june 5/RUN

2 miles
neighborhood wander
66 degrees

As I write this, about an hour after my run, there’s bright sun, but when I ran it was gray and ominous. The thick green looked especially dark and the sky felt heavy. The rain isn’t supposed to arrive until around 6, but it has already seemed like it’s about to rain twice. I ran through the neighborhood to avoid crowded trails and because I felt like trying something different.

Neighborhood Haunts

  1. Running by cooper school, I thought about the man I saw a few years ago working out by flipping a heavy sand bag across the field. Does he still do that, or has he moved onto some other strange (at least to me) way of keeping fit?
  2. Running down the hill toward (is it toward or towards?) edmund, I looked for the house with the fruit vines closest to the sidewalk. 2 or 3 years ago, the owners had posted a sign that encouraged anyone to take the fruit. The sign also said what kind of fruit it was, but I can’t remember.
  3. Also ran by the big, super cool 60s ranch house on the corner with the three gigantic cottonwood trees. The lawn was almost white with cottonwood fuzz. How difficult is that to rake up? Do you rake it up, or leave it — and, does it ever leave?

The run was helpful; it improved my mood, at least a little. And writing this entry while sitting out on my back deck listening to different birds, makes me feel even better.

Becoming Moss/ Ella Frears

I lie on the ground.
I open my mouth.
I suck on a spoon.
I embrace a stone.
A beetle crawls by.
I empty my mind
I stuff it with grass
I’m green, I repeat.

The sun is a drink
the yellowest squash
I can’t get enough
I can’t get enough
I can’t get enough
I can’t get enough
I can’t get enough
I can’t get enough

I love the idea of repeating, I’m green! I’m green! Also, it was fun to type I can’t get enough over and over again, even line after even line, the feel of the fingers on the keys and the look of the letters lined up so neatly.

jan 28/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minutes
bike stand
run: 2.2 miles
treadmill

Watched the rest of the Dickinson episode about fame, which includes ED in a carriage with Death (Wiz Khalifa) and recently deceased, Edgar Allen Poe (Nick Kroll), who tells her how unsatisfying fame is, to which she utters: “Fame is a bee.” Nice. I wish they would have had the bee in the carriage too.

Fame is a bee./ Emily Dickinson

Fame is a bee.
It has a song—
It has a sting—
Ah, too, it has a wing.

Ran to my new playlist. Again, didn’t think about much, or if I did think about anything, I don’t remember what it was. Returning to Dickinson, here’s a poem that includes doors (I mentioned a twitter thread a few days ago about doors in poetry) and ghosts!

One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —/ Emily Dickinson

One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —
One need not be a House —
The Brain has Corridors — surpassing
Material Place —

Far safer, of a Midnight Meeting
External Ghost
Than its interior Confronting —
That Cooler Host.

Far safer, through an Abbey gallop,
The Stones a’chase —
Than Unarmed, one’s a’self encounter —
In lonesome Place —

Ourself behind ourself, concealed —
Should startle most —
Assassin hid in our Apartment
Be Horror’s least.

The Body — borrows a Revolver —
He bolts the Door —
O’erlooking a superior spectre —
Or More —

And, here’s another poem that includes both doors and ghosts that I’ve posted before:

Doors/ Carl Sandburg

An open door says, “Come in.” 
A shut door says, “Who are you?” 
Shadows and ghosts go through shut doors. 
If a door is shut and you want it shut,
why open it? 
If a door is open and you want it open,
why shut it? 
Doors forget but only doors know what it is
doors forget.

jan 4/RUN

4.5 miles
minhehaha falls and back
28 degrees
75% snow-covered

Even warmer today (than yesterday or Sunday). Everything gray and white, even the sky. Almost forgot to look at the river, but then I remembered. It would have been nice to have my Yak trax with the slushy, soft, sluggish snow. Listened to the gorge on the way to the falls, a playlist on the way back. Felt good and strong. Only occasionally thought about my daughter and how she’s home sick with a headache and runny nose. COVID? Doubtful, but possible. Getting tested is very hard these days: no rapid tests, long lines at testing sites. Hopefully this will be over soon.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the river: almost all white with a few off-white (gray? light brown?) spots
  2. the path: a slightly wider strip of almost bare pavement than yesterday
  3. 2 walkers ahead of me on the path, waiting to cross at a spot just 15 feet from the crosswalk, then crossing over to Becketwood
  4. kids playing at the minnehaha academy playground
  5. graffiti on the biking part of the double bridge, the empty outline of orange and purple and blue letters
  6. the falls: almost, but not quite, fully frozen. I could hear the softest rushing of water from behind the ice
  7. about a dozen people at the falls
  8. 2 people walking up the hill in the park, one of them in a bright orange jacket
  9. the view down to the spot where the creek collects and kids like to wade in the summer was grand and beautiful and white
  10. running in the road on the spots between sidewalks, about half of the surface was bare, the rest was light brown snowy slush, looking like coffee ice cream

To fit in with my continued thinking about ghosts, and haunting, and remembering, and naming and the things it can signify other than power or claiming or owning, and yellow:

Forsythia/ Ada Limón

At the cabin in Snug Hollow near McSwain Branch creek, just spring, all the animals are out, and my beloved and I are lying in bed in a soft silence. We are talking about how we carry so many people with us wherever we go, how even simple living, these unearned moments, are a tribute to the dead. We are both expecting to hear an owl as the night deepens. All afternoon, from the porch, we watched an eastern towhee furiously build her nest in the wild forsythia with its yellow spilling out into the horizon. I told him that the way I remember the name forsythia is that when my stepmother, Cynthia, was dying, that last week, she said lucidly but mysteriously, More yellow. And I thought yes, more yellow, and nodded because I agreed. Of course, more yellow. And so now in my head, when I see that yellow tangle, I say, For Cynthia, for Cynthia, forsythia, forsythia, more yellow. It is night now. And the owl never comes, only more of night and what repeats in the night.

jan 1/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
-5 degrees / feels like -20
100% snow-covered

I’m not sure it felt as cold as -20, whatever that feels like, but it felt cold. I thought I had enough layers on, and didn’t notice that my legs were cold, but when I got home and stripped off my two pairs of running tights, my legs were bright red. Guess I should have worn tights and some fleece leggings instead. In addition to 2 shirts, a pink jacket, 2 pairs of tights, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of gloves, a gray jacket, a buff, my new favorite hat, and a hood, I used hand warmers in my gloves and toe warmers in my shoes — the disposable ones that stay warm for several hours. They helped. Not sure if I will run when it’s this cold again, but I’m glad I did it. My status as crazy winter runner is affirmed.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t alone out there.

10 Groups of People I Noticed

  1. someone on a fat tire
  2. a human, bundled up, with a dog, not bundled up
  3. a walker covered from head to toe, only their eyes peeking out from under a furry hood
  4. a male runner in black tights, moving fast
  5. a female runner, in a blue stocking cap, moving less fast
  6. 2 taller humans, one in a BRIGHT orange jacket, the other pulling a much smaller human in a sled
  7. a group of people at the falls contemplating whether or not to jump the chain on the steps leading down to the falls, one of them said something about getting arrested — maybe, “we could get arrested” because they didn’t want to do it, or “we’re not going to get arrested” because they wanted to do it
  8. 2 people, near the locks and dam no 1, standing near the bike path, then crossing the river road to turkey hollow
  9. a woman in a long winter coat with a dog on the bike path, turning up the walking path near the parking lot, entering minnehaha regional park
  10. 2 people, near the falls, turning away from the falls and heading past the summer seafood restaurant (Sea Salt) and heading back to a parking lot or the pavilion or the playground

Listening to The Current before running, I heard this song by Jack White. I wanted to include it with my poems on haunting:

Alone in My Home/ Jack White

This light that shines on me tonight
Turns on when you wander through my door
And your friends won’t see you to the end, I’m sure
But you love them anyhow
Lost feelings of love
Lost feelings of love
That hover above me
Lost feelings of love
Lost feelings of love
That hover above me
The ghost that visit me the most, drop by
Cause they know they can find me here
And they claim to be held from me in chains, but come on
They’re guilty as sin my dear
I’m becoming a ghost
Becoming a ghost
So nobody can know me
I’m becoming a ghost
Becoming a ghost
So nobody can know me
These stones that are thrown against my bones, break through
But they hurt less as times goes on
And though alone, I build my own home, to be sure
That nobody can touch me now
Yeah
All alone in my home
Alone in my home
Nobody can touch me
All alone in my home
Alone in my home
Nobody can touch me

I listened to this song on Spotify and watched lyrics as he sang them. Very cool. I really enjoy hearing a song for the first time, seeing what rhythms the lyrics have. Thinking about this gave me an idea: I want to try some song-writing. I could collaborate with Scott on a song. Yes, this is a goal for 2022. Not sure if I’ll be any good at this or why I want to do it so much, but I do, so I will. So many new, interesting things to learn!

dec 19/RUN

4.25 miles
river road trail, north/south
17 degrees / feels like 0
100% snow-covered

I think this is my coldest run so far this season. Running north, it was much warmer. Turning around, heading south, the wind whipped straight through me. Brr. Last night, I bought a new winter running hat at REI. It’s a black ball cap, with a visor and ear flaps and it’s lined with fleece. Excellent. So far this year, I’ve been using a free twins cap I got at a game when it was DQ day. At one time, it was black. It’s still black on the inside, but the outside is a brownish gray, bleached by the sun, stained by my salty sweat. Gross, I suppose, although it doesn’t bother me that much. Because I can’t see things that well, faded hats don’t bother me. I still care a little about how I look, but barely. Luckily, I mostly look fine, so who cares?

I had thought about wearing my yak trax, but because the neighborhood sidewalks were mostly bare, I decided not to. My run was fine, but I should have worn the yak trax. The trail was completely covered with about an inch of soft, uneven snow. I ran on the walking path most of the time because the snow plow had come through and pushed all the street snow up onto the biking path. Fun (not fun). I slipped a few times, but no danger of falling. I listened to my feet strike the snow and the crush crush rhythm of both feet. Thought about how the sound is much different when I’m moving slower and walking. Then, the sound of the snow still has the crush but it also has a slow grinding noise — the sound of one foot slowly lifting off the ground. So 2 sounds at once: crush creak crush creak. I wondered if I could fit this idea into one of my two beat poems? Maybe.

Speaking of my beat poems, I was looking for a different word for describing the beat as a discrete unit of time. I had written time’s sharp shutters but I wasn’t quite happy with it. While I was running, I thought of slicing. Then, after I was done: time’s sharp cuts. Now I need to figure out how to describe the space/time between beats. For now, I have a stutter, but I’m not sure if I like that.

There were lots of people out by the gorge. Runners and walkers. No bikers or skiers. One person pulling an empty sled. No Daily Walker, no Santa Clause, no Mr. Morning!. The river was open, with a few ice floes. It was a dark blue, not quite black. The sky was white.

dec 17/RUN

5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
14 degrees / feels like 3
10% ice and snow covered

I loved my run this morning. It didn’t feel too cold, and it wasn’t too windy. There was some ice on the path and I did slip a few times, but I never fell or twisted anything. Because of the warm temperatures on Wednesday, a lot of the snow melted, and the walking path was mostly clear. Nice!

Thought about my haunt poem and had an idea that should help me finish it and start (and maybe finish?) another one. Yes! I’ll take off the beginning and the end and make them into another poem. Then I’ll keep the middle and keep it as my beats poem. Thanks, run, for helping me out! Something I’m learning: sometimes when you think you need to add one more line or image, you might just need to get rid of something you already wrote.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The river was completely open and illuminated by the sun. Sometimes it looked almost bronze or brown. Other times, pewter and then silver in the spots where the sun was shining on it
  2. The ravine just past the double bridge was bare and open and easy to study. As I ran above it, I stared at the slope, trying to judge its steepness and whether or not I could scale it. Assessment: not easily
  3. The sidewalks criss-crossing near the John Stevens House were all clear. I had run this way on Monday, when it was all covered in snow. Looking at the sidewalks now, I’m pretty sure the trail I took on Monday wasn’t following them
  4. Some workers with chainsaws trimming trees near the John Stevens House
  5. Minnehaha Creek, the part the falls drops into, was almost roaring. I briefly stopped to look down at it and listen
  6. The falls were rushing. Some of the ice that had been forming in the cold melted from our almost 60 degree weather on Wednesday
  7. Cawing crows
  8. A greeting from Mr. Morning! and Santa Claus (at least, I think it was Santa Claus!?) Mr. Morning! was dressed for winter — snow pants, a winter park with hood, stocking cap, dark glasses
  9. One bike on the trail — couldn’t tell if it was a fat tire
  10. Someone walking down on the Winchell Trail

The poem of the day on Poetry Foundation was by Lisel Mueller. I always enjoy her poetry. Looked her up, and found 2 more that delight me:

Sometimes, When the Light/ Lisel Mueller

Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood

and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows

or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs standing hip to hip,

you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows

something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous

that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.

Things/ LISEL MUELLER

What happened is, we grew lonely
living among the things,
so we gave the clock a face,
the chair a back,
the table four stout legs
which will never suffer fatigue.

We fitted our shoes with tongues
as smooth as our own
and hung tongues inside bells
so we could listen
to their emotional language,

and because we loved graceful profiles
the pitcher received a lip,
the bottle a long, slender neck.

Even what was beyond us
was recast in our image;
we gave the country a heart,
the storm an eye,
the cave a mouth
so we could pass into safety.

dec 16/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
bike stand
run: 1.25 miles
treadmill

Yesterday, the threat of a big storm — tornadoes, dangerously high wind, thunderstorms — never happened. At least not in Minneapolis. Today, it’s back to winter and more snow and cold air. I decided to stay inside and do a quick bike + run. Watched a video about some deeper meanings in Saturday Night Fever while I biked, listened to a playlist while I ran. Today exercise offered a good break from my work on my beats poem. It’s getting closer, but I’m not quite there with this one. Hopefully I’ll figure it out tomorrow. I’m trying to remember to not become to invested in any of my words or phrases.

dec 15/RUN

5.8 miles
franklin hill turn around
44 degrees / humidity: 99%
0% snow-covered

Strange outside this morning. Warm, humid, gray. White snow on the grass, white fog in the air. Everything wet, dripping. Too warm for ice or snow on the trail, just puddles. I overdressed and became overheated by the end of the first mile. I was distracted by a runner creeping up behind, (too) slowly passing me then, once she was ahead, going even slower. At least it seemed that way. I decided that whichever way she went when she reached the Franklin bridge, I’d go the other way. She turned to head up and over the bridge, so I went under it and down the hill straight into thick fog. Hard to see anything down in the flats but headlights. Very cool. The river was completely open and waving at me in the slight wind. Heading back up the hill, I ran 3/4 of it, only stopping to walk for the very last part. A warm, humid wind was hitting me in the face, tiring me out. Near the end of the run, I saw Dave the Daily Walker. He called out, “This fog is kind of cool” and I agreed.

Before I left the house, I was reviewing my notes and thinking about my latest haunts poem. This one focuses on rhythm, repetition, and beats (heart, striking feet, chiming clocks, dripping pipes/limestone). Last night, I came up with a few line to fit my 3/2 form:

I come to
the gorge
to find that
soft space
between beats
before
one foot strikes
after
the other
lifts off
when I float
through time’s
crisp borders
in a
moment so
brief it
registers
only
as shimmer.

Not sure I’m satisfied with the ending of this — shimmer? shiver? something else? Anyway, I was thinking about that moment, the soft space between beats, as I ran. There’s a point in the biomechanics of running when both feet are off of the ground. It’s often referred to as the float phase. It happens so quickly that it’s very easy to ignore it. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I try to focus on it. Today, I imagined my run as happening in that space as I tuned out the beat/foot strikes, and focused on the freeing feeling of moving through the air, hovering above the trail. I thought about how this space, while brief, can be big, expansive, opening you up, allowing for possibility and other ways to relate to space and time. One trick: stop noticing the beats — get a steady rhythm going so that you can ignore them. The beats are still there, in fact they’re necessary for making the float happen, but they’re not centered as the most important (or only) thing about running/moving. Another thing I thought about: taken in isolation, each moment is small/brief, but what if you imagined that the moment was continuous, only quickly interrupted by the beat? How might that transform our understanding of time and how it moves/works? I thought about all of this, and will work to condense it into a line or two for this poem.

I’m imagining this poem about repetition, rhythm, chanting as a prayer (or at least including a prayer). For inspiration, I looked up “prayer” on the poetry foundation site. This one came up. I’d like to study these words and how the poet uses the metaphor of making/baking a cake:

Prayer 48/ EVA SAULITIS

for Asja

In predawn dark, a rat falling from a rafter is a dollop,
wind a whir, and suddenly I’m remembering my mother 
teaching me to bake her hot water sponge cake.

How we whipped the egg whites with the electric mixer
until stiff peaks formed. How she warned me not to allow
a single thread of yolk to taint the white, or the cake

would fail. To fold white into yolk-sugar-flour was slow, 
patient. She let me carve a wedge with the rubber spatula,
drop it to the batter’s surface, then lift from the bowl’s bottom

up and over the dollop, turning it in. Warned me
never to beat or mix or even stir—the cake would fall. 
Once, dinking around, I stuck a wooden spoon into

the still-whirring beaters, bent the metal, splintered
the spoon into the batter. Once I cut her grandmother’s precious
lace for a doll’s clothes, and she cried, the savaged pieces

draped across her wrists. So many times I tried to shove
my peasant feet into her dainty pumps, hand into her evening
gloves. One spoon at a time, that first thin layer drawn across

the airy white forming a little hill. Folding only
just enough. The batter growing lighter by increments.
It was mostly space we folded in, taming down

the cloy. It was never so good as then, licked off
the finer, the cake itself, to me, disappointing, layers
smeared with homemade jam, topped with a stiff merengue.

Never so good as then, her instructing, trying to domesticate
my impertinence, teach me a little grace, me resisting,
the sweet on my tongue dissolving so easily

in that state of matter. Never so good as straight from 
the Pyrex bowl. Never so gentle as the slide of batter
into an angel food pan. The rest up to her, what she

created from the baked version, brown on top and bottom. 
Here I am, decades later sitting under the halogen
of a full moon, and that moment, which was many

folded into one, is so pure and specific, the sugar sharp
on my tongue, the spatula pushing as if through 
an undertow. My mother taught me to fold. Never so

sweet as now. We were incorporating lightness
into a deep bowl. As some bird—probably an owl
out hunting—chacks its was across the lawn,

sounding like a key chain, and now the garden sprinkler
comes on, so I know it’s 6:00 a.m. There’s the first hint
of dawn slow-dissolving one more night. This is a fifty-

year-old love. It’s heavy, so I fold in moonlight, the sound
of water spattered on leaves. Dim stars, bright moon—
our lives. The cake imperfect, but finished. 

dec 6/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
bike on stand
run: 3 miles
treadmill
outside temp: 9 / feels like -11

Welcome winter. I would have run outside but that wind, wow. 22 mph with 30+mph gusts. Decided I’d stay inside. Watched an old cross-country race while I biked, listened to a playlist while I ran. No amazing epiphanies, but it felt good to move.

I continue to work on my haunts/haunting/haunted poem sequence. One about restlessness is giving me some trouble. Restless as pacing, returning to loop/orbit around the river repeatedly, in constant motion, searching for a view + a way in (to connection, understanding, joy, better words). Constant motion as being blurred, fuzzy, unfinished, fizzing out (or leaking out?), released from form, not following straight, efficient lines (of a road) but a meandering trail that travels with the terrain, remembers/mingles with the past (thinking of Wendell Berry’s difference between a road and a trail / october’s apparitions). I want to end it with something about never leaving loud conclusions (better word?) but quiet records with my feet (referencing Girmay’s snail). I need at least one more day with this one, I think.

Here’s another great ghost poem I encountered the other day on twitter:

Ghosting/ Andrea Cohen

How cavalier
people are—

with language
and with silence.

Any ghost will
tell you—

the last thing
we mean

to do
is leave you.

nov 23/RUN

4.8 miles
Veteran’s Home Loop
32 degrees

Listened to a playlist this morning and didn’t think about much. Sunny, a little windy, cold — not that cold, but cold-feeling in November when temps so far have almost always been above freezing. By January, I’ll probably describe 32 as warm. Lots of walkers, a few runners. No bikers or roller skiers. No squirrels either. Running over the double-bridge at 44th, I thought about it differently today. On Saturday, Scott and I hiked down in the ravine by this bridge and looked at it from below. A very different perspective. Lots of graffiti on top and a gaping maw underneath. We saw a few icicles hanging of the bottom, and heard some seeping in the limestone. Will there be ice columns in a few months?

Almost forgot: Turkeys! 5 or 6 of them huddled in the grass on the side of the road.

Yesterday, after struggling with a way into a poem for my haunting series, I finally found it. Very glad that I persisted. Whether or not my poem is any good, I’m very pleased with how much I’m learning and how I’m starting to be able to do more showing and less telling–or at least much less theorizing. I love how poetry is helping me to shift how I think and write.

from Haunts Haunting Haunted / Sara Lynne Puotinen (draft)

viii.

Signs — Maps
Monuments
Markers
claims on the
land a
possessing
with loud
You are heres
that ring
out proper
names placed
in firm ground
meanwhile
softer forms
quiet
submissions
of proof
whisper You
aren’t here
alone
: tamped
down grass
a gutted
fence with
chain links pried
open
stones stacked on
boulders
a black glove
draped on
a tree branch
faint paths
criss-crossing
the woods
graffiti
more than
evidence
these slight
signs do not
declare
but call you
to join
the endless
work of
noticing
making
room for what
remains
outside the
Known the
official
story

Robert Bly died yesterday here in Minneapolis. Here’s a poem of his that someone posted:

Gratitude to Old Teachers / Robert Bly

When we strike or stroll across the frozen lake,
We place our feet where they have never been.
We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.
Who is down there but our old teachers?
Water that once could take no human weight—
We were students then—holds up our feet,
And goes on ahead of us for a mile.
Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness.