trestle turn around
14 degrees/feels like -3/18 mph wind
First cold run of the season. It didn’t feel like -3 to me, but it still felt cold and difficult. Ran straight into the wind heading north. Wore too many layers–two pairs of running tights, two pairs of socks, gloves, mittens, two shirts, vest, jacket, buff, hat. Was sweating a lot by the end. Listened to a playlist. Saw 2 or 3 walkers and one runner. No squirrels or birds. Several planes in the sky. Maybe the outline of the moon. Hard to tell with the bright blue sky and my vision. Saw my shadow–she didn’t mind being out here. The walking path that winds through the tunnel of trees was covered in snow–not slippery at all. Too cold maybe? My third mile was 35 seconds faster. Thanks wind! (It was at my back, gently urging me along.) Walking before I started I took a deep breath–such wonderfully cold & fresh air! Read a twitter thread about using and or & in poetry. I like using & when I imagine that the two items being joined are partners or friends or a pair of co-conspirators or two halves of one particular whole or a comedy team/musical duo.
So many great things to read this morning before my run. In addition to the twitter thread about the ampersand, I read an excellent excerpt of Jane Alison’s book, Meander, Spiral, Explore: Design Pattern in Narrative in The Paris Review. She writes about using forms found in nature (rivers, spirals, twisted branches) to structure stories/narrative. I started thinking about seeps and springs and eroding limestone, twisted and gnarled branches, water slowly dripping out of the sewer drain, weathered tree trunks, mulching asphalt. What sorts of poems could I make from these forms?
Started the morning by reading a poem which plays with the different meanings of bluff–river bluff, to bluff. I’m going to spend some more time listing of the different meanings of bluff in this poem. How might it work for me to use gorge in a similar way?
Self-Portrait as a Series of Bluffs
Boys I loved to follow in the dark climb up
find me on that bluff above the river
muddy swirl sparked with stars I felt
something break apart my head saying
hang back they won’t love you like you love them
you’ll have to pedal home bewildered again
recall your icy chest how a startled dove
exploded out of the sleeve wind made of a shaken tree
when one of them leapt from so high up
you thought he’d die before he swam back to you
the bluff was that it happened that way the bluff
is that anytime I spat the word pussy
on the basketball court with those boys I wanted that
plosive sound on my tongue and nothing else
Born in a valley of bluffs,
I return to a bluff
cracked open by Union cannonballs,
called Red Paint Hill instead of Look at All This Blood;
bluff that accepted the wheels of a truck going over,
consumed by fire;
bluff overlooking a baptism,
the river that swallows a brief Hallelujah.
So I kept alive easy enough there in the smallness of wounds
I carried like everyone else and waited for nothing to change.
So I met a girl, got married and had kids and went with it until
something else broke or I did or it didn’t feel like love at all,
and by then it was too late. Stroll the baby, feed the horses,
lie down next to a woman estranged from all she wanted
because of me. Imagine it. Such a small house and no wish
fulfilled within it. I have regrets. To bluff: to say: to not.
Bluff meaning husband and forever;
bluff that hides a cave with a mattress inside
covered in lovesick graffiti,
where I reached for a boy’s hand then pulled back;
to bluff around the bush; to bluff up the wrong tree.
Eros an empty locker room.
Eros a jockstrap.
I lingered undressing
to be nearer to.
And afterward, the slick,
mystical with heat
held me there. Hang back.
with an end inside—
small-town fear. A boy
dragged behind a truck
was in the news.
I didn’t want to be the news.
Bluff no helicopter can reach when the suicidal leap,
posted with a sign: NO TRESPASSING;
bluff haunted even in daylight;
King’s Bluff, where I got laid, or said I got laid;
bluff of the tourism slogan “Gateway to the New South”;
bluff of the backward glance,
of our youth pastor saying I’ll jump (not a bluff).
This other misdirection—
I’ve slept my way into so many rooms.
Marriage den, motel of my affair.
And it was never about the greasy,
incessant need of two people
fucking only for lust.
When I felt alone, there was always
a man or woman ready
to deadbolt the door behind us
for an hour, to give or receive,
then leave with nothing.
Cherry pits, an empty bottle of wine.
Bluff where I lost my keys, my nerve;
bluff I carry like a nail in the roof of my mouth;
bluff that says This is all I want.
I walk in late winter
some unscripted ledge
leading down to the river.
Landscape as wish.
Look at the way the bluff
breaks and holds, like desire.
Look: no doves or boys,
only a hunk of rock
somebody gave a name
because they wanted a way back to it.