nov 11/RUN

5.25 miles
fort snelling loop*
36 degrees
snow flurries

*a new loop! Started at the Hidden Falls parking lot in St. Paul and ran south to some steps just before the confluence. Over a bridge to Fort Snelling. Through Fort Snelling, Coldwater Springs, the Minnehaha dog park, the Veterans’ Home. Over the ford bridge and back to the river trail.

A wonderful run with Scott! A new loop to add into the mix. From our house, this loop is about 7.5-8 miles. Not too bad. So many wonderful views of the rivers — Mississippi and Minnesota. Such variety in surfaces and landscapes! Asphalt, concrete, crushed limestone, grass, dirt — soft and hard, dead leaves. Over bridges, above ravines, beside old military barracks and frequently travelled highways, through beloved parks, around disc golf courses. Under trees, next to freaky looking bushes with no leaves but dark pinecones, through tall grass, up steep steps with special tracks for rolling bikes down.

Not too long after this run, we drove down to St. Peter to hear FWA’s fall concert. I didn’t have time to finish and post this entry. I’m finishing it on Sunday morning. Can I remember 10 things from yesterday’s run?

10 Things

  1. the river (mississippi) stretching north — a clear, unobstructed view from above — this stretch near hidden falls in st. paul has the best views of the river
  2. so many glowing green leaves on the trees
  3. Scott ranting about Elon Musk and his latest attempts to destroy electric cars
  4. the strange (and a little irritating) visual effect of running next to a tall railing as the light pulsed through the slats — a constant flash flash flash flash
  5. running right by the barracks at Fort Snelling and feeling the misery of it — the cold quarters, especially in the winter, and this site as concentration camp, killing so many Dakota people in the winter of 1862
  6. the pleasing slide and crunch of the crushed limestone on this stretch of the trail
  7. a mix of surfaces: a few steps of limestone, then a flat, hard surface with a map printed on it
  8. running through the Ft. Snelling parking lot, then over to a trail next to Highway 55 — a tall wall then the highway on one side, strange bushes with ugly and ominous-looking pinecones on the other
  9. cutting through a narrow dirt trail near coldwater springs — running up and down as the path gently rose and fell over small hills
  10. a row of American flags lining the road right by the Veterans’ home — it’s Veterans’ Day

I did it! I probably could have listed another 10 things. This route was memorable.

nov 10/RUN

5.1 miles
franklin loop
37 degrees

More excellent November weather! A solid, relaxed, non-stop (except for walking up the bridge steps) run. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker and, later, another friendly runner — Hi! Admired the blue river and the occasional flash of red in the trees. Took deep breaths of fresh, cold air. Listened, without headphones, to the traffic and a chirping bird, rustling leaves and an alarm beeping somewhere.

10 Things

  1. a clear view of the forest floor from above
  2. so many green leaves still on the trees on the east side — light, glowing green
  3. somber (or reverent?) wind chimes
  4. smell 1: stinky, sour sewer gas, faint
  5. smell 2: either skunk or weed, probably weed
  6. smell 3: hot chocolate
  7. bright yellow headlights from cars, cutting through the trees
  8. some part of a machine scraping on a sidewalk somewhere in the distance
  9. a tree that I thought might be a person until I saw it in my periphery: a tree with one branch holding a hat at head-height
  10. a woman walker in bright orange pants

At the end of my run, I took a picture from the top of the hill, above the tunnel of trees, across from the ancient boulder:

Overlooking a forest that winds down to the river, which is a faint white -- or no color, just the absence of brown branches and yellowed leaves. Mostly bare branches and a brown ground covered in fallen leaves. In the lower right-hand corner a chain link fence stretches. This fence marks where the Winchell Trail used to go after coming up from the ravine. Now it's barely a trail, mostly hidden by leaves, no longer maintained. Just outside of the frame on the left, a green leaf flutters in the wind.
a view to the river near the 35th street parking lot / 10 november 2023

I love this poem by Donika Kelly, and I love what magic she can do with words!

I love you. I miss you. Please get out of my house. / Donika Kelly

Nothing today hasn’t happened before:
I woke alone, bundled the old dog
into his early winter coat, watered him,
fed him, left him to his cage for the day
closing just now. My eye drifts
to the buff belly of a hawk wheeling,
as they do, in a late fall light that melts
against the turning oak and smelts
its leaves bronze.
Before you left,
I bent to my task, fixed in my mind
the slopes and planes of your face;
fitted, in some essential geography,
your belly’s stretch and collapse
against my own, your scent familiar
as a thousand evenings.
Another time,
I might have dismissed as hunger
this cataloguing, this fitting, this fixing,
but today I crest the hill, secure in the company
of my longing. What binds us, stretches:
a tautness I’ve missed as a sapling,
supple, misses the wind.

I love all the work the title does to set up the poem, how she describes it as watering the dog (and not giving the dog water), and these verbs: cataloging/fitting/fixing. My favorite sentence, and the reason I wanted to post this poem today, is this:

My eye drifts
to the buff belly of a hawk wheeling,
as they do, in a late fall light that melts
against the turning oak and smelts
its leaves bronze.

A late fall light that melts against the tree and smelts it leaves bronze? Wow. I want tp remember that line. I’d also like to find an example of it out by the gorge on my run today (I’m writing this bit before my run), but there’s no autumn sunlight today, just gray gray gray. I wonder, what does gray to those leaves?

during the run: I hoped to think about this question of what gray does to the leaves, but I got distracted, or maybe, it didn’t do much, at least not today. Most of the leaves were gold or orangish-brown, no shimmering or sizzling, just soft and flat.

Instead of thinking about what gray does to the leaves, I was thinking about some lines I’d like to add to my Haunts poem:

A girl runs
four blocks
to the gorge.
She’s all
muscle bone
and breath,
foot strikes and
arm swings.
The river
and ghosts

transcript: During the run I was thinking about ghosts and girls and the gorge. And I was thinking that what I’m really trying to convey is that there’s a heaviness and a solidness and a there-ness that is both good and too heavy. So there’s a desire to lighten up. What I want to do is convey the heaviness, so maybe using the word, “heavy,” heavy foot strikes. Then I was thinking of Lizzy McAlpine and her song, “all my ghosts.” And then I was thinking about how all these ghosts aren’t primarily a bad thing, but there are a few ghosts I struggle with more than others. I think the ghost of cancer is haunting me the most right now.

the chorus from McAlpine’s “all my ghosts”:

And all my ghosts were with me
I know you felt them too
Watchin’ as I started to get dizzy
‘Cause I hate all of my habits
But I happen to love you
I hope that’s true

another version of my lines:

A girl runs.
She’s all
muscle bone
and breath,
heavy foot
falls and
swinging arms.
At the
river her
ghosts wait.

nov 8/RUN

5.5 miles
ford loop
43 degrees

Ah, November! Ran through the neighborhood, past the kids playing outside at the church daycare, past the house that has a giant Packer’s flag hanging from their fence, past the window of the business where I watch myself run and wonder if the people inside are watching me watch myself, over the lake street bridge to the east side of the river. On the bridge, I passed a couple holding hands. A mile later, I passed another hand-holding couple. An unusual sighting, and twice. Ran up the long hill to the Monument, then beside the river until I reached the ford bridge. Stopped to take a picture on the bridge, then ran the rest of the way back with Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo.

A view from the ford bridge, poorly framed. Not sure what color other people might see here, but to me it's all gray: light gray sky and river, broken up by chunks of dark gray trees. I like how the sky and the river look almost the same color to me.
taken from the ford bridge / 8 november 2023
My view of the river from the ford bridge. I stuck my phone above the railing, pointed and clicked quickly, afraid I might drop my phone into the river. For me, this image is fuzzy, almost furry, with soft greens and golds and grays. Most of the shot is of the past-their-prime trees on the shore of the Mississippi. All along the left edge curved around the trees is the light gray river which, at some point, turns into the sky. This image looks more like a painting than a photograph.
taken, with some trepidation, over the railing of the ford bridge / 8 november 2023

10 Things

  1. kids playing at the church daycare, several of them huddled at the fence, one of them (accidentally?) threw a ball over the side
  2. blue water, some waves, a few streaks or trails from something
  3. running above shadow falls, not sure if I was hearing it dripping or the wind through the trees
  4. running up the summit hill, a stretch of lit street lamps lining the path, the amber lights glowing softly
  5. noticing the gloom and the absence of my shadow as I ran around the ravine
  6. wondering if I would get to hear the St. Thomas bells as I ran close to campus (nope)
  7. chickadee dee dee
  8. turkeys! I’m not quite sure, but I think they were hanging out in the grass, just past the ford bridge, before you head down the hill to the locks and dam
  9. an unnaturally vibrant green on some of the leaves on the east side of the river — is this spring or late fall?
  10. an intense smell of cinnamon shortly before reaching the ford bridge — where was it coming from? someone’s gum? a bush?

before the run

Last night during Scott’s South High Community Jazz Band rehearsal, when I sit and listen and work on poetry, I returned to Susan Tichy’s North | Rock | Edge. Wow! This morning, before my run, I’m thinking about the lines I read and an interview Tichy did for Terrain.

There’s also a sensory excitement in a sea-rock-light-wind-bird-flower-seal-seep-peat-rain-salt—oh look, there’s a whale!—environment that subsumes attention to any one thing into the press of the whole.

I love how she describes the environment and her idea of attention to the whole, not just to any one thing.

Rock blurs the categories of time and space by making time visible and place temporal. A poem uses both rest and motion to create a form, which can be seen and must be heard—as the Susan Howe epigraph says, fleeting and fixed. These poems, like many in Avalanche Path, have a surface texture of fragmentation, abrupt change, and brokenness metamorphized into a new whole, voiced in present time, human time. Nothing is still; nothing is uniform.

And here’s a wonderful bit from the first part of Tichy’s poem, 60 North|Arriving, Stand Still:

& here wind

elevates to a theory

of time : to not miss a single

wave’s decay, a verse

of coast becoming dearth

of certainty, to undefine

the edge as noun, dissolving

in the not unyielding mouth

of cliff : verse/reverse

from the root of turn :

wind-wave & swell

compounded to a single

force, broken

by the thing it breaks—

In the next section she offers this line, what place is not. The gorge as what place is not, or where place one was?

during the run

I think Tichy’s poem influenced my thoughts indirectly as I ran. I was thinking about a part of my Haunts poem I’m working on, particularly about how I am sometimes a girl, sometimes a ghost, and sometimes a gorge. Am I the gorge, I wondered as I started running. And as I ran over the lake street bridge I came up with an answer: yes. Later, when I reached to ford bridge, I stopped running to record some thoughts:

I am the gorge because the gorge is the remains, what is left behind, what continues to exist even as ground erodes, self erodes, vision erodes. The gorge, constantly shifting, but always there. The gorge is the eroded. Is the ghost the verb, the eroding? … I am also the gorge because I’m constantly leaving part of myself here and becoming this place and not just moving through the place, becoming the place.

nov 6/RUN

5 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
50 degrees / wind: 14 mph

Warmer this morning, so I wore shorts without tights, a short-sleeved gray t-shirt, and my orange sweatshirt. At the bottom of the hill when I turned around, I took off the sweatshirt and ran the second half with bare arms and legs. The only part of me that was cold was my ears, from the wind. A good run. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker:

me: Hi Dave!
Dave: Hi Sara! How are you doing today?
me: I’m good. How are you?
Dave: I’m very good. Thanks for asking.

Today I thought about how both of us almost always say the same thing, but they aren’t empty words. We both are always good when we’re outside, moving; we are our best selves: happy, free, able to forget and to admire everything around us.

10 Things

  1. honking geese, heard not seen, hidden in some brambles
  2. wind chimes, softly ringing at the start of my run
  3. mostly gray and overcast, once sun and my shadow — hello friend!
  4. approaching the Welcoming Oaks, all bare now, a deep red tree — have I ever noticed before that they are a few maples mixed in with the oaks
  5. several of the Welcoming Oaks had broken branches — the branch that remained looked jagged and gnarled
  6. an open view down to the floodplain forest! only a few patches of green
  7. no stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  8. more chickadee dee dees
  9. Daddy Long Legs crossing the street
  10. a slight haze everywhere, covering everything

what the wind can do

A block into my run, the wind picked up and gathered the leaves, pushing them forward. They looked almost like kids running — frantic and fast — towards something fun or away from something boring. This image reminded me of the other day when Scott and I were waiting in the drive-up line at the pharmacy. The wind was pushing an open wrapper. Instead of swirling around, the silver wrapper looked like it was dancing or marching. It didn’t look like a wrapper, but like a bug or some creature that was alive. One more wind/leaves image: Running south, the wind was at my back. A few times it pushed the leaves and we (me and the leaves) raced. I won, of course.

loops, repetitions, projects, time, and echoes

I’m still orbiting around ideas, trying to figure out what to do next. I’m getting closer. I know that it involves my not-yet-finished haunts poems and repetitions and restlessness and the untethering of project from progress, looping and leaving and returning, and time. Time keeps coming up. I’ve thought/written/theorized about time for decades. I even wrote about it in a doctoral exam. On this log, I frequently discuss it — how it drips or disappears when I’m running, my need to slow down the time it takes me to run (pace), rethinking time outside of clocks and the tight boxes of seconds, minutes, hours, trying to imagine time in much larger and longer scales across generations and centuries, Mary Oliver’s eternal vs. ordinary time, Marie Howe’s moments, past present and future Saras, cycles and seasons.

The other day I came across an amazing new endeavor (note: I’m resisting using project here), by Graywolf Press: a series of labs in which several artists come together to discuss, share, collaborate, imagine new possibilities for a theme. The first lab’s theme is time and, as I read through it (I read the transcript first, I’ll listen to their podcast next), I was inspired. Too many ideas to try and write down in this entry. I was particularly struck by Lisa Chen (LC) and her novel (I’m starting it after I finish this entry!), Activities of Daily Living. Here’s how she describes the book:

it’s about this durational artist Tehching Hsieh who was active in downtown New York in the seventies, eighties, nineties. And the, the novel is about a woman named Alice, who’s, has a day job but is trying to make something artistic. And she decides she’s gonna do a project about this artist just because he’s on her mind at the same time that her father is declining from dementia.

And the book is partly organized by going through these six seminal projects that the artist is known for before he stopped making work. And right, so, so the “Time Clock Piece,” he punched a time clock on the hour, every hour for like a year. And he missed, he missed a few. So again, Alice is trying to make a project out of this work so part of it is she’s digging into each of these durational projects and trying to think about what it stimulates or what she can make of it.

In the conversation, LC distinguishes between artist-time and life-time and projects we work on outside of capitalist/work-time. This makes me think of the many discussions I’ve had about being useless and un-productive and engaging in work outside of/in resistance to “the clock.” For me, this sort of time conversation is about what it means to work as an artist — I should return to Mary Oliver and the ways she struggles with this in The Leaf and the Cloud! Haunting questions: what’s the point? but, what does it do?

In the midst of all my thinking about time and progress and projects, I’ve been reflecting on repetitions and echoes in my own work. After rereading an entry from nov 5, 2019, I wrote this in my notes:

Reading through entries from past years on this day and feeling like I could have written/experienced the same thing on a run today — the same river, the same gray sky, the same dying vision, the same words feelings thoughts. This sameness points to a larger time scale and a resistance to progress! and improvement! but I also wonder if it suggests that I’m stuck in the same loop — be outside, move, notice, write. Where is it all going? Does it have to go anywhere? I feel these doubts in these moments when I’m in-between projects, when I have too many doors to enter and I don’t know which one to choose. This tension of restlessness and looping and resisting and in-between and the life of a writer should all be part of this collection. It should be haunted by these themes. 

my notes

I also wrote about this theme in an “On This Day” entry this morning:

I’m thinking about my echo discussion for nov 4, 2020 and how an echo repeats but slightly differently each time — fainter or softer or distorted. So much of what I write (and experience) as I move is almost the same from year to year. The view, or lack of view, of the river. The wonderful cold air. How much I love running in the cold. Often I start with, A wonderful run or a beautiful run or another great run. What distinguishes these entries are the small and brief moments and the images they create, like the snow and the bridge. That moment only lasted a few seconds, but it creates the echo here. (if that makes sense.) 

Sara, age 49, on November 4, 2023, is thinking a lot of repetition and looping and wondering about the differences between being stuck in a rut of repetition and using the grooves to sing a beautiful song. (not sure if that metaphor works). Put another way: I’ve been doing this practice of moving outside, noticing, writing about it for almost 7 years. So many of the entries contain the same descriptions, or almost the same descriptions. Am I just repeating myself, stuck on the same path, or is each entry an echo, a variation, with (sometimes) slight differences, difficult to discern?

On This Day: November 4

Wow, this is a lot. Right before my run, as I was thinking about all of these things in a kind of jumbled mess, this idea flashed in my head: find the echoes. Start with the moments, over the 7 years of writing in this log, in which I repeat myself (sometimes word for word) and put them together into some sort of chant or small poem or something. Sprinkle them throughout “Haunts.” Mix them in with other examples of echoes — in the geography, the history, the setting? How many echoes can I find?

nov 4/RUN

4.1 miles
hidden falls / confluence
28 degrees

Loved the weather this morning! Hardly any wind, not too bright, not too cold. Scott and I drove over to a parking lot near Highland Bridge and ran beside the Mississippi River past Hidden Falls to the confluence where the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers meet. Wow! Such soft, sweeping views! Heard lots of chickadees (chick a dee dee dee) and ran up and down lots of little hills.

10+ Things

  1. a cracked rutted cratered trail
  2. steps leading down to a bridge across the river — something to try next time!
  3. empty benches on the edge
  4. a recently re-painted parking lot below the confluence with jaunty arrows on the pavements — I said they looked like they were italicized
  5. the tops of the bare branches looked fuzzy and soft and gray
  6. 2 rivers curving around an island
  7. more white sand than usual — the river is low
  8. running through Highland bridge, I could hear a dog relentlessly barking at the dog park
  9. hidden falls was steadily flowing down limestone and concrete ledges
  10. a few slick, icy spots on the bridge
  11. geese! A gaggle of geese on the edge of the trail, only the final one acknowledged our presence with a sharp honk — no hiss, thankfully

nov 3/RUN

3.1 miles
2 trails
41 degrees

A little warmer today. Another beautiful run. What a view! Clear and through the trees to the river and the other side. I love November and its blues, grays, browns, and golds from a few trees still holding onto their leaves. I felt relaxed and strong — lungs and legs.

Listened to rustling leaves, striking feet, dripping ravines for the first 2 miles of the run. Put in Taylor Swift’s new version of 1989 for the last mile.

10 Things

  1. a single leaf floating through the air, then down to the ground — was it brown or gold or green?
  2. the steady dripping of water out of the sewer pipe
  3. the smell of something burnt — toast? coffee? — but from a house or the gorge and not longfellow grill
  4. a runner in a bright yellow shirt, running across the road, then through the grass below edmund, then onto the dirt trail in front of me
  5. the steps down to the winchell trail are closed, with a chain across the railings, but I went around on the dirt path
  6. the winchell trails was covered in yellow leaves
  7. the roar of a chainsaw from across the gorge
  8. kids’ voices from the playground at Minnehaha Academy
  9. a biker on the walking trail where it dips below the road and hangs above the floodplain forest
  10. a bright headlight from a bike, glowing in the grayish gloom

Found this wonderful little poem the other day:

Injury Room / Katie Ford

Through my
little window, I
see one day
the entire bird,
the next just
a leeward wing,
the next
only a painful
call, which, without
the body, makes
beautiful attachments
by even
attaching at

This poem reminds me of my own experiments in trying to determine how little information (especially visual data) I need in order to recognize or identify or be aware of the presence of some thing.

Poetry is not a Project

Two days ago, at the end of my entry, I posted about a pamphlet I was reading, Poetry is not a Project. I offered some notes from the first section, Habitus, and promised to do the rest in later entries. Here’s the rest. Instead of a lot of notes, I decided to condense it into a key passage from each section.

Poetry is Not a Project / Dorothy Lasky


Poems are living things that grow from the earth into the brain, rather than things that are planted within the earth by the brain.

This discussion of dirt/the ground reminds me of Mary Ruefle’s Observations on the Ground and April, 2022, when I spent the month studying dirt.

An Example

To write a poem is to be a maker. And to be a maker is to be down in the muck of making and not always to fly so high above the muck.

This passage reminded me of an essay I posted about in September and finally read yesterday: En Plein Air Poetics: Notes Towards Writing in the Anthropocene / Brian Teare

What is Really Not Intentions, but Life

The road through a poem is a series of lines, like a constellation, all interconnected. Poems take place in the realm of chance, where the self and the universal combine, where life exists.

On the same site, Ugly Duckling Press, where I found Lasky’s pamphlet, I also found this chapbook, Almost Perfect Forms, in which the author creates the constellations out of ands and ors found in Dreams and Stones by Magdalena Tulli.

How We Write and What We Write For

Because poets make language and make language beautiful. Because beautiful language makes a new and beautiful world. Because poets live and make a new world, which beautiful language itself creates.

nov 1/RUN

4.3 miles
minnehaha falls and back
30 degrees / feels like 22

Yes, another wonderful run! I love breathing in this cold air. Everything that has been almost closed opens up. A lot of the snow has melted, but there were a few patches on the grass. The path was almost completely bare and dry, only one or two short stretches of ice. The falls were roaring. I passed a guy talking on his phone (he was in shorts, of course), showing whoever he was talking to the falls — these falls are so beautiful (at least I think that’s what he said).

I tried chanting in threes:

I am girl /I am ghost/ I am gorge
Girl Ghost Gorge/ Girl Ghost Gorge
Girl / Ghost / Gorge
Girl Girl Girl / Ghost Ghost Ghost / Gorge Gorge Gorge
Girl Ghost Gorge / Ghost Gorge Girl / Gorge Girl Ghost

I was hoping I find some way into words about my haunts poems. It started with one: obsession (which I thought about before my run too. See below). I was thinking about how I return to the gorge again and again, day after day, wanting to be there, wanting to find better words, wanting to establish (once and for all?) that this place is my home. I haunt this place, as ghost and girl.

10 Things

  1. honking geese (just before going out for my run)
  2. snow mixed with ice mixed with yellow leaves
  3. a strange noise — a big pipe clanging mournfully (not exactly sure what was happening, but the noise was caused by a city worker patching the path)
  4. the sharp smell of tar
  5. a woman and her dog walking on the double bridge
  6. a few patches of ice under the ford bridge
  7. running past the cold, silent meadow, almost hearing the buzz of bugs from earlier in the fall
  8. rushing, gushing, roaring falls
  9. crossing over the grassy trail (to avoid the work being done on the path), running over little piles of snow and leaves, my foot sinking into a hidden hole
  10. listening to a playlist for the second half of my run, running on the far edge of the road, being passed by a car hauling a trailer

I was just about to write that I forgot to look at the river, but I just remembered that I did and that I saw one spot that looked like it could almost be ice.

Stopped at my favorite falls spot and took a few seconds of video before turning on a playlist and starting to run again. Watching this video, it seems less white and wintery than it felt when I was there.

minnehaha falls / 1 nov 2023

before the run

I wrote this before my run. It made me feel hopeful that I’m getting closer to a way into a months long obsession.

It’s November and I’m feeling the itch to start (or return to) a big project. Me and my projects. I feel unsettled, lost, irritated, overwhelmed without them.

Not everyone likes the word project as the way to describe what a poet is doing when working on some thing (or, working on nothing, when nothing is not no thing but that empty, unknown space, the void). I guess the idea of a project bothers me a little too — too organized, structured, disciplined. Maybe I’ll start calling it my latest obsession? But an obsession with some direction; the goal = (temporarily) exhausting my feelings/thoughts/understandings/experiences with a certain thing. To write and write and write about a thing until I’m exhausted, emptied or satisfied, at least temporarily.

The difficulty right now is that I have too many obsessions: the periphery, the other side/lifting the veil, living in a land of almosts, girl/ghost/gorge, RUN! as an archive. Where should I land? Which one should I choose? Perhaps I should avoid settling on something so BIG and important, and search for a small, off to the side way in?

Ever since I encountered a chapbook by Dorothy Lasky, Poetry is Not a Project, I’ve been critical/uncertain about my own use of project as a way to describe what I’m doing. I think I first encountered it in year 2 (2018) and I don’t think I actually read it. I just remember feeling uneasy with its title. And that unease has stuck. I think I’ll read it now.

note: I did read it and loved it and then went out for my wonderful run. Now, 3 hours later, I’m back and ready to read it again and then write about it a little.

There’s a lot I could write about in this wonderful pamphlet and its 4 sections: Habitus; An Example; What is Really Not Intention, But Life; and How We Write, and What We Write For. So, I want to break it down over 4 log entries. Today: Habitus


I think poems come from the earth and work through the mind from the ground up. I think poems are living things that grow from the earth into the brain, rather than things that are planted within the earth by the brain. I think a poet intuits a poem and a scientist conducts a “project.”

Poetry is Not a Project

She is not satisfied with this distinction, feeling it’s not quite correct, then ends this page with the following hope:

But I do think there is a distinction. And the distinction, I think, is very important to how we come to think of poetry in the 21st century. Because I want this new century to be full of people who write poems, not full of poets who conduct projects and do nothing more.

Poetry is Not a Project

On the next page, she discusses why projects are useful for poets: they bring in money and respect.

A poet with a project has everything set out before he even gets started. A poet with a nameable project seems wise, and better than other poets with unnameable ones.

Poetry is Not a Project

She calls this out as BS. Then she discusses intuition and its importance for poetry, how the outside world of an artist blends and blurs with our internal drives. This blending and blurring can be difficult to name.

Love this bit:

Naming your intentions is great for some things, but not for poetry. Projects are bad for poetry. I might argue that a poet with a “project” that he can lucidly discuss is a pretty boring poet, at best.

Poetry is Not a Project

and this:

when a poet interacts with the field or domain of poetry, she is aware of the immense history she represents in her words enough to let herself be crushed by it.

Poetry is Not a Project

She then argues that poetic “projects” can be toxic to established and new poets, creating pressure by demanding the poets know exactly what they are doing and be able to articulate it to others. She closes this section with,

a poem, as a thing, resists being talked about linearly in its very nonlinearity. In its very nonlinear life. In the poem’s actual life, goddamn them.

Poetry is Not a Project

Here, I was planning to write some of my thoughts, but I’m struggling to describe why/how Lasky’s ideas resonate for me. I think I’ll write about the other 3 sections and then respond.

But, just one more thing: Lasky’s discussion of our inability to know or express what a poem is in the form of a project, reminds me of a definition of wild that I revisited this morning:

wild = capacity of all things to elude the mind’s appropriations

oct 30/RUN

5.4 miles
franklin loop
25 degrees / feels like 20

Yes! A great temperature for running. I love the cold air and not getting overheated. Wore black running tights, black running shorts, my 10 year-old base layer green shirt, an orange sweatshirt, black gloves, a hat and a buff. Such a great run. I feel satisfied and happy and energized. A great start to the winter running season!

10 Things

  1. chatty, chirping birds — sparrows? wrens? finches? chickadees?
  2. the Welcoming Oaks are almost bare. Where was I when the leaves fell? hello friends!
  3. a bright white circle of sunlit river burning through the growing gap between the trees
  4. everywhere more of a view to the other side
  5. empty blueish gray water — so calm and pleasing to my eyes
  6. passed Daddy Long Legs, dressed in black. His hi was so quiet it didn’t register until it was too late to call back a greeting
  7. Hi Dave! — greeting Dave, the Daily Walker in the final mile
  8. crossing the bridge, approaching 2 talkative runners from behind: excuse me. / Oh! [a runner jumps to the side looking freaked out] / Sorry I scared you!
  9. the smell of smoke down below on the east side of the river
  10. a roller skier! I couldn’t hear the clicking and clacking of his ski poles until I was right next to me

bats, bells, noisy road work, and late fall leaves

Found this poem from DH Lawrence the other day while looking for poems about bats. Wow, he didn’t like bats!

 Bat/ D.H. Lawrence

At evening, sitting on this terrace,
When the sun from the west, beyond Pisa, beyond the mountains of Carrara
Departs, and the world is taken by surprise …

When the tired flower of Florence is in gloom beneath the glowing
Brown hills surrounding …

When under the arches of the Ponte Vecchio
A green light enters against stream, flush from the west,
Against the current of obscure Arno …

Look up, and you see things flying
Between the day and the night;
Swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together.

A circle swoop, and a quick parabola under the bridge arches
Where light pushes through;
A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air.
A dip to the water.

And you think:
“The swallows are flying so late!”


Dark air-life looping
Yet missing the pure loop …
A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
And serrated wings against the sky,
Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
And falling back.

Never swallows!
The swallows are gone.

At a wavering instant the swallows gave way to bats
By the Ponte Vecchio …
Changing guard.

Bats, and an uneasy creeping in one’s scalp
As the bats swoop overhead!
Flying madly.

Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe.
Little lumps that fly in air and have voices indefinite, wildly vindictive;

Wings like bits of umbrella.


Creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag, to sleep;
And disgustingly upside down.

Hanging upside down like rows of disgusting old rags
And grinning in their sleep.

In China the bat is symbol for happiness.

Not for me!

Today, writing this bit before my run, I’m thinking about bats and echos and echolocation. Vibrations, reverberations, sounds that haunt by continuing to ring out. Bells. But, back to the echoes. In addition to bats, I’m thinking about a stanza from a favorite Halloween poem that I posted on this day in 2020:

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:
from Black Cat/ Rainer Maria Rilke

Speaking of haunting, relentless sounds: I am sitting at my desk in the front room and city workers are paving the hole they made in the street in July or August. So loud! Beep beep beep. Rrrruuummmbbbllleee. Scrape scrape, tamp tamp. Even the visual noise echoes — a flash flash flash of the lights on the truck as it dumps the gravel or tar or whatever they’re putting in the hole. Everything is vibrating — the street, my jaw, my chair, the windows. Difficult to think or to write while this is happening!

At the end of my run, having crossed the river road to walk in the grassy, leaf covered boulevard, I was distracted by the delightful noise of fallen leaves. Then I noticed a bare tree, its still green leaves scattered around it.

An image of the ground covered in leaves, most of them green. A strange sight in late fall when most of the fallen leaves are usually brown or orange or gold. When I took this picture, the ground seemed to glow from the green, but now, looking at the image, everything is muted and dull and boring. Is it my lack of functioning cone cells, my inability to take a decent picture, or something else?
green leaves on the ground / 30 oct 2023

oct 28/RACE

Halloween 10k
stone arch bridge
27 degrees

We did it! Scott and I ran together in our first race in 4 years. Much slower than I’ve ever run a 10k, but it doesn’t matter because we did it without stopping, especially on the final hill. And I felt good at the end and even smiled. Hooray! The only part I didn’t like was before the race. It was freezing. I was dressed in my usual winter attire — tights, a green shirt, orange sweatshirt, black vest, gloves, and a buff — but it wasn’t enough. I was so cold that I felt like I might throw up. I’m fine running outside when it’s very cold, but I have to be moving, which we weren’t for almost an hour.

10 Things

  1. the cobblestones at the beginning were a challenge — so uneven and broken
  2. David S. Pumpkins and his 2 ghosts were running the race
  3. also a guy portaging a canoe — an actual canoe! I wonder if he was running the 10k or the marathon
  4. other costumes: 2 m-n-ms — red, 2 oompa loompas, curious george and the man with the yellow hat
  5. a guy dressed up like the granny from Little Red Riding Hood
  6. running down a hill, I passed one of the leaders of the race running back up it. I thought I heard hime call out, only 5?! as he passed the 5 mile marker
  7. one runner approaching another one and calling out, I love your earrings! They make your outfit look extra special
  8. a guy in a banana costume struggling up the first hill, wheezing loudly and breathing heavily
  9. bump/bump bump bump/ bump bump buuuuummp (overheard: the opening to “eye of the tiger” at the top of the hill)
  10. speeding up on the stone arch bridge and (almost) sprinting across the line with Scott with a huge smile on my face — a great race!

adding this several hours later: I found this poem on HAD ( and I didn’t want to wait until the next time I run to post it, so here it is:

Friendly?/ Luke Strathmann

The fact they call Casper friendly
Means he probably isn’t
Probably a real piece of shit
The type of ghost
Who keeps business unfinished
Just to stick around
Longer than anyone wants
One time grandpa fell on a knife
And grandma said a ghost did it
And I bet it was fucking Casper
I don’t trust him for one fuck
And don’t care if he hears it, either
Haunt me, baby
One day I’ll be a ghost, too
And then we’ll see who’s friendly
We’ll beef until the sun explodes
Eats the earth and everything else
And that will be the end of all business
Unfinished or not

oct 27/RUN

2.7 miles
2 trails
37 / feels like 29
wind: 15 mph

Okay winter. Wore tights under my shorts, a long-sleeved shirt under my sweatshirt, gloves and a buff. The only part of me that was cold: my ears. Now, sitting at my desk, they burn. Blustery out there. Swirling wind. A few times I mistook a falling leaf for a flying bird, which was very cool to see. A brown bird, floating by.

My legs were sore. I’m eager to get my blood checked at my physical in a few weeks. My iron might still be low. Until then, more burgers and a new multi vitamin that’s not quite a choking hazard.

10 Things

  1. more of a view today: cold blue water through the remaining red and yellow leaves
  2. slippery leaves covering the trail — don’t fall!
  3. near the sidewalk at 36th and 46th: a deep hole, dug up by the city workers, not as neat or wide as the holes carved out on our street, more like a gash or a missing chunk ripped out
  4. walkers bundled up in winter coats with hats and gloves
  5. the entrance to the Winchell trail, which was shrouded in yellow the other day, was open and bare today
  6. dripping water at the ravine — drip drip drip
  7. looking down at the gorge from the edge, a pleasing palette: steel blue, dark green, gray, brown
  8. a brown leaf fluttering by my face, looking like a floating bird
  9. at least 3 or 4 lonely, empty benches
  10. a kid’s voice below — would I encounter them later? Yes

Revisiting a poem I posted on this day in 2020, My Doubt/ Jane Hirshfield, these lines reminded me of something:

the lines:

I would like
to grow content in you, doubt,
as a double-hung window
settles obedient into its hidden pulleys and ropes.

the something:

Dance with the pain 

That last one is something I describe a lot. What does that even mean?
It means to greet the pain or discomfort like an old friend. Know that it’s always there waiting for you. If you accept it, and envision yourself enjoying its company, it’s much more manageable.

from a race recap at the Chicago Marathon — @emmajanelbates

Being content with the doubt and greeting pain as an old friend. Accepting doubt and being content with it I think I can do, but befriending pain? I’ve been trying to work on that as part of this larger writing/living/moving project. The pain I’m thinking of is the pain in my knees or my back or my hips, but it’s also other, deeper pains: the pain of aging, loved ones dying, living within a body that doesn’t work as well. Not sure if I’d call it a friend yet, more like acquaintances. I think it’s possible, but what does enjoying the company of pain look like, outside of the model of sadomasochism?