feb 25/RUN

3.3 miles
ford bridge turn around
40 degrees

(Not sure about my dictation project. I don’t like doing the dictation inside and I’m already home. Maybe I should try it when it’s warmer outside?)

Another cycle of melting in the afternoon, re-freezing at night, frozen in the morning, melting in the afternoon. This sort of ice, just barely frozen, is the slickest and most dangerous. So I waited to run until after noon, when it had melted–12:13, to be exact (according to my apple watch). Had the wind at my back heading south, giving me a nice push. Kept thinking about how the wind would be in my face when I turned around. And it was, which made it harder. Noticed several new dips and cracks and holes in the path near 38th street. All the freezing and melting and re-freezing is hard on the asphalt. There was a deep puddle on the double-bridge, right where it bottoms out. Luckily I could climb on some snow to avoid it. Encountered a few walkers on the path. Saw an adult and a kid sitting on a bench, surrounded by snow. Heard, and briefly saw (I think) a runner below me on the Winchell trail. Noticed the river, open and flowing. The path right by the Ford bridge was terrible, almost completely covered in a thin, slick sheet of ice. When I turned around, I put in some headphones and listened to a new playlist. Heard, “Eye of the Tiger,” “Bad Guy,” “Juice,” “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Anything else I remember? I don’t remember hearing water gushing out of the sewer or kids at the school playground or music coming from a car or people talking loudly or geese honking or dogs barking. And I don’t remember having any deep thoughts or revelations. Did I?

Oh my god, this poem!

I want to read this book, and had requested it from the library, but I was unable to pick it up in time. I should request it again. I’m very glad that Our Poetica did a video of the text revealing itself as Diana Khoi Nguyen read it. So powerful!

Here’s another poem I found and copied into my green notebook on May 1st, 2019:

A Skull/ Dana Levin

is like a house
          with a brain inside. Another place
where eating
          and thinking
                     tango and spar—

At night
           you lean out, releasing
thought balloons.
           On the roof
                      someone stands ready

                      with a pin—

I’d like to put this poem and the idea of the skull as a house beside the two other poems with houses that I posted on feb 22.

feb 24/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin hill turn around
39 degrees
5% slick ice covered

Waited a little longer to go out running this morning. Needed to let the thin sheets of ice covering the puddles melt. A nice day for a run! Not too much wind, not too many people. Sun. Clear paths. I got my layers right today: 1 shirt, 1 vest, 1 pair of running tights, 1 headband, 1 pair of gloves, 1 pair of socks. It was warm enough today to smell the earth thawing–why does it smell like dog poop? I think I like the smell of death in the fall–the musty, mulching leaves–over the smell of life in the almost spring.

David Lee Roth is in town with KISS for a concert tonight. Scott read somewhere that he always brings his bike to Minneapolis and loves biking along the river. Today, I kept looking for him, hoping he’d bike by. No luck. Bummer.

Glanced down at the river a few times. Enjoyed hearing the sibilant sounds of my striking feet on the grit covered path. Ran hard up the hill, then stopped to a walk for a few minutes when I reached the bridge. Thought about the body that was found just north of this bridge early yesterday morning. Managed to mostly avoid the secret slippery spots where the water on the path was still frozen. Also managed to avoid getting soaked by cars rushing through big puddles on the road.

With less than a mile left, I had an idea about my current project and decided, even though I was running well, enjoying going faster, to stop and record my thoughts.

Uh oh.

Just tried to find and transcribe my voice memo, but it wasn’t there. I must have hit the wrong button when I was trying to record it. Here’s what I remember. For a few minutes before stopping, I was chanting. How to be/periphery, How to be/periphery. Then I realized: I need a (big) project to focus on, a project that involves structure and daily practice. A concrete project. This is the project I think I’m working on–and in many ways, it is what I’m working on–but, I’m also working on something else, off to the side, at the periphery, which is the real work I need/want to do. What a bummer. I feel like I can’t remember a key to my thought that helped it make sense. It connects with the article I read about how to be a procrastinator a few years ago, and with the idea of not approaching projects/thoughts/goals head on, but slant or sideways or sneakily (tricking your brain). Argh! I wish I hadn’t screwed up the recording.

My Weather/ Jane Hirshfield

Wakeful, sleepy, hungry, anxious,
restless, stunned, relieved.

Does a tree also?
A mountain?

A cup holds 
sugar, flour, three large rabbit-breaths of air.

I hold these.

What do I hold? Ever since I encountered the phrase, “inner and outer weather” (from a Frost poem about a tree at the window, via Edward Hirsch), I have been thinking about weather as metaphor for one’s mood/emotions/feelings. Love this poem and how it plays with this idea. And I love imagining how much air is 3 large rabbit-breaths worth. How big is this rabbit? And, in general, how big are rabbit breaths?

feb 8/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around
15 degrees/feels like 5
100% clear

Ran a little later today because Scott and I had to take our daughter to the Mall of America this morning. After a month of begging us, we finally caved. That place is the opposite of the gorge. Tight, confined. Too many people moving too slow and too fast. Too bright. Too many big words everywhere. Too much consumption. Too many sickly sweet, overpowering smells. Energy zapping. Water sapping. Soul sucking. I’ve never really liked shopping but now that my vision is bad, it’s very difficult, especially at the mall. Draining. Today’s trip was one of the better ones. Probably because we only stayed for an hour. There was a moment, near the Rotunda. A dance performance, accompanied by a recording of some cheesy, sappy piano music (some popp-y thing that I should remember but can’t). Passing near the roller coaster, listening to the overly loud, overly sentimental music, watching Scott and my daughter walk ahead, I felt this dreamy, detached sense of joy. Why? Of course, after that happy moment, I had my most disturbing one in Pac Sun: a brand called John Galt is selling a Brave New World t-shirt. Wow.

Felt good to run this afternoon in the sun. Colder today so I wore more layers, including a buff, a hood, and a black cap. Too much. The path was clear and not too crowded with walkers or bikers or runners. Admired the river several times. My best view was about 30 seconds south of the trestle. High up on the bluff, the trees opened up and I had such an open, broad, beautiful view of the river and the floodplain forest and the east side of the river, which at this point, between lake and franklin, is in Minneapolis and not St. Paul. Can’t remember much else about the run. Felt tired at the end, but still sprinted up the final hill. Noticed a dog and its human hiking on the snow-packed path near the 2 fences and 2 walls that I’ve written about. Heard some kids. My feet shuffling on gravel. Some spring-y birds, trilling and chirping. Running out from under lake street bridge, I sensed the shadow of a runner up above on the bridge, traveling across the railing. A cool visual effect. Noticed my shadow ahead of me as I ran north. When I stopped briefly at the turn around, I noticed her hiking on the Winchell trail in the gorge below. Heard some geese, honking away. Couldn’t tell if they were hanging out under the bridge or flying above me in the air.

Thinking about uncertainty and bewilderment in poetry today. Yesterday I encountered–not the for the first time–Keat’s description of negative capabilities to his brother in a letter from 1917:

capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason

So many interesting parallels with my idea of staying in trouble as virtue–staying in a space of (somewhat) uncomfortable, unsettling unknowingness. It makes so much sense to me that I’m really getting into poetry. I like how poetry takes this space of trouble/unknowingness/uncertainty and infuses it with joy and wonder.

This poem! I love Maggie Smith.

Threshold/ Maggie Smith

You want a door you can be
            on both sides of at once.

                       You want to be
           on both sides of here

and there, now and then,
            together and—(what

                       did we call the life
            we would wish back?

The old life? The before?)
            alone. But any open

                       space may be
            a threshold, an arch

of entering and leaving.
            Crossing a field, wading

                       through nothing
            but timothy grass,

imagine yourself passing from
            and into. Passing through

                       doorway after
            doorway after doorway.

Love the line, “any open/space may be/a threshold, an arch/of entering and leaving.” For some time now, I’ve been thinking about the river road/running path as such a treshold, where threshold = beside/s space.

feb 5/RUN

3.3 miles
below ford bridge and back
33 degrees
100% clear path

Ran to the right and in the afternoon today. Straight into the wind which made it seem colder than 33 degrees. This winter I’m enjoying running this direction and checking out the oak savanna and the moment when it meets the river and the river looks like an enormous empty crater. Didn’t encounter too many people, mostly walkers. One or two runners. One biker. Noticed some super fat squirrels. Admired the curve of the retaining wall above the ravine. Wondered about a white path that led straight down to the river just after the double bridge. Heading back up the hill between locks and dam #1 and the double bridge, I heard the tornado siren doing its monthly test. I flinched both times it started. So loud! Saw my shadow. Also saw the shadow of some trees on the path. At first I thought it was dark ice but then realized, shadows! Spring is getting closer. The sky was an intense blue, especially through the lenses of my “dad sport” sunglasses–which is how my daughter describes them.

Anything else? Yes. Towards the end of my run I remembered to stand taller, straighten my back, and open up my chest to try and inhale as much of the beautiful blue-domed gorge as I could. What a day for a run! Walking back home, I felt the joy even more. Signs of spring: sun, shadows, melting snow, chirping birds, warmer air.

One more thing: as I ran, I tried to regulate my breathing. First, I counted to four. Then I chanted: I am running/by the river/I am running/into wind

I continue to work on my latest creative project, how to be. Had an idea about form today (an idea which I’ve had repeatedly but it never seems to stick): A book of exercises for building various qualities of character. Maybe, a narrative with background on my reasons for doing/creating the exercise + steps on how to do the exercise + an example of the exercise + a corresponding poem or fragments of poem/s.

Came across a few great lines about poetry from Basho this morning:

The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world.

Poetry is a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter

jan 26/BIKERUNBIKE

bike: 25 minutes
run: 2 miles
bike: 10 minutes
basement

It’s warm outside, hovering just below freezing, and the air feels great, but the path is an ice rink. Too icy to run outside today. Bummer. Started another episode of Cheer while biking in the basement. Wow, Monica the coach is hard core. She made one of the cheerleaders who had disobeyed her order to not cheer that weekend and then injured his back do practice anyway. It was hard to watch him grimacing and writhing and sobbing from pain. In an interview, Monica talked about how the kids need and want discipline and order in their lives, partly because they’ve never had it. I often think about this balance between the need for discipline, in the form of order and rules, and the negative effects of that disciplining–unquestioned obedience to those rule even when they might lead to permanent damage–like a seriously fucked up back and life long, agonizing pain. How do we navigate that? Can we have discipline without being disciplined? So much to say about what’s happening in this episode with discipline and civilized behavior and manners and looking respectable in the community and unquestionably following the rules of a coach! Maybe someday.

While I ran, I listened to a great audio book, The Changeling. Pretty intense. I am at the part of the novel where the protagonist, Apollo, is on an island of green-robed woman who are trying to kill him. Felt like I was in a trance, running at a steady, easy pace, staring blankly at the reflection of a light bulb in the window, listening to the author, Victor LaValle. Not as invigorating as being outside by the gorge, but still good to be moving.

jan 21/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
15 degrees/ feels like 0
50% snow-covered

14 mph wind straight in my face, running south. Wasn’t expecting it to feel so cold today, so I underdressed. No hat, only a bright pink headband that covered my ears. Felt sore and a little tired, but better after having spent some time outside by the gorge. The river was open and flowing. The path was mostly clear. Noticed at least 2 dogs and their humans walking the lower path–the one that I like to run in the summer. Encountered a few other runners, no skiers or bikers. No geese. One spazzy squirrel.

I love this poem. I love how listing what you love makes you want to love harder and more expansively, and so does reading someone else’s love list.

Love/ Alex Dimitrov

I love you early in the morning and it’s difficult to love you.

I love the January sky and knowing it will change although unlike us.

I love watching people read.

I love photo booths.

I love midnight.

I love writing letters and this is my letter. To the world that never wrote to me.

I love snow and briefly.

I love the first minutes in a warm room after stepping out of the cold.

I love my twenties and want them back every day.

I love time.

I love people.

I love people and my time away from them the most.

I love the part of my desk that’s darkened by my elbows.

I love feeling nothing but relief during the chorus of a song.

I love space.

I love every planet.

I love the big unknowns but need to know who called or wrote, who’s coming—if they want the same things I do, if they want much less.

I love not loving Valentine’s Day.

I love how February is the shortest month.

I love that Barack Obama was president.

I love the quick, charged time between two people smoking a cigarette outside a bar.

I love everyone on Friday night.

I love New York City.

I love New York City a lot.

I love that day in childhood when I thought I was someone else.

I love wondering how animals perceive our daily failures.

I love the lines in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof when Brick’s father says “Life is important. There’s nothing else to hold onto.”

I love Brick.

I love that we can fail at love and continue to live.

I love writing this and not knowing what I’ll love next.

I love looking at paintings and being reminded I am alive.

I love Turner’s paintings and the sublime.

I love the coming of spring even in the most withholding March.

I love skipping anything casual—“hi, how are you, it’s been forever”—and getting straight to the center of pain. Or happiness.

I love opening a window in a room.

I love the feeling of possibility by the end of the first cup of coffee.

I love hearing anyone listen to Nina Simone.

I love Nina Simone.

I love how we can choose our own families.

I love when no one knows where I am but feel terrified to be forgotten.

I love Saturdays.

I love that despite our mistakes this will end.

I love how people get on planes to New York and California.

I love the hour after rain and the beginning of the cruelest month.

I love imagining Weldon Kees on a secret island.

I love the beach on a cloudy day.

I love never being disappointed by chocolate.

I love that morning when I was twenty and had just met someone very important (though I didn’t know it) and I walked down an almost empty State Street because it was still early and not at all late—and of course I could change everything (though I also didn’t know it)—I could find anyone, go anywhere, I wasn’t sorry for who I was.

I love the impulse to change.

I love seeing what we do with what we can’t change.

I love the moon’s independent indifference.

I love walking the same streets as Warhol.

I love what losing something does but I don’t love losing it.

I love how the past shifts when there’s more.

I love kissing.

I love hailing a cab and going home alone.

I love being surprised by May although it happens every year.

I love closing down anything—a bar, restaurant, party—and that time between late night and dawn when one lamp goes on wherever you are and you know. You know what you know even if it’s hard to know it.

I love being a poet.

I love all poets.

I love Jim Morrison for saying, “I’d like to do a song or a piece of music that’s just a pure expression of joy, like a celebration of existence, like the coming of spring or the sun rising, just pure unbounded joy. I don’t think we’ve really done that yet.”

I love everything I haven’t done.

I love looking at someone without need or panic.

I love the quiet of the trees in a new city.

I love how the sky is connected to a part of us that understands something big and knows nothing about it too.

I love the minutes before you’re about to see someone you love.

I love any film that delays resolution.

I love being in a cemetery because judgment can’t live there.

I love being on a highway in June or anytime at all.

I love magic.

I love the zodiac.

I love all of my past lives.

I love that hour of the party when everyone’s settled into their discomfort and someone tells you something really important—in passing—because it’s too painful any other way.

I love the last moments before sleep.

I love the promise of summer.

I love going to the theater and seeing who we are.

I love glamour—shamelessly—and all glamour. Which is not needed to live but shows people love life. What else is it there for? Why not ask for more?

I love red shoes.

I love black leather.

I love the grotesque ways in which people eat ice cream—on sidewalks, alone—however they need it, whenever they feel free enough.

I love being in the middle of a novel.

I love how mostly everyone in Jane Austen is looking for love.

I love July and its slowness.

I love the idea of liberation and think about it all the time.

I love imagining a world without money.

I love imagining a life with enough money to write when I want.

I love standing in front of the ocean.

I love that sooner or later we forget even “the important things.”

I love how people write in the sand, on buildings, on paper. Their own bodies. Fogged mirrors. Texts they’ll draft but never send.

I love silence.

I love owning a velvet cape and not knowing how to cook.

I love that instant when an arc of light passes through a room and I’m reminded that everything really is moving.

I love August and its sadness.

I love Sunday for that too.

I love jumping in a pool and how somewhere on the way up your body relaxes and accepts the shock of the water.

I love Paris for being Paris.

I love Godard’s films.

I love anyplace that makes room for loneliness.

I love how the Universe is 95% dark matter and energy and somewhere in the rest of it there is us.

I love bookstores and the autonomy when I’m in one.

I love that despite my distrust in politics I am able to vote.

I love wherever my friends are.

I love voting though know art and not power is what changes human character.

I love what seems to me the discerning indifference of cats.

I love the often uncomplicated joy of dogs.

I love Robert Lax for living alone.

I love the extra glass of wine happening somewhere, right now.

I love schools and teachers.

I love September and how we see it as a way to begin.

I love knowledge. Even the fatal kind. Even the one without “use value.”

I love getting dressed more than getting undressed.

I love mystery.

I love lighting candles.

I love religious spaces though I’m sometimes lost there.

I love the sun for worshipping no one.

I love the sun for showing up every day.

I love the felt order after a morning of errands.

I love walking toward nowhere in particular and the short-lived chance of finding something new.

I love people who smile only when moved to.

I love that a day on Venus lasts longer than a year.

I love Whitman for writing, “the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events; / These come to me days and nights and go from me again, / But they are not the Me myself.”

I love October when the veil between worlds is thinnest.

I love how at any moment I could forgive someone from the past.

I love the wind and how we never see it.

I love the performed sincerity in pornography and wonder if its embarrassing transparency is worth adopting in other parts of life.

I love how magnified emotions are at airports.

I love dreams. Conscious and unconscious. Lived and not yet.

I love anyone who risks their life for their ideal one.

I love Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

I love how people make art even in times of impossible pain.

I love all animals.

I love ghosts.

I love that we continue to invent meaning.

I love the blue hours between three and five when Plath wrote Ariel.

I love that despite having one body there are many ways to live.

I love November because I was born there.

I love people who teach children that most holidays are a product of capitalism and have little to do with love—which would never celebrate massacre—which would never care about money or greed.

I love people who’ve quit their jobs to be artists.

I love you for reading this as opposed to anything else.

I love the nostalgia of the future.

I love that the tallest mountain in our solar system is safe and on Mars.

I love dancing.

I love being in love with the wrong people.

I love that on November 23, 1920, Virginia Woolf wrote, “We have bitten off a large piece of life—but why not? Did I not make out a philosophy some time ago which comes to this—that one must always be on the move?”

I love how athletes believe in the body and know it will fail them.

I love dessert for breakfast.

I love all of the dead.

I love gardens.

I love holding my breath under water.

I love whoever it is untying our shoes.

I love that December is summer in Australia.

I love statues in a downpour.

I love how no matter where on the island, at any hour, there’s at least one lit square at the top or bottom of a building in Manhattan.

I love diners.

I love that the stars can’t be touched.

I love getting in a car and turning the keys just to hear music.

I love ritual.

I love chance too.

I love people who have quietly survived being misunderstood yet remain kids.

And yes, I love that Marilyn Monroe requested Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” to be played at her funeral. And her casket was lined in champagne satin. And Lee Strasberg ended his eulogy by saying, “I cannot say goodbye. Marilyn never liked goodbyes, but in the peculiar way she had of turning things around so that they faced reality, I will say au revoir.”

I love the different ways we have of saying the same thing.

I love anyone who cannot say goodbye.

jan 1/BIKERUNBIKE

bike: 30 minutes
basement, bike stand
run: 1.25 miles
basement, treadmill

Decided to take it easy today, the first day of 2020. Yesterday my muscles took a beating on the rough path. Working out in the basement is never as inspiring or interesting as being outside but it does make me less restless and helped me fill my 3 rings for the 218th day.

Before and after my workout, continued working on my poetry line project. Managed to pick out lines from the 12 months of poems I gathered in 2019. Cut the list way down from 38 pages! to 14. Took out all the line breaks and cut it down even further to 6 pages. Then started crafting a cento from the lines. So much fun–even if this has been a very time consuming process. Rereading all the poems and picking out lines, then trying to arrange them in a new form has taken a few weeks at least. Here’s a first draft:

Listen/ Sara Lynne Puotinen

I.

The world is filled with music, and in between the music,
silence and varying the silence
all sorts of sounds coming into tune.

Knuckles of the rain on the roof,
chuckles into the drain-pipe,
spatters on the leaves that litter the grass,

gnats, frogs, dandelion pollen,
the pebbles & leaves & the whole
world of us, our names whispered
through an intercom in the evergreens,
our calls like an echo of lake, or what makes lake lake.

II.

I can hear a hum inside me,
an appliance left running.
I’ve started calling the hum the soul.
The soul sings at the top of her lungs,
laughs at her little jokes,
begins to kick up her heels,
jazz out her hands,
thrust out her hipbones,
and bellow forth—
like the thrashing of a lemon in the garbage disposal,
a clatter of jackhammers, an earful of leaf  blowers,
the hissing of trees so loud the air is stunned—
the chant, I’m great! I’m great!

III.

I’m not asking for much.
A white, indifferent morning sky.
Unsentimental sleet
A lamentation of geese
less hatred strutting the streets
to feel a little less, know a little more
enough jam jars to can this summer sky at night
a way out, the one dappled way, back
Paradise, all glam-glow, all twinkle and gold
The Meadows – mine –
The Mountains – mine –
All Forests – Stintless stars –
As much of noon, as I could take
gorged, engorging, and gorgeous

IV.

When sorrows come—fast, without warning—
whipping their wings down the sky,
stop seeking before or after life.
If anyone asks say
some of us don’t need hell to be good.

V.

Empty your mind
drift for a minute or an hour
blinking off old eyelids for a new way of seeing.
Remember this is not your land
You don’t get to be the grass
Grow wise with such teachings—
Bees in the lilac tree have something
to say and say it
without giving away the ending
the day knows exactly what it’s doing

VI.

What I love is one foot in front of another
Poets and walkers look up more
often than other people.
Go forth to the forests
Raise your heads, pals, look high,
see more than you ever thought possible
trees tossed like coins against the sky.
Stunned gold and bronze,
oaks, maples stand in twos and threes

dec 27/ RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around
29 degrees
0% snow-covered!

Back home in Minneapolis. Clear paths and sunshine. Feels harder to run in the afternoon today. Ran to the trestle with no headphones, returned with a playlist. Most memorable thing observed: a car honked its horn for at least 15 seconds when a slower car pulled out in front of it. What an asshole (the honker, not the honked-at). Don’t remember much else from the run other than I was tired–probably because I ran the final mile a minute faster than mile 2. Why? Not sure. I think I’m too tired to have any “brilliant” revelations about my run or life or the gorge.

A few nights ago, unable to sleep, I found a great book by a poet I happen to like a lot. So I checked it on my Libby app (this app is awesome): Theodore Roethke/ On Poetry and Craft

dec 25/ RUN

3.2 miles
Austin, MN
42 degrees

Ran in Austin with Scott this afternoon. Warmish. The streets were clear, the sidewalks had lots of puddles and ice and snow built up at the ends. We ran a mile, walked a minute, three times. Then walked another mile.

Observations

  1. Slick, wet pavement. Be-puddled sidewalks.
  2. Running over the crushed up, light brown gravel on the sidewalk where they had been doing sewer work
  3. Wonderfully tacky inflatable nativity scene in front of someone’s house
  4. Big stretches of bare ground–mud, green grass.

dec 9/RUN

2 miles
treadmill, basement

Was planning to run at the US Bank Stadium with Scott but ended staying home and running on the treadmill. Tomorrow it gets cold. 0 degrees. Not sure what the feels like temp will be. Guess I’ll see when I got out in it for a run.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314)
BY EMILY DICKINSON

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.