sept 30/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
57 degrees

Today is the 13th anniversary of my mom’s death. Last night, my second mom (always more than a mother-in-law) died. Cancer killed both of them too soon. Here’s how I’d like to remember them, together, laughing:

A beautiful fall morning. Lots of yellows and reds and even some orange. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker with a hi! instead of a good morning Dave! Thought about my right knee and hoped it would be okay — I took an extra day off because it was a little sore/swollen. It seems okay. Whew! Did I think much about grief? Not sure. I heard some strange birds, or were they cranking squirrels? I couldn’t tell. Don’t think I looked at the river even once. Didn’t hear any rowers or roller skiers. No fat tires. No walnuts or acorns or epiphanies. Just a nice 30 minute release from sadness and fatigue and worry about having to tell RJP when she comes home this afternoon.

sept 27/RUN

5.5 miles
ford loop
48 degrees

Today, it feels like fall. Wore my running tights under my shorts.

My right knee is a bit sore. It didn’t hurt while I was running, just after, when I was walking. Now, as I write this, I’m icing it.

Windy. Hissing trees. Running across the ford bridge, the wind was blowing off of the river, making my ponytail and pink jacket flap furiously. The water had strange streaks on it — how was the wind making that happen?

Noticed some crows and lots of construction everywhere. They’re redoing all the sidewalks in the neighborhood. Heard some woodpeckers, drumming on trees. Heard a jackhammer across the river and thought about how it sounded like the woodpeckers. Greeted Mr. Walker and Mr. Morning! Overheard some women say something about listening to a podcast.

leaf watch, 2022

A few bright red trees, some yellow. Still well below peak.

Anything else? Heard the St. Thomas bells chime 10 times. Noticed my shadow above shadow falls. Enjoyed the sensation of running over the dirt — the shshsh sound and the soft slide of my feet as the lifted off the gritty ground.

Here are two poems I recently found on twitter, one about love, the other beauty:

I’ve Been Thinking about Love Again/ Vievee Francis

Those who live to have it and
those who live to give it.

Of course there are those for whom both are true,
but never in the same measure.

Those who have it to give are
like cardinals in the snow. So easy
and beautifully lit. Some
are rabbits. Hard to see
except for those who would prey upon them:
all that softness and quaking and blood.

Those who want it
cannot be satisfied. Eagle-eyed and such talons,
any furred thing will do. So easy
to rip out a heart when it is throbbing so hard.

I wander out into the winter.
I know what I am.

A page from Frank: Sonnets/ Diane Seuss

Sometimes I can’t feel it, what some call

beauty. I can see it, I swear, the conifers

and fat bees, ferns like church fans and then

the sea, its flatness as if pressed by stones

like witches were, the dark sand ridged

by tides, strewn with body parts, claws,

the stranded mesoglea of the moon jellyfish,

transparent blob, brainless, enlightened in its clarity.

I stand there, I walk the shore at low tide, the sky

fearless, not open to me, just open, there it is,

the wind, cold, surf’s boom drowning out

thought, I can photograph it, I can name it

beautiful, but feel it, I don’t know that I am

feeling it, when I drown in it, maybe then.

note: more info on mesoglea and the moon jellyfish

sept 25/RUN

3.1 miles
turkey hollow
57 degrees

Another beautiful fall morning. Listened to Bruno Mars and didn’t think about anything, or didn’t hold onto anything that I thought about. Didn’t see any turkeys or greet anyone. No view of the river — well, I think I might have seen it shimmering through the trees at one point, but it was far off, on the other side of the river road, so I can’t be sure. Forgot to notice the color of the trees or look for acorns or walnuts or squirrels.

Found this Niedecker poem on twitter the other day. I love her poetry.

Along the River/ Lorine Niedecker

Along the river
        wild sunflowers
over my head
        the dead
who gave me life
        give me this
our relative the air
our rich friend

Trying to find out more about this poem, I discovered that it was turned to a song (at least I think this is the same poem; it’s difficult to understand the lyrics):

sept 24/RUN

4.4 miles
st. thomas loop*
57 degrees / humidity: 88%

*a new loop! 43rd ave, north/31st st, east/46th ave, north/lake street, east/lake street bridge/up marshall hill/cleveland, south/summit ave, west/east river road, south/lake street bridge/west river road, south/stop at ancient boulder

A grayish-white, or white-ish gray?, morning. Cool, not crisp but damp. Lots of leaves on the ground. Lots of gold in the trees — more gold than red or orange. No rowers on the river, but at least one or two roller skiers on the path. I felt good.

Recited Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Spring and Fall” and Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” as I ran. I struggle with the rhythm in Hopkins’ third and fourth lines:

Leaves, the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

I don’t remember anything else I thought about. What did I think about? I’m happy to lose some thoughts and some time.

A quote from the wonderful Pádraig Ó Tuama about poetry:

A little block of letters in the middle of a blank page can open up windows into your world, and offer help, insight, company, spaciousness, reflection, and solidarity. In solitude we can appreciate a deeper solitude. In need we can approach company.” —Pádraig Ó Tuama


And, some more regular questions to ask ourselves that I want to add to my undisciplined site:

What are we pretending not to know today?” —Toni Cade Bambara What are we pretending not to see? What have we pretended not to see for a long, long time?

Deborah E. McDowell

sept 22/RUN

3.1 miles
2 trails
55 degrees

Fall leaves fall! More color, more leaves on the ground, more cool air. Ran south on the river road trail to the southern start of the Winchell Trail. Was almost hit by at least 2 bicycles — bikers biking on the walking path. Didn’t yell, but cried out, Watch out! to one person and exclaimed, Jesus! or Christ! or Jeez! beside another.

Didn’t see any squirrels or almost trip over any acorns. No clicks or clacks from roller skiers’ poles. No fat tires or honking geese. No territorial turkeys — I love how htis sounds! I want to write something that uses this phrase! No rowers or chapel bells. Not a single good morning.

I did hear some kids playing at a school playground. And jackhammers across the road. A weedwacker trimming the hillside. 2 guys talking — I tried to hang onto what the one guy said, but now I can’t remember.

As I was walking back after my run, I tried to recite Hopkin’s “Spring and Fall” and Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” I missed a few lines; time to memorize them again!

I think I found this pithy poem on twitter this morning:

Fall/ Ed Ochester

Crows, crows, crows, crows
then the slow flapaway over the hill
and the dead oak is naked

I don’t remember hearing any crows before/during/after my run today.

sept 21/RUN

5.75 miles
franklin loop
60 degrees

A beautiful morning for a run! Cooler, leaves scattered on the ground, more reds and oranges and yellows. Started slow and intended on staying slow, but looking at my splits after the run, I noticed I negative split each mile. Ran the franklin loop — north on franklin, over the bridge, south on the east river road, past the lake street bridge, up the hill beside my favorite viewing spot, then back down the hill to the bridge. I walked up the steps and on the bridge until I reached the overlook. Stopped to study the river, then put in Renaissance and ran all the way back.

To keep myself distracted, or focused on something other than my effort, I chanted triple berries. Strawberry/raspberry/blueberry/blackberry/gooseberry

Also thought about a poem I’m revising and the idea of learning to hold contradictions together without resolving or reducing them. In the case of this poem, it’s about both having great affection for the other swimmers in the lake with me because we all love the lake and being irritated by how they get in my way or kick me or push me off course. I can’t remember much of what I thought — something about other contradictions, lik how we always hold joy and suffering together too, and about the need to find balance with these contradictions.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the welcoming oaks are still green and full
  2. a few rips in the veil of green that hides the river below the tunnel of trees
  3. minneapolis parks worker was weedwacking near the lake street bridge. all the goldenrod poking through the rails and leaning over the trail is gone, so are the red leaves
  4. gusts and swells of wind, sounding like water falling from the limestone ledges
  5. evidence: the voice of a kid, then an adult and an empty bike with a kids’ seat in the back parked in the bike rack…assumption: there’s a kid somewhere nearby with his mom exploring the gorge, never verified
  6. passing a man with a “sporty” walker (its wheels looked like they were more rugged and ready to go fast) just before getting to the franklin bridge
  7. greeted Dave, the Daily Walker and Mr. Morning! Also passed a guy that I’m pretty sure used to walk on the track at the YWCA everytime I ran there. I think I’ll call him, Mr. Y
  8. water (not wind, I think?) falling off the ledge near the Meeker Dog Park — is there a way to get to this seep/falls?
  9. a bright red tree just below the railing at my favorite viewing spot above the lake street bridge
  10. the river! blue with slight ripples from the wind that were moving towards the middle of the river, streaks — from the sandbars? — were visible too. At the overlook, a little over halfway across, the river was split in 2. One side was sparkling and shimmering from the sun, the other side was almost flat. Up above, the sky was streaked with shreds of clouds; it looked almost like a mirror of the ripples in the water

Autumn/ Linda Pastan

I want to mention
summer ending
without meaning the death
of somebody loved

or even the death
of the trees.
Today in the market
I heard a mother say

Look at the pumpkins,
it’s finally autumn!
And the child didn’t think
of the death of her mother

which is due before her own
but tasted the sound
of the words on her clumsy tongue:
pumpkin; autumn.

Let the eye enlarge
with all it beholds.
I want to celebrate
color, how one red leaf

flickers like a match
held to a dry branch,
and the whole world goes up
in orange and gold.

Ever since I read Vertical by Linda Pastan, I have loved her poetry. This poem — “Autumn” — adds to that love. Some years, like this one, it’s harder not to think about death in the fall. Maybe I’ll try repeating pumpkin and autumn over and over.

addendum (17 feb 2023): For the month of Feb 2023, I’m spending time with Linda Pastan. While watching one of her readings on YouTube, she mentioned that this poem was for Jane Kenyon and in response to Kenyon’s poem, Let Evening Come:

Let Evening Come/ Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

sept 20/RUNswim*

*Yesterday afternoon, RJP, Scott and I drove by Lake Nokomis and noticed the buoys were still up. Since it was going to be warm today, I decided I’d swim one last time this morning. Arrived at the beach at 9:30 am. No buoys. This is not the first time this has happened. Oh well. I ran instead and then waded into the water at the end to cool down. I don’t like big goodbyes with grand gestures, so I was fine with not being able to make this the final swim. I like ending things when there’s still the possibility that it could keep going. When open swim ended, I could think, I can bike over to the lake and do a few loops until they take down the buoys. By the time it’s actually over, I’ve already been acting as if it’s over for a while.

2.5 miles
around lake nokomis
75 degrees

I haven’t run around the lake for many months. I can’t even remember the last time I did it. It was very hot, but nice. I like how they’ve been working on restoring the wetlands and the shoreline. More wildflowers. Running over the cedar bridge, I looked across the beautiful water. Ah, Lake Nokomis, I’ll miss you this winter!

10 Things I Noticed

  1. some very noisy crows
  2. a honking/moaning goose on the other shore — I think it was in the water and not up in the air
  3. a plane roaring over my head as I ran across the cedar bridge
  4. no buoys at the little beach, workers re-tarring spots on the bike trail
  5. 2 older men sitting and chatting at a picnic table near the bike racks just before the little beach
  6. an empty dock
  7. lots of people walking with dogs
  8. more walkers than runners
  9. after my run, wading in the water, just past my knees — brr! the water was cold
  10. seagulls strutting around on the sand

Glaucoma/ Charlene Fix

What my eyes see reminds me of under-exposed
negatives from my bygone wet photography days,
days replete with eyes—the camera’s, the enlarger’s, mine—
when I failed to admit sufficient light to the film,
resulting in negatives so thin that, held aslant,
they looked like printed pictures. Thin, yet yielding
tender images, the sweet round faces of children
rising and blooming in the developer tray as if

pulled from the photo paper’s fertile heart as it sloshed and sang
for an allotted time in nether clouds of liquid vapor,
images startling with the beauty of their truths.
Then into the final tray, a bath transforming love
and sight to artifact, though faint the accretion,
fragile memory made lasting with the help of chemical tears.

This is not what my eyes see but I appreciate the description. I’d like to return to this poem and think about how my experience differs.

After the run, while doing the dishes, I listened to an Ali on the Run podcast episode with Deena Kastor. Here’s a bit of it that I’d like to remember:

Ali: How do you keep going when a race isn’t going your way?

Deena: I think we always have the opportunity to talk ourselves out of something, or talk ourselves into something. And I feel, time and time again, how I am so suprised at how, when I talk myself into something, how it can get the job done. You can rely on excuses and feel okay with those excuses, but when you shove those excuses aside and you just convince yourself that one more step is the right thing to do, it’s amazing how we can accomplish something.

I am good at talking myself out of things and having excuses/rational and reasonable explanations for why I’m not doing something. Sometimes this is okay, but…I’m finding myself saying no too often. I wouldn’t call it giving up, instead, I think of it as a narrowing of my world/options, a shutting of doors and foreclosing of possibilities. Lately, I’ve given myself a goal: keep the door open. Don’t do things/make choices that close the door. It reminds me of a line from Ron Padgett’s great poem “How to Be Perfect“:

Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don’t do
anything to make it impossible.

addendum, a few hours later: Reading through swimming entries from this summer, I came across this Ron Padgett line on August 5th. I was talking about the lyrics from the Mary Poppins’ song, “Anything Can Happen.”

sept 19/RUN

4.6 miles
to longfellow gardes and the falls
60 degrees / humidity: 90%

A nice run. Calm, quiet, not too warm. I was surprised to see that the humidity was 90%; it didn’t feel that humid. Ran south on the river road trail, past the falls, under to mustache bridge, near the old statue of Longfellow (is it Longfellow, or someone else? I can’t remember now) and over to Longfellow Gardens. Beautiful fall flowers. My favorites: purple cylinder-shaped ones and some bright pink ones that almost looked like zinnias but not quite. I stopped to walk through the flowers and noticed about a dozen people with cameras — a class? a photography group?

The falls were almost completely dry. Running on the path above then, close to the road, I heard a voice call out, echo! echo! Maybe someone walked on the dry creek to under the bridge?

Running south: no headphones
Running after the falls: playlist, Bruno Mars

10 Things I Noticed

  1. no water in the creek, just rocks
  2. clear, cloudless, bright blue sky
  3. the faint outline of the moon
  4. the dribble dribble sound of water trickling down the limestone in the park
  5. the recently re-paved (2 or 3 years ago?) path below the mustache bridge is already puckering in places — what causes that?
  6. a woman speaking to another woman while walking near the falls, It’s beautiful! She’s lucky to live here.
  7. more slashes of red and orange, no slashes of yellow — yellow comes in splotches, not slashes, I think
  8. the smallest sliver of sparkling river through the trees
  9. all the benches were empty
  10. lots of construction sounds on edmund, near Dowling Elementary — jack hammers, rumbling bobcats

Here’s a poem I found on twitter this morning. I’d like to read more of Swenson’s work.

The River/ Cole Swenson

It is a rare night
down along the river,
a sheet of glass repeating
“I am water.”
The lights upon it
do not dance, but strike
and go down forever.
This river has forgotten
the way to the sea,
it will wander the earth
like a liquid sleepwalker
stopping people on the street
and asking, “have I arrived?”

sept 18/RUN

4.6 miles
franklin bridge and back
64 degrees / humidity: 87%

note: as I write this entry, at my desk in the front, a fly keeps dive-bombing me. I think it might be the same fly that harassed me early this morning while I was drinking my coffee. Argh!

Dark this morning. Looked like it might rain; it didn’t. This sort of light makes everything look even darker and dreamier to me. Ran north on the river road trail to just under the Franklin Bridge. Stopped to walk back up the half of franklin hill that was left. Put in Renaissance and ran south. The trail was crowded, but not too irritating. Saw evidence of rowers — walking up from the rowing club — but no voices down below or shells in the water. Encountered a few roller skiers. I don’t think I heard their poles clacking at all. Heard some shrieking blue jays. No geese. No big running groups. No Dave, the Daily Walker or Mr. Morning. I did cross paths with Daddy Long Legs,

leaf watch, fall 2022

Some golden trees between franklin and seabury — I think Scott’s favorite tree might have turned yellow. More slashes of red and orange. Things are speeding up now. Full color by the beginning of October?

image of the day

I think I’ve mentioned this image sometime in the past — heading up the second half of the franklin hill, the stretch after the bridge but before the top, the trees on either side frame the sky in such a way that it looks like the shape of the Mississippi River. Very cool to see and to imagine everything upside down, with the sky as river, the ground as sky.

The fly continues to bother me. Bzzzzzz….bzz..bzz..bzzzzzzzzzz

Speaking of a fly, it’s hard to believe that I haven’t posted this ED poem before — update, 9 jan 2023: I did post it already. On march 15, 2021.

I heard a Fly buzz — when I died / Emily Dickinson

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –

With a loved one nearing death and the 13th anniversary of my beloved mom’s death at the end of the month and falling leaves and winter coming, I’m thinking about transformation and decay and things passing away. Speaking of decay, I saw a tweet a few days ago about IDK and how it both stands for I Don’t Know and I Decay.

sept 17/RUN

3.5 miles
marshall loop to cleveland*
67 degrees / humidity: 84%

*Ran up Marshall and kept going past Cretin to Cleveland. Ran south on Cleveland to Summit, then west to the river road. I met up with Scott at the bridge and walked the rest of the way. If I had kept running, the loop would have been over 5 miles — also, I ran to the lake st bridge through the neighborhood. If I had taken the river road trail from the beginning, it might have added a little more distance.

Ran after it rained. Lots of dripping. Humid. I’m pretty sure I have only run up to Cleveland one other time. I liked it. You run right next to the St. Thomas campus, which is beautiful.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. ran by Bethleham Lutheran and saw a sign for their 100th anniversary — all are welcome!
  2. the sidewalk on 46th near lake street is dug up. I had to run in the street for a block
  3. running past a house, hearing one sharp bark
  4. rowers on the river! one shell, 8 rowers, 2 of them in bright green shirts
  5. a small, bright orange tree
  6. passed 2 women on summit and said, good morning! they replied, morning!
  7. encountered a runner at the bottom of the hill, past shadow falls — she called out, morning, I replied, good morning!
  8. a steady stream of runners climbing the hill near the Monument
  9. the clock at St. Thomas chiming as I neared the bridge — 9:45, maybe?
  10. a car passing by, making some noise — was it the rumbling of their wheels crunching some acorns, or music from their radio? I couldn’t tell

leaf watch, fall 2022

Starting to see more color. A few orange trees, some slashes of red, a yellow glow.

Reading the draft of my new poem to Scott last night, he commented on how I pronounce the word hull: whole. It’s your semi-southern accent, he said. And then, you should put that in a poem. Yes, I do have a semi-southern accent, having lived for 5 years in North Carolina, ages 4-9, and southern Virginia, age 10. And I think I know which poem to put it in. It’s called “A Bridge of Saras” and it imagines over 40 different Saras, at different ages, all swimming in the lake together.

sept 16/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
66 degrees / drizzle

Checked the weather app on my watch: 0% chance of rain. Ha! A few minutes in, a few drops, then a soft, steady drizzle for the rest of the run. Who cares? I barely felt it, or could barely tell the difference between drops of rain and drops of sweat.

Ran to the falls. No roar or rush, just a trickle. I doubt this short rain will help.

Stopped to look at the falls at my favorite spot, near the former fountain where Longellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” is etched into the stone wall. The falls were hidden behind green. Instead, I noticed a few dartig birds. I think they were blue — blue is a very difficult color for me to see.

Started running again while listening to Renaissance.

quick life update for future Sara to remember: with very little warning, trying to figure out nursing homes and finances for elderly parents. A kid who is struggling with anxiety and depression and high school (which are connected but not necessarily in a causal way) — not wanting to go to school, but also not wanting to miss out.

sept 14/RUN

5.6 miles
the flats and back
62 degrees / humidity: 80%

Fall running. Still wearing my summer attire — shorts and a tank top — but it felt cooler, easier. I ran 3 miles, all the way down the franklin hill and into the flats, then turned around at the steps. Ran below, right by the river, on the uneven path until I reached 3.3 miles. Walked up about half of the hill. Put in Beyoncé’s Renaissance and ran most of the way back.

Fairly early into the run, I realized that my eyes were drawn to things in the bottom of my periphery. All things on the ground: changing leaves, bright blue tarps, wildflowers.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a green glow
  2. slashes of red near my feet
  3. the strong smell of urine at a spot somewhere between the franklin and lake st bridges
  4. a big white tarp next the trash can near the WPA sign and the lake street bridge
  5. more goldenrod
  6. a lone goose up in the sky, honking
  7. an old car, puttering behind me, sounding like a rickity bike. I thought it was a bike, until it passed me
  8. Mr. Unicycle! As I neared the franklin hill, I saw him powering up the hill on his one-wheeled bike
  9. a runner ahead of me, running on the white line that divides the bike and walking paths. 2 fast bikers, speeding down the hill, swerving wide to avoid him
  10. 4 or 5 stones stacked on the ancient boulder. The top one bigger than the rest — nice balance!
a big boulder with several small stones stacked on it. The top stone, much bigger than the one just beneath it.
5, or is just 4?, stones stacked on the ancient boulder.

It’s not that much cooler than some summer days. And, I’m wearing my summer running stuff. Yet, you can tell fall is almost here (or is already here?). How? What makes the difference? I love this poem by W.S. Merwin that I first posted a few years ago for giving some answers:

To the Light of September/ W.S. Merwin

When you are already here
you appear to be only
a name that tells of you
whether you are present or not

and for now it seems as though
you are still summer
still the high familiar
endless summer
yet with a glint
of bronze in the chill mornings
and the late yellow petals
of the mullein fluttering
on the stalks that lean
over their broken
shadows across the cracked ground

but they all know
that you have come
the seed heads of the sage
the whispering birds
with nowhere to hide you
to keep you for later

who fly with them

you who are neither
before nor after
you who arrive
with blue plums
that have fallen through the night

perfect in the dew

Looked up mullein. It grows in Minnesota. Have I seen it? Possibly, I can’t quite tell.

a possible exercise: Go out for a run in early fall, when it still seems like summer. How do you know fall is coming/here?

  • quality of the light, a softer glow
  • slashes of red
  • kids biking to school
  • goldenrod
  • busy squirrels
  • geese

I feel a little stuck on the poem about my love of choppy water and the fun of punching the waves that I’ve been working on, without much progress, for the last week. Why do I like doing this? It’s not out of agression or frustration or grief. I’m not trying to hurt myself or break something. It’s about using/working my body, testing my strength, spending some energy. During the run, I had a thought: it’s not an expression of power, but of belief — belief in strong shoulders and my ability to hit a wall and not fall. Later, after I turned on the music, the song “Energy,” came on. Listening to the lyrics, I thought about how energy fits in with punching waves. I decided that when I got back from my run, I’d look up the lyrics and think about them some more. Beyoncé’s energy is a bit different than mine, but it is helping me to think more broadly about what the term could mean.

Energy/ Beyoncé

On stage rockin’, I’m stir crazy
Coco flow like 1980s
Come, let’s tell a drop lazy
None of that maybe energy (nah)
Just vibe
Votin’ out forty-five
Don’t get outta line (yeah)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Pick a side
Only double lines we cross is dollar signs (yeah)
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh (hold up)
Wait, I hear you just got paid
Make it rain energy
She more Cancun, he more St. Tropez
Big wave in the room, the crowd gon’ move
Look around everybody on mute
Look around it’s me and my crew
Big energy
He was on stop mode, got froze
Froze front page Vogue, no pose
Chat too much, full clip unload
That’s that Kodak energy
Yeah, yeah
Gold links, raw denim
You know that we do it grande
You know that I’m gon’ be extra
When that camera go pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop
Keep ’em waitin’ like dot-dot-dot-dot-dot-dot
Ooh, la, la, la
That’s the way them boys sound when I walk through the block-block-block
Then I Uzi that doozy, shot-shot-shot
We was chillin’, mindin’ our business
Poppin’ our pain and champagne through the ceiling
Sippin’ it up, flickin’ it up
All this good energy got you all in your feelings, feelings
I’m crazy, I’m swearin’
I’m darin’, your man starin’
I just entered the country with Derringers
‘Cause them Karens just turned into terrorists
You was on stop mode, got froze
Froze front page Vogue, no pose
Chat too much, full clip unload
That’s that Kodak energy (go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go)
Energy (go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go)
Yeah, yeah

no maybe energy, vital, alive, extra, not frozen or stopped, less talk more action

sept 12/RUN

4.25 miles
ford bridge + turkey hollow
57 degrees

A fine fall morning. For most of the run, I didn’t listen to anything — not sure I remember any sounds from the gorge. For the last mile, I put in headphones and listened to Taylor Swift’s 1989. My knees ache a little, not like they’re injured, just sore from use. Could it partly be because of slightly cooler weather?

10 Things I Noticed

  1. 2 bikers on the road near the start of my run — 1 adult, 1 kid. My guess: a kid biking to Dowling Elementary School with his dad
  2. running above the oak savanna, a green glow as the sun streamed through the leaves of the trees lining the trail
  3. the ravine near the double bridge looked extra leafy and green
  4. the river, viewed from the ford bridge on the downtown side, was a beautiful blue and empty
  5. the sidewalk at the end of the bridge was under construction. Right now, it’s all dirt
  6. a few kids skating at the new skate park on the land that was the site of the ford plant
  7. the river, viewed from the ford bridge on the locks and dam no. 1 side, was still and high? — I couldn’t quite tell, but it looked like it had partly flooded the small island in the middle
  8. the locks and dam no. 1 is closed — carp invasion, I think. I didn’t see/hear the gushing water down the conrete apron
  9. no turkeys in turkey hollow
  10. no roller skiers or loud birds or darting squirrels or rowers or fat tires

a new regular

For a few months, I’ve noticed an older white man with white hair and a white beard (at least, I think he has a beard), using a walker when I run south on the river road. Sometimes he’s using the walker to help him walk pretty swiftly along the trail, and sometimes he’s using it as a chair. Today, we was sitting. We greeted each other as I ran by. He’s a friendly guy. It makes me happy to see him out there, continuing to walk with a walker, enjoying the beautiful trail. I think I’ll call him Mr. Walker.

I tried to think about my latest poem, but I got too distracted, I guess. No new words or ideas.

Here’s another poem from Tanis Rideout’s Arguments with the Lake. O, her last verse!

excerpt from Shirley As Drowned Ophelia/ Tanis Rideout

Though in the Lake are visions — submerged forests
of blossoming myriophyllum. I was cuaght
half-remembered in early morning darkness and a web of pondweed
that withered all when fathers died.

O, the Lake. The only thing that kept me afloat
was what I thought was on the other side.

sept 11/RUN

3 miles
marshall loop
53 degrees

Perfect running weather! Cooler, calmer, sunny. Ran through the neighborhood, over the lake street bridge, up marshall, across Cretin, then down the east river road. As I entered the river road, a never-ending line of bikes. 50? 100? They weren’t tightly packed, like in a peleton, just stretched out all the way down the hill.

As I ran, I thought about my latest poem. I’m still trying to find the right words to express why I sometimes like punching waves during open swim. At some point during the run, I came up with some lines — something about a wave crashing over my head, being emptied of air, my thoughts shattered then scattered. (emptied of air, the thoughts knocked out of me.) These lines about thoughts being shattered got me thinking about the pure physicality of swimming straight into the waves and how I’m always trying to find ways to stop thinking and theorizing and worrying. When I was done with my run, I recorded some thoughts:

running notes / 11 sept

When I got home, I thought more about the last bit of my recording, when I talked about swimming without thinking, knowing innately how best to stroke, and I wrote in by Plague Notebook: doing, not being. Pure verb or all verb or (just?) Verb. I want to bring in this idea of becoming verb somewhere in the poem.

I think my love of punching water has something to do with reconciling, or navigating, the split between mind and body, which is something I’ve thought about (and lived) throughout my life. How to be both a mind and a body, finding ways to rethink the relationship between them.

Here are 2 related passages from Alice Oswald in her Between the Covers interview that are inspiring me right now:

I sometimes wonder whether I’m a very keen swimmer, and whether for me, poetry is equivalent to swimming. I’ve often noticed when I swim, the strangeness of the way the body literally turns into a fish, but the head remains human and rather cold, and looking around at this strange flat reflective surface. I’m often very piercingly aware of the difference between my head and my body when I’m swimming because I’m not necessarily someone who goes underwater, I love swimming along the surface of rivers. Perhaps, my poems do feel a need to convey that continued separation of the head remaining human and the body becoming animal, or plant, or mineral, or whatever it can be. In some way, I suppose I’m trying to find rhythms that will heal that divide.

I think that’s exactly it, that we seem to exist as bodies and minds. That’s always slightly troubled me that I can’t quite make them be the same thing. I always have two narratives going on and it’s extraordinary the way the mind is floating around seemingly quite untethered and yet the body has all these laws like gravity, and limit, and size, and hunger, that it’s obeying. How those two interact and how they come to define what it is to be human is again—I’m wary of using the verb think because I don’t think poetry is necessarily about thinking—but it gets hold of questions, and reveals them as questions, and then reveals what’s underneath them, and then what’s underneath that. I suppose each book tries to peel away a layer of that problem and present it again.

Between the Covers interview with Alice Oswald

sept 9/RUN

5.25 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
64 degrees / drizzle

Rain today. On and off. When I started, it wasn’t raining, but in the middle of my run, drizzle. It was hard to tell because I was sweating and wearing a baseball cap. A good run. I was overdressed, with my pink jacket on. When I got to the bottom of the Franklin hill, I took it off and wrapped it around my waist.

Running down the hill I chanted,

Here I go
down the hill
Here I go
down the hill
Here I go
down the hill
Watch me fly!

Listened to all the sounds in the gorge running north, a Bruno Mars Apple Essential playlist on the return trip south.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a stinky sewer smell — not near the ravine, but down in the tunnel of trees
  2. a tower of stacked stones on the ancient boulder
  3. the coxswain instructing the rowers
  4. a rushing sound — either the wind through the leaves or water sprinkling out of the seeps and springs and sewer pipes
  5. so much goldenrod this year! golden yellow flowers everywhere. I wonder if that’s what’s causing Delia the dog’s itchiness?
  6. the leaves are starting to turn, mostly yellow, a few streaks of red
  7. park workers in their orange vests, their truck parked on the path — trimming trees?
  8. such an intense smell of pot as I ran by the lake street bridge porta potty
  9. the smell of cigarette smoke below the franklin st bridge
  10. I think the river was more brown than blue and it was gently moving

In the fall of 2018 (thanks past Sara for writing the date in the front of the book!), I bought Tanis Rideout’s book of poems, Arguments with the Lake. Working on my latest poem, about fighting with the lake, I decided to revisit it. Here’s one of the poems:

Shirley, Midlake/ Tanis Rideout

Hearts are bred to beat one billion times in an elephant
or in a mouse — mathematically simple difference of beats
per minute. Unlucky us with two billion more, slowed
by the hibernetic slumber of escape or blessedly sped by panic,
pain, a six a.m. jog around the block turning, always turning,
clockwise. By love, by sex. By want. So simple to be a fish.

I’m always giving it away. With each stroke, flutter, catch, kick
and the surging need to inhale, inhale, inhale, like I’ve never
taken a breath before.

The lake tries to soothe and slow, creeps cold into core, slips
into the sheltered bays of lungs, the hidden rivers around the heart.
It’s a fair exchange — beats per pleasure. For pain. Each of us is allotted
the strikes of the heart. I’m using mine, arguing with the Lake.

sept 8/RUN

2.5 miles
2 trails
80 degrees / wind gusts, 26 mph
11:00 am

Too windy for a swim at the lake, so I ran instead. Who has seen the wind?/ Neither I nor you:/ But when the leaves hang trembling/the leaves are pasing through. Hot! Heard a few black capped chickadees singing the feebee song and was reminded of the creepy theme from The Shining. Listening to the theme later, I don’t quite hear the connection. What I remember most from the run was feeling warm. I also remember thinking about the latest poem I’m working on and trying to work through where to go next. I stopped at the dirt trail near Folwell, after the short, steep hill and before the paved trail returns below, to record some thoughts. And I remember that when I stopped, I noticed a very small, square plaque at the bottom of the bench.

a small plaque at the bottom of a bench. The inscription reads: "WWDD - contemplation station for the fearless and free"
close-up of plaque on bench near Folwell
a bench facing trees and the river with a small plaque on it, near the ground
Rachel Dow Memorial Bench

I have run by this bench hundreds of times, stopped and sat once or twice, even wrote about it, but I’ve never noticed this small plaque on it. How did I see it today? I love these little surprises, just waiting to be found! I had no idea what this plaque meant — WWDD? I looked it up and found a facebook page for the Rachel Dow Memorial. Wow. She was loved by so many. I read a little about her life — a passionate, social justice minded, free-spirit — and her death — she fell through the ice at the river and died of hypothermia. Maybe I’ll write a poem about her and the others I’ve found through their plaques. All of them share with me a deep love for this river. And maybe one day, I’ll have a plaque there too.

Here’s a draft of the poem I’m working on right now. The inspiration for it: a few entries in which I describe how I love choppy water and punching the waves; the idea that lake swimming differs from sea, river, and pool swimming; and the line about two story rollers in the poem, Wave After Wave.

Untitled Poem About Punching Waves/ Sara Puotinen

Listen pal, this isn’t
the sea. Hell, this isn’t
even a proper
lake. Just a dredged out
cranberry marsh with
an average depth of
fifteen feet. And those
aren’t waves. No big rollers.
No white horses
thundering to shore.
Nothing pulling you
under, dragging you
down. Still, people drown
here and when water
meets a strong wind, which
happens more often
these days, it’s ready
for a fight. Me too.
Neither of us hard
with anger but
restless overfilled
with energy and
the need to spend it
somewhere. I square my
shoulders and head straight
into a small swell

That’s what I have right now.

sept 7/RUN

5.9 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
70 degrees / humidity: 95%
8:45 am

Back to warmer, more humid, mornings. Did my new regular routine with this route: run just beyond the bottom of the franklin hill, turn around, walk up the hill, put on a playlist, begin running again, much faster, at the top.

I don’t remember what I thought about as I ran. I started noticing my breathing pattern: 1 2 3 4 breathe. Then near the top of Franklin, I started chanting, 54321/54321/54321/123. And then, I changed the rhythm slightly and came up with words:

Here I go down the hill
Here I go down the hill
Here I go down the hill
Watch me fly.

To remember it, I decided to pull out my phone and recite it mid-flight down the hill:

chant, 7 sept

10 Things I Remember From My Run

  1. Reaching the bottom of the hill, the water was flat and still. No rowers or waves.
  2. I startled a squirrel as I ran by their hiding place in the brush.
  3. A group of women — I didn’t see them, only heard their voices — climbing the stone steps by the trestle.
  4. A unicycle biking up the steep Franklin hill! I noticed them after the turn-off to go above, so they might have only started there, but I like to imagined this biker biked all the way from the bottom on a unicycle. What a feat!
  5. That same unicycle encountering a skateboarder heading down the hill.
  6. A sewer smell, coming up from the ravine.
  7. Sweat dripping off of my face in big drops.
  8. The buzz of cicadas, the hum of the traffic on the I-94 bridge and the river road
  9. Saying Good morning! in my head to the Welcoming Oaks and out loud to an older jogger.
  10. Noticing the goldenrod lining the path as I walked up the hill.

Speaking of goldenrod, as I noticed the golden flowers on the edge of the trail and wondered if they were goldenrod or something else, I remembered Maggie Smith’s poem “Goldenrod” and decided I should memorize it. I also thought about Robin Wall Kimmerer and her chapter on Asters and Goldenrod.

Goldenrod/ Maggie Smith

I’m no botanist. If you’re the color of sulfur
and growing at the roadside, you’re goldenrod. 

You don’t care what I call you, whatever
you were born as. You don’t know your own name. 

But driving near Peoria, the sky pink-orange,
the sun bobbing at the horizon, I see everything

is what it is, exactly, in spite of the words I use:
black cows, barns falling in on themselves, you.

Dear flowers born with a highway view, 
forgive me if I’ve mistaken you. Goldenrod, 

whatever your name is, you are with your own kind. 
Look–the meadow is a mirror, full of you,

your reflection repeating. Whatever you are,
I see you, wild yellow, and I would let you name me.


bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis and back
73 degrees
11:00 am / 12:30 pm

So windy on my ride over to lake nokomis! I could hear it rushing past my ears. Looking down at the trail on the river road and the creek path, I noticed orange spray paint everywhere, marking the cracks. Will they fix those spots before the orange paint wears off? Probably not. As I biked, I thought about how wonderful it is to be able to bike to the lake to swim and how much I’ll miss it over the winter. The answer is not too much; I love biking to the lake and the trail is great, but I do get burned out on it by August. On the bike trail at the lake, they were patching cracks.

swim: 1.5 loops
main beach white buoys
75 degrees
11:30 am

Hooray! The buoys were still up. When will they take them down? Happy to have been able to swim today, even though it was windy, the water choppy. The water was also light brown and opaque. The only thing I could underwater were the bubbles coming off of my hands as they break though the surface. No silver flashes of fish, no hairbands at the bottom. Looking out above the surface, all I could see was the beach to one side, endless treeline to the other, white buoys in front of me, and strange, jagged clouds up above. There were a few people at the beach: 2 guys then later, 2 girls, and one metal detectorist. The metal detectorist was at the far edge of the wading area, near the orange-faded-to-pink circular buoys. When I swam nearer him, I think I could hear the vibrations of his detector underwater. The water didn’t feel cold when I first stepped in it but later, after a few laps, I felt chilled.

I stopped a few times near the far white buoys to be in the deeper water and to look out over the lake. I was drawn to one of my favorite, and most helpful, images: the bottom of the lifeguard boat at the little beach. It stood out clearly to me, making the little beach look closer than it was. I’m hoping to conjure that boat bottom as I drift off to sleep this winter. Today, with less sun, the bottom was white and flat. On the sunniest days this summer, it was silver and shiny.

paying versus giving attention

The other week, Scott and I were discussing the difference between paying and giving attention. I can’t remember everything we said, but here are some things I do remember:

Paying attention seems to be a demand, obligation, requirement. An annoyed teacher tells you sternly, Pay Attention! and might add, This will be on the test! It also suggests staring, focusing, closely concentrating, exercising your will, which indicates that attention is (only) a mental activity.

Giving attention is something given freely. To give attention to something is to turn to it, to notice it, but not necessarily to scrutinize, categorize, or classify it. You’re offering something, not because you have to, or because you want something in return. note: I want to read more about giving in Braiding Sweetgrass.

Found this poem on twitter from one of the poetry people:

To the Person Who Marked Up This Book of Poetry/ Amy Miller

I had forgotten about you
until this morning at Denny’s
when I didn’t have enough quarters
for a newspaper and pulled,
instead, this book from my purse,
laid in for such emergencies.

And there you were,
asserting your opinions in black ballpoint,
two stars next to the titles
you obviously liked,
crossed-out lines
you seemed to think superfluous—
scratched-off Wasatch,
penned-in mountains.

And then the waitress frowned
when I told her no hashbrowns.
She asked again—no potatoes?
No grits?—as if to correct
this error in the book
of my morning. She scrawled a note
in her own book, lips tight.

But she brought me the eggs
and you finally left the poet alone
as he went on to talk
of farmers, as his horse changed leads
on command, and sometimes not.
And it’s hard to tell
whether you simply tired
of the old, old game—
this singular shaping, this lonely work
for the betterment of us all—
or whether the poet won you over,
maybe with those lines on page 40
about chickens and the little
swaybacked shed he can’t
bring himself to knock down,
beautiful it its disrepair.

sept 5/RUN

4.4 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
60 degrees
9:00 am

Fall is coming. The air, a little cooler. The trees, a little more yellow. I’m still sad about swimming ending, but I’m happy to have more time to run. Ran north on the river road trail all the way to the bottom of the franklin hill and then turned around. Ran up it all the way to the top, then stopped for a few minutes to walk and put it in my headphones (listened to Beyoncé’s Renaissance).

Heading north, I heard the rowers and the mid-range voice of a coxswain — not a low voice, and not a high one either. Not sure if I’ve heard this coxswain before. Also heard the clicking of a roller skier’s poles and the awkward shifting of a bike’s gears.

Passed a runner in black with a white sweatshirt tied around their waist. Something about the sweatshirt transfixed me. It seemed to take forever to pass them as I stared blankly at the white of their sweatshirt.

The river down in the flats was moving in the breeze. The sun was frequently behind the clouds.

Encountered a few lunging dogs, a darting squirrel.

Overheard 2 bikers talking. Tried to listen, but all I could make out was, that must have been 300 minutes! Huh?

Here’s the latest version of my poem about the light and the waves in the lake. I’m happy with it, but as I listened to a recording of myself reciting it I thought, so many of my poems are serious and somber! It made me think that I should try writing about this experience from a more playful perspective. Can I, or am I too serious of a person? Here’s the draft:

Love (tentative title)/ Sara Puotinen

Hands slice through water
ripples catch light
sun surface swimmers
converge into chorus.
Listen, their notes of
shimmer & shine sing
to you. Each point of
contact between lake
and finger and light
an over here, this
way, you’re not alone
As your body breaks
surface stroke after
stroke, it sings along.

Walking back, after the run, I started thinking about the little girl, with the same name (and spirit) as my daughter, that I encountered at the end of an open swim one day. The image that lingers: her mischevious look after calling out a made-up Help! I’d like to write about her and a few of the other women I encountered in the water this summer. I wish I could remember more of these women. Maybe I’ll try?

sept 3/RUN

2.8 miles
2 trails
65 degrees
8:30 am

Writing this about 8 hours after my run. I wonder what I remember? 2 trips to the state fair + 2 trips to Rochester (70 minute drive) made it difficult to run a lot this week.

10 Things I Remember

  1. the coxswains, both male and female, calling out to their rowers
  2. a pack of runners taking over the paved path
  3. a dog somewhere down below, near where I was entering the Winchell Trail — I didn’t see them, but heard the pounding of their paws, the jingling of their collar
  4. 2 male voice below me — were they on the water in a boat or by the shore? I never found out
  5. the trickle of the sewer pipe at 44th
  6. the blue river — did it sparkle? I can’t remember
  7. hearing the rower below me and trying to find a spot in between trees to see their boats
  8. a leaning tree before 38th
  9. the dirt trail below the mesa is overgrown…at one point, the sunflowers have reclaimed the path
  10. 2 people standing by the information sign in the oak savanna, both wearing shorts, looking like they were planning to hike or run

Still playing around with a poem about the sparkle a swimmer’s body makes on the water. Here’s a draft that I haven’t broken into lines yet. I feel like I’m getting closer, but I’m not quite there:

Hands slice through water, ripples catch light, sun surface swimmers converge into chorus. See how their notes of shimmer & shine greet and guide you. Every point of contact between shoulder and lake and light, an over here, this way, you are not alone. Can you feel how your body sings this same song to others?

sept 1/RUN

5.3 miles
bohemian flats and back
67 degrees / humidity: 86% / dewpoint: upper 60s
8:00 am

A warm morning. Loud with cicadas. Sunny with very little wind. A good run. Early on, one of my quad muscles — maybe the vastus intermedias? — felt sore. I kept going. When I stopped to walk up franklin hill, it was still sore. By the end of the run, it hurt a little to lift up my left knee. Now, an hour later (and after blasting cold water from the shower on it), it feels better.

I ran to the hill without headphones; I ran back listening to Beyoncé’s Renaissance.

A woman walker greeted me with a good morning. Usually others greet with me just morning, but I think that’s mostly men. Do (many/most/some?) women add the good? Is the addition or omission of good gendered?

10 Things I Noticed

  1. someone singing a strange song as the biked above me
  2. music I couldn’t identify coming from a car’s stereo
  3. the click click click of a roller skier’s poles as they slowly climbed the franklin hill
  4. a brown leather couch parked at the bike rack nearest the trestle — was someone planning to drag it down the steps, either to under the trestle or on white sands beach?
  5. a few slivers of silver river through the trees
  6. a constant low rumble of the city
  7. a small black bug flew in my eye — yuck!
  8. at the bottom of the franklin hill, in the flats, the river was thick and still and covered with a thin layer of scum
  9. down in the flats, in a few spots, the river was still and acted like a mirror, reflecting the sky and the river bank
  10. In one spot, it shimmered silver. Why? It took me a minute to see the 2 rowers, each in their own scull/shell/rowing boat, disrupting the water and making it shimmer

The other day, I listened to a tinhouse lecture with Natalie Diaz about Building the Emotional Image. She discusses identifying the images that we are obsessed with. As I walked up the hill and talked into my phone about my run, I discussed 2 of my image obsessions: shimmering, sparkling water and how the sounds of the gorge — the hum of the city, the whoosh of the car wheels, the call of the birds, the buzz of the cicadas and leaf blowers — sing together. Here are the notes:

sept 1 / walking up the franklin hill

This beautiful poem I found on twitter last night by Sophie Klahr!

Tender/ Sophie Klahr

I spend late morning weeping with the news:
a black bear with burnt paws is euthanized
along the latest wildfire’s newest edge.
It was crawling on its forearms, seeking
a place to rest. I Google more; reports
leak out: the bear had bedded down behind
a house, below a pine, to lick its paws.
In hours before its end, officials named
it Tenderfoot, though some reports report
just Tender. later, I will teach a class
where we’ll discuss the lengths of lines in poems.
I’ll say a sonnet is a little song
to hold a thing that otherwise cannot
be held: a lonely thing; a death; a bear.