is easier;
You can see the straws.
“This most excellent canopy, the air, look you,”
Presses down upon me
At fifteen pounds per square inch,
A dense, heavy, blue-glowing ocean,
Supporting the weight of condors
That swim its churning currents.
All I get is a thin stream of it,
A finger’s width of the rope that ties me to life
As I labor like a stevedore to keep the connection.
Water wouldn’t be so circumspect;
Water would crash in like a drunken sailor,
But air is prissy and genteel,
Teasing me with its nearness and pervading immensity.
The vast, circumambient atmosphere
Allows me but ninety cubic centimeters
Of its billions of gallons and miles of sky.
I inhale it anyway,
Knowing that it will hurt
In the weary ends of my crumpled paper bag lungs.

                                                                                                                    July, 1988

Mark O’Brien, “Breathing” from The Man in the Iron Lung.

I like the connections drawn between air and water here. I often think about that while I’m swimming, imagining worlds reversed, where the air is water, water air. Writing this, I’m wondering: how much oxygen is in the lake? I looked it up and found an article about dissolved oxygen and how fish need it for breathing. Air typically has an oxygen concentration of around 21%, while water has less than 1%.

july 10/RUN

3.1 miles
the 2 trails
70 degrees

I think this is my new favorite running route, especially since my body doesn’t want to run more than a 5K. Listened to headphones as I ran south, up above the river, next to the road, and then took them out when I ran north, down below the road, still above the river. Overcast and windy. Felt cooler than 70. Heard some trickling water but no rowers. Encountered some dogs and their humans. Appreciated how willing the dogs were to stay on their side of the path and sit when their owners asked them to. Walked a little around 1.5 miles. Don’t remember much except for how different the tunnel of trees looks when it’s overcast. Darker and deeper. When it’s sunny, the light filters through the leaves and dances on the asphalt. But when it’s cloudy the greens are heavier and the air seems weighed down with water.

I listened to the poetry off the shelf podcast this morning with the delightful poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil (ne zoo koo ma tat hill). I love her poetry and what she has to say about the importance of wonderment and being jubilant:

I think there’s almost like a responsibility in some ways when the world and the news is so disgusting and so heartbreaking. I think that’s all the more reason to turn to—I ask my students, when is the last time you were in wonderment of something, when was the last time you had awe over something. And at first, the silence is deafening, you know? And they actually have to think about that and then they realize oh my gosh, it shouldn’t be taking me this long. And I keep asking them that, I keep asking them through the semester, until, you know, maybe by the fourth or fifth week they’re able to say it like right away. Or sometimes they can’t wait till class and they just email it to me like, you know, Professor Nezhukumatathil, on the sunset, I saw something called the green flash. Have you heard of it?

So I think it’s a practice. I think we forget how to be in wonderment. And I think it’s a great, I don’t know, responsibility. But also, it’s contagious. When you hear someone say, oh my gosh, I love how the silver on a silver oak is winking at me, that kind of thing, it’s hard to not notice something yourself. And then someone else will notice something and someone else will notice something.

july 9/RUNSWIM

run: 3.1 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees
dew point: 62

I’m pretty sure I wrote this entry already, earlier today, but now I can’t find it and it’s almost 9 PM and I don’t have a lot of energy to write anything else. But I’ll try. It was hot this morning but it didn’t bother me in the first mile. There was a nice breeze and it was overcast. Everything seemed fuzzy and dreamlike, out of focus. I remembered to notice the river–I saw it through the trees shimmering silver. Started feeling the heat in mile 2 but managed to keep running until 2.5 miles. There were so many cars on the river road. Must have been heading to work.

swim: 1.35 miles
lake nokomis

The forecast said rain and thunderstorms at 5:30, when open swim was supposed to begin, but it was clear with the sun promising to peek through the gray clouds. The first loop was a real challenge. My googles were fogged up and I absolutely couldn’t see any of the buoys. Not even a quick glance. Was it because the sun was gone and it was gray? Not sure, but I decided that I had to swim another loop to push through. The sun came out and suddenly I could see the buoys. Not all the time but enough of a glimpse to keep me on track. I felt strong today. No aching shoulder or sore legs. Breathing: 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right. Didn’t see any fish, hear any planes, run into any other swimmers. Didn’t see any white sails or airplane sharks in the sky. Just me and the water. Wonderful.

Preface

Swimming is continuous, only the rivers are intermittent.

The river is something that happens,
like exercise or illness, to the body
on any given day
I am rivering.

Not that the river is like the body
or the river is the body
but ooooooooooo both have gone
and what is left is something else.

To not end where you thought you did,
not with skin but water
not with arms but meadow
of watercress, dropwort, floating pennywort,
against all odds to be buoyant.

To feel there is an upward force
greater than the weight of the heart
the knuckles the head to feel as in to feel
it physically push up the ribs which are bones now

everything remembering what it is
becoming is remembering
sinking in the silt is the sand
of the shell of the bone singing
in the reeds in the rushes
hordes of heartbeats not my own:

mollusc onto stone,
milfoil onto moss,
mayfly onto trout,

metal onto clay,
acid onto wire,
electrified chicken wire to keep the salmon in
the summer we’ll make a day of it,
fill the car up, make a day of it,
fill the river, make like mayflies

in the summer, swim
in traffic, swim in the car
in the river in the summer in the city
in the chicken in the acid in the salmon in the rain
in the silt in the sulphur in the algae in the day we’ll come
and part as friends

in the day in the river in the moss in the rushes we’ll come and part

in the river in the heather in the rushes in the rain we’ll stay and the day and the day
and the days dart over and summer is over
us salmon leap over
us all come apart
in the end
of the day
and the river.

july 7/BIKESWIM

swim: 1.35 miles
lake nokomis

Sunday mornings are always hard to sight with the sun in my eyes as I swim towards the smaller beach. It was supposed to be cloudy but instead there was bright sun. I swam without really seeing anything and I didn’t panic. Strange to be getting so used to swimming blind. My breathing pattern: 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe left. I like staying under the water longer. Oh, to be a fish for a few minutes!

bike: 12 miles
twins’ stadium and back

Biked to the game. Didn’t feel too bad. I am still not changing gears, even on the big hills. Why not? Not sure, but it seems to be working. It doesn’t make it too hard.

july 6/RUN

3.1 miles
river road, north/lake street bridge/river road, south
70 degrees
humidity: 79%/dew point: 72

Turned left when I reached the river road. Ran past the welcoming oaks, down through the tunnel of trees, up past the old stone steps, then over the lake street bridge. Down the steps on one side of the bridge then up the other side. Back over the bridge and back towards home. Encountered many runners. Some alone, some in groups. Was passed by three rollerbladers and their coach biking behind them. In formation, arms swinging in unison. Did a lot of chanting: strawberry/strawberry/strawberry, raspberry/raspberry/raspberry, 123/456, 654/321, 12345/12345/12345. Made sure to look at the river. Saw some rowers just leaving the rowing club. Don’t remember thinking about much, except my breathing and whether or not I’d see any rowers, and when I was going to be done.

july 5/RUN

2.8 miles
two trails*
79 degrees
humidity: 79%/dew point: 69

* two trails = upper trail, near the road, paved; lower trail, below the road, above the river, dirt then crumbling asphalt then paved

Maybe because the sun wasn’t out, it didn’t seem too hot at first. But when I stopped for a quick text at the end of mile 1, I realized I was dripping with sweat. Running below for the second half was cool until the trail emerged from the trees. Then, it was hot and I was losing energy. I really need to start running earlier. Today I ran at 10 am. Encountered a few runners, walkers and roller skiers. Listened to a playlist on the upper trail, the water trickling on the lower. Also heard some kids playing way down in the gorge near the sewer pipe. No rowers or paddle boats on the river.

july 4/BIKERUNBIKE

bike: 9 miles
to downtown race and back

run: 3.1 miles
red, white and boom 5K: 27:30

For the first time, Scott and I biked over to the race instead of driving. 5 miles on the river road. It would have been less but one road was closed and we had to backtrack. Not too bad. Much less stressful than driving. The race was hot and humid. I wimped out and walked a few times but finished strong, so that was okay. Gradually, I’m working to stop caring about time and not feeling bad about how much slower I am these days. Don’t remember much about the race. Started at the back so I did a lot of passing people. Weaving through the crowd doesn’t bother me most of the time. It’s a good distraction. Anything else I remember? No interesting conversations even though I wasn’t listening to headphones. Had a popsicle and a beer after the race and then slowly walked back to my bike. I’d like to try biking to a race again. Oh–saw some rowers down in the flats–that was cool. And, biked up several hills without ever changing my gear. Marveled at the beauty of the city on the 3rd Ave/Central Ave Bridge as I walked across with Scott after the race.

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My city.

A post shared by Scott Anderson 📎 (@room34) on

Here’s a poem I’ve tried to write about (so far, not quite successfully) for a couple of years now. So much I love about it. Today, I noticed the line, “…Raise your/heads, pals, look high,/you may see more than/you ever thought possible,” I love her use of pals here. I read it as an almost exasperated, “look pal” which I appreciate. Much better than friend.

Woman Waving to Trees
Dorothea Tanning – 1910-2012

Not that anyone would
notice it at first.
I have taken to marveling
at the trees in our park.
One thing I can tell you:
they are beautiful
and they know it.
They are also tired,
hundreds of years
stuck in one spot—
beautiful paralytics.
When I am under them,
they feel my gaze,
watch me wave my foolish
hand, and envy the joy
of being a moving target.

Loungers on the benches
begin to notice.
One to another,
“Well, you see all kinds…”
Most of them sit looking
down at nothing as if there
was truly nothing else to
look at until there is
that woman waving up
to the branching boughs
of these old trees. Raise your
heads, pals, look high,
you may see more than
you ever thought possible,
up where something might
be waving back, to tell her
she has seen the marvelous.

july 3/BIKE

14 miles
5k packet pick-up and back
85 degrees

A great bike ride! Biked to St. Paul on a dedicated path, then a dedicated bike lane, then the pothole-filled road to Summit Brewery to pick up my race bib for tomorrow’s 5k race. Then, took a bike path all the way back. Stopped at the Confluence, where the Mississippi and the Minnesota Rivers meet. Then checked out the fake falls near hidden falls which was actually a gushing storm drain. Ended at Minnehaha Falls where Scott and I ate at Sea Salt for the first time this year. I got thai red curry with shrimp and pineapple which was awesome.

While I’ve never been a hardcore biker, I’m extra chill these days. In fact, even though I have 12 or 15 gears or something like that on my road bike, I did not shift gears once. Not even when we were climbing the super steep, never-ending hill on Montreal. I guess I should, but it’s just easier to stay in the same gear and I don’t really care. I’m just happy that my vision is good enough that I can still bike.

Read this poem on poem of the day (poets.org) and loved it even though I don’t love cats.

For Katy
Rodney Jones – 1950-

When Milo was a kitten
and spent the night
with us in the big bed,
curled like a brown sock
at our feet, he would
wake before daybreak,
squeak plaintively
in his best Burmese,
cat-castrato soprano,
and make bread on our stomachs
until if one of us did not rise,
sleep-walk to the kitchen
and open his can of food,
he would steal under the covers,
crouch, run hard at us,
jam his head
in our armpits,
and burrow fiercely.

Probably he meant nothing by that.
Or he meant it in cat-contrary,
just as he did not intend
drawing blood the day
he bolted out the door
and was wild again
for nearly three hours.
I could not catch him
until I knelt, wormed
into the crawl-space
under a neighbor house
and lured him home
with bits of dried fish.

Or he meant exactly what he smelled,
and smelled the future
as it transmogrified out of the past,
for he is, if not an olfactory
clairvoyant,
a highly nuanced cat—
an undoer of complicated knots,
who tricks cabinets,
who lives to upend tall
glasses of Merlot.
With his whole body,
he has censored the finest passages of Moby-Dick.
He has silenced Beethoven with one paw.
He has leapt three and a half feet
from the table by the wall
and pulled down
your favorite print by Miró.
He does not know the word no.

When you asked the vet what
kind of cat it was, she went
into the next room
came back and said,
“Havana Brown.”

The yellow eyes, the voice,
the live spirit that plays into dead seriousness
and will not be punished into goodness,
but no—

an ancient, nameless breed—

mink he says and I answer in cat.
Even if I was not
born in a dumpster
between a moldy cabbage
and an expired loaf of bread,
I too was rescued by an extravagant woman.

july 2/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

3 miles
railroad trestle turn around
73 degrees
humidity: 85%

Hot and humid and sticky and soaking. Had to stop and walk a little. Encountered the Daily Walker while I was walking and he called out, “it’s so humid!” Like yesterday, didn’t see the river. Too distracted by heat and sweat and my audio book, Dead Man’s Folly. The first Agatha Christie that I’m listening to that I don’t already know who did it. I have some ideas though….Anything else I remember from the run? Encountered a big group of camp kids biking somewhere–all single file on the bike path in their bright yellow vests. The other day, I encountered another group of camp kids biking. Not sure how old they were–maybe 10 or so? One of the kids called out to the other, “you’re a fucking asshole!” The swearing didn’t bother me, but it always sounds jarring to hear a young kid yelling those words. Why? Not totally sure. Anything else I remember? My left leg felt a bit tight or sore or something.

This poem! So delightful to read and listen to:

While Waiting for the Bus/Eliot Khalil Wilson

Under the eaves of the gas-mart—swallows
fall into the day, wheel before the headless
grooms of the formal wear shop, angle low
as my shoes, then comet up, sheer, careless
of traffic, all that is grounded or down.
A flight of leaf-blown cursives, blue coats
over dashing white, the red-rift of dawn
painted upon their crowns and busy throats.
I must learn to keep them with me, to hold,
somehow, their accomplished joy when I’m gone
to the city where I am mostly old
and their song, under the noise of hours, is done.
But now, auto exhaust cripples the air
as my grey somnambulant bus draws near.

Some things I love about this poem: swallows falling into the day, headless grooms of the formal wear shop, a flight of leaf-blown cursives, dawn painted upon, the noise of hours, auto exhaust crippling the air.

Also wanted to include a poem by William Carlos Williams. There’s a thing (is this called a meme?) on twitter right now in which poets finish the statement, “If I hit x number of followers this year, I’ll start a lit journal called …” I liked this one: If I hit 3,500 followers this year I’ll start a poetry journal called The Icebox Review which will exclusively publish parodies of “This Is Just to Say.” Of course, I had to look up the poem. It sounded familiar, but I wasn’t sure.

This Is Just To Say/William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

I like this poem but I’m not sure what makes it a poem, which seems to be my feeling about most of the poems I’ve read by Williams. Do I need to know it’s a poem to like it as a poem? I don’t think so. I just found a great anti-analysis to the poem on the great site, Eat This Poem: “THIS IS JUST TO SAY” BY WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS + INA’S PLUM TATIN I love this idea of resisting analysis while still deeply (critically and creatively) engaging with the poems. So delightfully undisciplined!

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back

swim: 1.35 miles
lake nokomis

What a wonderful swim (even if it was really crowded and the lifeguards were too close to the buoys)! Thing I remember most was the weird water and how it was cold then warm then cold again. Quick flashes of freezing water combined with luke warm bath water. I’ve experienced this before but never to this extreme. I think I preferred the cold water. I don’t mind swimming in cold water. I’d like to work on descriptions of this phenomenon. Maybe a whole poem?

The other thing I realized as I was focused on the buoy and almost ran into the lifeguard’s kayak: if I am focusing on one object, other objects disappear. It’s not just that I’m not paying attention to them so they seem like they’re not there. It’s that they literally aren’t there in my messed up vision with my chaotic cones and confused brain. I need to remember this and try to compensate for it, but it’s hard.

july 1/RUN

3 miles
river road path, north/south
70 degrees
humidity: 92%

Ran in the rain, or at least a drizzle that I hardly noticed because of all the sweat already on my skin. Felt pretty good for the first mile but then started to tire. Why is running so hard these days? Is it just the heat and the humidity? Am I running too fast? Listened to a birthday playlist from last year, so I hardly noticed anything. The tunnel of trees was dark and damp and green. I bet the parks department will be coming soon to trim back the vines. Pretty sure I didn’t even get a glimpse of the river. Too busy avoiding rain soaked branching blocking the path.