july 19/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
82 degrees (feels like 89)
humidity: 76%
dew point: 74

Hot, so hot. Even though I was only doing a short run, I brought some water along. I drank some of it, the rest I poured on my head. It started out cool but by the time it reached my back, it was warm. I definitely struggle in the heat. Ran 1.25 miles, then walked a little, then mostly ran with some walking. Noticed that there were a few more stones stacked on the old boulder. The tunnel of trees was soothingly dark and deep and green. Not steamy. Made note of the fact that the part of the tunnel I’m writing about now is almost midway between the path openings and just before where the 4 fences meet. This part of the path is also just above the mid-story trees. I’m planning to play with the idea of mid/middle of the story in my prose poem. After turning around and heading back, I stopped for a few minutes to look at this same, mid-story spot. How the trees open up into a wide area that seems to float and breathe, not tight and confined but loose and spacious. Today I noticed (again) how you can just see a small bit of sky at the top. Could it be river instead? Surely it’s sky.

This Maggie Smith poem is the best. Reminds me of the recent interview with Aimee Nezhukumatathil and her idea of wonderment: (So I think it’s a practice. I think we forget how to be in wonderment. And I think it’s a great, I don’t know, responsibility. But also, it’s contagious. When you hear someone say, oh my gosh, I love how the silver on a silver oak is winking at me, that kind of thing, it’s hard to not notice something yourself. And then someone else will notice something and someone else will notice something.)

Poem Beginning with a Retweet/Maggie Smith

If you drive past horses and don’t say horses
you’re a psychopath. If you see an airplane
but don’t point it out. A rainbow,
a cardinal, a butterfly. If you don’t
whisper-shout albino squirrel! Deer!
Red fox! If you hear a woodpecker
and don’t shush everyone around you
into silence. If you find an unbroken
sand dollar in a tide pool. If you see
a dorsal fin breaking the water.
If you see the moon and don’t say
oh my god look at that moon. If you smell
smoke and don’t search for fire.
If you feel yourself receding, receding,
and don’t tell anyone until you’re gone.

july 18/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

2.5 miles
two trails
77 degrees
dew point: 70

Hot! Thick air. Sluggish legs. Listened to an Agatha Christie audiobook on the upper trail, the gorge on the lower trail. Also heard some kids up above somewhere. The lower trail was a little muddy from the recent rain, especially the mulch-y leaves. Writing this a day later so I don’t remember much. Ran for two miles before stopping to take a quick walk break up the stairs. Pretty soon I’ll have all the ups and downs and turns of this short trail memorized.

Cliffhanger: a fallen tree leans across the path, near the steps up to 38th street, held up by the trunk of another tree. Will it fall soon and hit someone walking under? Will the parks department remove it? Will it stay here all summer?

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

On the way to the lake muttered “jerk” under my breath at one idiot driver. On the way back muttered to another clueless driver, “ass.” Aside from that, was hot and happy to be able to see well enough to bike. At one point I wondered, has my brain just memorized the path? I’ve biked it 100s of times and have carefully noticed all the curves and curbs and craters. At the last scan of my central vision, it was almost gone. How can I see anything? Brains are fascinating.

Cliffhanger: There’s a short stretch of trail, right before and after 28th, that’s “officially” closed for construction. Even though signs are blocking the trail, you can still get by them and the trail/road are still bike-able. When will they start construction? How many more times can I bike on this part of the trail? Will it take the rest of the summer? What path/trail/road/sidewalk will I bike on instead?

swim: 2 miles
lake nokomis

Another wonderful open swim. The water was too warm, almost like bath water. At times it felt heavy and slow, like swimming in place or through simple syrup. Other times, it felt fast and smooth. I stayed on course the whole time. Swimming to the little beach, I could see the buoys enough to know I was swimming straight. On the way back, I could only see them when they were right next to me. Instead of sighting with buoys, I used the kayaks to line up the path. The third time I was swimming back, my goggles fogged up and I really couldn’t see anything. I didn’t panic but I still don’t like swimming without being able to see something–the roof of the building, the light pole, other swimmers, buoys. Glad I only swam 3 loops. After biking home, I was exhausted!

Achingly Beautiful How the Sky Blooms Umber at the End of the Day, Through the Canopy
Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Summers spent practicing in the apartment
stairwell: hand on the bannister, one foot after
another. Did I ever tell you I couldn’t walk

until I was three and then sort of dragged
myself up and downstairs until I was seven
or eight? That burgundy carpet.

I’d stop to breathe and look out the window,
over brick tenements, toward the Capitol
building. Oak leaves so full of late summer

sun even I thought, “Obscene” and stood stunned
for a moment. My God. The urge to rest like the birds
on the phone wires, chatting like barristers

at the end of the day. Myself the useless
Ambassador from the third floor. I was the last one
up so the door was left open. I can still see it gaping

from two stories down. Sometimes music played.
Sometimes I’d smell supper. Neighbors stopped
to say hello. Achingly beautiful how the sky

looked as I stood after they left. Nicer somehow
in the middle. All the trees tucking blackbirds
into their darkness. It really did take this long.

What a beautiful poem! I love the oak leaves so full of summer that they were obscene–so true!–and birds chatting like barristers and blackbirds being tucked into the darkness by trees.

july 16/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

run: 3.1 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees
humidity: 83%
dew point: 66

Hot and harder today than yesterday even though the dew point was lower. Ran 2 miles without stopping then walked then ran again. Listened to headphones. Someone has placed another small stone on top of the ancient boulder. Noticed that at one spot in the tunnel of trees my view filled with a green canopy except for at the very top. I could see a thin line of sky. It looked like air at the surface with me under green water. Cool. Faintly heard the rowers on the river. By the end, felt slow and tired but happy to be outside and moving.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back

Started my bike ride in a soft, steady rain. Ended it in sunshine. Didn’t mind biking in the rain at all. Less bikers on the trail. No chaos by the falls. The creek was high as I biked by my favorite part of the path, but not over its banks yet. By the time I reached the lake, it was much warmer and brighter and the buoys were already out.

swim: 1.35 miles
lake nokomis

An hour before open swim it was pouring rain and thundering so I wasn’t sure if it would happen. But it was clear by 5:30. I could see the buoys without any problems on the way to the little beach but hardly at all on the way back. Almost ran into the lifeguards on kayaks a few times–well not almost. I saw them in time, but I was headed straight for them. I blame the lifeguards. Too close to the buoys. I heard someone else complaining about how close they were. One lifeguard was almost on top of the final buoy. The water was warm. Too warm. I can’t imagine how hot it would have been swimming in a wetsuit. The water was also calm. No waves today. It felt thick and heavy at times. Breathed every 5 and sometimes every 6. Since it was the free night it was more crowded with lots of slower swimmers stopping and floating. I didn’t run into a single one which was amazing because I didn’t notice some of them until I was almost on top of them. Saw some planes in the sky. No sailboats or fish or ducks. Felt strong and straight and joyful. What a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday evening!

Springing
Marie Ponsot – 1921-2019

In a skiff on a sunrisen lake we are watchers.

Swimming aimlessly is luxury just as walking
loudly up a shallow stream is.

As we lean over the deep well, we whisper.

Friends at hearths are drawn to the one warm air;
strangers meet on beaches drawn to the one wet sea.

What wd it be to be water, one body of water
(what water is is another mystery) (We are
water divided.) It wd be a self without walls,
with surface tension, specific gravity a local
exchange between bedrock and cloud of falling and rising,
rising to fall, falling to rise.

july 15/RUN

2.85 miles
two trails
79 degrees
humidity: 81%
dew point: 71!

I think 71 is one of the highest dew points I’ve ever run in. It felt hot, but it was cloudy, so that helped. It also helped that I ran less than 3 miles and that I ran the second half on the lower trail. I’m really beginning to enjoy this trail. I wish it was longer–only a mile and a half. When it’s not so warm I should try running the dirt trail down by the falls. As I’m writing this entry, a few hours after my run, I’m thinking about surfaces.

surfaces

sidewalk: smooth and cracked, partly covered with dead leaves, weeds, berries, containing seams between slabs, sloping down to the street

street: rough, hard, uneven, freckled with manhole covers

grass: soft, thick, concealing uneven ground

paved path: asphalt, mostly smooth and wide, separated from the road and the bike path, hiding a big dip between the 36th street parking lot and 38th street, hard to see until you remember it’s there

stone steps: awkwardly spaced, avoided if possible

dirt: soft, packed, soothing, slippery oozing squishy after rain, riddled with rubble, pockmarked with past pavement–abandoned, recycled by the gorge, angled leaning to the right, dropping off steeply

more paved path: half rotting leaves, hardly ever flat, up up up then down down up down up down up then over the small bridge with the tiny cave that Rosie and I walked by years ago and imagined was a troll cave where they fed you sprinkled donuts and gave you a bright yellow raft to float down the ravine to the river

more dirt: mostly dry under the canopy, held in place by thigh high retaining walls that double as obstacle courses for daring dogs who delight in appearing taller, flanked by black wrought iron and chainlink fences with tree trunks for posts, slowly sloping down to the savana where wildflowers stretch as high as my shoulders and (almost) smother the narrow trail

more stone steps, a slick iron grate, gravel, dirt, grass, then paved path again

Song of the Open Road, 3
Walt Whitman – 1819-1892

You air that serves me with breath to speak!
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!
I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.

You flagg’d walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides! you distant ships!
You rows of houses! you window-pierc’d façades! you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!
From all that has touch’d you I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me,
From the living and the dead you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me.

Such unbridled enthusiasm! Oh, to be willing to embrace joy like Whitman! To be unashamed to relentlessly use exclamation points! I think I’d like to use his form here and write a poem to the gorge.

july 14/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 2 miles
lake nokomis

Open swim! A wonderful morning for a swim, even if it was too warm and sunny and windy. The water was the choppiest it’s been this year, which didn’t bother me at all. The buoys were way off to the side but since they were in line, I didn’t mind. I swam strong and straight and steady. Mostly breathed every 6 strokes. The rough water gently rocked me. Sometimes the waves were off to one side, sometimes it was like swimming into a wall. At one point, near one of the buoys, I felt like I was swimming in one of those forever pools where you swim in place–is that what they’re called? Loved the swim today. Love being in the water. Always have.

Out of Water
BY MARIE PONSOT

A new embroidery of flowers, canary color,
dots the grass already dotty
with aster-white and clover.

I warn, “They won’t last, out of water.”
The children pick some anyway.

In or out of  water
children don’t last either.

I watch them as they pick.
Still free of  what’s next
and what was yesterday
they pick today.

july 13/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/south
76 degrees
dew point: 62

Hot! As usual, the first mile felt fine, but then I warmed up and it was hot. Still, a nice morning run. Started just before the elite triathletes in the Lifetime Tri race biked by. Got to see the leader zoom past. Heading north, he was only a few seconds ahead of the next racer, but by the time he passed me again, 15 or so minutes later (I think), he was way ahead. Pretty cool to see. I didn’t hear any helicopters so I’m pretty sure they no longer show this live on NBC. I remember watching it 15 years ago up in the UP at my parent’s house, when my mom was still alive. The first triathlon, other than Kona, that I ever watched.

No deep thoughts that I can remember. Spent a lot of time wondering when the racers would come by and then, when they did, when they would come back after looping around at Franklin. Also was distracted by a few runners up ahead of me. I think my second mile was a lot faster as I unwittingly tried to catch them.

Later, after the run, took Delia the dog on a walk by the gorge. Noticed that the 4 rocks usually stacked on top of the big boulder at the top of the tunnel of trees weren’t there. I think I’ve seen them missing another time too. Will someone stack some more before I run by the boulder again? And, if so, who? Walking down through the tunnel, I noticed the few times the sun filtered through and the gentle noise of cars and bikes whooshing above. Also, payed attention to the spot, right before the bottom and the 4 fences, when the path seems to float above the forest and where the trees open up into a wide, airy amphitheater-like space. Too layered with leaves to see sky. Up above is green, down below is too. Running by this spot, I feel like I’m flying or floating in green. Walking, I’m slow enough to notice the layers of green and brown, the lack of blue and the openness of it all.

Love how green works in this poem. Bright green sins, the tree still green.

Summer
BY CARLO BETOCCHI
TRANSLATED BY GEOFFREY BROCK

And it grows, the vain
summer,
even for us with our
bright green sins:

behold the dry guest,
the wind,
as it stirs up quarrels
among magnolia boughs

and plays its serene
tune on
the prows of all the leaves—
and then is gone,

leaving the leaves
still there,
the tree still green, but breaking
the heart of the air.

july 11/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

3 miles
two trails
67 degrees

Just a few degrees cooler and an hour earlier makes a difference. An easier run. No walking. No headphones either. Lots of cars on the road, lots of bikers on the path. Heard the rowers but didn’t see them. Greeted some runners and walkers. Listened to water dripping out of the sewer pipe. Don’t remember thinking about anything except how, even with all the sun, the tunnel of trees seemed dark and thick and beautiful today.

Our Valley
by Philip Levine

We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis and back

swim: 1.7 miles
lake nokomis
water: 80 degrees

A great night for a swim! Mostly breathed every six to my right, but switched it up a little with some 5s on right and left. I need to write some more poetry inspired by these breathing patterns. The buoys were lined up very oddly–too far off the big beach, angled too sharply near the little beach–which made it difficult to sight, but I didn’t panic and swam without seeing. Well, I could see the first two buoys but not the third one closest to the little beach. Don’t remember hearing any planes or seeing any fish. Noticed a sailboat in my peripheral vision most of the time. Felt strong and a little sore in my right calf. Was really tired at the end of today. So much exercise!

Almost forgot about the water temperature. So strange: pockets of freezing cold water mixed with warmer water. The water was extra cold just off the little beach. I like swimming through this really cold water–a sudden surprise, very brief, then warmish water again. The water is 80 degrees, which is more than warm enough for me. I still hear people complaining about how cold it is. I can’t help myself from thinking, wimps!

Breathing
BY MARK O’BRIEN

Grasping for straws is easier;
You can see the straws.
“This most excellent canopy, the air, look you,”
Presses down upon me
At fifteen pounds per square inch,
A dense, heavy, blue-glowing ocean,
Supporting the weight of condors
That swim its churning currents.
All I get is a thin stream of it,
A finger’s width of the rope that ties me to life
As I labor like a stevedore to keep the connection.
Water wouldn’t be so circumspect;
Water would crash in like a drunken sailor,
But air is prissy and genteel,
Teasing me with its nearness and pervading immensity.
The vast, circumambient atmosphere
Allows me but ninety cubic centimeters
Of its billions of gallons and miles of sky.
I inhale it anyway,
Knowing that it will hurt
In the weary ends of my crumpled paper bag lungs.

                                                                                                                    July, 1988

Mark O’Brien, “Breathing” from The Man in the Iron Lung.

I like the connections drawn between air and water here. I often think about that while I’m swimming, imagining worlds reversed, where the air is water, water air. Writing this, I’m wondering: how much oxygen is in the lake? I looked it up and found an article about dissolved oxygen and how fish need it for breathing. Air typically has an oxygen concentration of around 21%, while water has less than 1%.

july 10/RUN

3.1 miles
the 2 trails
70 degrees

I think this is my new favorite running route, especially since my body doesn’t want to run more than a 5K. Listened to headphones as I ran south, up above the river, next to the road, and then took them out when I ran north, down below the road, still above the river. Overcast and windy. Felt cooler than 70. Heard some trickling water but no rowers. Encountered some dogs and their humans. Appreciated how willing the dogs were to stay on their side of the path and sit when their owners asked them to. Walked a little around 1.5 miles. Don’t remember much except for how different the tunnel of trees looks when it’s overcast. Darker and deeper. When it’s sunny, the light filters through the leaves and dances on the asphalt. But when it’s cloudy the greens are heavier and the air seems weighed down with water.

I listened to the poetry off the shelf podcast this morning with the delightful poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil (ne zoo koo ma tat hill). I love her poetry and what she has to say about the importance of wonderment and being jubilant:

I think there’s almost like a responsibility in some ways when the world and the news is so disgusting and so heartbreaking. I think that’s all the more reason to turn to—I ask my students, when is the last time you were in wonderment of something, when was the last time you had awe over something. And at first, the silence is deafening, you know? And they actually have to think about that and then they realize oh my gosh, it shouldn’t be taking me this long. And I keep asking them that, I keep asking them through the semester, until, you know, maybe by the fourth or fifth week they’re able to say it like right away. Or sometimes they can’t wait till class and they just email it to me like, you know, Professor Nezhukumatathil, on the sunset, I saw something called the green flash. Have you heard of it?

So I think it’s a practice. I think we forget how to be in wonderment. And I think it’s a great, I don’t know, responsibility. But also, it’s contagious. When you hear someone say, oh my gosh, I love how the silver on a silver oak is winking at me, that kind of thing, it’s hard to not notice something yourself. And then someone else will notice something and someone else will notice something.

july 9/RUNSWIM

run: 3.1 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees
dew point: 62

I’m pretty sure I wrote this entry already, earlier today, but now I can’t find it and it’s almost 9 PM and I don’t have a lot of energy to write anything else. But I’ll try. It was hot this morning but it didn’t bother me in the first mile. There was a nice breeze and it was overcast. Everything seemed fuzzy and dreamlike, out of focus. I remembered to notice the river–I saw it through the trees shimmering silver. Started feeling the heat in mile 2 but managed to keep running until 2.5 miles. There were so many cars on the river road. Must have been heading to work.

swim: 1.35 miles
lake nokomis

The forecast said rain and thunderstorms at 5:30, when open swim was supposed to begin, but it was clear with the sun promising to peek through the gray clouds. The first loop was a real challenge. My googles were fogged up and I absolutely couldn’t see any of the buoys. Not even a quick glance. Was it because the sun was gone and it was gray? Not sure, but I decided that I had to swim another loop to push through. The sun came out and suddenly I could see the buoys. Not all the time but enough of a glimpse to keep me on track. I felt strong today. No aching shoulder or sore legs. Breathing: 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right. Didn’t see any fish, hear any planes, run into any other swimmers. Didn’t see any white sails or airplane sharks in the sky. Just me and the water. Wonderful.

Preface

Swimming is continuous, only the rivers are intermittent.

The river is something that happens,
like exercise or illness, to the body
on any given day
I am rivering.

Not that the river is like the body
or the river is the body
but ooooooooooo both have gone
and what is left is something else.

To not end where you thought you did,
not with skin but water
not with arms but meadow
of watercress, dropwort, floating pennywort,
against all odds to be buoyant.

To feel there is an upward force
greater than the weight of the heart
the knuckles the head to feel as in to feel
it physically push up the ribs which are bones now

everything remembering what it is
becoming is remembering
sinking in the silt is the sand
of the shell of the bone singing
in the reeds in the rushes
hordes of heartbeats not my own:

mollusc onto stone,
milfoil onto moss,
mayfly onto trout,

metal onto clay,
acid onto wire,
electrified chicken wire to keep the salmon in
the summer we’ll make a day of it,
fill the car up, make a day of it,
fill the river, make like mayflies

in the summer, swim
in traffic, swim in the car
in the river in the summer in the city
in the chicken in the acid in the salmon in the rain
in the silt in the sulphur in the algae in the day we’ll come
and part as friends

in the day in the river in the moss in the rushes we’ll come and part

in the river in the heather in the rushes in the rain we’ll stay and the day and the day
and the days dart over and summer is over
us salmon leap over
us all come apart
in the end
of the day
and the river.

july 7/BIKESWIM

swim: 1.35 miles
lake nokomis

Sunday mornings are always hard to sight with the sun in my eyes as I swim towards the smaller beach. It was supposed to be cloudy but instead there was bright sun. I swam without really seeing anything and I didn’t panic. Strange to be getting so used to swimming blind. My breathing pattern: 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe left. I like staying under the water longer. Oh, to be a fish for a few minutes!

bike: 12 miles
twins’ stadium and back

Biked to the game. Didn’t feel too bad. I am still not changing gears, even on the big hills. Why not? Not sure, but it seems to be working. It doesn’t make it too hard.

july 6/RUN

3.1 miles
river road, north/lake street bridge/river road, south
70 degrees
humidity: 79%/dew point: 72

Turned left when I reached the river road. Ran past the welcoming oaks, down through the tunnel of trees, up past the old stone steps, then over the lake street bridge. Down the steps on one side of the bridge then up the other side. Back over the bridge and back towards home. Encountered many runners. Some alone, some in groups. Was passed by three rollerbladers and their coach biking behind them. In formation, arms swinging in unison. Did a lot of chanting: strawberry/strawberry/strawberry, raspberry/raspberry/raspberry, 123/456, 654/321, 12345/12345/12345. Made sure to look at the river. Saw some rowers just leaving the rowing club. Don’t remember thinking about much, except my breathing and whether or not I’d see any rowers, and when I was going to be done.

july 5/RUN

2.8 miles
two trails*
79 degrees
humidity: 79%/dew point: 69

* two trails = upper trail, near the road, paved; lower trail, below the road, above the river, dirt then crumbling asphalt then paved

Maybe because the sun wasn’t out, it didn’t seem too hot at first. But when I stopped for a quick text at the end of mile 1, I realized I was dripping with sweat. Running below for the second half was cool until the trail emerged from the trees. Then, it was hot and I was losing energy. I really need to start running earlier. Today I ran at 10 am. Encountered a few runners, walkers and roller skiers. Listened to a playlist on the upper trail, the water trickling on the lower. Also heard some kids playing way down in the gorge near the sewer pipe. No rowers or paddle boats on the river.

july 4/BIKERUNBIKE

bike: 9 miles
to downtown race and back

run: 3.1 miles
red, white and boom 5K: 27:30

For the first time, Scott and I biked over to the race instead of driving. 5 miles on the river road. It would have been less but one road was closed and we had to backtrack. Not too bad. Much less stressful than driving. The race was hot and humid. I wimped out and walked a few times but finished strong, so that was okay. Gradually, I’m working to stop caring about time and not feeling bad about how much slower I am these days. Don’t remember much about the race. Started at the back so I did a lot of passing people. Weaving through the crowd doesn’t bother me most of the time. It’s a good distraction. Anything else I remember? No interesting conversations even though I wasn’t listening to headphones. Had a popsicle and a beer after the race and then slowly walked back to my bike. I’d like to try biking to a race again. Oh–saw some rowers down in the flats–that was cool. And, biked up several hills without ever changing my gear. Marveled at the beauty of the city on the 3rd Ave/Central Ave Bridge as I walked across with Scott after the race.

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My city.

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Here’s a poem I’ve tried to write about (so far, not quite successfully) for a couple of years now. So much I love about it. Today, I noticed the line, “…Raise your/heads, pals, look high,/you may see more than/you ever thought possible,” I love her use of pals here. I read it as an almost exasperated, “look pal” which I appreciate. Much better than friend.

Woman Waving to Trees
Dorothea Tanning – 1910-2012

Not that anyone would
notice it at first.
I have taken to marveling
at the trees in our park.
One thing I can tell you:
they are beautiful
and they know it.
They are also tired,
hundreds of years
stuck in one spot—
beautiful paralytics.
When I am under them,
they feel my gaze,
watch me wave my foolish
hand, and envy the joy
of being a moving target.

Loungers on the benches
begin to notice.
One to another,
“Well, you see all kinds…”
Most of them sit looking
down at nothing as if there
was truly nothing else to
look at until there is
that woman waving up
to the branching boughs
of these old trees. Raise your
heads, pals, look high,
you may see more than
you ever thought possible,
up where something might
be waving back, to tell her
she has seen the marvelous.

july 3/BIKE

14 miles
5k packet pick-up and back
85 degrees

A great bike ride! Biked to St. Paul on a dedicated path, then a dedicated bike lane, then the pothole-filled road to Summit Brewery to pick up my race bib for tomorrow’s 5k race. Then, took a bike path all the way back. Stopped at the Confluence, where the Mississippi and the Minnesota Rivers meet. Then checked out the fake falls near hidden falls which was actually a gushing storm drain. Ended at Minnehaha Falls where Scott and I ate at Sea Salt for the first time this year. I got thai red curry with shrimp and pineapple which was awesome.

While I’ve never been a hardcore biker, I’m extra chill these days. In fact, even though I have 12 or 15 gears or something like that on my road bike, I did not shift gears once. Not even when we were climbing the super steep, never-ending hill on Montreal. I guess I should, but it’s just easier to stay in the same gear and I don’t really care. I’m just happy that my vision is good enough that I can still bike.

Read this poem on poem of the day (poets.org) and loved it even though I don’t love cats.

For Katy
Rodney Jones – 1950-

When Milo was a kitten
and spent the night
with us in the big bed,
curled like a brown sock
at our feet, he would
wake before daybreak,
squeak plaintively
in his best Burmese,
cat-castrato soprano,
and make bread on our stomachs
until if one of us did not rise,
sleep-walk to the kitchen
and open his can of food,
he would steal under the covers,
crouch, run hard at us,
jam his head
in our armpits,
and burrow fiercely.

Probably he meant nothing by that.
Or he meant it in cat-contrary,
just as he did not intend
drawing blood the day
he bolted out the door
and was wild again
for nearly three hours.
I could not catch him
until I knelt, wormed
into the crawl-space
under a neighbor house
and lured him home
with bits of dried fish.

Or he meant exactly what he smelled,
and smelled the future
as it transmogrified out of the past,
for he is, if not an olfactory
clairvoyant,
a highly nuanced cat—
an undoer of complicated knots,
who tricks cabinets,
who lives to upend tall
glasses of Merlot.
With his whole body,
he has censored the finest passages of Moby-Dick.
He has silenced Beethoven with one paw.
He has leapt three and a half feet
from the table by the wall
and pulled down
your favorite print by Miró.
He does not know the word no.

When you asked the vet what
kind of cat it was, she went
into the next room
came back and said,
“Havana Brown.”

The yellow eyes, the voice,
the live spirit that plays into dead seriousness
and will not be punished into goodness,
but no—

an ancient, nameless breed—

mink he says and I answer in cat.
Even if I was not
born in a dumpster
between a moldy cabbage
and an expired loaf of bread,
I too was rescued by an extravagant woman.

july 2/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

3 miles
railroad trestle turn around
73 degrees
humidity: 85%

Hot and humid and sticky and soaking. Had to stop and walk a little. Encountered the Daily Walker while I was walking and he called out, “it’s so humid!” Like yesterday, didn’t see the river. Too distracted by heat and sweat and my audio book, Dead Man’s Folly. The first Agatha Christie that I’m listening to that I don’t already know who did it. I have some ideas though….Anything else I remember from the run? Encountered a big group of camp kids biking somewhere–all single file on the bike path in their bright yellow vests. The other day, I encountered another group of camp kids biking. Not sure how old they were–maybe 10 or so? One of the kids called out to the other, “you’re a fucking asshole!” The swearing didn’t bother me, but it always sounds jarring to hear a young kid yelling those words. Why? Not totally sure. Anything else I remember? My left leg felt a bit tight or sore or something.

This poem! So delightful to read and listen to:

While Waiting for the Bus/Eliot Khalil Wilson

Under the eaves of the gas-mart—swallows
fall into the day, wheel before the headless
grooms of the formal wear shop, angle low
as my shoes, then comet up, sheer, careless
of traffic, all that is grounded or down.
A flight of leaf-blown cursives, blue coats
over dashing white, the red-rift of dawn
painted upon their crowns and busy throats.
I must learn to keep them with me, to hold,
somehow, their accomplished joy when I’m gone
to the city where I am mostly old
and their song, under the noise of hours, is done.
But now, auto exhaust cripples the air
as my grey somnambulant bus draws near.

Some things I love about this poem: swallows falling into the day, headless grooms of the formal wear shop, a flight of leaf-blown cursives, dawn painted upon, the noise of hours, auto exhaust crippling the air.

Also wanted to include a poem by William Carlos Williams. There’s a thing (is this called a meme?) on twitter right now in which poets finish the statement, “If I hit x number of followers this year, I’ll start a lit journal called …” I liked this one: If I hit 3,500 followers this year I’ll start a poetry journal called The Icebox Review which will exclusively publish parodies of “This Is Just to Say.” Of course, I had to look up the poem. It sounded familiar, but I wasn’t sure.

This Is Just To Say/William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

I like this poem but I’m not sure what makes it a poem, which seems to be my feeling about most of the poems I’ve read by Williams. Do I need to know it’s a poem to like it as a poem? I don’t think so. I just found a great anti-analysis to the poem on the great site, Eat This Poem: “THIS IS JUST TO SAY” BY WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS + INA’S PLUM TATIN I love this idea of resisting analysis while still deeply (critically and creatively) engaging with the poems. So delightfully undisciplined!

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back

swim: 1.35 miles
lake nokomis

What a wonderful swim (even if it was really crowded and the lifeguards were too close to the buoys)! Thing I remember most was the weird water and how it was cold then warm then cold again. Quick flashes of freezing water combined with luke warm bath water. I’ve experienced this before but never to this extreme. I think I preferred the cold water. I don’t mind swimming in cold water. I’d like to work on descriptions of this phenomenon. Maybe a whole poem?

The other thing I realized as I was focused on the buoy and almost ran into the lifeguard’s kayak: if I am focusing on one object, other objects disappear. It’s not just that I’m not paying attention to them so they seem like they’re not there. It’s that they literally aren’t there in my messed up vision with my chaotic cones and confused brain. I need to remember this and try to compensate for it, but it’s hard.

july 1/RUN

3 miles
river road path, north/south
70 degrees
humidity: 92%

Ran in the rain, or at least a drizzle that I hardly noticed because of all the sweat already on my skin. Felt pretty good for the first mile but then started to tire. Why is running so hard these days? Is it just the heat and the humidity? Am I running too fast? Listened to a birthday playlist from last year, so I hardly noticed anything. The tunnel of trees was dark and damp and green. I bet the parks department will be coming soon to trim back the vines. Pretty sure I didn’t even get a glimpse of the river. Too busy avoiding rain soaked branching blocking the path.

june 29/RUN

3.2 miles
austin, mn
79 degrees
humidity: 79%

A very hot and sunny run for my birthday. Ugh! I do not handle the heat very well. So much sweating. I guess I need to start getting up much earlier for my runs, or figure out ways to handle the heat. I ran loops around the park right by Scott’s parent’s house. 2 loops = 1 mile. Listened to a playlist to distract myself. Don’t remember much. Enjoying the brief shade and the occasional breeze. Not smelling anything. My legs feeling tired. Admiring the big, beautiful blue spruces. Hearing a dog bark. Noticing a box or a bag or a bin in the outfield.

The Month of June: 13 1/2
BY SHARON OLDS

As our daughter approaches graduation and
puberty at the same time, at her
own, calm, deliberate, serious rate,
she begins to kick up her heels, jazz out her
hands, thrust out her hipbones, chant
I’m great! I’m great! She feels 8th grade coming
open around her, a chrysalis cracking and
letting her out, it falls behind her and
joins the other husks on the ground,
7th grade, 6th grade, the
magenta rind of 5th grade, the
hard jacket of 4th when she had so much pain,
3rd grade, 2nd, the dim cocoon of
1st grade back there somewhere on the path, and
kindergarten like a strip of thumb-suck blanket
taken from the actual blanket they wrapped her in at birth.
The whole school is coming off her shoulders like a
cloak unclasped, and she dances forth in her
jerky sexy child’s joke dance of
self, self, her throat tight and a
hard new song coming out of it, while her
two dark eyes shine
above her body like a good mother and a
good father who look down and
love everything their baby does, the way she
lives their love.

I love this poem. I love how she describes this experience of being liberated from middle school and elementary school. I have a 13 year old daughter and I’d like to imagine her feeling this way when she finishes 8th grade next year.

june 28/RUN

3 miles
bustin, mn
70 degrees
76% humidity

Ran with Scott in his hometown this morning. Ran an easy mile to the high school track, then ran 3/4 of a mile around it, then kept running to the coffee place. My legs felt tired and not that fast but it was still fun. I’m thinking about heading there again tomorrow and trying to run a little faster. I think I’ve run around an outdoor track maybe 3 or 4 times in my whole life.

No Apology: A Poemifesto
by Carmen Smith Giménez

Isn’t there a line by Yusef Komunyakaa, “I apologize for the eyes in my head.” Maybe what I am trying to say is that I apologize for the sight in my eyes.
—Susan Briante

I would love to make a proposal, and it is out of love,
not patronizing love but true revolutionary love, and it won’t
upset the orbit tomorrow. So here’s where I’d like
to begin, and this might be the hardest thing you’ve tried to do,
or maybe you already do it and I’m grateful for you
because you’ve inspired me. I know it’s the hardest thing
for me because I haven’t done it consistently (not at all, sorry),
but I want to recommend that we stop apologizing.
Today I counted and I said I’m sorry approximately 22 times.
I apologized for my setting my stuff down on the counter at the Krogers.
I apologized for being behind someone at a copy machine.
I apologized for someone else bumping into a stranger.
I apologized for taking longer than a minute to explain an idea.
Suffice it to say I am sorry all the time.
I won’t tell you what to do because that makes me
an implicit solicitor of sorry. Personally,
when the word comes into my mouth, I’m going to shape it into
a seed to plant in another woman’s aura as love. I only ask
that we get started. This will be our first step in world domination.

june 27/RUN

3.2 miles
railroad trestle turn around
74 degrees
humidity: 68%, dew point: 60+

Sticky this morning. Storm coming. Right before I left the house, I ate a fig newton. Instant energy for the first mile. Maybe if I had eaten more or brought some with me to eat as I ran, I could have had that much energy for the entire run, but I didn’t. Listened to a playlist titled “Summer 2014” and briefly thought about how when I made this playlist, I had been running 3 years already and my mom had been dead for 5 years. Greeted the Daily Walker twice–once with a quick wave as I passed him from behind, once with a quick “good morning” as I ran towards him on the way back from the trestle. The gorge was pretty today. When I reached the tunnel of trees–the part of the path I have been writing about for the past week–I noticed how the trail dips down right after the old stone steps into a small stand of trees, then slightly up again in a clearing, then down again to the bottom of the tunnel. It was dark in the tunnel today, with the rain coming soon, and I couldn’t see the light at the end until the path had twisted and climbed a little. Then, there it was, a slash of sky.

[For a few days: frost]/jehanne subrow

For a few days: frost
remakes the lawn as frozen spines.
I’m stepping on small bones.
In these outlying parts
streets are named Whispering or Leaf.
I’m leashed to a small companion
who leads me from one message to another,
squats in the grass, rubs
against a hydrant’s iron neck.
I’m bundled in feathers,
the downy air, to prove
what breed of animal I am.

I love this poem. Her description of frost as spines and walking on frosted grass as stepping on small bones. The dog leading her from one message to another. Being bundled in feathers. I want to be able to write a poem like this.

june 26/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
74 degrees

Overcast on the way there, sunny on the way back. Hardly any wind. Not too many other bikers. A few annoying surreys on the way back. I’m very happy that I’m not having trouble seeing things–like curbs or other bikers.

swim: 1.2 miles
lake nokomis
7 loops around the white buoys

What a wonderful day for a swim! The water was so calm and I had it all to myself. Every year I intend to swim at the lake as many mornings as I can. Then I find reasons not to do it. I’m hopeful that I can remember how great this swim was today and commit to more morning swims in July. My right shoulder hurt a little but otherwise it was a peaceful, relaxing swim. Just me and the water–and a steady stream of planes in the air. Again, lots of counting: 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left. No deep thoughts. Mostly, I kept thinking: sight the buoy, stay straight. Or, is that the tree line I’m seeing or a kayaker? Or, are there any fish beneath me? Or, what distance have I gone? Lots of questions, I guess. When I got out, I felt strong and sore and satisfied. Swimming in the lake is the best. I prefer swimming across the lake the most–it’s more interesting and challenging–but swimming off the big beach is cool too.

Theory of Writing
Souvankham Thammavongsa

We all know two plus two equals four
And we begin with that. We learn to add
Before we learn how to take away, to lose.
It’s a great way to learn how to write. To
Have a formula, a line to follow. Before
We know what adding means, we have to
Know what two means. What two and two
Mean together. There are many ways to get to
Four. Five subtract one is equal to four.
One times four is equal to four. The square
Root of sixteen is four. A square root
Is a number that looks exactly like it, multiplied
By itself. Four divided by one also equals
Four. Four to the power of one is equal to four too.
We can get there through a derivative, if
That’s how you want it. The square of the
Hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares
Of the other two sides can also get you to four.
There are so many ways to get to four.
Once all these other ways of getting
To four is understood, it’s not really four
You’re after. Anyone can get to four. And
You know this. Maybe it’s the certainty of
Four. That you can always get to it. That it will
Always turn out the same. Maybe that’s what
You want. The certainty of four. Or maybe
It’s the ways in which you know how
To get to four that is the point of writing.
What you had to learn and build, the time it took
To hold open the possibility for yourself.