april 28/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
49 degrees / light rain

Thought I’d be able to get a run in before the rain returned but I was wrong. I didn’t mind the rain; I was wearing a cap with a long enough brim to keep my face dry and I had tights and long sleeves covering my arms and legs. There were very few people out on the trail. No runners, only a few walkers.

Listened to my “running: summer 2014” (which is different from my “summer 2014” playlist — why? not sure) as I ran, so I missed out hearing the splashes and whooshes and soft raindrops hitting the grass.

I know I looked at the river at least once, but I can’t remember what it looked like, other than that it was still high. Saw lots of cars, many of them with their headlights on in the wet gloom. The asphalt felt slippery, slick with rain and mud and grit. The path was full of puddles and menacing cracks. At least once I stutter-stepped when I miscalculated my stride and almost stepped in a whole. Twisted or rolled-over ankle narrowly avoided!

A. R. Ammon’s garbage

Just tried to finish the last section of garbage. I’ll have to try again on some other day — or never? So difficult to keep my eyes on the page, my mind on his meandering words. Maybe instead of finishing the book, I’ll return to some things in it that I find particularly interesting, like (the following are all phrases or paraphrases from sections of garbage)

Energy and motion. The spindle of energy, motion as spirit, all forms translated into energy: value systems, physical systems, artistic systems, from the heavy (stone) to the light (wind) and back again. Loops, returns, the constant recycling of stone to wind to stone, waste into something new then returning to waste, using words to find a moment of the eternal, losing it again, the words becoming waste to break down and rebuild. Always motion, flow, decomposing, returning. Always behind it all, the relief of indifferent stars: twinkle, twinkle: just a wonder. And old people dying, bodies falling apart, individual existence ending. All of it happening, whether we believe in or not. All of us motion: a whirlwind becoming gross body, all navel and nipple and knee, then vaporized, refined, distilled into a place not meaning yet or never to mean.

A few days ago, while searching around for interesting journals for submitting my work, I came across a wonderful essay (is it an essay?) in a very cool journal: Notes on Energy in A Velvet Giant. I love all the different definitions of energy that the author plays with in the piece. I want to remember it, and think more about it in relation to garbage and Ammons and energy in its many understandings.

april 27/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin hill turn around
58! degrees

Overcast, but much warmer today. I wore shorts and a short-sleeved t-shirt. Excellent. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker, passed Daddy Long Legs. Noticed the river was all white foam and milk chocolate — or, did it look more like a latte? I’m breaking in a new pair of running shoes. My old ones (worn for 9 months, about 750 miles) died, that is, on both shoes, at the widest part of my foot where my bunions are, the shoe has ripped away from the rubber bottom. I remember feeling like something was flopping in my shoe when I was running 6 miles at the beginning of the week. At home, after the run, I checked. Yep. RIP black Saucony Rides. My new ones, which are also Rides, are white with bright blue laces, red tongues, and orange stripes. They look a bit dorky, but they were 1/2 the price of the other options, so I don’t care. With my vision, I can’t see color that well anyway.

peripheral vision

Straight on, the gorge looked gray, brown, green so dark it didn’t look green but dark gray or black. But out of the corner of my eye, I could see pops of bright green. Green at my feet: little sprouts shooting up. Green by my ear: new slick leaves unfurling. Green everywhere whispering hello.

Speaking of color, here’s a few I noticed: a runner in a bright blue pullover, another runner in a glowing bright yellow shirt.

River update: the river road in the flats is still closed, but the water seems a little lower, with more open road. How long will it be closed, I wonder?

Listened to woodpeckers and sizzling sand under my feet running north. Put on my “summer 2014” playlist running up franklin hill and heading south.

Yesterday, I memorized Sylvia Plath’s wonderful poem, Mushrooms. Why was it so difficult to memorize? I found a youtube clip of her reading it, which helped, especially with the lines, so many of us/so many of us. In her reading, she stresses the of. What a difference! Without her guidance, I would have stressed the so.

Ammons’ garbage

Returned to Ammons yesterday afternoon and this morning. Here are some passages from sections 17 and 18 that I’d like to remember:

from 17

poetry is itself like an installation at Marine

Shale: It reaches down into the dead pit
and cool oil of stale recognition and words and

brings up hauls of stringy gook which it arrays
with light and strings with shiny syllables and

gets the mind back into vital relationship with
communication channels: but, of course there

is some untransformed material, namely the poem
itself; the minute its transmutations end, it

becomes a relic sometimes only generations or
acts of countrywide generations can degrade:

a real stick in the fluencies: a leftover light
that hinders the light stream: poems themselves

processing, revitalizing so much dead material
become a dead-material concentrate time’s

longest actions sometimes can’t dissolve: not
to worry: the universe is expected to return

and the heat concentrate then will ashen wispy poetry
wispier: actually, the planet is going to
be fine, as soon as the people get off:

from 18

you can’t classify except by
breaking down: some people say some things are

sacred and others secular and some say everything
is sacred or everything is secular: but if

everything is sacred (or secular), then what is
that: words, which attach to edges, cannot

represent wholeness, so if all is all, the it
just is:


Returned from my run to discover that 2 mood ring poems I submitted earlier this week for a journal have been accepted! Also this week, a fun poem I wrote about the swan boats at the lake is coming out. What a wonderful dream to be a published poet, especially with poems that are so important to me. I’ve had 5 snellen chart poems published and now 4 mood rings. Hopefully, I can get some colorblind plates ones published soon too.

april 21/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin hill turn around
38 degrees
snow flurries

Strange weather. Overcast, then sun, then snow pellets — graupels. A few times, I saw the faintest trace of my shadow. Almost impossible to believe that a week ago it was 67 and I was running in shorts and a tank top.

Ran through the tunnel of trees and noticed several of the trees had bent branches. Still attached but split. I only noticed them because of how the split part was much lighter than the rest of the tree. As I ran by, I kept seeing flashes of light where a branch was bent. A strange sight. Must have been all the wind last week.

Looking down from high up on the gorge, I could see how full the river was. Water stretching far into the floodplains, moving fast downstream. Lots of white foam. I tried to think of what metal to compare the river to, but decided it was too dull to be metallic. It looked like chocolate milk (and not in a good way, if there is a good way to look like chocolate milk). At the bottom of the hill, the water wasn’t any higher than it had been on Monday.

There were 2 runners on the hill doing hill sprint repeats. Both running fast. Most vivid image: one runner (who might have been Olympian Carrie Tollefson?) sprinting up the hill, her greenish-gray gloves rhythmically moving back and forth as she pumped her arms.

Greeted Dave the Daily Walker at the beginning of the run — Good morning Dave! Passed Daddy Long Legs — in black with a bright orange jacket — at the top of the hill.

I can’t remember listening to anything on the way to Franklin, listened to “swim meet motivation” playlist on the way home.

Had some fleeting thoughts about my vision poems — now in 3 different forms: Snellen Charts, Amsler Grids with scotomas, and Ishihara colorblind plates — and how to put them altogether. Then I started to think more about forms and how it’s difficult for me to see/read some of my own poems, how certain forms are dissolving as words become more difficult to read. I wondered what it would like, sound like, feel like, to write even sparser poems, with even fewer words?

A. R. Ammons’ garbage

I’ve lost a little momentum with the final sections of garbage — too meandering? I’ll try to finish it, but not today. I have about 20 pages left. First, Ammons’ full name = Archie Randolph Ammons. Second, I decided to return to the poem that inspired me to read garbage in the first place: “Corsons Inlet.” I’m hoping that reading so much of garbage might give me more insight into “Corsons.” Reading it again, just now, I’m reminded of a line and a poem that I was reviewing this morning as I attempted to re-memorize it: Rita Dove’s “Voiceover” and the opening lines:

Impossible to hold a landscape in your head.
Try it: all you’ll get is pieces.

And here are some parts of Ammons poem that fit with Dove’s lines:

Overall is beyond me: is the sum of these events
I cannot draw, the ledger I cannot keep, the accounting
beyond the account:


but in the large view, no
lines or changeless shapes: the working in and out, together   
and against, of millions of events: this,
so that I make 
no form of


I will try
to fasten into order enlarging grasps of disorder, widening
scope, but enjoying the freedom that
Scope eludes my grasp, that there is no finality of vision,
that I have perceived nothing completely,
that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.

april 17/RUN

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
37 degrees / feels like 32
wind: 21 mph

It snowed most of the day yesterday, only a dusting. Today it’s windy and much colder than a week ago. That wind! My ears ache from it now, sitting at my desk, 20 minutes after finishing.

Difficult to pay attention to anything other than the wind. In the first mile, I started chanting, I am the wind and the wind is invisible. All the leaves tremble, but I am invisible. Then I thought about how I might not be able to see the wind, but I could sure feel it! At that point, I began to wander a little. I’ll try to remember: I can’t see wind, but I believe in it/not seeing is believing/what you see is not what you get/belief/last year’s monthly challenge — wysiwyg

Tried to notice things that moved or sparkled but got distracted. Instead I gave attention to the shadows and thought about contrast — distinct lines, sharp divisions, dark shadows / light pavement, ground, grass

Forgot to look at the river. I bet it was sparkling.

The falls were roaring. The park was crowded. Lots of kids at the playground. An adult playing “hot/cold” with someone. I could her calling out, hot! warm warm cold! cold!

Ran on some grit, listened to it sizzle.

Encountered some walkers and runners. I don’t remember seeing any bikers — was that because of all the wind, or did I just forget that I saw them?

For the last mile of the run, I was slowly creeping up on another runner. I tried to slow down so I could keep an even (and far) distance behind him, but I still kept creeping up. Finally, I crossed over to edmund so we were running parallel to each other, divided by the boulevard and the parkway. Within 30 seconds, I passed him.

Tracked the Boston Marathon this morning. Happy that Helen Obiri won and that Emma Bates ran so well. Bummed that Des Linden and Eluid Kipchoge didn’t have great days.

Listened to the rushing wind, yelling kids, sizzling sand, gushing water on the way to the falls. Listened to my swim meet motivation playlist on the way back north.

A. R. Ammonds’ garbage

Onto section 14 today.

the leavings…

thrown out to the chickens will be ground fine

in gizzards or taken underground by beetles and
ants: this will be transmuted into the filigree

of any feelers’ energy vaporizations: chunk and
smear, grease and glob will boil refined in

time’s and guts alembics

alembics = a distilling apparatus used in alchemy

I love the pairing of time and guts here.

on meaningless:

meaningless = a place not meaning yet OR never to mean, which is the emptiness and endlessness of space, the distances of stars OR what to make of so many meanings

it is
fashionable now to mean nothing, not to exist,

because meaning doesn’t hold, and we do not exist
forever; this is forever, we are now in it;

Not sure what to do with this section, except this: I don’t want to try and summarize it. Even as I didn’t grasp everything, I enjoyed reading it, like his references back to earlier parts of the poem, including his love of the baked potato. starch (in Arch) in the potato/meets with my chemistry to enliven by chemistry and the comfort he finds in being free of the complexes of big meaning. And I love his vivid descriptions of breaking down/decomposing. garbage is influencing my writing of my colorblind plate poems, but in slight, slant, off to the side ways.

a final colorblind plate (the 8th)

I have decided that I have one more plate poem to write. It will be about silver and the glitter effect and seeing color as movement and contrast and poetry. Inspired by something I heard on my new favorite show (Escape to the Chateau), I searched “luster” on the Poetry Foundation and found a wonderful poem by another one of my favorite poets, Eamon Grennan. (The line I heard was: Dorothy does glitter, I do luster. It was spoken by mom Angel and refers to her 5 year-old daughter Dorothy. I might have to find room for the differences between glitter and luster in my poem!)

Lark-Luster/ Eamon Grennan

Gravity-defying, the lark in the clear air of a June morning stays aloft on a hoist of song only, and only when song goes as breath gives out does the bird let itself down the blue chute of air in such an aftermath silence so profound you’d think it was a double-life creature: one life aloft in blue, all clarity, the other hidden in the green swaddle of any rocky field out here where, when summer happens, you’d almost see the long silver ribbons of song the bird braids as if binding lit air to earth that is all shadows, to keep us (as we walk our grounded passages down here) alive to what is over our heads—song and silence—and the lot of us leaning up: mind-defeated again, just harking to it.

Oh, that long silver ribbon of song that you can almost see! Love it.

april 15/RUN

3.8 miles
marshall loop
45 degrees

As expected, much cooler today. It is supposed to rain until late afternoon, so I’m happy I managed to run between raindrops. I think it started drizzling towards the end of the run, but it was hard to tell because I was overheated and sweating. Yesterday I wore a tank top and shorts, today the same shorts but with tights, a long sleeved shirt and my winter vest. Tomorrow it might snow. April in Minnesota.

Listened to “swim meet motivation” playlist so I didn’t give much attention to the world. I took my headphones out for a few seconds and heard lots of birds. What else?

10 Things I Noticed

  1. near St. Thomas, 2 runners in red jackets on the other side of Cretin, sprinting down the sidewalk
  2. the river: brown, dull, flat
  3. later, exiting the lake street bridge, I noticed an unusual number of cars turning off from the river road. An event somewhere?
  4. I think a house I always pass by on this loop has a new fence, or has it always been there and I just noticed it today?
  5. the sky was dark and gloomy
  6. most of the cars had their headlights on. I could see them through the bare trees on the other side of the ravine by shadow falls
  7. one car didn’t have their headlights on and I could barely see them
  8. 2 different lime scooters parked in awkward spots, one blocking part of the sidewalk on marshall, the other up against the railing on the lake street bridge
  9. no eagle perched on the dead tree on the east side of the lake street bridge
  10. mud + leafy muck + water collecting at the sidewalk curb entrances. a few times I stepped right in it

A. R. Ammons’ garbage

Section 13 took me a few read throughs to find a way in. In section 12, Ammons had railed against words, too many words! In section 13, he describes two types of men who use too many words: the blabbermouth and the loudmouth. Then he ends with this:

whirlwind, not human, I’m the whirlwind: the
creaking hills, not human, my silence cracks and

creaks: the flow of clouds not mine, my
motions trained clear by clouds: and the

streams’ yielding bending fathers my winding:
and the semicircles’ gusts before storms make

grassclumps draw in the sand—these are the
going closures that organize mind, allowing

and limiting, my mind’s ways: the rabbit’s
leaps and halts, listenings, are prosody of

a poem floating around the mind’s brush: I
mix my motions in with the mix of motions, all

motions cousins, conveyors, purveyors, surveyors,
rising from the land, eddying coils of wash,

bristling with fine-backed black clarity as with
brookripples over stone, spreading out, evaporating

or seeping in under, soaking, salt flats, the
turkey buzzard whirling, the wind whirling,

the giant “stills” of the sea and I, and sand,
whirling, stalling, breaking out, getting on,

coming round—cousins, not silent, either,
communicative, but not with human sound,

communicative motions making sounds, much mutual
glistening in a breezy grove of spring aspen speech

prosody: I know I know this word, having encountered dozens of times, but somehow I still forget what it means. I looked it up: the patterns of rhythm and sound used on poetry

This bit reminds me of Ammons’ earlier discussion in section 7 about non-human languages — whales, horses, birds. Here it’s the language of motions. I love this last line:

much mutual
glistening in a breezy grove of spring aspen speech

Spring aspen speech? So good. Reading this part about all the motion, I’m thinking of one of my introductions to Ammons and the initial inspiration for studying him this month: “Corsons Inlet.” Once I finish garbage I’ll have to read that poem again.

april 14/RUN

3.1 miles
2 trails
67 degrees

The last summer-warm day for a while. I wore black shorts and a light green tank top and was too warm. Was able to run the winchell trail today! Got a closer look at the river. At first, heading down to the southern entrance of the trail, the river was blue with a streak of silver sparkles. Later, heading north, it gleamed bronze.

Lots of trees hanging ominously over the trail. Would one fall on me? When will the parks people come through and remove them. I think I counted at least five.

At least one of the trees on the edge of the trail in the tunnel of trees was sprouting green leaves.

Surfaces run on: grass, dirt, cracked asphalt, crumbling asphalt, smooth asphalt, dry leaves, road, sidewalk, roots.

Heard: a conversation between 2 women I can’t remember now, kids yelling at the playground, a man on a bench talking on his phone, the sizzle of my feet striking grit, a bike shifting gears, the trickle of water out of the sewer pipe at 44th, the gush of water out of sewer pipe at 42nd

A. R. Ammons’ garbage

section 12, the beginning:

a waste of words, a flattened-down, smoothed-
over mesa of styrofoam verbiage; since words were

introduced here things have gone poorly for the
planet: it’s been between words and rivers,

section 12, the middle:

we must have the biggest machine,

fifty miles round, find the smallest particles,
and the ditchwork of the deepest degradation

reflects waters brighter than common ground:
poetry to no purpose! all this garbage! all

these words:

section 12, the end:

imagine, though we think

ourselves purposeless, we may be the thinnest
cross-section of an upcoming announcement, and

though we cannot imagine what the purpose might
be, even now it may be extruding itself, tiny

threads of weak energy fields, right through
us: first an earth in peace; then, hundreds of

years looking for other wars: strife and peace,
love and grief, departure and return: gliding

we’ll kick the l out of world and cuddle
up with the avenues and byways of the word:

Again, this reminds me of Mary Oliver’s conflicted feelings about words and being a poet in The Leaf and the Cloud, minus all the garbage. I like the effect of Ammons’ excessive words — his garbage, even as I find it a lot to read.

Discovered a new poet this morning: Fay Dillof. Here’s one of her wonderful poems:

Little Infinities/ Fay Dillof

Remember The Twilight Zone episode
in which a couple tries to escape town on a train
that loops them back to the same station?

Like that, there are tracks in my brain.

Halted on the highway,
my friend Amy says We’re not in traffic,
we are traffic.

I try not to look at the man in the park, doing pull-ups
on the limb of a tree. Sweaty,
bare-chested—he’s always there.

Not that it’s always the same guy.
Or the same poor tree.

My father’s cousin, when he still could speak,
asked How big is your now?
but I was already looking back on the moment

from some sad future.

The gratitude journal I keep by my bed is empty
because every night its the same:

In the final reveal, the couple is trapped
in an endless game
being played by a giant child.

Well, at least she never stopped
trying, my gravestone might read.

When I say soul,
I mean like a photobooth photo—
quick this, this, this, oh, this.

a breakthrough!?

Before my run, I was thinking about my colorblind plates and the hidden message I might put behind the dots. What about having each plate hide 1-2 words that, when put together, create a sentence/another poem? Here’s the poem:

Can you see me? I cannot see you.

I’d break it up this way. 7 plate poems, words hidden in each plate:

  1. Can
  2. you see
  3. me?
  4. I
  5. can
  6. not see
  7. you.

Or, should it be:

I cannot see you. Can you not see me?

  1. I
  2. can
  3. not see
  4. you.
  5. Can you
  6. not see
  7. me?

Not sure, but I think I like the second version better. I’ll keep playing with it, but I really like this idea! I think it finally does something with this form that is more than just a gimmick. I imagine the you here as ambiguous. It could mean the hidden numbers or the reader of the poem/taker of the test. I also like the idea of breaking up cannot see into can not see, where “not seeing” is something I can do, I was relieved to do, because it enabled me to finally understand that something was strange about my vision/eyes. It’s so exciting to have figured this out! I’ve been working on it, letting it simmer, since September.

addendum, 26 april 2023: After thinking about it more, I wasn’t satisfied with this hidden poem. I came up with a much better one (no spoilers)!

april 13/RUN

2.5 miles
lake nokomis
62 degrees

After walking around Lake Nokomis yesterday afternoon and hearing the ice shattering and melting, then seeing some loons bobbing in the water, Scott and I decided to return this morning for a run. We started running before 8 am, which is early for me these days. It was windy and sunny and beautiful. The water was an intense blue and getting close to being iced out. Someone already had their canoe out. I wonder what the water temperature is? Open swim begins in 2 months!

When we finished the run, we walked up the hill to Nokomis Beach coffee. I used to get coffee here a lot when we lived closer to the lake, but it’s been years. When was the last time I was in here? Everything looked almost exactly the same. A strange feeling of time not passing.

On the way, we encountered a wonderful display of yard weirdness. Scott took a picture:

dozens of figurines displayed at the edge of a yard, including an owl, a gnome, several mushrooms, and the helm of a ship hanging from a tree.

A. R. Ammons’ garbage


at the end of section 10 (68):

oh, well: argument is like dining:
mess with a nice dinner long enough, it’s garbage.


in section 11 (70-71):

this is

we at our best, not killing, scheming, abusing,
running over, tearing down, burning up: why

did invention ever bother with all this, why
does the huge beech by the water come back every

year: oh, the sweet pleasures, the kiss, the letter from

someone, the word of sympathy or praise, or just
the shared settled look between us, that here

we are together, such as it is, cautious and
courageous, wily with genuine desire, policed

by how we behave, all out of eternity, into
eternity, but here now, where we make the most

of it:


at the end of section 11 (73):

I don’t
care whether anybody believes me or not: I

don’t know anything I want anybody to believe or
in: but if you will sit with me in the light

of speech, I will sit with you: I would rather
do this than eat your ice cream

colorblind plates

I continue to work on my colorblind poems. Inspired by some words in a section of garbage, I finished a solid draft of another one yesterday. Here’s a bit of it:

I look at the plate
and see nothing but a mass of
different size dots. No hidden numbers
or hand-painted hiragana. I stare harder and
the dots turn into loops able to map new routes
for making meaning out of electrical impulses.

april 12/RUN

5.85 miles
ford loop
68 degrees

Hot. Bright sun. No shade. All the snow melted, all the walking paths clear and open. I ran with my shadow today. Above shadow falls she stuck tight to my side, but farther south she dropped down into the gorge. My favorite part of the run was the river, burning silver in the sun and the wind. Second favorite thing: the intense blue of the sky — wow! — against the deep green of an evergreen tree, then the shuffle of my feet over the grit and the dry dirt, and the stopping at the overlook on the east side. Least favorite things: sweating so much and how the heat made my knees stiffen and swell after I was done.

Listened to other people’s conversations, traffic, the wind, geese for the first half of the run. Listened to an old playlist (Jan/Feb long run) for the second half.

A. R. Ammons’ garbage

some lines to remember:


let’s study the motions (55)

motions today: wind, waves, shimmery river, a soaring honking goose, the clicking and clacking or a roller skis poles, falling water seeping out of the limestone, light bouncing off the roof of a building on the other side, flashing lights from a truck, the long-reaching gait of a tall runner, the compact swing of a short runner.


when I learned
about poetry, I must have recognized a means

to command silence in them, the means so to
combine thinking and feeling, imagination and

movement as to spell them out of speech:
people would buy the enchantment and get the

point reason couldn’t, the point delivered below
the level of argument, straight into the fat

of feeling (55-56)

For me, silence = a silencing of judgment and the impulse to always dismiss or tear apart or not take seriously, to listen and let the words move you and make you wonder

delivered below/the level of argument, straight into the fat/of feeling. Love it!

Here’s a poem I encountered on twitter that I’d like to remember (and maybe memorize):

Equinox/ Diannely Antigua

The next spring iI said No.
I said no to the melting snow, the pile
making streams in the grocery store parking lot.
I said no to the sparrow at the birdfeeder, no
to its beak, the small seed it held, no
to the hem of my yellow skirt,
the one my grandmother could’ve sewed,
thread dangling down my thigh.
Then I said no to the sight of green—
the grass covered in winter’s salt, the still wet
lettuce on a plate, the static
glow in the corners of the TV.
But I didn’t know what to say
as I watched the praying mantis
feeding the eggs inside her
their father’s head.

april 10/RUN

5.1 miles
bottom of franklin and up again
56 degrees

Shorts! I wore shorts this morning with no tights! My first bare legs since (most likely) October 27th of last year when I wrote about wearing shorts. All the walking paths were open. Ran past the Welcoming Oaks. Hello friends! Down by the sprawling oak to the tunnel of trees. No green yet, only yellow and brown. Passed right above the Rowing Club. Overheard 2 different bike conversations:

3 older women at the top of the franklin hill, getting ready to descend:
biker 1: yes, let’s bike along the flats, I’m done with hills.
biker 2: oh, they’re not so bad.
biker 3: that’s easy for you to say!

a man and a woman, younger than the older women bikers, at the top of the hill near the tunnel of trees, just beginning their descent:
woman biker: now this is the part I like!

In my plague notebook, I wrote something about my run that started with each letter of the alphabet. Wasn’t sure why, it just seemed like it might be helpful. It was. When I got to x, I remembered something that I might otherwise have forgotten. Out of all the images/moments from today’s run (the blue river, the sibilant shuffling over grit, the warm air, the finally open trails, the absence of snow), it’s what I’d most like to remember:

The knocking of a woodpecker on dead wood somewhere in the gorge, sounding like a bone Xylophone.

I remember hearing the loud hollow drumming and imagining that the woodpecker was playing a xylophone with the keys made out of old bones.

Running north, I listened to the cars, the birds, the buzz of spring finally arriving. Running back south, I listened to an old playlist.

A. R. Ammons’ garbage

before the run

As I read the sections in garbage, I’m trying to figure out the best way to make note of this on this log. So much meandering and wandering and finding a thread then losing it again! Today I’ll try a summary, or summaries.

section 7 summary (first attempt)

the future of life is pain and suffering — strokes, hip replacements, insulin shots. we’re designed to fall apart (we’re garbage). but, there’s wonder too, and death and the end of existence, which brings relief. these facts (which exist whether we believe in them or not) are too brutal to be felt bare, so we create languages to soften them — “to warn, inform, reassure, compare, present.” humans construct language out of words, but words aren’t the only way. Other beings — birds, whales, horses, elephants — have created languages too, whale songs and horse whinnies and elephant sounds too low for our ears. we (humans) think words are the world, and they do have the power to change/manipulate the worlds of other beings, but they are not the truth of everything:

our language is something to write home about:

but is not the world: grooming does for
baboons most of what words do for us.

It seems useful to have a summary, to keep track of all Ammons’ meandering, but a summary leaves a lot of the best stuff out:

After opening with some words about life as boring until it’s disrupted by tragedy, he writes:

meanwhile, baked potatoes are still fine,

split down the middles, buttered up, the two white
cakes steaming, the butter (or sour cream) oozing

down and sex is, if any, good, and there’s that time
between dawn and day when idle birds assert song

whereas a little while later they’re quiet at
hunt or nest: and when during the drying out after

rains the trickle in the ditch bottom
quivers by a twig-built strait, the

wonder of it all returns

I love how he starts with meanwhile, which reminds me of Mary Oliver and her wonderful use of meanwhile in “Wild Geese”:

Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,

Meanwhile the geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Meanwhile as both/and, as delight and grief at the same time.

I also love how Ammon describes the baked potato: 2 white steaming cakes oozing butter (or sour cream) — why not both?

Here’s another way Ammons describes wonder: it is a tiny/wriggle of light in the mind what says, “go on”:/that’s what it says: that’s all it says:

section 7 summary (second attempt)

humility and humiliation: you can write your poetry, thinking it enables you to transcend the bare facts of your existence ending. you can’t.

one thinks, slapping down the lines, making time
with eternity, one will thrive beyond the brink but

beyond the brink is no recollection but a wide
giving way into silver that filters farther away

into nothing

section 7 summary (third attempt):

So much of what Ammons is discussing in this book and in this section reminds me of Mary Oliver and her discussion of the work of the poet and the difference between words and the world in The Leaf and the Cloud. I decided to search, “Ammons and Mary Oliver.” The first result didn’t seem to include Oliver, but it caught my attention anyway, with its Ammons’ poem, “Play.” This poem seems to provide another ways for Ammons to say what he’s trying to say about existence, especially in terms of this line in section 7:

then existence recalls with relief that existence
ends, that our windy houses crack their frames

and spill, that nothing, not even cold killing bothers
the stars: twinkle twinkle: just a wonder

Play/ A. R. Ammons

Nothing’s going to become of anyone
except death:
therefore: it’s okay
to yearn
too high:
the grave accommodates
swell rambunctiousness &

ruin’s not
compromised by magnificence:

the cut-off point
liberates us to the
common disaster: so
       pick a perch —
apple bough for example in bloom —
tune up
and if you like

drill imagination right through necessity:
it’s all right:
it’s been taken care of:

is allowed, considering

after the run, hours later, sitting on the my deck and listening to the cardinals

Sitting in the warm sun, reading through section 7 of Ammons’ garbage some more, my mind began to wander and I had some ideas for my Ishihara colorblind plates poems. I’m not sure which of Ammons’ lines or ideas triggered my new thoughts, but I wrote 2 pages in my plague notebook about Ishihara’s test and colorblind plates, starting with some thoughts about looking behind and beyond the circles to some other meaning within my plate poem. The Ammons’ line that distracted me might have been this: what is most beyond must be seen into.

This wandering offered me a new way into a plate poem that I’ve been struggling to find. I like doing close readings of a poem with the hopes of getting distracted by some of its words and then wandering off somewhere else. I’ll call it reading sideways or slantways or besides.

april 9/RUN

2 miles
dogwood run
50 degrees

Spring! Ran with Scott this morning. Heard lots of different birds — woodpeckers, crows, bluejays, cardinals. Forgot to look down at the river. Talked about being colorblind and an article he sent me the other day, Designing for Colorblindness. Ran on more of the walking path. Greeted Mr. Morning! Anything else? I’m writing this at the end of the day (after driving to St. Peter to bring FWA back to school), so I can’t remember.

A. R. Ammons’ garbage

Yesterday afternoon, I kept reading and got through a few more sections (4 – most of 7). With Schuyler’s Hymn to Life, I focused on each section at a time. For Ammons, I think I’ll be jumping around more. Here’s something from section 3 I’d like to think about on my run:

note: after writing this sentence above, I asked Scott if he wanted to run together. He said yes and I forgot about Ammons as we ran and talked.

scientific and materialistic notion of the
spindle of energy: when energy is gross,

rocklike, it resembles the gross, and when
fine it mists away into mystical refinements,

sometimes passes right out of material
recognizability and becomes, what?, motion,

spirit, all forms translate into energy, as at
the bottom of Dante’s hell all motion is

translated into form: so, in value systems,
physical systems, artistic systems, always this

same disposition from the heavy to the light,
and then the returns form the light downward

to the staid gross: stone to wind, wind to
stone, there is no need for “outside,” hegemonic

derivations of value: nothing need be invented
or imposed: the aesthetic, scentific, moral

are organized like a muff along this spindle,
might as well relax: thus, the job done, the

mind having found its way through and marked
out the course, the intellect can be put by:

one can turn to tongue, crotch, boob, navel,
armpit, rock, slit, roseate rearend

I’m thinking about the relationship between mind, body, and spirit here, and then where I see motion fitting in. The idea of motion as spirit is interesting to me. Because I rely on peripheral vision, I’ve been thinking a lot about motion (which is detected in your peripheral). In terms of motion, I’m also thinking about my restlessness and my inability to sit still for too long, especially at night. Waking up every few hours to move around before going back to sleep. And I’m thinking about motion is relation to color, especially with my study of the ancient greeks and their ideas about color and the idea of “the glitter effect” (See The Sea Was Never Blue).