august 31/RUN

3 miles
austin, mn
61 degrees

Ran in Scott’s hometown. Here you can see a lot in 3 miles. Downtown, the fairgrounds, a creek, river, a few parks, the library, the almost built fitness center.

After seeing all the creepy, wonderful mannequins at the state fair last week, I’ve decided I want to write about them. For a few years now, Scott’s been taking pictures of them for me. Today’s mannequin is “sassy no arms”:

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Sassy No Arms.

A post shared by Scott Anderson đź“Ž (@room34) on

august 30/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
55 degrees

In the 50s. Yes! Love the cooler weather. Listened to my audio book–Agatha Christie’s Sad Cypress–and enjoyed feeling cooler and relaxed. I don’t remember much from the run. Didn’t see the Daily Walker or the river. Didn’t hear the clickity-clack of ski poles or the whirring of bike wheels. Lots of traffic backed up when someone was turning left and at the 4 way stop by the greenway. So nice to not be in one of those cars! Finishing the run I felt good. Not sore or tired just strong and excited about more fall and winter running.

august 28/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
60 degrees

Windy. Cool. Fall is coming, then winter and winter running! Very sad to be done with open water swimming but ready for routines and kids in school and cooler weather and layers and colorful leaves and creepy Halloween yards and cold clear air and no more itchy dogs. A good run this morning. My leg felt tight 2 miles in so I walked for a minute. Tried to look at the river but the one time I remembered, it was too hard to see. Smelled someone smoking pot below me in the gorge. Saw the man in black–not in black but in shorts. I recognized him by his extra long legs. No Daily Walker. No roller skiers. Not too many runners or walkers. No rowers or squirrels or soaring birds or shadows. I don’t remember seeing my shadow for a long time–where’d she go?

Just found this awesome video of Bruce Lee talking about being like water. Yes!

transcript (lines breaks by me)

Empty your mind. Be
formless shapeless
like water
now you put
water into a cup
it becomes the cup you put
water into a bottle
it becomes the bottle you put
it into a tea pot
it becomes the tea pot
now water can flow or it can
craaaaasshh
be water my friend

It’s interesting that the title of this video is “be as water” when Bruce Lee says be water. I like it better when it’s not a simile.

august 27/RUN

2.5 miles
two trails
59 degrees

Woke up too tired this morning. Running helped a lot. Windy and cooler. Starting at 8:15, there are lots of cars. Such a crowded parkway! A few runners, some bikers, at least 2 roller skiers. Listened to an audio book up above, the water coming out of the sewer below. At the first pipe, it was a quiet, steady stream. At the second, a little louder and faster. Thought about my breathing and locking it into a rhythm that would keep me steady. 1 2 3/45 up hill and 5 4 3/21 down hill then 1234/5678 Slowly, I’ve been working on poems that mimic my breathing while swimming and running.

This morning I read an essay by Jericho Brown in which he describes his invention of the duplex form. He writes:

I decided to call the form a duplex because something about its repetition and its couplets made me feel like it was a house with two addresses. It is, indeed, a mutt of a form as so many of us in this nation are only now empowered to live fully in all of our identities. I wanted to highlight the trouble of a wall between us who live within a single structure. What happens when that wall is up and what happens when we tear it down? How will we live together? Will we kill each other? Can we be more careful?

At the end of the essay, he lists the rules of the form:

Write a ghazal that is also a sonnet that is also a blues poem of 14 lines, giving each line 9 to 11 syllables.

The first line is echoed in the last line.

The second line of the poem should change our impression of the first line in an unexpected way.

The second line is echoed and becomes the third line.

The fourth line of the poem should change our impression of the third line in an unexpected way.

This continues until the penultimate line becomes the first line of the couplet that leads to the final (and first) line.

For the variations of repeated lines, it is useful to think of the a a’ b scheme of the blues form.

And here’s an example from his latest book, The Tradition:

JERICHO BROWN
DUPLEX (I BEGIN WITH LOVE)

I begin with love, hoping to end there.
I don’t want to leave a messy corpse.

   I don’t want to leave a messy corpse
   Full of medicines that turn in the sun.

Some of my medicines turn in the sun.
Some of us don’t need hell to be good.

   Those who need least, need hell to be good.
   What are the symptoms of your sickness?

Here is one symptom of my sickness:
Men who love me are men who miss me.

   Men who leave me are men who miss me
   In the dream where I am an island.

In the dream where I am an island,
I grow green with hope. I’d like to end there.

august 26/RUN

3.2 miles
trestle turn around
65 degrees

Cooler. Breezier. Overcast. Too many cars rushing past me on the road. Listened to my audio book for a while then took out my headphones. Played chicken with a woman running up by the lake street bridge. I was running to the right, furthest from zooming bikes that might be coming up the hill behind me, she was to the left, also hugging the rail. She wouldn’t move, probably because she was oblivious. I wouldn’t move either because I’m stubborn and need rules, like always stay to the right, because my eyes don’t always work and I can’t see if someone is coming. I was prepared to run into her if she didn’t move, which I recognize is somewhat ridiculous but I get really angry when people don’t pay attention in these simple ways. As someone who can’t always see, other people’s refusal to care can be dangerous. The good news: just a minute or two after that, I completely forgot about it and enjoyed the rest of my run. Didn’t stop to walk at all and looked at the river at least once, but forgot to check if there were any stacked stones on the big old boulder.

I love this poem. I love Maggie Smith. Her mix of joy and grief is so great. So much I love about this poem. Here’s a list:

  • the focus on lists and their connection to and
  • lists of not quite grievances, lists of things loved
  • describing a fear of death as not wanting to be in the dirt
  • the desire for two parts bees humming to one part bee sting
  • idea of repetitions and a workout
  • rhyming hum with tongue
  • the flow of the couplets

Let’s Not Begin/Maggie Smith

Let’s not begin the poem with and,
though it begins that way

in spirit: one in a long list of—
let’s not call them grievances.

I’m trying to love the world,
I am, but is it too much

to ask for two parts bees
vibrating their cups of pollen,

humming a perfect A note,
to one part sting?

Worry and console, worry
and console: it’s how I stay

in shape. See, I’m sweating.
Some nights my daughter cries,

I don’t want to be in the dirt,
and this is what I call a workout.

My heart’s galloping hell
and gone from the paddock—

I don’t want to be in the dirt
because I’ll miss you
—

and there’s no stopping me.
But let’s not end

with the heart as horse,
fear-lathered, spooked deaf.

I’m trying, I am, for her.
If I list everything I love

about the world, and if the list
is long and heavy enough,

I can lift it over and over—
repetitions, they’re called, reps—

to keep my heart on, to keep
the dirt off. Let’s begin

with bees, and the hum,
and the honey singing

on my tongue, and the child
sleeping at last, and, and, and—

august 25/RUN

3 miles
two trails

What do I remember from my run today? Noticed the water came out of the sewer pipe in quick bursts. No gurgling or gushing just spurting. Watched the river through the trees–beautiful. The leaning trunk was still there. Lots of bikers and runners. No roller skiers on the trail but one on the road, after I was finished. No rowers–why not? No huge groups of runners–the most I saw together was three.

Three Songs at the End of Summer
Jane Kenyon – 1947-1995

A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority.

Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils.

Across the lake the campers have learned
to water-ski. They have, or they haven’t.
Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone
suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”

Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod
brighten the margins of the woods.

Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.

*

The cicada’s dry monotony breaks
over me. The days are bright
and free, bright and free.

Then why did I cry today
for an hour, with my whole
body, the way babies cry?

*

A white, indifferent morning sky,
and a crow, hectoring from its nest
high in the hemlock, a nest as big
as a laundry basket….
In my childhood
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.

The damp dirt road gave off
this same complex organic scent.

I had the new books—words, numbers,
and operations with numbers I did not
comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.

Spruce, inadequate, and alien
I stood at the side of the road.
It was the only life I had.

This poem! I’ve read it before but I don’t think I’ve posted it here. I would love to write an homage (poem or lyric essay) to this. Maybe tomorrow? Love so much about this poem. Right now: Across the lake the campers have learned/ to water-ski. They have, or they haven’t.

august 23/RUN

2.5 miles
two trails

A nice morning. Listened to my playlist up above and felt fast. Listened to the gorge on the lower trail. The river was glowing through the trees. I think the tree trunk was still leaning by the 38th street steps, but I can’t quite remember. Surely I would have noticed if it were gone?

august 22/RUNSWIM

3 miles
trestle turn around
63 degrees

Brand new too white running shoes this morning. My favorites: Saucony Grid Cohesions. Started on version 4 (I think), am now on 11. Cheap and dependable. Thought about upgrading but I’m too frugal. Also, when I buy expensive shoes, I feel pressure for them to be perfect–they better be, if I spend $120 on them, I think. Usually this ends with me wearing shoes that don’t quite work for too long because I spent so much money on them. So inexpensive grid cohesions it is. They worked well today.

Started with an audio book but decided to turn it off and listen to my feet striking the ground–was I plodding too much? Also got to hear the intense, quiet rush of traffic as people hurrying off to work. Chanted some three syllable words, mostly strawberry and raspberry. Didn’t look at the river even once. Barely noticed the lake street bridge or the overlook above the rowing club or the railroad trestle. I guess I was thinking too much about the run and how my legs were sore. I do remember looking to see if anyone was sleeping behind the bench, near the bridge. Sometimes people do in the summer. One time I saw someone sleeping on the hard, uneven paving stones under the bridge. Ouch. Encountered some walkers, no regulars. No Daily Walker. No roller skiers or rollerbladers. Any other runners? At least one, running much faster than me.

I like the form of this poem and how each stanza ends with an introduction to the next stanza. I want to experiment with it.

SEEK
by Sophia Holtz

the moon is a cataract that can’t see rats
chewing bone-filled trash, the satellites
passing above us making maps
of everything we touch. a machine

recognizes a human face, I forget
everyone’s names, & somewhere
a man is making a list of threats
he’s calling law. sometimes while I walk

I look for places where I could hide
because once or twice in my life
a man has tried to follow me home.
certain games are practical,

the way animals gnaw on what’s inedible
so they’ll become better knives.
at work, the children are playing
in an open space, all of them hiding

behind a trashcan, the game more ritual
than search, but it also reminds me
of towns likely burned to the ground
before they were emptied, or at the very least

erased from the map. if you’re small
your best trick is to become invisible.
even insects know this: how many
generations for a moth to resemble lichen.

swim: 1.7 miles
cedar lake

The final open swim of the season. As always, it’s difficult to believe that another year is done. A beautiful evening, a beautiful lake. So pleased that I was able to swim five days in a row. Breathed every five and five/six/five. Heard some planes, felt lots of scratchy, sharp water weeds. Checked out the opposite shore–I think it’s hidden beach. Really nice.

august 21/RUN

2.2 miles
lake harriet

Ran this morning around lake harriet with Scott while our son was taking his 2nd of 3 behind the wheel driving lessons. So great! The water was still, glass-like. Near where all the boats are docked (would you call this a marina?), the water was smooth for 10-15 meters, then suddenly rippled. What was causing this? Noticed a beach with a big swimming area that I’ll have to try out next week before the lake closes for the season. After we finished, had breakfast at Bread and Pickle, something I wanted to do for a few years. Heard a kid jubilantly call out, “I just saw a fish! A Northern Pike! Right there! Right there!” Such wonderful enthusiasm. O, to be so unabashed in my joy! A goal for this year. I’m tired of cynicism and swallowing the quirky joy I have for so many small and random things like garden gnomes and undulating waves and bright, glowing green running shoes!

Halos/ed bok lee

Blood vessels are invading
both corneas, crowding
the sclera, says my opthamologist.

Not an emergency yet, but
just be aware and get proper rest. I ask
about laser surgery and he sighs; confesses

when his own eyes are shot, he’ll
surgically insert acrylic lenses.
Two slits, no stitches, fifteen minutes.

With lasers, you’ll still need
readers and eye drops. On my walk
home, I take off

my glasses to receive the breeze.
I like that any nearing face
is surely smiling, gorgeous;

each blurry body’s aura numinous:
style of not style, racially
ambitious, a glob, pure

spectral inchoesion. Aren’t we all
just masses of energy and light
approaching or leaving

one another in the jumbled
future or past; sometimes stop-
ping to embrace

for a moment or decades,
before passing
way too far for sight?

That visual impairment improves hearing,
tast, smell, touch is mostly myth.
With it, however, I can detect

fuzzy spirits exiting buildings;
halos about bikers’ helmets;
each streetlamp another pink-orange dawn.

You should see the full moon
spanning half the skyline.
I don’t mind opening a book

like a pewter Rorschach test,
or waking up each morning
inside a fish tank of dream.

I like, whenever I wish, strolling past
the myopic me
in a window or mirror or whatever

reflects back to believe the soul is
ubiquitous like water
in our voices, our cells.

How else, when blinded by life,
would I remember:
to the dead, we’re the ghosts?

This poem captures so much of what I’ve been feeling about my vision and the magic of seeing differently–out of focus, fuzzy. Often, I like the strangeness of my sight; everything is more beautiful. I was mentioning to Scott the other day that I see things through a soft filter, like the one they used for filming Barbara Walters on The View. But even as I love the soft, generous way my vision enables me to see the world, sometimes, it’s exhausting, overwhelming. Walking around the Mall of America the other day, I was unable to see the hard edged outlines of peoples’ moving bodies. Difficult to navigate. Entering a store, I couldn’t immediately read the signs to orient myself, everything just out of focus.

swim: 1.5 miles
cedar lake

This final week of getting to swim every day is wonderful. Cedar Lake is the best. Looked it up and discovered that at its deepest point, it’s 88 feet. On average, it’s 37 feet. Cool. Felt strong and fast swimming today. More choppy water. More people to pass. As I neared the buoys, it always felt like I was swimming in place or swimming away from the buoy. A bit disorienting. I think there was a current that was pushing both me and the buoy away from each other–is that possible? Discovered an easy way to sight the shore that is invisible in the blinding sun: there’s a clear break in the trees that I can see no matter how bright and shiny everything else is. Breathed every five, then five/six/five. Took a few short breaks at the end of a loop but mostly swam non-stop. I wish there was another month of this swimming–hard to wait until next June for it to happen again.

august 20/RUNSWIM

3 miles
two trails

Another good run. Down below, on the way back north on the lower trail, I noticed how the first sewer drain I ran by vigorously trickled while the second one sporadically gushed. Heard a bird making the classic bird call through the trees, deep in the gorge, that I imagine when I think of a bird chirping in a forest. So bird. Didn’t take the steps at 38th street again and planned to continue on to the gravel hill just past the social justice keys but took a wrong turn at the fork in the trail and ended up climbing sooner, conveniently right by the water fountain at the 36th street parking lot.

Yesterday I posted a poem with a wonderful use of the word O. (O, to take what we love inside/to carry within us an orchard, to eat/not only the skin, but the shade,/not only the sugar, but the days, to hold/the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into/the round jubilance of peach.) So when I saw a poem that takes on the O even more, I wanted to post it. I love the unbridled enthusiasm of an O! (and of the exclamation mark!!)

O, She Says
BY HAILEY LEITHAUSER

O, she says (because she loves to say O),
O to this cloud-break that ravels the night,
O to this moon, its mouthful of sorrow,
O shallow grass and the nettle burr’s bite,

O to heart’s flare, its wobbly satellite,
O step after step in stumbling tempo,
O owl in oak, O rout of black bat flight,
(O moaned in Attic and Esperanto)

O covetous tongue, O fat fandango,
O gnat tango in the hot, ochered light,
O wind whirred leaves in subtle inferno,
O flexing of sea, O stars bolted tight,

O ludicrous swoon, O blind hindsight,
O torching of bridges and blood boiled white,
O sparrow and arrow and hell below,
O, she says, because she loves to say O.

swim: 1.3 miles
cedar lake

Another great swim! I am really enjoying how much smaller cedar lake is. I heard someone say a loop is 600 yards. It’s easier to swim longer and farther and faster. The water was choppy again, which is great. I love battling the waves. I had no problem swimming straight today and had fun passing people.