july 6/RUNSWIM

5 miles
bottom of franklin hill
69 degrees
humidity: 79% / dew point: 64
8:30 am

Even though the dew point was high, it was a good run. I tried my new experiment for the franklin hill route (which I first tried on june 22): run 2.5 miles to the bottom of the hill, turn around and walk back up it while paying attention.

recording:

thoughts while walking up the franklin hill

transcript:

july 6, 2022. 8:54 am. Just ran about 2 and a half miles to the bottom of the franklin hill, and now I’m walking up it, and it’s so LOUD. Everything is loud: the rumbling of the rushing cars and trucks above me on the bridge, the cars whooshing by, the bikes, the air is buzzing. It was doing this last night too when I was at the lake swimming. So much energy in the air, made it seem more intense.

The noise of the traffic is almost drowning out all the birdsong. Occasionally it pierces through the heavy curtain of sound.

When I was running earlier, I started chanting in triple berries as a way to get in the mindset [of being open to noticing]. I did strawberry/blueberry/raspberry, then wondering/wondering/wandering, wondering/wandering/mystery, and then, wonder where/wonder why/wonder when/wonder what. I wonder how that would work if I kept chanting it as a way to get into this trance? If I did, wonder what/wonder what/wonder what until I found something that I wondered about.

Heading under the Franklin bridge, I hear some roller skiers behind me. I love the sound of the click [of their poles]. *the sound of roller skiers’ poles hitting the pavement.* click? maybe a click clack? click? yeah. click click. I can’t quite tell. *me, humming*

note: I find it fascinating to listen back to my transcripts — how I don’t finish my thoughts; speak using run-on sentences with and…and…and; and hum without realizing it!

One more thing: As I was running, I remembered something I’d like to add for my class today in terms of wonder as curiosity: I’m calling it, “fill in the blank.” With this activity, you listen for fragments of conversation and try to imagine what the next word would be. I often hear unfinished bits of conversation as I run near others and I wonder what they were talking about or how they finished the sentence that I only heard the first half of. It’s fun, entertaining, a good way to use your imagination, and might lead to a story or a poem.

Here are 2 things I want to archive from twitter: a poem by Wendell Berry and a quote from Mary Ruefle, and one thing I heard from Scott about creativity and dyslexia:

1

To Know the Dark/ Wendell Berry

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

2

John Ashbery, in an interview… : “I waste a lot of time. That’s part of the [creative process] ….The problem is, you can’t really use this wasted time. You have to have it wasted. Poetry disequips you for the requirements of life. You can’t use your time.” — Mary Ruefle in Madness, Rack, and Honey

note: I’m a little confused by this notation but I assume it means that Mary Ruefle is quoting John Ashbery in her quote?

3

An article to check out about how people with dyslexia might think more creatively: Dyslexia Helped Evolutionary Survival of Humans, Research suggest. As with most poplular reporting on scientific research, I want to find the original study that inspired this pop article for Newsweek. A few lines caught my eye, including:

Schools, academic institutes and workplaces are not designed to make the most of explorative learning.

But we urgently need to start nurturing this way of thinking to allow humanity to continue to adapt and solve key challenges.

Yes, we need to radically rethink what skills are taught/learned if we’re going to survive the 21st century!

swim: 1 small loop
cedar lake open swim
80 degrees
6:00 pm

Swam across the lake with my 19 year old son! We’ve been practicing and building up his endurance for the last couple of weeks. Today he didn’t seem to have any problem swimming across and back. Hooray! It was fun to swim with him.

addendum: returning to this post a day later — Besides swimming with FWA, one of the best things about swimming at Cedar Lake last night was how clear the water was. It wasn’t absolutely clear, where you could see all the way to bottom 50 feet below, but it was clear enough that I could my legs and hands under the water (they were glowing white) and FWA as he did the breast-stroke. Then, as we left the beach, we both noticed the vegetation below us, growing up from some bottom that stretched endlessly and invisibly beneath us.

april 14/RUN

3.5 miles
2 trails + extra
32 degrees / feels like 22
wind: 20 mph with 33 mph gusts
light snow

Cold and windy. Snow flurries covering my eyelashes. Winter is back. Glad I went out for a run, but some of it wasn’t fun. The best part: running closer to the river on the Winchell Trail, glancing out at the gorge, seeing everything smudged from the snow falling — almost like looking through a fogged-up window. I also liked how the dirt and grass were white in the corners where the snow was sticking, like a dusting of powdered sugar. Near the end of the run, right after I made it through the tunnel of trees and past the old stone steps, 2 walkers clapped for me. As I ran by, I wasn’t quite, but I think that’s what they were doing, because I was out there, running even in these bad conditions. I’ll take it. How many times in my life will I have people randomly clap for me?

before the run

1 — a tool used to loosen and bury things in the ground

The planet seen from extremely close up is called the ground. The ground can be made loose by the human hand, or by using a small tool held in the human hand, such as a spade, or an even larger tool, such as a shovel

We bury our dead in the ground. Roughly half the dead are buried in boxes and half the dead are buried without boxes. A burying box is an emblem of respect for the dead. 

Besides burying the dead in the ground, we bury our garbage, also called trash. Man-made mountains of garbage are pushed together using heavy equipment and then pushed down into the ground. The site of this burial is called a landfill. The site of the dead buried in boxes is called a cemetery. In both cases the ground is being filled. A dead body in a box can be lowered into the ground using heavy equipment, but we do not consider it trash. When the dead are not in boxes and there is a man-made mountain of them we do use heavy equipment to bury them together, like trash. It is estimated that everywhere we walk we are walking on a piece of trash and the hard, insoluble remains of the dead. 

Also buried in the ground are seeds, which we want to see when they emerge from the ground in their later form–that is, as plants. Plants rising from the ground are essential to life. To bury a seed it to plant it. 

When flowers arise from the ground, colorful and shapely in an astonishing variety of ways, the living are made especially happy.

After a while, the flower that has been separated from the ground dies, and we throw it in the trash. Flowers are often planted where the dead are buried in boxes, but these flowers are never cut. That would be horrible. Whoever did such a thing would be considered a thief. Thoseflowers belong to the dead.

Observations on the Ground“/ Mary Ruefle

To bury is not always to get rid of, but to honor, attend to, plant. A shovel is one tool we use to do this.

2 — digging in and developing foundations

List: Things I have shoveled: sidewalks, snowdrift, holes (for outhouses and bridge abutments and potatoes), driveways, fill pits Also, footings for rock walls, tie-ins for for cribbing, horse shit, dog shit, mule shit, a grave for a songbird caught in an early frost. Coal, gravels, dirt, straw, mud, cedar chips, muck, bark, left-over acorn hulls from a squirrel’s midden, water from a gooey ditch. Once, I lifted a dumb spruce grouse from the middle of the road in a shovel, carried it twenty yards to safer ground.

Look around—an urban subway system, the pilings of a shipyard dock, the basement of your house. Shovels, more than bootstraps, are the secret to success.

from Dirt Work

shovel = digging in = finding home, a place to stay. settle, attend to = remember, praise, honor

“Dirt work is foundation work.”

3 — the Golden Shovel

The Golden Shovel = a poem + poetic form + a way to honor others/ancestors + a place (where the seven pool players play) + a helpful constraint

The Golden Shovel is a poetic form readers might not — yet — be familiar with. It was devised recently by Terrance Hayes in homage to Gwendolyn Brooks, whose centenary year this is. The last words of each line in a Golden Shovel poem are, in order, words from a line or lines taken often, but not invariably, from a Brooks poem. The results of this technique can be quite different in subject, tone, and texture from the source poem, depending upon the ingenuity and imagination of the poet who undertakes to compose one.

Introduction: The Golden Shovel

The Golden Shovel/ TERRANCE HAYES

after Gwendolyn Brooks

I. 1981

When I am so small Da’s sock covers my arm, we
cruise at twilight until we find the place the real

men lean, bloodshot and translucent with cool.
His smile is a gold-plated incantation as we

drift by women on bar stools, with nothing left
in them but approachlessness. This is a school

I do not know yet. But the cue sticks mean we
are rubbed by light, smooth as wood, the lurk

of smoke thinned to song. We won’t be out late.
Standing in the middle of the street last night we

watched the moonlit lawns and a neighbor strike
his son in the face. A shadow knocked straight

Da promised to leave me everything: the shovel we
used to bury the dog, the words he loved to sing

his rusted pistol, his squeaky Bible, his sin.
The boy’s sneakers were light on the road. We

watched him run to us looking wounded and thin.
He’d been caught lying or drinking his father’s gin.

He’d been defending his ma, trying to be a man. We
stood in the road, and my father talked about jazz,

how sometimes a tune is born of outrage. By June
the boy would be locked upstate. That night we

got down on our knees in my room. If I should die
before I wake. Da said to me, it will be too soon.


II. 1991

Into the tented city we go, we-
akened by the fire’s ethereal

afterglow. Born lost and cool-
er than heartache. What we

know is what we know. The left
hand severed and school-

ed by cleverness. A plate of we-
ekdays cooking. The hour lurk-

ing in the afterglow. A late-
night chant. Into the city we

go. Close your eyes and strike
a blow. Light can be straight-

ened by its shadow. What we
break is what we hold. A sing-

ular blue note. An outcry sin-
ged exiting the throat. We

push until we thin, thin-
king we won’t creep back again.

While God licks his kin, we
sing until our blood is jazz,

we swing from June to June.
We sweat to keep from we-

eping. Groomed on a die-
t of hunger, we end too soon.

And here’s the original poem from Gwendolyn Brooks:

We Real Cool/ Gwendolyn Brooks

The Pool Players.
        Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We   
            Left school. We

            Lurk late. We
            Strike straight. We

            Sing sin. We   
            Thin gin. We

            Jazz June. We   
            Die soon.

during the run

I tried to think about shovels and digging in and things planted instead of buried, but I think I was too distracted by the wind and the snow to remember anything.

after the run

Thinking more about Mary Ruefle and whether or not to read the collection, My Private Property, from which her prose poem about ground comes. Found and read/skimmed an LARB review about it, with a great definition of poetry:

In her introduction to Madness, Rack, and Honey, Ruefle suggests that poetry maintains its mystery by always being a few steps beyond us. She likens attempting to describe poetry to following a shy thrush into the woods as it recedes ever further, saying: “Fret not after knowledge, I have none.” Ruefle proposes that a reader might “preserve a bit of space where his lack of knowledge can survive.”

Human Lessons: On Mary Ruefle’s My Private Property

Also, scrolling through twitter, found a great passage Ada Limón in her interview for Michigan Quarterly Review:

‘I want to know how we live. How do we live?’. And I mean that in a curious way, but I also mean it in a wondrous way. Because sometimes I think — wow, we do this! And other times I think, how do we do this. It is out of sheer amazement that the question comes out of me — because it is really remarkable to be alive. But the ebbs and flows are just so intense. And I think acknowledging how hard it is, is actually part of the wonderment. You know that’s part of the awe. And I don’t think I knew that until I had experienced my own realization about mortality.

She also offers a great definition of poetry:

that’s what poetry is. It doesn’t just point out the world. It makes it strange to us again. So that we can remember wonder. 

And, one more great thing about not knowing and uncertainty:

When I began as a poet, I thought it was all about knowing. I thought it was about truth, and beauty. And every poem I read, felt wise to me. I could read Anne Sexton, Philip Levine, Lucille Clifton and I would find this deep wisdom. So I thought that’s what I should work towards, a knowingness. And then, the old cliché – and it is a cliché because it’s true – that the more you learn, the more you witness, the more you realize you don’t know. And I think I’m very scared now of certainty. Even when someone says, what’s your opinion about this? Often, I’m like, I don’t know. I don’t 100% know. And that’s because the world is changing so fast. And I can have a sense of morality, of course, and right and wrong, and goodness, but beyond that, I hope I can remain porous and open enough to not think that I know all the answers. And I think a lot of harm comes from that false certainty, that is so attached to our egos, when not only are we completely convinced that we’re right, but to be proven wrong would be almost deadly. And I don’t ever want to be in that position.

What is Enough for a Poem? An Interview with Ada Limón

nov 21/RUN

4.5 miles
franklin loop
38 degrees
wind: 25mph

Ran with Scott on a blustery, dark morning. It was not gloomy, but dark, with a veil over the sun. Strange and beautiful with the bare trees, brown gorge, blue river. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker and few other runners.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. Extremely windy crossing the franklin bridge, pushing us around, kicking up dirt that got in my eyes
  2. After exiting the bridge, a wind gust from behind pushed us on the path. A wild ride!
  3. The trail below, in the east flats, is finally visible
  4. Last week, or sometime not too long ago, I mentioned a missing fence panel. Today, there was caution tape marking it off
  5. The white line they were painting on the road earlier in the week was straight and bright
  6. Running on the east side, looking over at the west and the bright, glowing white of the white sands beach
  7. Crossing lake street bridge: small waves on the water — straight lines parallel to the shore — making it easy to determine the direction of the wind
  8. A small pack of runners approaching us
  9. The scraping of a ski pole on the asphalt from a roller skier in a bright orange vest
  10. A passing runner, tethered to a dog

Here’s an essay? a prose poem? by Mary Ruefle from her collection, My Private Property:

Observations on the Ground/ Mary Ruefle

The planet seen from extremely close up is called the ground. The ground can be made loose by the human hand, or by using a small tool held in the human hand, such as a spade, or an even larger tool, such as a shovel, or a variety of machines commonly called heavy equipment. We bury our dead in the ground. Roughly half the dead are buried in boxes and half the dead are buried without boxes. A burying box is an emblem of respect for the dead. We are the only species to so envelop our dead. An earlier, more minimal, way to envelop the dead was to wrap them in cloth.

Besides burying the dead in the ground, we bury our garbage, also called trash. Man-made mountains of garbage are pushed together using heavy equipment and then pushed down into the ground. The site of this burial is called a landfill. The site of the dead buried in boxes is called a cemetery. In both cases the ground is being filled. A dead body in a box can be lowered into the ground using heavy equipment, but we do not consider it trash. When the dead are not in boxes and there is a man-made mountain of them we do use heavy equipment to bury them together, like trash. It is estimated that everywhere we walk we are walking on a piece of trash and the hard, insoluble remains of the dead. Whatever the case, the dead and the garbage are together in the ground where we cannot see them, for we do not relish the sight or smell of them. If we did not go about our burying, we would be in danger of being overcome.

Also buried in the ground are seeds, which we want to see when they emerge from the ground in their later form–that is, as plants. Plants rising from the ground are essential to life. To bury a seed it to plant it. When a seed is planted and not seen again, those who buried it are made sad. The anticipated plant of wished-upon seed has not materialized. It is dead, and remains buried. Heavy equipment is used to plant large expanses of ground with seed. When a whole field of shivering grain rises from the earth, there is a growing sense of happiness among those who buried the seeds. Happiness is also present when a tree emerges, or a tree that will bear fruit, or leafy green, edible plants that were formerly planted. When flowers arise from the ground, colorful and shapely in an astonishing variety of ways, the living are made especially happy. Not only are flowers admired for their outward beauty of form, but their scents are capable of overcoming us and therefore prized. Nothing, it seems, makes the living as happy as a flower. Flowers are among the most anticipated things on earth. For this reason, we separate the flower from the ground and present it to another to hold or to look at. After a while, the flower that has been separated from the ground dies, and we throw it in the trash. Flowers are often planted where the dead are buried in boxes, but these flowers are never cut. That would be horrible. Whoever did such a thing would be considered a thief. Those flowers belong to the dead.

nov 5/RUN

2 miles
cooper school loop
60 degrees

Still waiting for the results of the election. Stressful. Feeling the panic simmering just beneath the surface. Slight tightness in chest, deeper breaths needed. Feeling hopeful and scared and impatient.

A beautiful day for a run. Maybe a little warmer than I’d like but sunny and calm. I wore shorts. I don’t remember looking at my shadow as I ran–was she there?–north on Edmund up to 32nd. Lots of people out walking and running. Did a loop around Cooper School. Heard some kids playing on the playground.

geese!

I don’t remember any geese on my run today but I do remember first hearing then seeing 2 different groups of geese flying fast through the sky. So fast! And pretty low in the sky too. I wonder if they were offering a warning about next week’s colder weather?

look at that bird high in the sky!

Walking home after finishing my run I noticed a speck out of the corner of my eye. Something moving high in the sky. At first I couldn’t see it because it was in my central blind spot. I kept trying to spot it my periphery. Suddenly it appeared. I could even see the wings moving. How was I able to see it? Did my brain finally guess correctly or did the bird move into an undamaged part of my central vision? Vision is so strange and fascinating.

Mood Ring: Bewilderment

I’m working on another mood ring poem. After trying to find the best word to describe it I have decided on bewilderment. Here’s a line that I want to use somehow from Mary Ruefle:

The difference between myself and my student is that I am better at not knowing what I am doing.

Not knowing what I’m doing or seeing is a constant experience for me. Learning how to deal with that disorientation, discomfort, uncertainty is a big goal. It used to be central to my pedagogy in the classroom, now it’s central to my daily life.