May 2019

the lower trail

a (mostly) abandoned trail midway above the gorge. First it was dirt, then broken chunks of asphalt mixed with mulching leaves, then slightly cracked asphalt sloping to one side.

an hour a day

Almost an hour long run–my goal amount of time. An hour is not too long to be worn out but long enough to really sink into a run.

purple flowers

small, light purple (lilac?) flowers blooming in some bushes at the side of the path

Poetry Exercise

Create 3 beat phrases, mostly based on the run. Write them on slips of paper, put them face down on the desk, pick twelve. Make a poem, using them in the order they were picked. Rearrange the phrases to make another poem.

too much green
take the steps
aching legs
in the gorge
climate change
up so high
be right back
old stone steps
good morning
stop and walk

good morning
too much green
in the gorge
take the steps
old stone steps
up so high
aching legs
stop and walk
be right back
climate change

3 word chants

some 3 beat phrases:

what a day
it’s so hot
lots of bikes
stopped to walk
sun beats down
not much wind
green abounds
legs are sore

eat my shorts
dive right in
shut your mouth
eat your greens
take the steps
on your left
river road

I run through
the oak grove
and call out
to each oak
good morning
good morning
good morning
good morning
they call back
hello friend

I run down
river road
to the falls
then the lake
gorge below
blue and green
water’s high
path is low
creek is clear
echo bridge
walk the hill
ugly tree
thick black pods
locust tree?
startled mom
round about
little beach
missed my turn
double back
lift the knees
wipe the sweat
water please!
a slight breeze
leafing trees
a lone duck
Sea Salt smells
Dairy Queen
rushing cars
iced out lake
mucky shore
on your left
zooming bike

run downtown
up the hill
down the street
out the door
up your nose
rubber hose
don’t delay
never die
brash & bold
trust yourself
change your life
lasting love
turnip greens
picket fence
sunday best
monday worst
bumble bee
climate change
shopping trip
just say please
crunchy grit
tortured task
don’t say yes
vision loss
under where?
addled brain
growing old
warming earth
ugly feet
yelling kids

The start of the haibun project! (may 4)
The idea of the NPS unigrid brochure! (may 20)


“If a haiku is an insight into a moment of experience, a haibun is the story of narrative, of how one came to have that experience.”

haibuns of running routes started as 3 beat phrases: winding down, wedged in dirt, where others, congregate, cottonwoods, maple leaves, tall brown brass, softest sand, hollowed trunk, unleashed dogs

gorge information

most of the oaks are red
the pink bridge is bridge #9
below east river road is called southeast flats
floodplain forest is longfellow flats?
glacial river warren, created falls in downtown st. paul, 11,700 years ago, 200 feet high, limestone caprock 1/2 mile wide, slowly traveled to st. anthony falls
3 main ares in gorge: oak savanna, mixed harwood forest, floodplain forest
1909 Meeker Island Lock and Dam
1911 Lock and Dam #1 replaces Meeker
Falls “discovered” by Father Hennepin in 1680
1930s Winchell Trail established by WPA


Dakota Shale/ Platteville Limestone/ St. Peter Sandstone

adding/losing layers

losing time

Turning around, heading back, I took off my sweatshirt. As I ran I tried to remember what I noticed when I ran through one particular stretch of the path. I couldn’t remember anything. That minute or two lost forever

almost more snow

Cold and windy today. There was a possibility of snow, but thankfully it never happened. 2.5 hours north in Duluth they got 8.5 inches. (may 9)

showy green grass

Sunny. Calm. Hardly any wind. Noisy birds. Showy green grass. Modest trees, covering their bare branches with so many leaves.

congregation, may 11

I heard some rowers on the river! Saw some roller skiers–one was going so slow up a hill that I almost passed them walking. Encountered lots of bikes going fast down the Franklin Hill–25 or 30 mph or more? One bug didn’t quite make it into my eye but got stuck in my eyelash. Another died on my nose.

ancient boulders

So many big boulders. This morning, while reading up on the history of the Mississippi River Gorge, I encountered this sentence about the 36th street parking lot: “Boulders deposited as glacial ice retreated.” Thought about this as I ran by many big rocks, which were mostly not too big–only 2 or 3 feet high. Amazing to try to think about how old these rocks are. And how heavy. And how much they’ve witnessed.

Today, running south, I noticed the big boulders lining the path. How many? 5 or 6 spread out on the way to the falls.

Counted the number of biggish boulders on the way to the falls: 5–3 bigger, 2 smaller.

sounds, water coming out of sewer pipe

Heard some trickling water coming out of the sewer pipes. Well, the first time was more drip drop drizzling while the second was more streaming. Not quite gushing or rushing but more forceful than seeping or trickling.

Hearing one woman say to her biking partner, “I’m good at running…” and then anticipating her answer: “a marathon.” Her actual answer? “a small business.” Thought about the different uses of run.

Heard water gushing in spurts out of the sewer pipe.

lack of oneness with nature

Read an article about the poetry of place and encountered this line:

The achievement of oneness with nature in poems (and in life, for that matter) is more often than not, fake. Much more convincing is an honest failure.

In running, I try to lose myself, to become one with the path or the wind or the river. It never works, usually because my body aches somewhere or I start worrying about something. But I do have flashes of forgetting, when I am just breathing and being. These flashes are hard to describe even as I’ve tried. I don’t think I’d like to be that untethered or lost all the time. And I’m not sure I’d call the lack of oneness a failure.


So many green layers by my favorite part of the path. Running through it is disorienting. Can’t tell where the ground is or the river, sometimes even the sky. Just floating in green and brown air.

running over the plymouth bridge. The railing was just at the right height to be constantly in my peripheral vision. It was a bit disorienting as my right eye noticed each pole (or slat or whatever you want to call it) as it flew by.

vision problems

It’s hard to convey to others–or to understand myself–what I can and can’t see. I still have vision and I can still see almost everything. It just takes a lot longer to see it and requires deliberate, careful effort. What a drag–it’s tiring having to pay attention to so much when you’re biking, but as long as I can still bike, I don’t care.

the daily moment of delight

Earlier today, walking with the dog, we encountered 3 BIG turkeys chilling out in the bottom of a neighbor’s yard (or would you call it a ravine? It dips down way below the road–maybe it was a sink hole?). Delia the dog didn’t bark or even take much notice of this rafter of birds (rafter or flock is what a group of wild turkeys is called). But I did. Watching them, mostly in delight, with a dash of trepidation. Then I thought: this is it–the thing that I want to remember about today. Seeing three random turkeys in someone’s yard.

Earlier today, I took the dog for a walk. Near 7 Oaks I saw a tall, narrow, rectangular sign that said, “VOTE,” propped up next to a scarecrow. If I had brought my phone, I would have taken a picture of it, but I didn’t. I’ll have to take Scott back there soon. The image of this scarecrow–which I can’t quite picture, I can only remember the feeling of delight I had when I encountered it–is my memory of the day.

vision adjustments

I checked out of the library–Murder on the Orient Express. Pretty great. I’m trying to slowly acclimate myself to audio books so that when I can no longer see to read (most likely within the next 5 years), it won’t feel like as big of a loss.

first swim in the lake! (may 31)

green, green, glutinous green!

possible poem idea

find medical/technical/jargony descriptions of cone dystrophy. do erasures with the text.

poems as maps, map poetry

see: Washington State poetry project, mapping the Columbia river (Castro Luna)

Elizabeth Bradfield’s halibuts about Anarctica

write about what you don’t know about what you do know

seep in