june 29/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
69 degrees
humidity: 90%/ dew point: 70

Happy Birthday to me. Found out yesterday that I am one day younger than Derek Jeter; he turned 46 yesterday, I turned 46 today. Glad to be done with the number 45. Rained all morning so I had to wait to run until after noon–12:36 to be exact. Hot and humid and wet. I didn’t mind. Managed to catch a few glimpses of the river–at least, the blue of the river through the green leaves. It was very windy, which helped make the heat less oppressive. Do I remember anything else? Not sure if it was still raining a little or if I was just feeling drops from the trees.

Recited the latest poem I memorized: Turkey Vultures/ Ted Kooser:

Circling above us, their wingtips fanned
like fingers, it is as if they were smoothing

one of those tissue paper sewing patterns
over the pale blue fabric of the air,

touching the heavens with leisurely pleasure,
just a word or two called back and forth,

taking all the time n the world, even though
the sun was low and red in the west, and they

had fallen behind with their making of shrouds.

I love the line, “smoothing one of those tissue paper sewing patterns over the pale blue fabric of the air.” It reminds me of going with my mom to the fabric store, sitting in the chair at the slanted table, looking through pattern books–Vogue, Simplicity–finding something I wanted her to sew for me, making note of the number and then finding the corresponding pattern in a big filing cabinet. I have never learned to sew but I will always remember how exciting it was to pick out patterns and then the fabric, and have my mom sew for me. In my early 20s I wanted to learn to sew. For my birthday that year, my mom gave me an elaborate sewing kit, with a how to sew book and several very nice scissors, needles, pins, a pin cushion, measuring tape, thread. I still have the kit and sometimes I use it, like earlier in the quarantine when I comically attempted to patch my son’s favorite pajama pants. I was amazed that I could thread the needle. How did I do that with my central vision almost gone?

In reciting this poem, I also thought about the word leisurely and how to pronounce it–with a short e or a long one? I prefer the long e–leeesurely.

june 1/RUN

3.7 miles
running, with lots of walking
austin, mn
83 degrees

Ran with Scott on his 9 year anniversary of running. Mine is tomorrow (I’m writing this a few days late; it was too hot to run on my anniversary date). To commemorate the day, we included the 1/2 mile stretch he had to run in high school. He hated doing it because he was out of shape and couldn’t run that far, and all the jocks in the class were assholes. Hot and sunny, but we did it. So much has happened since we started running 9 years ago. Wow.

march 3/RUN

3.25 miles
trestle turn around
39 degrees
clear path

Windy. Sunny. Not too cold. Ran in the early afternoon, since I voted in the morning. I loved running on the edge of the path, my feet landing on the grit, making a satisfying scratching sound. I think I looked at the river–did I? Now I can’t remember. I do remember noticing how the snow on the walking path that winds down through the tunnel of trees was melting. With all the warm weather this week–and 61! predicted for Sunday–maybe it will be cleared of snow soon. I also remember lifting my knees as I ran up from under the lake street bridge and noticing how the walking path at the top, which follows the rim of the gorge while the biking path follows the road, was clearing up too. Hooray! Anything else? I heard then saw a small wedge of geese flying north. Encountered a few runners, many walkers, at least one dog. It was a good run. I didn’t think about the coronavirus and the fear and worry and hassle it’s causing for so many people even once!

Before starting the run while I was still walking, I listened to a recording of myself reading 2 poems: 1. a draft of my latest poem, which I’m calling January Joy, and 2. a fabulous poem by Marie Howe, Singularity–I posted it on this log on Jan 19. I liked listening to both of them. I also liked recording myself reciting them. Maybe this will be a new thing I do with poems in 2020? Yesterday I recorded myself reading Love by Alex Dimtrov (posted on this log on jan 21)–over 11 minutes of lines starting with “I love…”! One of the I loves reminded me of Howe’s poem:

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

I read this line as loving the idea that we are such a small fraction of what makes up the Universe. I love this idea too–it’s comforting and liberating to me to matter so little. Most of Howe’s poem and the idea of singularity is a little different. It’s lamenting the loss of a time when we were not separate from the Universe, when there was no universe or we or I or us or anything to fuck up (which we have, as we trash the ocean and each other). She has one line that reminds me of Dimitrov’s and that resonates:

before we came to believe humans were so important

I find it’s easier to remember this–that I am not so important, or the most important–when I’m running outside by the gorge, above the Mississippi River, under the oak trees. I like remembering this. Here’s another line this discussion of not being important reminds me of:

You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind (Frédéric Gros/Philosophy of Walking, 84). 

And, of course, the minute I write nobody, I think of my introduction to Emily Dickinson:

I’m Nobody! Who are you? (260)/ Emily Dickinson – 1830-1886

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too? 
Then there’s a pair of us! 
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog – 
To tell one’s name – the livelong June – 
To an admiring Bog!

Wow, that was fun to wander around all of those words! As I was scrolling back through my January entries, I saw a lot of wonderful poems and ideas. More wandering around them is necessary.

Speaking of January, here’s a first draft of my January Joy poem. It’s a collection of things I enjoyed during the month of January for the past 4 years. I’m not quite satisfied with it. I want to find a better way to describe/express how thick slushy viscous water moves–how?

January Joy/ Sara Lynne Puotinen

Oh to see the river! 
The river, open 
The river, brown
The river, thinly veiled
The river, pale blue
The river, empty 
The river, white 
The river, a big black hole of deep, cold nothingness 
The river, a thick slow slush traveling to the falls
The falls, flowing between frozen columns of ice
The ice, cleared from the path
The path, no big crowd
The crowd, 2 cross country skiers  
3 men in red jackets gliding
1 woman floating–confident bodies moving through space
The space between sky and tree top, illuminated by sun
The sun glowing up the gray gloom
The sun warming my face 
The sun flashing through tall, thin tree trunks 
My trunk, straight strong steady more machine than gangly human

How wonderful it is to move!

Oh great runs! 
Oh clearer paths! 
Oh strong legs and adequate knees and functioning feet!
How wonderful it is to move and breathe and feel free 
on this winter-perfect day, white and woodsy and blueish gray!

march 2/RUN

5 miles
to stone arch bridge
39 degrees
50% puddle-covered

Was able to do another one-way run downtown. Love these runs! Watched my shadow running ahead of me. Looked down at my favorite part of the trail, above the floodplain forest. Still white with snow, but there was a dark path snaking through.

Thought about my current project and a line from a poem that I wrote down in my notebook today: “I love how athletes believe in the body and know it will fail them.” Last week, I typed up some notes about my project and wrote: “learn how to love an aging body that might (will?) one day betray me.” As I ran, I thought about how my workbook and much of this running project are really about learning how to endure (embrace?) growing old.

Also thought about the two dead bodies they’ve pulled out of the river here in the last week–one north of the Franklin bridge last Sunday, one right by the double bridge at 44th yesterday. Is it just a coincidence?

Almost forgot–just after turning left onto the river trail, right by the ravine, I heard a noise and I couldn’t tell if it was wind blowing through some dead leaves or water rushing out of the sewer below. I didn’t stop to check so I guess I’ll never know.

My favorite thing about the run today was the gravelly grit on the edge of the path. I loved the noise it made–the sh sh sh shuffling sound as I ran over it. And I loved how it felt–how my feet slipped and slid and glided over the sand.

The path was filled with puddles and some ice, which I had trouble seeing in the sun. Managed to avoid landing in any of the deeper ones. Didn’t manage to avoid getting my socks soaked.

Heard some geese. Lots of cars. The air was just right for amplifying and carrying the noises of traffic rumbling.

Saw some walkers and runners. Did I see any bikers?

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 threshold, 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.

nov 29/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
stand, basement

run: 1 mile
treadmill, basement

Icy sidewalks and waiting too long to decide to workout means I’m in the basement again today. Supposed to do a 10K tomorrow but we’re also supposed to get more snow and ice and lots of wind. Even if they don’t cancel it, Scott and I most likely won’t be doing it. Bummer.

nov 18/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/south
33 degrees

A good run. A little harder at the beginning, a littler easier at the end. Stopped at the 2 mile mark to put in my headphones and listen to a playlist. The sky was gray, the gorge gold, rust, light brown. Was able to notice several of the sewer pipes sticking out of the steep slope. Thought about crossing the lake street bridge but didn’t at the last minute because a car was coming. Looked down at the river from high above, noticing the patches of snow. At some point during the run, caught the slightly sickly sweet of mulching leaves. After finishing, stood still and stared hard at the forest below, breathing in the colors and the space and the soft fuzzy shapes. The tall rock didn’t have rocks on it, but a dead squirrel?–not sure, I didn’t want to stare too hard and my vision is not great these days.

The Crazy Woman by Gwendolyn Brooks

I shall not sing a May song.
A May song should be gay.
I’ll wait until November
And sing a song of gray.

I’ll wait until November
That is the time for me.
I’ll go out in the frosty dark
And sing most terribly.

And all the little people
Will stare at me and say,
“That is the Crazy Woman
Who would not sing in May.”

I love this little poem and the idea of wanting to sing in November instead of May. Not sure what a song of gray would sound like, but maybe I’ll go out and sing one tomorrow? Why wouldn’t I? Perhaps one of the reasons I like November is that it is unloved by so many–not so much because I want to give it love (even though I do) but because it’s less crowded out here–just us crazy people.

nov 16/RUN

3.3 miles
trestle turn around
45 degrees
16 mph wind

Warmer but so windy! Seems like a theme for this week: running straight into the wind. Today my visor almost came off at least 3 times. 2 times I had to stutter step to avoid stupid squirrels darting in front of me. The view of the river from my favorite part of the trail was beautiful–so much to see, not hidden behind leaves. Felt much colder than 45 but I was still overdressed with 2 shirts, tights and shorts. Encountered several groups of walkers, a few runners, some bikers. No roller skiers. Was pelted by leaves swirling in the wind. Don’t remember any distinctive noises–no headphones for the first half, running playlist as I returned.

The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee
BY N. SCOTT MOMADAY

I am a feather on the bright sky
I am the blue horse that runs in the plain
I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water
I am the shadow that follows a child
I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows
I am an eagle playing with the wind
I am a cluster of bright beads
I am the farthest star
I am the cold of dawn
I am the roaring of the rain
I am the glitter on the crust of the snow
I am the long track of the moon in a lake
I am a flame of four colors
I am a deer standing away in the dusk
I am a field of sumac and the pomme blanche
I am an angle of geese in the winter sky
I am the hunger of a young wolf
I am the whole dream of these things

You see, I am alive, I am alive
I stand in good relation to the earth
I stand in good relation to the gods
I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful
I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte
You see, I am alive, I am alive

nov 14/RUN

6.5 miles
river road, south/falls/minnehaha creek/lake nokomis
30 degrees
30-40% snow-covered

Ran over to Lake Nokomis for the first time in a while. Ran straight into the wind for most of it. The path was slick in spots. Will this small bit of snow ever go away or it will just keep melting during the day, then re-freezing at night? Some annoying squirrels almost got in my way. Pretty sure I spotted an albino squirrel on the creek path between the duck bridge and the echo bridge. No ice on the creek but the lake was covered with snow. When I reached the lake, I met Scott and ran around it with him. He pointed out how the snow illuminated a narrow crack in the ice that spanned the entire lake. Strange looking out at the water as we ran, so many trees have been cut down–the view here too clear, too exposed. For most of the day it was sunny, but during my run it was gray. Felt like January.

Hardly a month left in this decade and I’ve been thinking about what I’ve done in the past ten years. So much of it is documented on my many virtual spaces and in my notebooks. Might be fun to read through it all.

I love Maggie Smith’s poetry. So many beautiful ideas and images. The hum as an appliance inside of us, then as the soul. So cool.

The Hum/maggie smith

It’s not a question
without the mark: How do we live
with trust in a world that will continue

to betray us. Hear my voice
not lift at the end. How do we trust
when we continue to be betrayed.

For the first time I doubt
we’ll find our way back. But how
can we not. See how the terminal

mark allows a question
to dress as statement and vice versa.
Sometimes if I am quiet and still,

I can hear a small hum inside me,
an appliance left running.
Years ago I thought it was coming

from my bones. The hum
kept me company, and I thought
thank god for bones, for the fidelity

of bones—they’ll be there
until the end and then some.
Now what. How to continue.

I’ve started calling the hum the soul.
Today I have to hold
my breath to hear it. What question

does it keep not asking
and not asking, never changing
its pitch. How do I answer.

oct 21/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minutes
basement stand

I’m calling it. No more biking outside this year. Brought my bike inside this morning and put it on the stand in the basement. Rode it for 15 minutes while watching Super League Triathlon in Malta–love these races!

run: 3 miles
trestle turn around
54 degrees
humidity: 85%

I could write about the many leaves that had fallen in the wind and rain and were littering the path or how it felt like it was still raining with all the water dropping from the trees or the strange quality of the light–dark at first, a light slowly spreading, then sunshine–or seeing the forest floor a few times or turning around at the trestle and racing the cars crawling their way through the four way stop or actually enjoying running into the stiff wind, a big grin on my face or stopping, at the end, to study the ravine and being able to clearly see the wrought iron fence. I could, but all I really want to mention are the two turkeys I saw crossing Edmond Boulevard as I walked home through my neighborhood. The one in front was running fast, bobbing its head, while the second, smaller one tried to keep up. Did you know that turkeys could run fast? I didn’t. As I watched them run away I thought that seeing them run so quickly, with their graceful legs and awkward heads, was all I needed today. How cool!

Found this poem/essay this morning via twitter. I like the form of the Venn Diagram.

When the Light Betrays Us Twice/Marisa Crane

oct 20/RUN

2.8 miles
trestle turn around
69 degrees

Crossed the road and entered the path right after two runners going only slightly slower than me. Sped up to pass them and then ran too fast for the rest of the time. Lots of people out, taking in the intense yellow leaves. Beautiful. Ended the run then walked down the gravel path just past the overlook to the spot above the ravine. Noticed the river and listened to the water trickling out of the sewer pipe and then down a small stream to a limestone ledge. Just beneath the ledge the dripping water had carved out a cave. And just beneath that was another sewer pipe, stretching along the forest floor to the river. At one time, this pipe had been buried, covered in dirt, but erosion had exposed it–how long ago?

oct 5/RUN

3.5 miles
top of franklin hill and back
52 degrees

Rainy in the morning so our 10K race was cancelled. Ran after the rain, in the afternoon. First mile, then last 1/2 mile with Scott. The rest by myself, partly with no headphones, partly listening to a playlist. Don’t remember much but seeing streaks of fall colors and lots of cars driving on the parkway. Why so many cars?

oct 4/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
50 degrees

Felt colder than 50, especially when I was wearing shorts. No sun, a little wind. The tunnel of trees is thinning but still too green. Was able to see the river through the trees in many more places now that leaves are falling. Smelled the sewer as I ran above the ravine. If I can smell it up here, how bad is it down below? Counted to 4. Over and over again. Felt relaxed. Still trying to figure out my writing/route project. I feel like I need one more poem about this ravine which hides below the first split rail fence I encounter right after entering the trail at 36th street. Yes, I like this idea of it being the first and last thing that I run above before leaving the river.

oct 3/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
48 degrees

Ran with Scott in the afternoon. Still wore shorts, but it’s getting colder. A great run. Relaxed, not too fast. Getting ready for the 10k race on Saturday. Haven’t raced a 10k in almost a year. Noticed more leaves have fallen from the trees. The Welcoming Oaks are now a goldengrove unleaving. When did that happen? Everything is changing too fast.

Spring and Fall
BY GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

oct 2/RUN

1.6 miles
river road, north/south
50 degrees

A short run in the afternoon. Pretty sure I listened to a playlist, but I can’t remember now, writing this days later. Ran up from under the lake street bridge, around the rim above the rowing club, then turned around and headed back. It’s getting cooler outside. Looking more like fall too. Yellows and oranges and reds.

Rabbits and Fire
BY ALBERTO RÍOS

Everything’s been said
But one last thing about the desert,
And it’s awful: During brush fires in the Sonoran desert,
Brush fires that happen before the monsoon and in the great,
Deep, wide, and smothering heat of the hottest months,
The longest months,
The hypnotic, immeasurable lulls of August and July—
During these summer fires, jackrabbits—
Jackrabbits and everything else
That lives in the brush of the rolling hills,
But jackrabbits especially—
Jackrabbits can get caught in the flames,
No matter how fast and big and strong and sleek they are.
And when they’re caught,
Cornered in and against the thick
Trunks and thin spines of the cactus,
When they can’t back up any more,
When they can’t move, the flame—
It touches them,
And their fur catches fire.
Of course, they run away from the flame,
Finding movement even when there is none to be found,
Jumping big and high over the wave of fire, or backing
Even harder through the impenetrable
Tangle of hardened saguaro
And prickly pear and cholla and barrel,
But whichever way they find,
What happens is what happens: They catch fire
And then bring the fire with them when they run.
They don’t know they’re on fire at first,
Running so fast as to make the fire
Shoot like rocket engines and smoke behind them,
But then the rabbits tire
And the fire catches up,
Stuck onto them like the needles of the cactus,
Which at first must be what they think they feel on their skins.
They’ve felt this before, every rabbit.
But this time the feeling keeps on.
And of course, they ignite the brush and dried weeds
All over again, making more fire, all around them.
I’m sorry for the rabbits.
And I’m sorry for us
To know this.

Such a sad and beautiful poem. What a storyteller Ríos is!

sept 30/RUN

2.6 miles
River road, north/south
80 degrees/humidity: 76%

All weekend, I was convinced that the 10th anniversary of my mom’s death was the 29th. Only at the end of the day did I realize that it was actually today. Did a short run in the afternoon heat. The last bit of summer weather until maybe April but more likely June. I’m writing this a few days later so I don’t remember much about the run. Lately, I’ve been behind in writing and posting these entries. I think it’s because I’m working on the running route pamphlet.

sept 24/RUN

1.5 miles
part of 2 trails
82 degrees

Is this my new Tuesday tradition? Doing a short run in the afternoon to make sure I get my move goal? Maybe. If I do it next Tuesday, I hope it’s not as hot as today or last Tuesday. The thing I remember most about this run is being on the lower trail and hearing all the car whooshing by above my head. Very intense. Lots of people heading home, I guess.

Nature Aria
Yi Lei
translated by Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi

Autumn wind chases in
From all directions
And a thousand chaste leaves
Give way.

Scatter in me the seeds
Of a thousand saplings.
Let grow a grassy heaven.
On my brow: a sun.
This bliss is yours, Living
World, and alone it endures.
Music at midnight.
Young wine.
Lovers hand in hand
By daylight, moonlight.
Living World, hold me
In your mouth,

Slip on your frivolous shoes
And dance with me. My soul
Is the wild vine
Who alone has grasped it,
Who has seen through the awful plot,
Who will arrive in time to vanquish
The river already heavy with blossoms,
The moon spilling light onto packs
Of men. What is sadder than witless
Wolves, wind without borders,
Nationless birds, small gifts
Laden with love’s intentions?

Fistfuls of rain fall hard, fill
My heart with mud. An old wind
May still come chasing in.
Resurrection fire. And me here
Laughing like a cloud in trousers,
Entreating the earth to bury me.

sept 17/RUN

1.5 miles
two trails (almost)
83 degrees

So hot! Wasn’t planning to run today but then, when I didn’t think I would reach my move goal of 490 calories, decided to do a short run. The things we do to keep a streak going. 114 days now of filling all 3 rings on my apple watch. Very glad I did. Listened to a playlist and forgot that I had a cold–I always feel less sick when I’m running. I think I was the only person I saw running. I imagined people driving by looking at me like I was crazy running in this heat with the bright sun and not much shade. Ah September, the annoying month of being teased with wonderful fall weather and then cruelly tricked with mini heat waves.

Found this poem while searching for “heat” on the poetry foundation site. I feel like it really fits in ways that I don’t quite understand yet.

The Heat of Autumn
BY JANE HIRSHFIELD

The heat of autumn
is different from the heat of summer.
One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider.
One is a dock you walk out on,
the other the spine of a thin swimming horse
and the river each day a full measure colder.
A man with cancer leaves his wife for his lover.
Before he goes she straightens his belts in the closet,
rearranges the socks and sweaters inside the dresser
by color. That’s autumn heat:
her hand placing silver buckles with silver,
gold buckles with gold, setting each
on the hook it belongs on in a closet soon to be empty,
and calling it pleasure.

sept 9/RUN

1.5 miles
river road, north/south
60 degrees

Did a short run today in-between rain drops. It’s starting to look like fall. A few trees are losing leaves or turning red and yellow. Will there be bright orange this fall too? I hope so. In my 20s and 30s, I didn’t appreciate orange. Too bright or earthy or… orange. Green–darker, more muted–was my favorite. I still love green but I love orange now too. Is it because it was my mom’s favorite color? Maybe. I love bright oranges that glow unnaturally. And earthy, rusty oranges. It’s funny that I like orange now, when I can’t always see it because of my cone dystrophy. I’m thinking of getting some orange sneakers to wear this fall–not to run in, but just to wear and admire.

Right now I’m reading Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights and listening to podcast interviews with him and thinking about his ethics/politics/pedagogy of delight. So wonderful! Here’s one of his poems from a few years back:

Sorrow Is Not My Name
BY ROSS GAY

—after Gwendolyn Brooks
No matter the pull toward brink. No
matter the florid, deep sleep awaits.
There is a time for everything. Look,
just this morning a vulture
nodded his red, grizzled head at me,
and I looked at him, admiring
the sickle of his beak.
Then the wind kicked up, and,
after arranging that good suit of feathers
he up and took off.
Just like that. And to boot,
there are, on this planet alone, something like two
million naturally occurring sweet things,
some with names so generous as to kick
the steel from my knees: agave, persimmon,
stick ball, the purple okra I bought for two bucks
at the market. Think of that. The long night,
the skeleton in the mirror, the man behind me
on the bus taking notes, yeah, yeah.
But look; my niece is running through a field
calling my name. My neighbor sings like an angel
and at the end of my block is a basketball court.
I remember. My color’s green. I’m spring.
—for Walter Aikens

“there are, on this planet alone, something like two/million naturally occurring sweet things,/some with names so generous as to kick/the steel from my knees…”

july 28/BIKERUN

bike: 5.7 miles
to lake nokomis/1/2 way back

Biked to the lake for open swim. As I arrived, it thundered and I heard the lifeguard call out, “Open Swim is delayed for 30 minutes.” Bummer. Then, after waiting for a few minutes, the sky unzipped and it began to pour. Waited under the overhang of the building with Scott until it stopped. Thundered again. 30 more minute wait. So we left. Double bummer. At least I got to see a rafter of wild turkeys in a field across from Locks and Dam #1 as I biked to the lake. Pretty cool!

run: 2.4 miles
river road path, north/south
75 degrees
humidity: 87%
dew point: 70

I am currently on day 62 of filling all three rings on my apple watch. Decided to run so I could keep up the streak. So hot and humid! For the first time this year, I saw haze hovering around the tunnel of trees. It was raining as I ran. Not too hard and offering no relief. Encountered some idiot teenagers playing catch on the running path under the bridge. Two of them almost threw a ball over my head as I ran by them. I gave them one of my vigorous disapproving head shakes which my daughter says are very effective in shaming. Why did she say that? Have I given her one before?

What Lights Up…?
BY KEKI DARUWALLA
excerpt

what lights up
the lightbulb filaments
of your recall Old Man
this streak of fire
through the thin wire
of memory and mind
what line
from which poet?

I love this opening stanza! Definitely one to memorize.