june 22/RUN

3.1 miles
river road path above, south/below, north
65 degrees

What a beautiful morning! Not too hot or humid or windy or sunny. Didn’t listen to music or an audio book or the gorge–except I did hear the coxswain’s bullhorn, a man’s voice today. Ran on the path next to the road on the way to the falls then turned at the double bridge parking lot (44th) and ran below, on the path that starts as dirt then mulched leaves then uneven, barely intact asphalt then newer asphalt. This path undulates, climbing up by 42nd, then down, up by Folwell, then down, then mostly flat until the steps at 38th street. You can take these up and run by the road again or take your chances running down on the dirt path of the Winchell Trail–usually there’s a muddy, mucky spot halfway to the bottom of the Oak Savanna and then too many wildflowers crowding out the already narrow path. Sometimes I take my chances, today I climbed the steps and then kept going past the turn-off and down through the tunnel of trees. Felt pretty good and was happy to run 3 miles without stopping to walk. I like trail running. Sometime this summer I’ll have to convince Scott to run the limestone trail at Pike Island near Fort Snelling.

Tried to think about my writing goals and what I want to do with my vision poetry, but couldn’t hold on to any thoughts.

I really like the storytelling in this poem and the light, easy way it packs so much into a story about sitting around in doughnut pajamas on your 39th birthday.

Lounging on the Couch on my 39th Birthday in Pink Flannel Donut Pajamas/Julie Danho

Surely birds would love to peck
at the dozens of donuts adorning
my arms and legs: the glazed, the jellied,
the vanilla frosted scalloped at the edges
like the worn lace tablecloth in Sito’s
tenement apartment where my mother
father sister aunts uncles cousins
would cram in Sundays, post church,
and I’d eat the frosting off two, return
the bottoms to the box while Sito frowned
and Gido insisted I should disfigure
as many donuts as made me happy. After
he died, she pulled the walls around her
like an afghan and didn’t leave. Sundays,
when I delivered the church bulletin
to her recliner, she’d clasp my face
in both hands, grateful. It’s been decades
since I sat in a pew, but I brought my mother
to the last church hafla, where she won
these pajamas instead of what she wanted
(the platter of walnut baklawa). And maybe
I’ve lived too long to be lounging in pink
flannel donut pajamas, but I love how they
rub against my legs like a cat’s head,
love that someone spent time dreaming up
improbable donuts, like this one here
frosted blue-green, then crosshatched
with piped white stripes, topped with pink
and red sprinkles, a sugared inner tube
floating the middle. How can’t I be hungry?
In the next room, my birthday cake sits
on Sito’s old table, mine since the day
we emptied her apartment and I opened
dresser drawer after dresser drawer to find
hundreds of crocheted dishcloths, stacked
as neatly as cash for a ransom. We knew
she must have made them in her recliner
by the window on those days none of us
were there. It’s almost noon and I’m still
in pajamas, waiting for my daughter
and husband to march into the room
and play me the birthday song they wrote,
her on toy guitar, him on mandolin. I hear
them practicing and it’s so sweet my teeth
ache. Sito, was it once like this for you?

june 21/RUN

5 miles
franklin loop
67 degrees

Decided to run the Franklin loop, which I haven’t done in a while. Felt cooler this morning because it was cloudy and breezy. Proud of myself for making it 4.2 miles before stopping to walk for a few minutes. At some point, on the way to the Franklin bridge, I heard the rowers–or at least the bullhorn of the coxswain, so I paused my audio book, took off my headphones and listened. Tried to see the rowers while running across the bridge, but they were gone. Heard some trickling water on the east side of the river and noticed that the Meeker Island dog park was still closed. Still flooded or flooded again? Walked over the Lake Street bridge and stopped at the overlook to admire the deep gray water. Looked at the west shore and couldn’t tell if I was seeing a person or a plant. Looked at my watch at the bottom of the final hill, the one that climbs up through the tunnel of trees and ends by the two ancient boulders, to figure out the distance of this climb: .2 miles. Thought about how the trees seem thicker and the need to be out of the tunnel and in the open air much greater when you’re climbing up the slight hill then running down it. I should try to incorporate that idea into my haibun about the place.

13 Lines about Walls —Denise Duhamel & Maureen Seaton

Frost: Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
Joyce: and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall.
A wallflower, I peeked at Mr. Popular leaning against a brick wall.
Wallowing, I wept for Ms. Popular as if desire were a wall-
paper pattern Charlotte Perkins Gilman traced decades before Stonewall.
What? Have we all become proverbial balls to some caterwauling wall
of fake news? After each hurricane, I replace the drywall
as if any wall stands a chance against nature. What’s a wall
but a makeshift “fuck you,” waves walloping the seawall
like walleyes bent on survival. Some walls are metaphorical walls
in the mind of a tyrant who promises a nation concrete walls.
Cavafy: Ah why did I not pay attention when they were building the walls?
Emerson: Murder will speak out of stone walls.

june 19/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
70 degrees

Another beautiful morning. Not too hot or humid or windy. Ran towards downtown, past the welcoming oaks, the two ancient boulders left behind from the last ice age 10,000 years ago, the path above the floodplain forest. Under lake street bridge, up above the minneapolis rowing club, under the railroad bridge, along the split rail fence for 2 miles until I reached a dirt path that cut down through some trees to another dirt path. Walked for 1/2 a mile back towards the railroad bridge, climbed some steep wooden stairs that reminded me that my right knee was sore, then ran back on the paved path to the 36th street parking lot and home.

Nearing the railroad bridge I heard a honk. A truck on the other side? A big boat on the river? No, a train! I wondered if it was coming or going and if I’d be able to see it when I reached the bridge. With all the trees, it’s hard to see the top of the bridge until you’re almost right under it. When I got there, a train engine! Only the engine so my timing was lucky. Any sooner or later and I would have missed it. I think this is the first time I’ve ever encountered a train on the trestle. Will I ever see one again? Mundane I guess, but really cool to me.

The dirt path below the split rail fence was mud free and mostly bug free. Much steeper than some of the paths further south. In a few stretches, there was a chain link fence, leaning out. Another stretch had a plastic, make-shift fence. One small section, right above a sewer pipe, had a wrought iron fence. As I reached it, I could hear voices up above and water trickling below. Next time I’d like to run this stretch. I had planned to walk the short part that passes under the trestle and then take the steep stone steps up but didn’t. I was nervous that someone might be down there. Maybe next time? I always struggle to find a balance between being too scared and being safe.

In 2002, Alice Oswald published a book-length poem about the River Dart in south west England–in Devon. She took a tape recorder and interviewed people she encountered on the river. Here’s an excerpt of an excerpt:

Dart/Alice Oswald

The Dart, lying low in darkness calls out Who is it?
trying to summon itself by speaking…

the walker replies

An old man, fifty years a mountaineer, until my heart gave out, so now I’ve taken to the moors.
I’ve done all the walks, the Two Moors Way, the Tors, this long winding line the Dart

this secret buried in reeds at the beginning of sound I
won’t let go of man, under
his soakaway ears and his eye ledges working
into the drift of his thinking, wanting his heart

I keep you folded in my mack pocket and I’ve marked in red where the peat passes are and the
good sheep tracks

cow-bones, tin-stones, turf-cuts
listen to the horrible keep-time of a man walking,
rustling and jingling his keys
at the centre of his own noise,
clomping the silence in pieces and I,
in the pit of his throat, I
summon him just out of earshot

I don’t know, all I know is walking. Get dropped off the military track from Oakehampton and
head down into Cranmere pool. It’s dawn, it’s a huge sphagnum kind of wilderness, and an hour
in the morning is worth three in the evening. You can hear plovers whistling, your feet sink right
in, it’s like walking on the bottom of a lake.

What I love is one foot in front of another. South south west and down the contours. I go slipping
between Black Ridge and White Horse Hill into a bowl of the moor where echoes can’t get out.

Listen,
a
lark
spinning
around
one
note
splitting
and
mending
it

and I find you in the reeds, a trickle coming out of a bank, a foal of a river

one step-width water
of linked stones
trills in the stones
glides in the trills
eels in the glides
in each eel a fingerwidth of sea

in walking boots, with twenty pounds on my back: spare socks, compass, map, water purifier so I
can drink from streams, seeing the cold floating spread out above the morning,

tent, torch, chocolate not much else.

Which’ll make it longish, almost unbearable between my evening meal and sleeping, when I’ve
got as far as stopping, sitting in the tent door with no book, no saucepan, not so much as a stick
to support the loneliness

he sits clasping his knees, holding his face low down between them,
he watches black slugs,
he makes a little den of his smells and small thoughts
he thinks up a figure far away on the tors
waving, so if something does happen,
if night comes down and he has to leave the path
then we’ve seen each other, somebody knows where we are.

june 17/RUN

3 miles
austin, mn
65 degrees
humidity: 76%

Ran with Scott in Austin. My legs felt weird at the beginning, heavy at the end. No hot sun or humidity. Nice. Don’t remember much except feeling really tired around 2.6 miles and wanting to stop and walk (we didn’t). Later in the day, we decided to walk some more. An extra 5+ miles. We were both sore by the end.

june 15/RUN

3.5 miles
river road path, north/south
63 degrees
87% humidity/dew point: 61

Even though the humidity and dew point were high, this run wasn’t miserable. It helped that it was only 63 degrees. Ran a little faster than I realized. Spent a lot of time trying to slow down my breathing with chanting: “strawberry/yogurt” in 2 3/out 2. Couldn’t see the river or hear any rowers. Greeted other runners. Didn’t see any roller skiers or rollerbladers or many bikers. No dogs. No squirrels. Only one large-ish group of runners. Thought a lot about the stretch of the trail (my favorite part, which dips below the road) that I’m writing at least 2 haibuns about. I’ve written one about descending into it already. The second one is about ascending. After stopping to study it, I’ve realized that the season for the haibun is late August, when the trees are thick with leaves and heavy with trapped humidity/insects. When you can’t see the river or the road or the forest because of all of the green.

Almost forgot–a bug flew on my face and then into my mouth mid-run. I was able to spit it out, which was gross. At least I didn’t gag on it, like I have in the past. Yuck!

Summer/Ronald Johnson (1967)
excerpt

2
What the Earth Told Me

No surface is allowed to be bare,

& nothing to stand still. A man could forever study a pebble

& at last see dilations & expansions of the hills—

to pull the most slender stalk, is to jostle the stars,

& between the bearded grass

& man ‘looking in the vegatable glass

of Nature’, is a network of roots & suckers

fine as hairs.

I threw a stone upon a pond

& it bounded the surface, its circles interlacing

& radiating out to the most ephemeral edge.

Flint & Mica, Lichened Limestone, Shale & Sarcens, Sandstone, Soil.

I saw the wind moving on a meadow

& the meadows moving under wind—

lifting, settling & accumulating.

Flint & Mica, Lichened Limestone,

Shale & Sarcens, Sandstone, Soil.

3
What the Air Told Me

It is breathed into Orpheus’ lyre & as rocks & trees & beasts

is divided there. Its origins strain

precedes the sound, by as much as echoes follow after:

the quivering of ‘cow-quake’, a ‘loud audible

humming of bees on the down’, stresses within the sustaining earth,

clouds of fleece & mare’s tail.

I saw with single eye, the facet of the fly—

the infinitesimal mechanics & all the metallic sheens

of a blue-bottle. In a land where the sun grows fat on cloud

& summer hasn’t come

till your foot can cover twenty daisies,

she came to the dark, open beak

& laid a myriad of eggs. And in two day’s time the dead

bird’s body simulated life: maggots in eye-socket &

under feather, in a subtle movement.

The White & The Glistening.

4
What the Leaf Told Me

Today I saw the word written on the poplar leaves.

It was ‘dazzle’. The dazzle of the poplars.

As a leaf startles out

from an undifferentiated mass of foliage,

so the word did from a leaf—

A Mirage Of The Delicate Polyglot

inventing itself as cipher. But this, in shifts & gyrations,

grew in brightness, so bright

the massy poplars soon outshone the sun . . .

‘My light—my dews—my breezes—my bloom’. Reflections

In A Wren’s Eye.

june 13/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 2.25 miles
river road up above, south/down below, north
63 degrees

So beautiful this morning! Sunny, calm, cool, low humidity. Decided to do a quick, easy run. Stayed up above, next to the road running south and took the lower, rougher trail on the way back, running north. Noticed the boulders and the split trail fence that stretched alongside the walking path up above. Heard some yelling, laughing kids at a school. Running back, on the lower path, I payed attention to the wrought iron fence and how bushes and vines and wildflowers were reaching through the bars. Will this be trimmed back anytime soon and who will do it, volunteers or the parks department?

bike: 4.3 miles
lake nokomis

Biking by Minnehaha Falls park the parkway was so crowded. Very happy to be on a bike and not in a car! Also, noticed as I turned onto the lake biking path that the flooding is over and the walking path is open again. All that’s left is a mucky mess.

swim: 1.5 miles
lake nokomis
70 degrees (air and water)

A great second open swim at lake nokomis. Decided that 2 loops with one extra trip around the first buoy (an extra 200 yards) was enough. Cold in the water without a wetsuit. The water felt very thick and slow at the beginning–extra dense, which is strange because I think that’s supposed to happen when the water is warmer. Couldn’t really see the buoys at all on the way back because of the sun but it didn’t matter because I could see the tops of the building at the big beach. Saw several swimmers swimming way off course and realized that I swim straighter than a lot of people who can see much better than me. Coolest thing I remember: watching the bubbles from my hand slicing into the water make funky shapes and lines.

Looking for a poem about lakes, I found this one. I like the idea of wind and the sound of wind being two separate things and the soft, simple way this poem reveals itself–oh and the line: “these creatures robed/in your parents’ skins.”

At the Lake House
BY JON LOOMIS

Wind and the sound of wind—
across the bay a chainsaw revs
and stalls. I’ve come here to write,

but instead I’ve been thinking
about my father, who, in his last year,
after his surgery, told my mother

he wasn’t sorry—that he’d cried
when the other woman left him,
that his time with her

had made him happier than anything
he’d ever done. And my mother,
who’d cooked and cleaned for him

all those years, cared for him
after his heart attack, could not
understand why he liked the other

woman more than her,
but he did. And she told me
that after he died she never went

to visit his grave—not once.
You think you know them,
these creatures robed

in your parents’ skins. Well,
you don’t. Any more than you know
what the pines want from the wind,

if the lake’s content with this pale
smear of sunset, if the loon calls
for its mate, or for another.

june 10/RUN

4.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
68 degrees

Slightly cooler this morning. A better run. Still struggled to keep going but I made it over 3 miles without stopping to walk for a minute. Then I ran again for the rest of the way. Didn’t see the Man in Black or the Daily Walker but I did encounter some roller skiers, walkers, bikers, and a person I met early in the spring who identified as trans but wasn’t yet ready to be out–pretty sure they didn’t remember me but I remember them because of their two dogs and the stories they told (then and again today) about 2 sisters who had run marathons in Amsterdam and were now training for an Ironman. Payed close attention to the part of the path I’m writing about right now and noticed the streaks of sun on the asphalt, making leaf shadows–I had imagined most of the light to be lost in this extra green-y tunnel of trees. Maybe in August it will be darker?

Felt like I was in a daze, running in the soft green light. Everything was slightly out of focus. Listened to the road and the river and the trees instead of an audio book or a playlist. Heard lots of cars gently rushing by. Might have also heard some rowers at one point, but didn’t see them. The river is mostly hidden behind layers of green now. Chanted in triplets to myself to keep my rhythm: raspberry/blueberry/strawberry, 4 way stop, split rail fence, railroad bridge, 2 oak trees, garbage can (I turned everything I saw into triplets). Then I thought about how the new trash and recycling cans Minneapolis Parks got for the path look a lot like early Star Wars droids–the ones from 1978. Can I work that into a poem? And am I the only way that thinks this?

Perhaps the most memorable thing I heard was a version of “ain’t misbehaving” coming from a bike radio that passed me from behind. I could hear the music clearly until he was too far away. Why no doppler distortion? Was it because of the wind? The speed of his biking?

Lakes Rivers Streams/Michael Dickman

This poem! Too long to include it all. So long and fabulous and strange! Here are a few lines I especially like:

At the same time spring pushes up against the windows
a green screen

And sleep

Pooled at the top of the stairs

Just upstream from a cell tower and a box of  Huggies

Just upstream from a can of  Red Bull and a pollen allergy

The cool floors of grocery stores

Just upstream from a pair of headphones and a Weight Watchers

Chirrup-chirrup my tree makes syrup
syrup so sweet

Upstream from a can of Aqua Net and a Pepsi

Bees in the lilac tree have something to say and say it without giving
away the ending

Just upstream from a gallon of  2% and a yellow pack of American
Spirits

Just upstream from a buffet-style weekend special and some notable
losses

june 9/RUN

3.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
68 degrees
70% humidity

Felt warm this morning. Decided to listen to the gorge instead of an audio book. Nice. I should do this more often. Greeted every welcoming oak with a “good morning!” or “hello friend!” Glimpsed the sun sparkling on the river through the trees above the floodplain forest. Passed a few rowers walking down to the rowing club–will I get to see (or hear) them rowing later in my run? (no) Made it to the railroad trestle and stopped to walk for a minute. So hot! So tired! Felt wiped out–I think I need to eat a big breakfast before my runs (I didn’t eat anything this morning). The highlight of the run–probably the month so far–was not just greeting but talking to the Daily Walker! I was walking at the time and he said, “you’re walking?” When I said it was so hot he agreed and we talked for a few seconds more. I think this is the first time I have actually talked to him. Pretty cool. Everyone of my runs was tough this week but I don’t care that much. Still great to be outside and be beside the mississippi.

Almost forgot to mention something I noticed yesterday and today: The cotton from the cottonwood tree is not white, at least not once it hits the ground. It looks green to me–a pale green–willow perhaps? Is it green or is it my vision or a trick of the light or its close proximity to the grass and so many green leaves?

So much green. I’m always looking for green poems and I’ve found a few. Here’s another one to add to the list:

Green/Maggie Nelson

Screams from an Italian family up the street
That stupid kid hitting rock after rock with his metal bat.

I’d be a shitty boyfriend, you said, as if
making a promise. I said, It’s not the content

I’m in love with, it’s the form. And that
was tenderness. All last year

I planned to write a book about
the color blue. Now I’m suddenly surrounded

by green, green gagging me
pleasurably, green holding onto my hips

from behind, digging into
the cleft, the cleft

that can be made. You have no idea
what kind of light you’ll let in

when you drop the bowl, no idea
what will make you full

Also found this useful article about green in poetry.

june 8/RUN

3.25 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
72 degrees

Another warm morning when it was difficult to breathe. Stopped to walk for 1 or 2 minutes at 2.5 miles, then finished strong. This summer I don’t care if I have to walk. More opportunity to check out the gorge. Listened to my audio book because I’m enjoying it (and trying to finish it). Encountered a lot of runners on the path. Saw the Daily Walker but wasn’t able to greet him. No Man in Black. I think I heard the rowers but I’m not sure because I was listening to my book. Noticed my shadow a few times. Saw 2! groups of rollerbladers, a group of 5 and a group of 7 or 8, zooming down the path gracefully. Love watching them fly by with their rhythmic arms.

Morningside Heights, July
BY WILLIAM MATTHEWS

Haze. Three student violists boarding
a bus. A clatter of jackhammers.
Granular light. A film of sweat for primer
and the heat for a coat of paint.
A man and a woman on a bench:
she tells him he must be psychic,
for how else could he sense, even before she knew,
that she’d need to call it off? A bicyclist
fumes by with a coach’s whistle clamped
hard between his teeth, shrilling like a teakettle
on the boil. I never meant, she says.
But I thought, he replies. Two cabs almost
collide; someone yells fuck in Farsi.
I’m sorry, she says. The comforts
of loneliness fall in like a bad platoon.
The sky blurs—there’s a storm coming
up or down. A lank cat slinks liquidly
around a corner. How familiar
it feels to feel strange, hollower
than a bassoon. A rill of chill air
in the leaves. A car alarm. Hail.

I know I’ve read this poem before but I don’t think I’ve posted it. I love how it seems like simple reporting of the mundane but offers much more. Some great lines–sweat as primer, heat as the coat of paint. The rill of chill, the lank cat slinking, the couple on the bench interrupting the scene repeatedly, the coming storm–literally and metaphorically, the hollow bassoon. So good! I want to try to write a poem like this about my neighborhood.

june 7/RUN

2.75
mississippi river upper path, south/lower path, north
84 degrees

Ugh, this heat. I have a lot of trouble running when it’s this hot. Listened to my audio book and tried to take it nice and slow. Ran above on the way to the falls and down below on the way back. Don’t remember much except for being hot.

Earlier this morning, I took Delia the dog for a walk to the gorge. On the lower path to the left, past the big sewer drain, below the path with the Welcoming Oaks. Kept going to the part of the running path that dips below the road. Before heading down, stopped at the top and studied the two boulders. 4 small stones make up the cairn perched on the taller rock. No plaque on this rock. How long has it been here? The boulders rested beneath a sprawling oak tree with a branch that bent down to greet me. The leaves were perfect forms of the classic oak leaf–like the cartoon versions I used to see at my elementary school in Northern Virginia–Oak Hill Elementary. Walking down into the tunnel of trees, there was so much cotton in the air and on the edge of the path. I realized, this doesn’t look like snow but feathers, like someone was in the midst of a big pillow fight or a goose had flown off in a hurry or a seam from my winter coat had ripped and spilled out the feathery lining. The fuzzy white cotton softened the rough edges of the path and decorated the dirt patches in the grass.

june 6/RUNSWIM

3.1 miles
railroad trestle and back
75 degrees

So hot and hard to breathe! Not sure if it’s all the cottonwood flying but I had a lot of trouble breathing. Time to start running earlier–good thing school ends for the kids tomorrow. Listened to my audio book as I ran, so I don’t remember much–except it was hot, I was sweating a lot and my throat needed to be cleared all the time. Came close to tripping over a dog.

Stopped running at the spot I’m trying to write a haibun about. 4 fences–wrought-iron, stone retaining wall, wood retaining wall, split rail. These fences stand at the start of the ascent into the tunnel of trees. Noticed some small maples (I think) on the edge of the path. Not sure what the other trees are. I did see some broad leaves with jagged edges. What are those? At the beginning, the slope isn’t too steep or high but it gets steeper and higher and darker and narrower as you climb. Wondered why this not so steep spot was the place where a wrought iron fence was placed when there are much steeper spots farther up and decided it was for the cars coming around a curve up above. Not sure if that’s correct. Did a car crash through the split rail here too as some point? In the winter, when this lower path is not cleared and I have to run above on the biking path, I sometimes worry that a car might slip on ice, slide up on the path and hit me. At the end of the tunnel of trees and almost the top of the hill are too boulders (I need to go back and study them some more) and a welcoming oak tree. On top of the taller rock is a cairn of 3 or 4 rocks stacked on top of each other. Who put them there? I think I first noticed them last year. At the top of the hill, is a porta potty, a parking lot, an overlook, some benches, more boulders and the welcoming oaks.

Breathe. As in. (shadow)
Rosamond S. King

Breathe
. As in what if
the shadow is gold
en? Breathe. As in
hale assuming
exhale. Imagine
that. As in first
person singular. Homonym
:eye. As in subject. As
in centeroftheworld as in
mundane. The opposite of spectacle
spectacular. This is just us
breathing. Imagine
normalized respite
gold in shadows
. You have the
right to breathe and remain
. Imagine
that
.

swim: 1000 yards
lake nokomis

More shafts of light. Such a cool effect. Tons of cottonwood on the water surface (and in my suit after I got out of the lake and took a shower). A few strange floating objects–wood or something else? The sun was creating this weird red tint effect on everything. I think I saw a few fish swimming below me and another swimmer next to me. Lots of boats encroaching on the designated swimming area. Nearing the shore, swimming inside the wading area, the water was clearer and I could see the bottom. Really cool. I didn’t see all the things on the bottom, like hairbands, but just where the bottom began.

june 3/RUN

2.9 miles
north to railroad bridge/stairs to path below/white sands/rowing club/upper path
68 degrees

My legs are sore today. Partly because it’s my third day in a row running and partly because I decided to start runner’s world’s squat challenge this morning (since my lower back has been bugging me intermittently for the past 6 months, I’m always looking for ways to strengthen it). Decided to listen to my audio book and run past the part of the path above the floodplain forest and towards the railroad trestle. Noticed right away that it was hard to breathe–the cottonwood trees are snowing cotton. The edges of the path were a soft white and little bits of fuzz floated in the air in front of me.

Ran to the railroad trestle and felt wiped out. Took the steps down below and walked the Winchell trail, halfway up the gorge. Beautiful! I was a bit uneasy because after seeing no one but one man, I looked up at the sides of the limestone gorge and realized, in all the green, how hidden I was and how steep any path out would be. No steps leading up. No winding dirt trail. But my unease wasn’t too bad. I started running and caught quick glimpses of the river through the breaks in the tree line. Made it to the Minneapolis Rowing Club and walked up the steep driveway. Started running again and kept going until I returned to my favorite part of the run: where the walking path dips below the road and follows the edge of the bluff right above the floodplain forest.

I stopped on the edge to look down at the forest and noticed that I was in the midst of three fences: a wrought iron fence on the edge of the hill, a stone retaining wall dividing the lower walking path from the upper biking path, and a split rail fence above the wall beside the biking path. So cool to have all 3 fences here, especially since I’ve been wanting to write about this section and about the different types of fences on this route.

The other thing I noticed as I walked up, along the edge, was how green everything was. Different shades (or tints?) of green covering the ground, blotting out the sky. No river, no sky, no forest floor. Only green with the occasional brown trunk or branch. Disorienting, but really cool. At this part, the footpath is flanked on both sides with green–a tunnel of trees, with a smallish circle of light up the hill (the opposite direction of this picture), leading out to 2 big boulders and a porta potty at the northern edge of the 35th street parking lot.

The Prose Poem
Campbell McGrath

On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of wildflowers and bracken. There is no fence, though here and there a weathered post asserts a former claim, strands of fallen wire taken by the dust. To the left a cornfield carries into the distance, dips and rises to the blue sky, a rolling plain of green and healthy plants aligned in close order, row upon row upon row. To the right, a field of wheat, a field of hay, young grasses breaking the soil, filling their allotted land with the rich, slow-waving spectacle of their grain. As for the farmers, they are, for the most part, indistinguishable: here the tractor is red, there yellow; here a pair of dirty hands, there a pair of dirty hands. They are cultivators of the soil. They grow crops by pattern, by acre, by foresight, by habit. What corn is to one, wheat is to the other, and though to some eyes the similarities outweigh the differences it would be as unthinkable for the second to commence planting corn as for the first to switch over to wheat. What happens in the gully between them is no concern of theirs, they say, so long as the plough stays out, the weeds stay in the ditch where they belong, though anyone would notice the wind-sewn cornstalks poking up their shaggy ears like young lovers run off into the bushes, and the kinship of these wild grasses with those the farmer cultivates is too obvious to mention, sage and dun-colored stalks hanging their noble heads, hoarding exotic burrs and seeds, and yet it is neither corn nor wheat that truly flourishes there, nor some jackalopian hybrid of the two. What grows in that place is possessed of a beauty all its own, ramshackle and unexpected, even in winter, when the wind hangs icicles from the skeletons of briars and small tracks cross the snow in search of forgotten grain; in the spring the little trickle of water swells to welcome frogs and minnows, a muskrat, a family of turtles, nesting doves in the verdant grass; in summer it is a thoroughfare for raccoons and opossums, field mice, swallows and black birds, migrating egrets, a passing fox; in autumn the geese avoid its abundance, seeking out windrows of toppled stalks, fatter grain more quickly discerned, more easily digested. Of those that travel the local road, few pay that fertile hollow any mind, even those with an eye for what blossoms, vetch and timothy, early forsythia, the fatted calf in the fallow field, the rabbit running for cover, the hawk’s descent from the lightning-struck tree. You’ve passed this way yourself many times, and can tell me, if you would, do the formal fields end where the valley begins, or does everything that surrounds us emerge from its embrace?

june 2/RUN

3.1 miles
railroad bridge and back
62 degrees

Wow. Sunny. A slight breeze. Low humidity. What a wonderful way to celebrate 8 years of running. Saw the Man in Black and the quartet of in-sync rollerbladers (what should I call them? first thought: the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, but that doesn’t quite fit–I need to think of another famous group of four–the Beatles?). Encountered a lot of runners, a large group of walkers and some bikers. Busy on the trail this morning. The run felt easy then hard then easy again. Let gravity do the work as I ran down the hill under lake street bridge. Then managed to outrun two bikers up the hill–I think one of them was around 10 so maybe it’s not that impressive? Listened to my audio book for most of the run then switched to Lizzo on my running playlist. The only time I looked at the river was when I briefly stopped to study the railroad bridge. Even then, I barely saw it. I was too busy studying the trestle. Turning around and running south, I noticed the black metal fence on the other side of the trestle and I started thinking about the different types of fences that line the trail: wooden split rail, abandoned chainlink (on the lower path), black wrought iron, stone. I want to add some of that detail into my haibun or write something else about these different types (or do both).

Mending Wall
BY ROBERT FROST

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

june 1/RUNBIKE

run: 3.5 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
55 degrees
84% humidity

bike: 8 miles
lake nokomis and back
68 degrees

Felt cool this morning after last night’s thunderstorms. Green and dark and dripping. Listened to a new audiobook, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, which was a nice distraction. Ran to the split rail fence and noticed the crumbling stone wall at the railroad bridge. Also noticed that the slivers of river looked very white through the thick vegetation. Encountered various pairs of runners–almost always in pairs–and my favorite: the group of 4 hardcore rollerbladers. Every summer they train on the river road path. They’re so fast and synchronized. With about 1/2 mile left, I heard the rowers on the river so I turned off my audiobook and listened. Running up the last hill I twisted my foot slightly on an invisible stick. And a few minutes later remembered that tomorrow is my 8th runniversary. On June 2nd, 2011, I started running.

Beehive
by Jean Toomer

Within this black hive to-night
There swarm a million bees;
Bees passing in and out the moon,
Bees escaping out the moon,
Bees returning through the moon,
Silver bees intently buzzing,
Silver honey dripping from the swarm of bees
Earth is a waxen cell of the world comb,
And I, a drone,
Lying on my back,
Lipping honey,
Getting drunk with that silver honey,
Wish that I might fly out past the moon
And curl forever in some far-off farmyard flower.

Found this on The Slowdown podcast. I love Tracy K. Smith’s reading of it.

may 28/RUN

3.5 miles
end of the split rail fence and back
63 degrees

Right now I’m writing about fog and the split rail fence just past the railroad bridge heading north on the mississippi river road path, so I decided to run to it and check it out. Reaching the welcoming oaks, about 3 minutes into my run, noticing the green leaves crawling up the trunk like hungry relentless ants, I thought about how green everything is. Green consumes the view, the gorge, all the trees. Different, yet similar, to the fog I’m trying to write about it. An idea: maybe my prose poem should link gray fog and green vegetation?

Still running towards the railroad trestle and the split rail fence. Wasn’t sure when to stop and study it so I kept going until a small dirt trail opened up, leading down to unpaved path behind and below the fence. Started running again, made it about 50 feet, then encountered mud. Yuck! Gloppy muck, standing water, slimy path. Was able to avoid getting stuck or slipping but did squish down a few times. Noticed how steep the gorge is here. A few trees, an old chain link fence barely hanging on. Not much to brace your fall. I wonder which tree caught the car that crashed through the fence a year or so ago? I think I spotted it but I’m not sure.

So Many/John Pluecker

so many this mornings so many movement so many breezes
so many cypress so many doorways demolished so many brush
so many vines crawl up the front of that house and so many
spaces so many wide open between one structure and another
so many ditches so many cars parked in the grass in front of a home
supposedly abandoned where people live so many branches
piles at the curb so many beat-downs so many row houses
gone and so many porches so many cut-throughs so many feeling
still in the wood so many highways invade so many train horns
blow softly so many autumn morning so many springtime dusk
so many pink afternoon as the sun peeks through the blinds so many
pick-up trucks so many suvs so many milk factories and so many
18 wheelers so many tiny plastic bottles of milk and so many oaks
and so many farms and so many concrete and so many cracked
and so many peeling paint so many thickness so many depression
so many joy so many angry pinpricks so many back-ups so many
give me a hug so many late night drunken driving so many early
morning so many mourning doves so many cooing so many police
sirens so many listening so many humans walk the middle of the road
so many cars wait to pass so many anger and so many smile so many
apprehension so many thistles so many concrete slabs so many gape
so many lost and so many nights so many grandmas so many grandkids
so many people just trying to remember what used to be there
so many new people who just got here so many things to misremember
so many escape memory so many brains so many bodies so many
bodies gone and so many cemeteries marked and unmarked so
many ditches so many huevo con papa and cake so many deep
deep breaths so many sighs so many pauses so many moments of
silence so many marches so many meetings god so many meetings
so many attempts so many failures so many new townhomes so many
dispossessed so many carwashes so many cowboy hats so many persons
forced out so many barbecues so many coolers so many bags of ice so
many country ballads so many accordions so many quiet so many loud
so many noisy so many silent so many germans so many telephone road
so many lasagna so many pupusa so many gordita so many jaywalkers
and so many dance moves at the bus stop so many jiggling and so many
cars pass by so many stares and so many awkwardness so many
good mornings so many fuck you’s so many fights and so many love-
making so many graffitied so many murals so many old doors so many
lintels so many country people come to the city so many bulldozers
and so many work crews so many dusty lifts into air so many hardhats
and so many pallets so many pine and so many sheet of metal
so many buses so many stray dogs so many mean-mugging
and so many evictions so many eminent domain so many minimizing
and so many excuses so many money so many reasons so many justify
so many sadness so many let it go and so many so-called misunder-
standings so many moldy and wet so many floodlines so many hurricanes
so many attitudes so many perspectives so many sung and un-sung so
many panaderías demolished so many pushing and so many pulling
so many mechanics so many broken down cars so many lay in the sun so
many wait so many trees blow in the early morning wind so many
speed up and so many people go home so many people go to work so
many undone so many bulldozers so many hoses spray water on wreckage
so many shovelfuls of metal and lumber so many precious objects discard so
many lost in the tumble so many feelings so many yellow and red so many
silver and gold so many blue and green so many green things so many grass
so many suns beat down so many heatstrokes so many city moves on
so many layers so many accumulations so many things a street a street remember

may 28/RUN

6.2 miles
to the flats and back
50 degrees

Mississippi river road path, north/greenway bridge/franklin hill/river flats/top of 4th street/mississippi river road path, south

A longer run this morning. Bright sun. Not much wind. No rain! Cooler. Listened to Murder on the Orient Express again. Really fun. Greeted the Daily Walker. Heard lots of trickling water. Noticed how high the river was down in the flats–and flowing so fast. Encountered some bikers, walkers, runners, a rollerblader. Checked out the progress at Annie Young Park in the flats. They’ve finished the path and added some picnic tables. Didn’t see the bald eagle perched on a tree, only a crow flying high. Felt okay running up the franklin hill. Made a bargain with myself: keep running for 40 minutes, then take a 2 (or was it 3?) minute walk break. After that, ran the rest of the way home. Looked closely at the split rail fence near the railroad trestle–I’m writing about it in a haibun. It’s the spot where a car went off the road and landed on top of a tree last year and where I remember the fog being the thickest on march 14th of this year.

this beginning may have always meant this end
BY CAMILLE T. DUNGY

coming from a place where we meandered mornings and met quail, scrub jay, mockingbird, i knew coyote, like everyone else, i knew cactus, knew tumbleweed, lichen on the rocks and pill bugs beneath, rattlers sometimes, the soft smell of sage and the ferment of cactus pear. coming from this place, from a place where grass might grow greener on the hillside in winter than in any yard, where, the whole rest of the year, everything i loved, chaparral pea, bottle brush tree, jacaranda, mariposa, pinyon and desert oak, the kumquat in the back garden and wisteria vining the porch, the dry grass whispering long after the last rains, raccoons in and out of the hills, trash hurled by the hottest wind, the dry grass tall now and golden, lawn chairs, eucalyptus, everything, in a place we knew, every thing, we knew, little and large and mine and ours, except horror, all of it, everything could flame up that quickly, could flare and be gone.

I like the listing of so many named things in this prose poem. And the twist at the end. And how it flows.

may 26/RUN

3.1 miles
austin, mn
55 degrees

Not too humid or too hot or too stinky from the Hormel plant. A great morning for a run in Austin. Ran past the high school track, the high school, downtown, Paramount theater, and the creek with Scott. Don’t remember much except for feeling strong and steady and that it wasn’t too hard.

Looking through diagram, I found this piece about the dew point. It’s in the schematics section. I don’t quite understand it (yet), but I’m interested in the dew point and have written about it before so I thought I’d include it here.

A DEW POINT HYGROMETER USING A SYSTEM OF PRIMARY MEASUREMENT

Franklin W. Kirk and Nicholas R. Rimboi, Instrumentation, Third Edition, American Technical Society, 1975

The typical instrument for measuring dew point is shown [at right]. It uses a gold-plated mirror surface which is bonded to a copper themistor holder. This assembly is chilled by a Peltier effect thermoelectric cooler. (The Peltier effect is discussed in Chapter 10.) The air or other gas being measured for dew point is passed by the mirror. A neon lamp is beamed on the mirror which reflects the beam toward a photoelectric resistor. As dew forms on the mirror and clouds it, there is a change in the amount of light reflected. This change is dected by an optical sensing bridge.

may 23/RUN

4.15 miles
falls loop
58 degrees

Listened to my audio book again as I ran towards the falls. Nice, easy run. Noticed all the boulders as I ran by them. The falls were rushing. Don’t remember hearing them, but saw the water flowing fast. Will it go over the banks on the creek path headed to Lake Nokomis? Turned around at the falls and headed back, up the hill, then down to the lower trail. Turned off my book and listened to the gorge. Heard water gushing in spurts out of the sewer pipe. Then some kids at the school playground yelling and laughing. A few bikers talking. One runner saying to his companion: “I’m trying to see how many miles I can put on my legs this week. I’m running everyday.” Ran over wet leaves, uneven ground. Up and down the slight swells of the path. Glanced at the river–a beautiful blue framed by green. Early on the trail was mostly dirt. My messed up vision made it swim and swirl in and out of focus. So trippy.

Earlier today, I took the dog for a walk. Near 7 Oaks I saw a tall, narrow, rectangular sign that said, “VOTE,” propped up next to a scarecrow. If I had brought my phone, I would have taken a picture of it, but I didn’t. I’ll have to take Scott back there soon. The image of this scarecrow–which I can’t quite picture, I can only remember the feeling of delight I had when I encountered it–is my memory of the day.

Currently I’m reading Richard Powers’ The Overstory. It is amazing. Instead of a poem, I wanted to post an excerpt from Powers in which he contrasts human and tree time. I love how he collapses the human history of a family into one packed paragraph and then describes the same amount of time from the perspective of a Chestnut tree.

may 20/RUN

5.2 miles
franklin loop
54 degrees

Nice to see the sun after the gloom on Saturday and the rain on Sunday. It got down to 36 degrees yesterday. Boo. That lake water is going to be cold in a few weeks when open water swimming starts. Today it felt like early spring. Mid April not late May. A gentle breeze. Lots of green. So many green layers by my favorite part of the path. Running through it is disorienting. Can’t tell where the ground is or the river, sometimes even the sky. Just floating in green and brown air. Greeted the Daily Walker. Noticed a plaque on the big boulder by the bench almost under the lake street bridge–asked Scott about it, it says “1938, WPA.” Did my Grandpa work on this project? I know he worked for the WPA, but I’m not sure where or when.

The run was a little difficult with my lingering cold and the crap trapped in my chest. Crossing the Franklin bridge I stared at the sparkling water and the shadows near the railroad bridge. Later, running on the rim of the east side, heard water gushing down the rocks. Crossing back over to the west side, had to run on the other side of the bridge because the side I usually run on was closed. A little longer but a different view: downtown instead of the Ford Bridge.

Emily and Walt/Campbell McGrath

may 17/RUN

4.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
61 degrees

Yes! A good run. Felt strong and fast even though I wasn’t going that fast. Listened to headphones and tried to tune out everything. Enjoyed the 10 mph wind keeping me cool. I think I saw the man in black and I think it’s the same guy that I passed twice last week on the other side of the river. No longer in black (black pants, black jacket, black hood) but in dark shorts and a light colored shirt. I don’t remember much else from the run except for noticing the river a few times. Oh–and wanting to stop 2 tenths of a mile early because I was tired. I could feel myself almost stopping but then I didn’t. I kept running up the hill and made it to the top and my goal. A small victory.

Read an article about the poetry of place and encountered this line:

The achievement of oneness with nature in poems (and in life, for that matter) is more often than not, fake. Much more convincing is an honest failure.

The Poetry of Place

In running, I try to lose myself, to become one with the path or the wind or the river. It never works, usually because my body aches somewhere or I start worrying about something. But I do have flashes of forgetting, when I am just breathing and being. These flashes are hard to describe even as I’ve tried. I don’t think I’d like to be that untethered or lost all the time. And I’m not sure I’d call the lack of oneness a failure.

Field Guide to the Chaparral
Leah Naomi Green

The fire beetle only mates
when the chaparral is burning,

and the water beetle
will only mate in the rain.

In the monastery’s kitchen, the nuns
don’t believe me when I tell them how old I am,
that you were married before.

The woman you find attractive
does not believe me when I look at her kindly.

There are candescent people in the world.
It will only be love

that I love you with.
When we get home,

there will be our kitchen, the dishes undone.
There will be our bedroom.

What is it you eventually recognized
in my face that allowed you to believe me?

Beauty that did not come from you—
remember how it did not come from you?

As white sage does not come from the moon
but is found by it and lit.

The Buddhists say
that the front of the paper

cannot exist without the back.
Because there is a there,

there is a here. Chaparral,
the density of growth,

and the tattered chaps
the mappers wore

through it because they had to,
to keep walking without

being hurt. It is OK if we hurt
one another.

Chaparral needs fire.
(The pinecones would not open

otherwise.) Love needs lover,
whose last lover was flood.

The first time I read this poem, I didn’t know if I liked it, but now I know I do. I found it when I was looking for field guides and poetry. (I’m exploring forms for my running route poems/essays.) I love how she weaves in the insects and the chaparral. Speaking of field guides, I found some cool projects to do with younger kids–you can create a field guide of your local park or your backyard. Identifying the birds or trees or types of flowers. I wish my kids were 7 or 8 years younger. I’d create some field guides with them this summer. Maybe I’ll see if RJP’s up for it even though she’s 13 and too cool for stuff like that.