july 11/RUN

3.15 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees
humidity: 81%/ dew point: 65

Thunderstorm early this morning then sun and humidity. I’m pretty sure the Olympian Carrie Tollefeson passed me right before the lake street bridge. Very cool. Heard some black capped chickadees. Ran up 43rd ave then down 32nd st to the river so I was able to run right by the aspen eyes. Didn’t hear any rowers or see the river or any “regulars,” like the Daily Walker or last year’s man in black or the tall, slim, older man in the running shorts. I don’t see any regulars this year. Strange and sad.

Recited the first half of Maria Howe’s “The Meadow” — a poem I memorized 3 years ago when I was injured but have mostly forgotten. I had been planning to memorize Wordsworth’s “I wander lonely as a cloud” but it seemed too cheesy or sing song-y or poem-y (whatever that means). I think I’ll wait to memorize his snowflake this next winter instead.

The Meadow/ Marie Howe (first half)

As we walk into words that have waited for us to enter them, so
the meadow, muddy with dreams, is gathering itself together

and trying, with difficulty, to remember how to make wildflowers.
Imperceptibly heaving with the old impatience, it knows

for certain that two horses walk upon it, weary of hay.
The horses, sway-backed and self important, cannot design

how the small white pony mysteriously escapes the fence everyday.
This is the miracle just beyond their heavy-headed grasp,

and they turn from his nuzzling with irritation. Everything
is crying out. Two crows, rising from the hill, fight

and caw-cry in mid-flight, then fall and light on the meadow grass
bewildered by their weight. A dozen wasps drone, tiny prop planes

sputtering into a field a farmer has not yet plowed,
and what I thought was a phone, turned down and ringing,

is the knock of a woodpecker for food or warning, I can’t say.
I want to add my cry to those who would speak for the sound alone.

On my walk home after I finished, I recorded myself reciting this first half. A few wrong words or forgotten phrases. I love the line, “this is the miracle just beyond their heavy-headed grasp” and the pleasing rhymes in “two crows fight and caw-cry mid-flight, then fall and light on the meadow grass”

The Meadow, first half, July 11

Discovered Antonio Machado, a Spanish poet who lived from 1875-1939, and his delightful “Proverbs and Canticles” yesterday. Here are a few:

canticle: a hymn or chant, typically with a bible verse


The mode of dialogue, my friends,
is first to question:
then . . . attend.


The poets does not pursue
the fundamental I
but the essential you.


In writing verses, seek
to give them a double light: one
to read square by, one oblique.

july 10/RUN

4.15 miles
the falls and back
70 degrees
humidity: 73%/ dew point: 60

Slightly cooler this morning with a lower dew point. Still felt hot. Sweat a lot. Ran south on the river road and around the falls. Heard them roaring as I rounded the corner. Managed to catch a few glimpses of the blue of the river. Otherwise, lots of green. It feels like mid-summer. Encountered many bikers and runners and walkers. One biker was playing Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville,” which sounds distorted–thanks to the steel drums–even when you aren’t getting the doppler effect. Strange. I am sure I heard many birds, but I don’t remember. I do recall hearing one biker say to the other, “They should have told people that wearing a mask helps protect you not other people, then everyone would wear a mask. That’s sad.”

I have completely memorized Billy Collins’ poem about memorizing Donne’s The Sun Rising, but I’ve soured a bit on the poem after seeing a tweet about what a creep Collins is and reading his poem about undressing Emily Dickinson. So gross. Instead of reciting “Memorizing,” I tried to work my way through my list. I recited “Auto-lullaby,” then “It’s all I have to bring today” and “Swept All Visible Signs Away.” Couldn’t remember what was next on my list–I thought it was “Lovesong for the Square Root of Negative One,” which it was, but got side-tracked by the effort of running and avoiding others on the road.

What are Poems?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what poems are to me. Here’s a list of a few things:

  • spells
  • chants
  • charms
  • balms
  • prayers
  • doors/windows
  • ways in/ways out
  • trails
  • alleluias/thanks/praise
  • wonders
  • bewilderments
  • breaths
  • tracks across the snow
  • a ripple in the river, troubling the too-calm water
  • an opportunity to slow down, ruminate
  • an invitation to attend something

Last week, I planned to memorize a series of poems about eyes and vision. Somehow, I’ve been side-tracked. I’m thinking of memorizing Wordsworth’s classic about the daffodils. Other poems I’m considering instead of or after that one:

  • Dorothy Wordsworth/ Jennifer Chang
  • The Art/ Elizabeth Bishop
  • Question/ May Swenson
  • The Meadow/ Marie Howe
  • Hamlet’s soliloquy, “to be or not to be…”

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud / WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

july 8/RUN

2.75 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, north/river road, south/edmund, south
77 degrees
humidity: 80%/ dew point: 70

If you would have told me last year that I’d be regularly running in dew points of 70 or so, I wouldn’t have believed you. But, the dew point has been 70 (highest was 75) for the past 2 weeks (well, one day it was 69), and I have run every day. Ran by the aspen eyes, under the lake street bridge, up the hill, then back down it. Encountered lots of runners, bikers, walkers. Crowded this morning. Remember hearing at least one black capped chickadee. At the start of my run I encountered several annoyingly spazzy squirrels, darting in front of me. There was a big cf on edmund–one person on the sidewalk, one person in the road, another person with a dog on the other side of the road. Had to run up someone’s grass to keep my distance. Didn’t see the river or hear any rowers.

As I ran, I recited “Memorizing ‘The Sun Rising'”/ Billy Collins. Yesterday, I recited the first half, today the whole thing. Didn’t think about the meaning of any of the lines, just tried to make sure I got the words right. Favorite stanza today?

So it’s not until leaving the house
and walking three times around this hidden lake
that the poem showed
any interest in walking by my side.

I like the idea of the poem deciding whether or not it wants to spend time with the person memorizing/reciting it. I also like how the line is walking three times around this hidden lake instead of walking around this hidden lake three times.

The line I probably struggled with the most was, “better than the courteous dominion.” I couldn’t remember courteous or dominion; my mind was blank. I remember this happening as I ran and fumbling around for many seconds trying to think of what the phrase was. All of sudden it came to me like a flash or an image that, even as I stare intently and it’s right in front of me, I can’t see it at all until suddenly I can. How strange and marvelous the brain is to magically retrieve words! A few hours after returning from my run, I sat down and recorded myself reciting the poem. A bit rough, as I struggled with a few lines. I managed to record myself struggling and then successfully remembering the courteous dominion line.

Memorizing “The Sun Rising” by John Donne, July 8

I’d like to figure out a metaphor or simile for that moment of remembering. In “Memorizing” Billy Collins describes the act of forgetting — “begin to fade like sky-written letters on a windy day”– and having forgotten — “a blown-out candle now, a wavering line of acrid smoke” — but he doesn’t have a equivalent one for remembering. I suppose he does have one for fully remembering and taking in the poem: “after hours of stepping up and down the poem,/testing the plank of every line,/it goes with me now, contracted into a little spot within.” But this doesn’t quite get at the revelatory moment of remembering. I’ll work on it some more. I wonder if I can find some other poems that express it?

july 7/RUN

2.5 miles
45th ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, north/river road, south/38th st, west/ river road, north
75 degrees
humidity: 86%/ dew point: 71

Very hot! Not much shade. Uncomfortable. Thought about running 3 miles but decided 2.5 was enough. Ran past the aspen eyes. Heard “Devil Went Down to Georgia” blasting out of a bike’s speakers. Sweet. Pretty cool doppler effect after they passed by me. Sounded like the music was melting. Tried to get a glimpse of the river through the gap in the trees, but the green was too thick. Don’t remember any bugs. Almost thought I saw the Daily Walker but it was someone jogging, not walking. Saw a roller skiing family–an adult and a few kids of different ages.

Recited the first four stanzas of the Billy Collins’ poem I’m memorizing (which is a quick break from my current theme on eyes):

Every reader loves how he tells off
the sun, shouting busy old fool
into the English skies even though they were
likely not cloudy on that seventeenth century morning.

And it’s a pleasure to spend this sunny day
pacing the carpet and repeating the words,
feeling the syllables lock into rows
until I can stand and declare,
the book held closed by my side,
that hours, days, and months are but the rags of time.

And after a few steps into the stanza number two,
wherein the sun is blinded by his mistress’s eyes,
I can feel the first one begin to fade
like sky-written letters on a windy day

And by the time I have taken in the third,
the second one is likewise gone, a blown out candle now,
a wavering line of acrid smoke.

I found it difficult to stay focused on the poem because I was hot and sweaty but I managed to recite it all at least once. I like the line about the syllables locking into rows. I also like how he incorporates lines from Dunne’s poem into his own. He describes his forgetting of lines as “sky- written letters on a windy day” and “a blown out candle, wavering line of acrid smoke.” Is that how it feels to me when I cannot remember a line? I’m not sure.

Holy shit this poem is amazing! Found it this morning on poem of the day on poets.org:

Nothing/ Krysten Hill

I ask a student how I can help her. Nothing is on her paper.
It’s been that way for thirty-five minutes. She has a headache. 
She asks to leave early. Maybe I asked the wrong question. 
I’ve always been dumb with questions. When I hurt, 
I too have a hard time accepting advice or gentleness.
I owe for an education that hurt, and collectors call my mama’s house. 
I do nothing about my unpaid bills as if that will help. 
I do nothing about the mold on my ceiling, and it spreads. 
I do nothing about the cat’s litter box, and she pisses on my new bath mat. 
Nothing isn’t an absence. Silence isn’t nothing. I told a woman I loved her, 
and she never talked to me again. I told my mama a man hurt me,
and her hard silence told me to keep my story to myself. 
Nothing is full of something, a mass that grows where you cut at it. 
I’ve lost three aunts when white doctors told them the thing they felt 
was nothing. My aunt said nothing when it clawed at her breathing.
I sat in a room while it killed her. I am afraid when nothing keeps me 
in bed for days. I imagine what my beautiful aunts are becoming 
underground, and I cry for them in my sleep where no one can see. 
Nothing is in my bedroom, but I smell my aunt’s perfume 
and wake to my name called from nowhere. I never looked 
into a sky and said it was empty. Maybe that’s why I imagine a god 
up there to fill what seems unimaginable. Some days, I want to live 
inside the words more than my own black body. 
When the white man shoves me so that he can get on the bus first, 
when he says I am nothing but fits it inside a word, and no one stops him, 
I wear a bruise in the morning where he touched me before I was born. 
My mama’s shame spreads inside me. I’ve heard her say 
there was nothing in a grocery store she could afford. I’ve heard her tell 
the landlord she had nothing to her name. There was nothing I could do 
for the young black woman that disappeared on her way to campus. 
They found her purse and her phone, but nothing led them to her. 
Nobody was there to hold Renisha McBride’s hand 
when she was scared of dying. I worry poems are nothing against it. 
My mama said that if I became a poet or a teacher, I’d make nothing, but 
I’ve thrown words like rocks and hit something in a room when I aimed 
for a window. One student says when he writes, it feels 
like nothing can stop him, and his laugher unlocks a door. He invites me 
into his living.

This entire poem is wonderful. Right now, thinking about why one writes/what poetry is, I’m struck by her final lines: “I’ve thrown words like rocks and hit something in a room when I/aimed/for a window” and “when he writes, it feels/like nothing can stop him and his laughter unlocks/a door. He invites/me/into his living.” Wow. Words as rocks, writing as a freedom and a liberated laugh that can unlock a door.

july 6/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
77 degrees
humidity: 90%/ dew point: 71

And yet another hot morning. Had to wait a few hours until the thunder storms stopped. Not much shade, several annoying groups of walkers taking up almost the entire road. For a long stretch at the beginning, I was able to run right above the river on the trail. It almost felt normal. A wall of green made it nearly impossible to see the river but near 38th street, where some steps wind down to the part of the Winchell Trail that’s paved, I saw it! Blue, beautiful. I miss water–seeing it, swimming in it, hearing it.

Lots of puddles on the path. Not much dripping from the trees, already evaporating in the hot air. Tried reciting “Before I got my eye put out” again but it was too hot. Also tried “Love Song of the Square root of Negative One”– “I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves/ tremble but I am invisible, bloom without flower, knot/ without rope, song without throat in wingless flight, dark/ boat in the dark night, pure velocity.” I love this poem and I love reciting it even as I still don’t understand it. Would it make more sense in the context of the whole collection? I’d like to buy this collection, War of the Foxes. I do know that the square root of negative one is an imaginary number and so I wonder if this is a love song to the imagination, which makes the leaves tremble while still being invisible? I’m not sure it needs to make sense; it’s fun to memorize and recite. Such great flow and rhythms.

This morning, I found a great article from the New Yorker on Why We Should Memorize poems. Here’s one reason the author gives:

The best argument for verse memorization may be that it provides us with knowledge of a qualitatively and physiologically different variety: you take the poem inside you, into your brain chemistry if not your blood, and you know it at a deeper, bodily level than if you simply read it off a screen. Robson puts the point succinctly: “If we do not learn by heart, the heart does not feel the rhythms of poetry as echoes or variations of its own insistent beat.”

Then, while looking up the term “ars poetica,” I found this wonderful poem about memorizing a poem:

Memorizing “The Sun Rising” by John Donne/ BILLY COLLINS

Every reader loves the way he tells off 
the sun, shouting busy old fool 
into the English skies even though they 
were likely cloudy on that seventeenth-century morning.

And it’s a pleasure to spend this sunny day
pacing the carpet and repeating the words, 
feeling the syllables lock into rows
until I can stand and declare, 
the book held closed by my side,
that hours, days, and months are but the rags of time.

But after a few steps into stanza number two,
wherein the sun is blinded by his mistress’s eyes, 
I can feel the first one begin to fade 
like sky-written letters on a windy day.

And by the time I have taken in the third, 
the second is likewise gone, a blown-out candle now,
a wavering line of acrid smoke.

So it’s not until I leave the house
and walk three times around this hidden lake
that the poem begins to show
any interest in walking by my side.

Then, after my circling,
better than the courteous dominion 
of her being all states and him all princes, 

better than love’s power to shrink
the wide world to the size of a bedchamber, 

and better even than the compression
of all that into the rooms of these three stanzas
is how, after hours stepping up and down the poem,
testing the plank of every line,
it goes with me now, contracted into a little spot within.

I’d like to memorize this poem, I think. So I can spend more time with it, figuring out my favorite lines and what works, what doesn’t. In addition to his great lines about the process of memorizing the poem– “after hours of steeping up and down the poem,/ testing the plank of every line,/ it goes with me now, contracted into a little spot within”– I love how it engages with Dunne’s poem, weaving it into his own lines. I’d like to do something like this with Mary Oliver’s poem, “Invitation.”

july 5/RUN

3 miles
47th ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, north/river road, south/38th st, west/edmund, north
76% degrees
humidity: 86%/ dew point: 69

Another hot, still, sunny morning. I was able to run right above the river for a small stretch. I saw a few streaks of blue and heard the rowers! Well, just the coxswain speaking into the bullhorn in a deep, creaking voice. Not too long after that, I heard the clickity-clacks of some roller skiers. Very exciting–it almost felt like summer. (Any other summer, I’d be at open swim right now on this perfect-for-swimming day, but I’m trying not to think about that. Too sad.)

Recited “Before I got my eye put out” for another day and thought about this stanza:

So, safer — guess — with just my soul,
Opon the window pane
Where other creatures put their eyes
Incautious of the Sun —

Sometimes I am very sensitive to bright light, but much less lately, it seems. Does that mean my vision is getting worse? It’s hard to tell because I adjust to things gradually and without much effort. Like, reading. Now I mostly listen to audiobooks, with the occasional ebook. I started the one physical book I am reading, Love in the Time of Cholera, way back in March. So far, I have read about 200 pages of it in 3 1/2 months. The good thing about this gradual shift is that I don’t feel like I’ve lost something. When I can no longer see the words–when and if that happens–I won’t be reading books anymore anyway. Ah, the wonder of the body/self and their ability to accommodate!

I have more to say about this stanza involving too-muchness, safety, the need for caution, the dangers of being too cautious, what it might mean to have your soul (and why just your soul) on the window pane, but I couldn’t put all the ideas into words yet.

Came across this wonderful little poem the other day:

Ars Poetica/ Aracelis Girmay

May the poems be
the little snail’s trail.

Everywhere I go,
every inch: quiet record

of the foot’s silver prayer.
             I lived once.
             Thank you. 
             I was here.

I love this poem and its definition of poetry. The foot’s silver prayer — Wow! I’m thinking about Mary Oliver and her poems as little alleluia on the page, breathing and giving thanks.

july 4/RUN

3.25 miles
ford bridge and back
78 degrees
humidity: 80%/ dew point: 71

So hot! Humid! Thought I might have trouble breathing but it wasn’t too bad. Lots of shade and lots of people– running packs, bikers, walkers. Ran south on the river road towards the falls, turning around just past the ford bridge. Saw the river once or twice. Also saw a black nondescript bird flying high in the sky and 2 bikers in long pants–in this heat!? Recited “Before I got my eye put out” again. I was hoping to reflect on the meaning of some of the phrases but it was too hot for that.

Right after finishing my run, I did a recording:

Before I got my eye put out, July 4

My favorite stanza today:

The Meadows — mine —
The Mountains — mine —
The Forests — Stintless Stars —
And all of noon that I could take
Between my finite eyes

And my favorite parts about that stanza? The slant rhyme between Stars and eyes, the rhythm of “and all of noon that I could take” and the idea of taking in as much of noon as my eyes could allow–although I’m not sure I’d pick noon, too bright and severe, I’d take dawn instead. But, I like the sound of noon with its long os better than the shorter aw of dawn.

Last year I created a cento out of poems I memorized. I used most of this stanza in one of the sections:

I’m Not Asking for Much/ Sara Lynne Puotinen


I’m not asking for much
A white, indifferent morning sky
Unsentimental sleet
A lamentation of geese
Less hatred strutting the streets
To feel a little less, know a little more
Enough jam jars to can this summer sky at night
A way out, the one dappled way, back
Paradise, all glam-glow, all twinkle and gold

The Meadows – mine –
The Mountains – mine –
All Forests – Stintless stars –
As much of noon, as I could take
Gorged, engorging, and gorgeous.

The theme of this series of poems on vision that I’m memorizing is: Loving Eye/Arrogant Eye. The idea of owning the meadows or mountains, forests, stintless stars seems arrogant to me–to possess/own/have something through a glance. I like the idea of the soul upon the window pane, feeling/experiencing/taking in the view instead (loving perception). The idea of the power of the glance to own/control/possess reminds me of another poem I picked in this series. I was planning to recite it later, but I think I should do it next.

Natural Forces/ Vicente Huidobro

One glance
to shoot down the albatross

Two glances
to hold back the landscape
at the river´s edge

Three glances
to turn the girl
into a kite

Four glances
to hold down the train
that falls into the abyss

Five glances
to relight the stars
blown out by the hurricane

Six glances
to prevent the birth
of the aquatic child

Seven glances
to prolong the life
of the bride

Eight glances
to turn the sea
into sky

Nine glances
to make the trees of the wood

Ten glances
to see the beauty that shows up
between a dream and a catastrophe

july 3/RUN

2.5 miles
a different loop
76 degrees
humidity: 76%/ dew point: 70

More heat. More humidity. More sticky air. Still, I didn’t mind the run although I was glad to be done after 2.5 miles. Don’t remember hearing any birds or seeing the river. Saw a few big groups of runners, some roller skiers, lots of bikers, walkers, dogs. No woodpeckers or black-capped chickadees. Recited the new poem I memorized yesterday: Before I Got My Eye Put Out/Emily Dickinson

Before I got my eye put out
I liked as well to see
As other creatures that have eyes —
And know no other way —

But were it told to me, Today,
That I might have the Sky
For mine–I tell you that my Heart
Would split, for size of me —

The Meadows — mine —
The Mountains — mine —
All Forests — Stintless Stars —
And as much of noon, as I could take —
Between my finite eyes —

The Motions of the dipping Birds —
The Morning’s Amber Road —
For mine — to look at when I liked,
The news would strike me dead —

So better — guess — with just my soul
Opon the window pane
Where other creatures put their eyes
Incautious of the Sun —

Reciting the poem I was struck by how rhythmic it is until the line “for size of me.” Almost as if to demonstrate the line just before, “my Heart would split.” The beat stops (or is split open) and it’s awkward and difficult to fit into the rhythm. I like Dickinson’s slant rhymes and her refusal to let the reader continue on in a happy flow. Reviewing the poem, double-checking capitalizations and punctuation, I just noticed how even though she capitalizes many things like, Heart, Today, Sky, she doesn’t capitalize soul or eye.

On my walk back, I recorded myself reciting. Needs more practice:

Before I Got My Eye Put Out, July 3

july 2/RUN

2.5 miles
a figure 8 + extra*
77 degrees
humidity: 90%/ dew point: 75

*43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, south/33rd st, west/edmund, south/river road, south/38th st, west/edmund, north/river road, north/river road, south

Same temperature as yesterday but higher dew point and sun. Hot. Managed to recite all of the bird poems in my head as I ran. Pretty cool. Made sure to check out the aspen eyes as I ran by them. Was able to run in the shade for more than half of the run. Wanted to find a sprinkler to run under up on edmund, but the only one on wasn’t watering the street or the sidewalk today. Encountered a few other runners, walkers, 1–or was it 2?–roller skiers, bikers. Didn’t see the river. Felt strong and relaxed until around a mile and a half when I started feeling the heat. I remember hearing a black capped chickadee right before I left the house but not near the gorge. I am sure there were many birds chirping away as I ran but I don’t remember hearing them. Also don’t remember what I thought about.

black capped chickadee

This is my bird of the summer. I hear it all the time. Last night, sitting on the deck with Scott, I heard it call, “chickadeedeedeedee” right before it landed in the tree above my head. Usually, I struggle to see these small birds, but I was able to see this one. Nice!

The World Has Need of You/ Ellen Bass

everything here
seems to need us

Rainer Maria Rilke

I can hardly imagine it
as I walk to the lighthouse, feeling the ancient
prayer of my arms swinging
in counterpoint to my feet.
Here I am, suspended
between the sidewalk and twilight,
the sky dimming so fast it seems alive.
What if you felt the invisible
tug between you and everything?
A boy on a bicycle rides by,
his white shirt open, flaring
behind him like wings.
It’s a hard time to be human. We know too much
and too little. Does the breeze need us?
The cliffs? The gulls?
If you’ve managed to do one good thing,
the ocean doesn’t care.
But when Newton’s apple fell toward the earth,
the earth, ever so slightly, fell
toward the apple.

O, this poem from Bass’s collection Like a Beggar! I love how she describes walking as “the ancient/prayer of my arms swinging/in counterpoint to my feet” and being “suspended between the sidewalk and twilight.” Invisible tug is great too–another IT acronym. And, “we know too much/and too little” seems like a great theme for a set of poems to memorize.

The line, “If you’ve managed to do one good thing,/the ocean doesn’t care” reminds me of this Mary Oliver poem, which has a slightly different meaning but still speaks to the wonderful indifference of the water:

I Go Down To The Shore/ Mary Oliver

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall–
what should I do? And the seas says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

july 1/RUN

2.4 miles
river road, south/north
77 degrees
humidity: 80%/ dew point: 72

Hot today. No sun. Oppressively green. Decided to do a short run with headphones. Listened to Lorde and Beck and can’t remember who else. Saw some runners, walkers, bikers. No river views. No bird songs. No Daily Walker or the tall octogenarian in his running shorts, walking the trail. As I ran down the hill above the tunnel of trees glanced down–a thick blanket of dark green. It would probably be fine to run in that tunnel, even if I encountered someone; it seems like the real risk is being inside with other people. Still, I’m not planning to run it anytime soon.

Finished my third plague notebook–a black medium sized Field Notes notebook. These notebooks are a mix between my own notes/thoughts + quotations from books I’m reading + poems I’m liking. A commonplace book or M Foucault’s huponemata. I’d like to scan the notebooks and put them online but that seems pretty tedious and challenging for me, with my questionable vision.

Found this interesting one word image poem the other day by Aram Saroyan:

Very cool, although difficult for me to see, with my weak central vision. Makes me think of my Snellen Chart poems. I would still like to try and publish my chapbook–when I cannot see straight, I will see sideways.

update, 14 april 2024: Yesterday I mentioned this eyeye poem to Scott and when he asked what it meant, I had an answer, but not one that I was completely satisfied with. So I looked through my notes and found an article that I had archived about one-word poems and Saroyan. This bit seems helpful in understanding the poem:

Saroyan’s isolation of the single word had powerful effects: It denarrativized and decontextualized language, and it placed the word, typically a noun, in stark relief. In a letter which accompanied the poem, Saroyan wrote to artist Vito Acconci in September 1967 that

“I’ve discovered that the best work I can do now is to collect single words that happen to strike me and to type each one out in the center of a page. The one word isn’t “mine” but the one word in the center of the page is. Electric poems I call them (in case anyone starts throwing Concrete at me)—meaning that isolated of the reading process—or that process rendered by the isolation instant—each single word is structure as “instant, simultaneous, and multiple” as electricity and/or the Present. In effect the single word is a new reading process; like electricity—instant and continuous.”

Aram Saroyan and the Art of the One Word Poem/ Paul Stephens

Saroyan also did this poem, which I encountered on twitter about a year or two ago:

The eye word poem is also a play on a palindrome.


  • eye
  • eve
  • madam
  • tot
  • poop
  • refer
  • racecar
  • level
  • kayak
  • never odd or even
  • Madam, I’m Adam
  • Do geese see god?
  • Sara’s or Saras

In looking up palindromes (I was having trouble figuring out my own), I discovered this delightful variation: semordnilap. A word that spells another word backwards.

  • stressed (desserts)
  • dog (god)