april 8/RUN

3.85 miles
marshall loop
42 degrees

Less layers this morning! Bright sun and lots of noisy birds. Hooray for Spring! By next Saturday will all the snow be melted and lake nokomis be iced out? I hope so. Speaking of birds, I heard a caw-cophony near the river. Yes, a bad pun. Not crows, but seagulls, I think. I’ve heard seagulls in grocery store parking lots, but rarely down by the river.

And here’s another story about birds. This one’s from yesterday. Walking Delia the dog with my son FWA in the afternoon, I noticed 2 crows, high in the sky, harassing another bird. They seemed to be running into it mid-air while cawing furiously. A block later, we saw them again, still at it. Then, a few blocks further, just one crow, which both FWA and I assumed was one of the combative crows. It flew by, cawing, then perched on a lamp post and looked down at us. It had something in its mouth. FWA quipped, the other bird’s eyeball. My response: Yes! In my world, that’s exactly what it is. As we kept walking the caw continued to look at us, almost to say, watch out or I’ll take your eyeballs next!

Anything else about today’s run? Wet, muddy, filled with fast moving cars, other runners in bright orange running shirts, and walkers. Smelled waffles as I passed by Black Coffee and Waffles. Heard kids down by Shadow Falls.

A.R. Ammons’ garbage

before the run

Starting with section 3 today. Here are some thoughts:

In yesterday’s post, I wanted to distinguish humility from humiliation, which was inspired by these lines:

where but in the very asshole of comedown is
redemption: as where but brought low, where

but in the grief of failure, loss, error do we
discern the savage afflictions that turn us around:

where but in the arrangements love crawls us
through, not a thing left in our self-display

unhumiliated, do we find the sweet seed of
new routes

This morning, reading through my post for april 8, 2022, I was reminded of dirt and decomposition and a Ross Gay interview where he describes our entanglement (interconnectedness/dependence) with the world and the decomposition of the self, not as a loss, or a humiliation, but a recognition of our connections and dependence on each other. Humility in terms of vulnerability and openness instead of just humiliation and weakness.

Reading these lines again, I’m also reminded of CAConrad’s “Ignition Chronicles” and the idea that it is not grief/loss/despair that enables new routes, but how that grief disrupts our routines and forces us to focus. The key is focus not despair. So, we don’t need grief, or in the case of Ammons humiliation/breaking down, for new routes. We need focus, which maybe is another word for attention here?

One reason I’m reading this poem is to learn more about how poets write. Poetry is not just a matter of line breaks and rhymes, poetry is about how you approach stories, subjects, the way you use language to make something or do something. For me, this means studying lots of lines (I’m a slow thinker, a ruminator, and mostly new to poetry, so I need lots of lines) to see how poets use language in ways that are very different than I’m used to with my decades of training in academic writing. One small example, here’s how Ammons describes dead/decomposing worms in a puddle after the rain:

young earthworms,

drowned up in macadam pools by spring rains, moisten
out white in a day or so and, round spots,

look like sputum or creamy-rich, broken-up cold

I particularly like the idea of puddles as macadma pools, but this whole description is delightfully gross!

Studying poets and poems is also about thinking about what they’re doing and making. In section 3, Ammons writes:

no use to linger over beauty or simple effect:
this is just a poem with a job to do: and that

is to declare, however roundabout, sideways,
or meanderingly (or in those ways) the perfect

scientific and materialistic notion of the
spindle of energy

I love all of Ammons’ discussion of roundabouts, sideways, meanderings, and the periphery:

keeping the aberrant periphery worked

clear so the central current may shift or slow
or rouse adjusting to the necessary dynamic

But, even as I love this idea of wandering and the periphery, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the length of his roundabouts and sidetracks. So many words! So many pages! Too many doors opened by too many ideas! I might need to read through these sections faster or I’ll get too tired or too lost and never make it to the end!

All of Ammons talk about garbage and poetry makes me wonder about his book’s connection to eco-poetry. I found a helpful article to read: The Semiotics of Garbage, East and West: A Case Study of A. R. Ammons and Choi Sung-ho