oct 12/RUN

2 miles
river road, north/south
34 degrees
Snow!

Of course I had to get out and run in the snow. A bit blustery but not too bad. The snow is not sticking to the path or the road but it is staying on the trees. Down below the road, the snow makes some of the trees glow white. Greeted the Daily Walker. Today he’s wearing 2 shirts and gloves, still no jacket. Ran above the lake street bridge and then turned around. Lots of walkers, a few runners. At the end of the run, stopped and looked down at the ravine. Lots of leaves gone, the wrought iron fence below almost visible. No view of the river here.

sept 29/RUN

5 miles
river road, north/south
51 degrees, drizzle

Ran through a light drizzle, which I loved. Wasn’t sure how much I would run when I started, but ended up feeling good and running 5 miles. Listened to an Agatha Christie audio book and didn’t think about much. Perhaps if I had remembered before heading out, I would have tried to conjure my mother to run with me. She died 10 years ago today. 10 years. I had imagined that this day would be a bigger deal, that I’d do something important to mark it. But I’m not. Why not? How has it already been 10 years?

sept 23/RUN

5 miles
franklin hill
60 degrees

Cooler. Is Fall finally here? Sunny. Calm. Some beautiful light purple wildflowers lining the path. Do they come every year? I’ve never noticed them before. Saw the Daily Walker and a roller skier who called out, “you’re going race pace!” Encountered a few annoying strollers taking over the entire path. Did a lot of counting to 4. 1 2 3 4/ 1 2 3 4/ 1 2 3 4. Reached the bottom of the Franklin hill and immediately turned around without noticing the river. Saw more slashes of orange and red in the trees. Thought more about my writing project and how narrow to make the focus.

A Blank White Page
BY FRANCISCO X. ALARCÓN

is a meadow
after a snowfall
that a poem
hopes to cross

What a beautiful way of describing a blank white page. Speaking of blank white pages, this morning I finished writing in my 4th running/training notebook and started the 5th one. Very satisfying to completely fill so many notebooks.

sept 21/RUN

1.5 miles
river road, north/south
76 degrees

I’m writing this log entry the next day so I’m not sure what I remember. Ran a little later in the heat and humidity. Listened to an audio book. Noticed that stones were stacked on both of the boulders just past the welcoming oaks and before the tunnel of trees. More leaves on the ground–a lot of orange this year, which I love.

sept 15/RUN

2.1 miles
2 trails
62 degrees/humidity: 94%!

An organized run took over the path–marathon training. Trots of runners forcing me to aggressively claim my own space on the upper path. Sunny. Humid. Happy to turn down at the 44th street parking lot and take the lower trail. Hardly any traffic. Saw the shining river. Heard the water trickling out of the sewer pipe. Felt my legs getting stronger. Noticed how the leaning tree near the 38th street steps is still leaning. Forgot to check if the yarn is still dangling from it.

Searching for “leaning tree poetry” on google, I found this fabulous poem on the third page of results. This poem! I want to spend some time with it, thinking about knowing and writing and language and experience and how words do and don’t matter.

Learning the Trees
BY HOWARD NEMEROV

Before you can learn the trees, you have to learn
The language of the trees. That’s done indoors,
Out of a book, which now you think of it
Is one of the transformations of a tree.

The words themselves are a delight to learn,
You might be in a foreign land of terms
Like samara, capsule, drupe, legume and pome,
Where bark is papery, plated, warty or smooth.

But best of all are the words that shape the leaves—
Orbicular, cordate, cleft and reniform—
And their venation—palmate and parallel—
And tips—acute, truncate, auriculate.

Sufficiently provided, you may now
Go forth to the forests and the shady streets
To see how the chaos of experience
Answers to catalogue and category.

Confusedly. The leaves of a single tree
May differ among themselves more than they do
From other species, so you have to find,
All blandly says the book, “an average leaf.”

Example, the catalpa in the book
Sprays out its leaves in whorls of three
Around the stem; the one in front of you
But rarely does, or somewhat, or almost;

Maybe it’s not catalpa? Dreadful doubt.
It may be weeks before you see an elm
Fanlike in form, a spruce that pyramids,
A sweetgum spiring up in steeple shape.

Still, pedetemtim as Lucretius says,
Little by little, you do start to learn;
And learn as well, maybe, what language does
And how it does it, cutting across the world

Not always at the joints, competing with
Experience while cooperating with
Experience, and keeping an obstinate
Intransigence, uncanny, of its own.

Think finally about the secret will
Pretending obedience to Nature, but
Invidiously distinguishing everywhere,
Dividing up the world to conquer it,

And think also how funny knowledge is:
You may succeed in learning many trees
And calling off their names as you go by,
But their comprehensive silence stays the same.

sept 13/RUN

4 miles
almost to franklin turn around
59 degrees

Such weird weather. Windy. Sunny then cloudy then misting then sunny again. Cool then warm then cool. Listened to my audio book (Once Upon a River) and avoided slow squirrels sauntering on the path. Felt strong and relaxed. Greeted the Daily Walker. Faintly heard some rowers in the gorge. Stepped on and over acorns and piles of fallen leaves littering the path. Occasionally glanced down at the river. Hard to see through all the green. Even when it was overcast and the sun was hidden, I glowed in my neon yellow 2018 10 mile race t-shirt.

Returning to my haibun route project. Started reading Lorine Niedecker’s Lake Superior for inspiration. Here’s an excerpt:

The journey of the rock is never ended. In every tiny part of any living thing are materials that once were rock that turned to soil. These minerals are drawn out of the soil by plant roots and the plant used them to build leaves, stems, flowers and fruits. Plants are eaten by animals. In our blood is iron from plants that draw it out of the soil. Your teeth and bones were once coral. The water you drink has been in clouds over the mountains of Asia and in waterfalls of Africa. The air you breathe has swirled thru places of the earth that no one has ever seen. Every bit of you is a bit of the earth and has been on many strange and wonderful journeys over countless millions of years.

page 7

sept 10/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
70 degrees
humidity: 84%

Weird (almost) fall weather. Yesterday I had to wear so many more layers, today summer had returned. Humid and hot. Greeted the Daily Walker. Encountered other runners and walkers and bikers. No roller skiers on the path but I did see one on the street later when I took the dog for a walk. Listened to an audio book (Once Upon a River) and noticed the river and a spot in the tunnel of trees that opens up into an amphitheater of air–this spot is different than the one I tried to write about earlier in the summer. So spacious and airy and light–and still quite green. What color will it turn in the next month? Don’t remember noticing any non-green leaves. Today, with the sun so bright and warm, it’s hard to get excited about fall or winter. It feels like summer will never leave.

Reminded by someone on twitter of these great lines from Mary Oliver:

Sometimes/Mary Oliver (in Red Bird):

Instructions for living a life:
Pay Attention.
Be Astonished.
Tell about it.

Mannequin of the Day:

There’s something about this mannequin’s face that makes me think she really doesn’t give a fuck. She doesn’t even care that a ribbon is covering her cheek. It’s the eyes, right?

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…”

september 2/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
64 degrees
humidity: 85%

Back home. Last day before school starts for the kids. Heard the rowers on the river, geese traveling south above my head. Spotted a fat tire, a roller skier, several runners. No Daily Walker or man in black. Made sure to look at the river, but forgot to check out the floodplain forest. Noticed that there were no stones stacked on top of the ancient boulder. Smelled an over-filled porta potty. Whacked my elbow on a tree, running too close to it. As my vision declines, I have started to run into more things. Chanted in 3s: raspberry, blueberry, strawberry. Tried to think of other 3 syllable words as I ran: mystery, ambitious, remember, September, decadent, difficult. Tried to unsuccessfully remember the words to “try to remember”:

Try to remember the kind of September,
When life was slow and oh so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September,
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September,
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow (follow) follow (follow) follow

My godfather sang this at my mom’s funeral almost 10 years ago. Will this month–her death month–be difficult this year?

Also attempted to recite Silverstein’s “Sick.” All I could remember was: “I cannot go to school today/said little Peggy Ann McKay/I have the measles and the mumps/a gash, a rash and purple bumps…”

Here’s some lines from a poem that I love:

from “Poplar Street“/Chen Chen

Sometimes, parents & children

become the most common strangers. Eventually,
a street appears where they can meet again.

august 30/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
55 degrees

In the 50s. Yes! Love the cooler weather. Listened to my audio book–Agatha Christie’s Sad Cypress–and enjoyed feeling cooler and relaxed. I don’t remember much from the run. Didn’t see the Daily Walker or the river. Didn’t hear the clickity-clack of ski poles or the whirring of bike wheels. Lots of traffic backed up when someone was turning left and at the 4 way stop by the greenway. So nice to not be in one of those cars! Finishing the run I felt good. Not sore or tired just strong and excited about more fall and winter running.

august 27/RUN

2.5 miles
two trails
59 degrees

Woke up too tired this morning. Running helped a lot. Windy and cooler. Starting at 8:15, there are lots of cars. Such a crowded parkway! A few runners, some bikers, at least 2 roller skiers. Listened to an audio book up above, the water coming out of the sewer below. At the first pipe, it was a quiet, steady stream. At the second, a little louder and faster. Thought about my breathing and locking it into a rhythm that would keep me steady. 1 2 3/45 up hill and 5 4 3/21 down hill then 1234/5678 Slowly, I’ve been working on poems that mimic my breathing while swimming and running.

This morning I read an essay by Jericho Brown in which he describes his invention of the duplex form. He writes:

I decided to call the form a duplex because something about its repetition and its couplets made me feel like it was a house with two addresses. It is, indeed, a mutt of a form as so many of us in this nation are only now empowered to live fully in all of our identities. I wanted to highlight the trouble of a wall between us who live within a single structure. What happens when that wall is up and what happens when we tear it down? How will we live together? Will we kill each other? Can we be more careful?

At the end of the essay, he lists the rules of the form:

Write a ghazal that is also a sonnet that is also a blues poem of 14 lines, giving each line 9 to 11 syllables.

The first line is echoed in the last line.

The second line of the poem should change our impression of the first line in an unexpected way.

The second line is echoed and becomes the third line.

The fourth line of the poem should change our impression of the third line in an unexpected way.

This continues until the penultimate line becomes the first line of the couplet that leads to the final (and first) line.

For the variations of repeated lines, it is useful to think of the a a’ b scheme of the blues form.

And here’s an example from his latest book, The Tradition:

JERICHO BROWN
DUPLEX (I BEGIN WITH LOVE)

I begin with love, hoping to end there.
I don’t want to leave a messy corpse.

   I don’t want to leave a messy corpse
   Full of medicines that turn in the sun.

Some of my medicines turn in the sun.
Some of us don’t need hell to be good.

   Those who need least, need hell to be good.
   What are the symptoms of your sickness?

Here is one symptom of my sickness:
Men who love me are men who miss me.

   Men who leave me are men who miss me
   In the dream where I am an island.

In the dream where I am an island,
I grow green with hope. I’d like to end there.

august 26/RUN

3.2 miles
trestle turn around
65 degrees

Cooler. Breezier. Overcast. Too many cars rushing past me on the road. Listened to my audio book for a while then took out my headphones. Played chicken with a woman running up by the lake street bridge. I was running to the right, furthest from zooming bikes that might be coming up the hill behind me, she was to the left, also hugging the rail. She wouldn’t move, probably because she was oblivious. I wouldn’t move either because I’m stubborn and need rules, like always stay to the right, because my eyes don’t always work and I can’t see if someone is coming. I was prepared to run into her if she didn’t move, which I recognize is somewhat ridiculous but I get really angry when people don’t pay attention in these simple ways. As someone who can’t always see, other people’s refusal to care can be dangerous. The good news: just a minute or two after that, I completely forgot about it and enjoyed the rest of my run. Didn’t stop to walk at all and looked at the river at least once, but forgot to check if there were any stacked stones on the big old boulder.

I love this poem. I love Maggie Smith. Her mix of joy and grief is so great. So much I love about this poem. Here’s a list:

  • the focus on lists and their connection to and
  • lists of not quite grievances, lists of things loved
  • describing a fear of death as not wanting to be in the dirt
  • the desire for two parts bees humming to one part bee sting
  • idea of repetitions and a workout
  • rhyming hum with tongue
  • the flow of the couplets

Let’s Not Begin/Maggie Smith

Let’s not begin the poem with and,
though it begins that way

in spirit: one in a long list of—
let’s not call them grievances.

I’m trying to love the world,
I am, but is it too much

to ask for two parts bees
vibrating their cups of pollen,

humming a perfect A note,
to one part sting?

Worry and console, worry
and console: it’s how I stay

in shape. See, I’m sweating.
Some nights my daughter cries,

I don’t want to be in the dirt,
and this is what I call a workout.

My heart’s galloping hell
and gone from the paddock—

I don’t want to be in the dirt
because I’ll miss you

and there’s no stopping me.
But let’s not end

with the heart as horse,
fear-lathered, spooked deaf.

I’m trying, I am, for her.
If I list everything I love

about the world, and if the list
is long and heavy enough,

I can lift it over and over—
repetitions, they’re called, reps

to keep my heart on, to keep
the dirt off. Let’s begin

with bees, and the hum,
and the honey singing

on my tongue, and the child
sleeping at last, and, and, and

august 25/RUN

3 miles
two trails

What do I remember from my run today? Noticed the water came out of the sewer pipe in quick bursts. No gurgling or gushing just spurting. Watched the river through the trees–beautiful. The leaning trunk was still there. Lots of bikers and runners. No roller skiers on the trail but one on the road, after I was finished. No rowers–why not? No huge groups of runners–the most I saw together was three.

Three Songs at the End of Summer
Jane Kenyon – 1947-1995

A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority.

Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils.

Across the lake the campers have learned
to water-ski. They have, or they haven’t.
Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone
suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”

Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod
brighten the margins of the woods.

Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.

*

The cicada’s dry monotony breaks
over me. The days are bright
and free, bright and free.

Then why did I cry today
for an hour, with my whole
body, the way babies cry?

*

A white, indifferent morning sky,
and a crow, hectoring from its nest
high in the hemlock, a nest as big
as a laundry basket….
In my childhood
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.

The damp dirt road gave off
this same complex organic scent.

I had the new books—words, numbers,
and operations with numbers I did not
comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.

Spruce, inadequate, and alien
I stood at the side of the road.
It was the only life I had.

This poem! I’ve read it before but I don’t think I’ve posted it here. I would love to write an homage (poem or lyric essay) to this. Maybe tomorrow? Love so much about this poem. Right now: Across the lake the campers have learned/ to water-ski. They have, or they haven’t.

august 20/RUNSWIM

3 miles
two trails

Another good run. Down below, on the way back north on the lower trail, I noticed how the first sewer drain I ran by vigorously trickled while the second one sporadically gushed. Heard a bird making the classic bird call through the trees, deep in the gorge, that I imagine when I think of a bird chirping in a forest. So bird. Didn’t take the steps at 38th street again and planned to continue on to the gravel hill just past the social justice keys but took a wrong turn at the fork in the trail and ended up climbing sooner, conveniently right by the water fountain at the 36th street parking lot.

Yesterday I posted a poem with a wonderful use of the word O. (O, to take what we love inside/to carry within us an orchard, to eat/not only the skin, but the shade,/not only the sugar, but the days, to hold/the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into/the round jubilance of peach.) So when I saw a poem that takes on the O even more, I wanted to post it. I love the unbridled enthusiasm of an O! (and of the exclamation mark!!)

O, She Says
BY HAILEY LEITHAUSER

O, she says (because she loves to say O),
O to this cloud-break that ravels the night,
O to this moon, its mouthful of sorrow,
O shallow grass and the nettle burr’s bite,

O to heart’s flare, its wobbly satellite,
O step after step in stumbling tempo,
O owl in oak, O rout of black bat flight,
(O moaned in Attic and Esperanto)

O covetous tongue, O fat fandango,
O gnat tango in the hot, ochered light,
O wind whirred leaves in subtle inferno,
O flexing of sea, O stars bolted tight,

O ludicrous swoon, O blind hindsight,
O torching of bridges and blood boiled white,
O sparrow and arrow and hell below,
O, she says, because she loves to say O.

swim: 1.3 miles
cedar lake

Another great swim! I am really enjoying how much smaller cedar lake is. I heard someone say a loop is 600 yards. It’s easier to swim longer and farther and faster. The water was choppy again, which is great. I love battling the waves. I had no problem swimming straight today and had fun passing people.

august 19/RUNSWIM

3 miles
two trails +
59 degrees
humidity: 85%

Ran up above listening to another audio book, down below listening to a bird, my breathing and water gurgling out of the sewer–not gushing or rushing, falling? When I got to the leaning tree trunk and the 38th street steps I didn’t go up but stayed on the lower trail. No mud, only dirt, an occasional stone and wildflowers. Not too overgrown. Think I could see my breath as it hit the sunlight streaking through the trees–was this because of steamy humidity? Ran past the railing where the keys with social justice messages painted on them used to hang and up the gravel hill to the paved path, near the overlook, the welcoming oaks and the two old boulders. No stacked stones on the taller one. Saw the dark-haired woman I usually pass and the old lady in the straw hat. She wasn’t listening to any TED talks today.

From Blossoms
BY LI-YOUNG LEE

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

O, what a poem! I want to spend some time memorizing these lines so I can remember them when I need them. I want to carry within me an orchard and live from joy to joy to joy!

swim: 1 miles
cedar lake

A great evening for a swim. The water was choppy, which I liked. The sun was blinding, which I didn’t. Again, couldn’t see anything on the way back to the start except for an opening in the trees which I determined was where the beach was. So I swam straight towards it and was right. When I was done, I swam through the swimming area. Suddenly it got much darker below me–is it deeper? The attitude at the lake is more laid back than at Nokomis. Kayaks in the swimming area, a dog swimming out to greet the swimmers as they made their way to the first buoy, lifeguards sitting in camp chairs. Surprisingly, it didn’t bother me. Next year I will try to make it to more of these cedar lake swims. Almost forgot: too many scratchy, pesky vines floating in the water, getting tangled on my shoulders, in my fingers as they entered the water.