april 22/RUN

3.5 miles
2 trails + tunnel of trees
43 degrees
light rain / wind: 15 mph

Raining today. When it stopped, I headed out to the gorge. Within a few minutes: more rain. I could barely feel it. I was more bothered by the wind. Even that didn’t bother me that much. Everything was wet and dripping. I looked at the river, but I can’t remember what color it was or how the surface looked as the rain fell. I probably couldn’t have seen that anyway because I was too far away.

Heard lots of water rushing through the sewers in the street, then water falling from the sewer pipes in the ravines at 36th, 44th, and 42nd. Just after I turned around at the 44th street parking lot, I stopped at a bench overlooking the river. It was at a slight angle above the Winchell Trail and faced St. Paul, on the other side. Next month the view from this bench will only be green leaves, but today I could see the river (even if I don’t remember what it looked like), and the trail below, and the other side.

Didn’t see Dave the Daily Walker this morning, but I did say “good morning” to one walker, and then laughed in recognition when another walker said, “What is it? Hot or cold?”

Thinking about revising a haibun I wrote a few years ago and submitting it. Could I shape it into something that speaks to ideas of entanglement and nets and mutuality?

On the Dirt Path Near Folwell Avenue

Even if you try to time it just right, when you climb the steep, short hill up to the dirt packed path you cannot avoid the swarming swath of sex-crazed gnats or the little old lady slowly shuffling by, swinging her hiking poles, a voice TED-talking out of her phone’s speaker reminding you that this is why we are all here. Do not bother the bench resting on the rim of the gorge to ask what this is. If looking through the thickly thatched oak leaves to gather glimpses of the silvery river sparkling in the morning sun doesn’t already answer everything, the bench certainly won’t be able to help.

Bugs and old ladies
wake early in July but 
so does the river.

I think I especially need to rework the last sentence and the idea of what this is. Maybe also the haiku at the end? Looking through my pages documents, I found some notes I took while trying to figure out how to write about this encounter with the little old lady. The second paragraph reminds me of a great sentence I read in an article describing entanglement. Every organism is an ecosystem.

which reminds us why we are all here…

We are here. Me and joints and muscles and bones and ligaments and lungs. Us. me
and blood and cells and electrolytes and sweat and saliva. we. me
and hands and feet, a heart, two diseased eyes, a knee that displaces. we. me
worn out running shoes, threadbare worries. we. me
and those oak trees, that wrought iron fence, this rutted, dirt path, that short, steep hill. we. me river. that we are here with the old woman who slowly shuffles in her straw hat with her hiking poles and a voice that calls out from her radio speakers, “which reminds us why we are all here.”
here. above the river and the gorge and the floodplain forest, below the bike path and the road, the cars and the boulevard.
here. in this heat and humidity and haze. here. on a monday morning. here.

We are all here.

blood, sweat, saliva
inhaling exhaling lungs
lungs and heart and hands
diseased eyes, easily displaced kneecaps
feet, worn out running shoes, threadbare worries
Us. All. Here.
oak trees
wrought iron fence
rutted, rooted, packed dirt path
short, steep hill
an old woman slowly shuffling in a straw hat with hiking poles
Us. All. Here.
The river

I also found a few log entries mentioning her: july 23, 2019, august 5, 2019, and august 15, 2019

The mention of the phone TED-talking is a central aspect of my poem and its critique (of what? something about sound bites and the monstrous mixing of self-help and spirituality and capitalism and the idea of blasting these words on an early morning walk outside by the gorge) seems central to what I’m trying to say in this poem and how it fits with entanglement, especially as Anna Tsing describes it. Decided to do a search on the Poetry Foundation site for “ted talk.” Found this excellent poem:

ted talk/ JENNY ZHANG

money will build anywhere
there’s a view or a coastline
all those tangled shrubs and thorny bushes
your ancestors cut through centuries ago
to claim in the name of a queen
and a king with foul smelling hair
these days even the ecotone
between the living and the dying
has to be privatized & sold at auction
all the steps between next year
and the first human year ever recorded
melted so flagrantly it became stylish to be poetic
for the end of the world
everyone’s collecting coins on every interface
a thousand identical posts about 2019
being the year of paper straws
and reusable cups
indigo dyeing from Kyoto
is the new 36 hours in Tbilisi
all the people with phones
don’t think twice about buying onboard wifi
on their way to the latest Caribbean island
still recovering from last year’s hurricanes
would it be so wrong to wish
everyone with global entry be grounded
until extinction is off the table
I don’t think I can date another
digital nomad or a normie with a dog
who doesn’t know what it’s like
to be too poor to buy their way
out of disaster
why do the rich treat blame
like it’s obscenity
or a fossil
is it because they hate seeing blood
think they are noble for taking
quick little showers
and using silicone at the farmer’s market
I have never seen someone forgive themselves
as elaborately as the wealthy
everyone who paid for their wellness
is infecting the rest of us
yes I am sick sick sick
and want to sterilize all the ruinous overseers
though it is not like me to dream so much
I have managed to hoard something
that cannot be replicated
it will die when I die
let no one say we didn’t try
to let a different kind of  life bloom
and let no one say we didn’t touch
what was there from the beginning

Okay, I can’t resist. Searching through other results for TED talk, I found this excellent poem by the wonderful Ted Kooser. Most of the search results where poems by poets named Ted; I guess there aren’t a lot of poems about TED talks, or at least ones that made it into Poetry magazine. That’s a Ted talk I’d attend!

In the Basement of the Goodwill Store/ Ted Kooser

In musty light, in the thin brown air
of damp carpet, doll heads and rust,
beneath long rows of sharp footfalls
like nails in a lid, an old man stands
trying on glasses, lifting each pair
from the box like a glittering fish
and holding it up to the light
of a dirty bulb. Near him, a heap
of enameled pans as white as skulls
looms in the catacomb shadows,
and old toilets with dry red throats
cough up bouquets of curtain rods.

You’ve seen him somewhere before.
He’s wearing the green leisure suit
you threw out with the garbage,
and the Christmas tie you hated,
and the ventilated wingtip shoes
you found in your father’s closet
and wore as a joke. And the glasses
which finally fit him, through which
he looks to see you looking back—
two mirrors which flash and glance—
are those through which one day
you too will look down over the years,
when you have grown old and thin
and no longer particular,
and the things you once thought
you were rid of forever
have taken you back in their arms.

Oh, I love this poem. I’ve posted several others poems by Kooser. I think he recently died, which is a great loss. I read a thread on twitter last year — or the year before? — discussing what a generous mentor and person he was to so many.