august 2/RUN

2 trails
71 degrees / dew point: 64
8:30 am

Warm this morning. And humid. Tonight during open swim it’s supposed to be 95. I listened to a playlist as I ran up above, nothing down below. The thing I remember most is the river. As I ran on the lower trail, I could feel the water shining off to my right. A constant presence of both the water and the idea of water beside me. Anything else? Greeted Mr. Morning!, passed some walkers and bikers.

Things that were missing

  1. the sound of trickling water from the sewers
  2. roller skiers
  3. fat tires
  4. Dave, the Daily Walker
  5. black capped chickadees
  6. crows
  7. woodpeckers
  8. rowers
  9. overheard conversations
  10. squirrels

Discovered this wonderful piece in the latest issue of Visible Binary: Ignition Chronicles / CAConrad

We live our lives with our list of daily routines, from washing our bodies to obeying traffic signals on our way to work. There is so much to remember to get through the day. When tragedy disrupts our routines, suddenly, all of our attention is centered on that loss. It is in the focus of loss where many believe they can write better: Focus, the keyword.

It is crucial to learn that the focus the depression offers helps us write, not the depression itself. After we finally understand this, we see how we can orchestrate any focus we want, to write whenever and however we want! (Soma)tic poetry rituals have given me eyes to see the creative viability in everything around us for the poems!

I’m thinking about this idea of focus in terms of attention and Simone Weil’s idea of pure attention as not will but surrender, and how the disruption of grief forces a surrender and a loss of control. What rituals/practices can we create to enable that surrender without grief or tragedy?

august 1/RUN

dogwood loop (marshall)*
69 degrees
9:00 am

*43rd ave, north/31st, east/up to lake street bridge/marshall hill/cretin/river road/lake street to dogwood

Ran with Scott this morning. Ended at Dogwood Coffee. Didn’t notice as much becasue we were talking the whole time. Can I remember 10 things? I’ll try.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the river: blue, empty except for a few glittering spots
  2. road work just the end of the lake/marshall bridge: the beep beep beep of a truck backing up and the clunk of some big machine pounding the pavement
  3. graffitti on the backs of some signs — where was that? I can’t recall — probably on marshall
  4. passing a man with a tight hold on the leash of a big dog — he stepped onto the grass to let us pass
  5. a runner who ran in the grass as he approached us
  6. a car in a driveway waiting for a break in the traffic
  7. a little kid on a scooter, about to cross the street with an adult
  8. no one near Black Coffee
  9. stepping into the street to avoid a sprinkler
  10. hot sun but cool shade

Wow, that was difficult. It took a few minutes to come up with this list of 10!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned collective nouns in my class. Here’s a great poem I just found with some collective nouns for humans:

Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild/ Kathy Fish

A group of grandmothers is a tapestry. A group of toddlers, a jubilance (see also: a bewailing). A group of librarians is an enlightenment. A group of visual artists is a bioluminescence. A group of short story writers is a Flannery. A group of musicians is — a band.

A resplendence of poets.

A beacon of scientists.

A raft of social workers.

A group of first responders is a valiance. A group of peaceful protestors is a dream. A group of special education teachers is a transcendence. A group of neonatal ICU nurses is a divinity. A group of hospice workers, a grace.

Humans in the wild, gathered and feeling good, previously an exhilaration, now: a target.

A target of concert-goers.

A target of movie-goers.

A target of dancers.

A group of schoolchildren is a target.

july 30/RUN

6 miles
bottom of franklin hill turn around
71 degrees
8:30 am

Warmer this morning. I guess the stretch of slightly cooler days is over. Still a beautiful day. Started in a state where everything was out of focus — initially I wrote, in a daze, but I wasn’t out of it or in a trance. It was more like I had turned my attention down, or maybe I had shifted it, from looking to listening? That kind of captures it; I wasn’t listening acutely, just absorbing the sounds and breathing and being relaxed. Ran down the franklin hill and into the flats, then turned around at 3 miles. I kept running until I reached the bridge, then walked up the hill as I talked into my phone. Turned on Beyoncé’s new music, Renaissance, and ran the rest of the way home. It’s great to run to; I felt like a badass — powerful.

I’m one of one, I’m number one, I’m the only one.

Alien Superstar/ Beyoncé

Here’s the recording I made. I think it would be helpful to find something that transcribed the recording too. But, what? Voice memo for iPhone is good for recording. The notes app does an adequate transcript. What can do both, and how much does it cost? I’ll have to look into it.

july 30th

from The Trees Witness Everything/ Victoria Chang

There is a bird and a stone
in your body. Your job is not
to kill the bird with the stone.

Some of us are made only
of nerve endings. At night,
we light up like radium.

One day you will wake
up beating. One day you will
wake up winged.

Let me tell you a story
about hope: it always starts
and ends with birds.


3.35 miles
trestle turn around
62 degrees / humidity: 71%
8:00 am

Another beautiful, cool morning! All in the shade with only a few dancing dots of sun. I looked for the tree that resembles a tuning fork amongst the Welcoming Oaks but couldn’t find it today. Wondered if I’d feel out of tune during this run. Nope. It was great. Maybe it’s because of the new shoes? From the beginning, I’ve worn Saucony Grid Cohesions. But the latest re-design (I think I’ve been through 10 re-designs) does not work for my wide feet, so I upgraded to the Rides. Excellent, especially since I got them for 1/2 price!

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a roller skier, their poles clicking once, then sliding across the asphalt, or skittering across — no, maybe scraping
  2. the shimmering water peeking through a gap in the leaves
  3. a biker listening to something on the radio — a bike race? but not the Tour; that’s over
  4. a newspaper, rolled up and in the bag, on the stones just under the lake street bridge. What was it doing there?
  5. rowers, down below
  6. the wind — shimmering or simmering or sizzling
  7. someone pushing a stroller slowly, someone else pushing a stroller quickly
  8. a tall man with carrying a bag of newspapers on the path, a few blocks from the lake street bridge. Did he deliver the newspaper to the bridge? Why? (see #4)
  9. in the tunnel of trees: a bright orange construction sign, sometimes tipped over, sometimes upright. Placed there about a month ago when they were doing road work above and needed to re-route bikers below. Did they forget about it, or are they leaving it for later, when they’ll need it again?
  10. a biker with their front bike light on, approaching

As I listened to the wind in the trees, I wondered about one of my favorite sounds: the creaking of branches rubbing together, sounding like a door opening. I wondered: does this only happen when the trees are bare, or less covered with leaves? Do I ever hear this creaking in the summer? I can’t remember; I’ll have to start listening more deliberately for it.

Found on twitter this morning:

I think that in the process of writing, all kinds of unexpected things happen that shift the poet away from his plan and that these accidents are really what we mean when we talk about poetry.

John Ashbery

I really like this idea of the accidents. Often it feels like poetry is what happens when you’re trying to do something else. The something else = off to the side, on the side, not in the center but the periphery, not a matter of strong will but of surrender. A goal: get yourself in a space where you’re open to the accidents.

Also, this bit from a poem by Diane Seuss

What can memory be in these terrible times?
Only instruction. Not a dwelling.

Weeds/ Diane Seuss

Here are some cool facts about crickets that I just discovered from the mnstateparksandtrails instagram account:

Crickets are cold-blooded — their body temp changes along with the air temp. As the temp rises, their metabolism increases and they can contract their chirp-creating muscles faster. Heatwaves? More chirps! Temp dipping? Fewer chirps.

You need to be listening to a single cricket – this doesn’t work very well if you’re hearing a whole orchestra. (Officially a group of crickets is called a “crackle.”) Count the number of chirps for 14 seconds and add 40 to get the temp in Fahrenheit. It’s surprisingly accurate.

“Better grab a sweater for the campfire, it’s only 22 crickets out tonight. Brr!”

I want to measure the temperature in cricket chirps! Ok, in theory I want to. I’m not sure I could actually count the chirps. Also in this delightful description:

a group of crickets is called a crackle!

bike: 8.5 miles
swim: 2 loops
lake nokomis open swim
73 degrees / 5:30 pm

A little windy, but still a nice night for a bike and a swim.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a black plane
  2. a white plane
  3. a few menacing white sailboats, looking too close to the swimming area
  4. a flash of yellow ahead of me: someone’s safety buoy
  5. hardly any people at the beach — too cold? the green blue algae advisory?
  6. clear goggles, a noseplug that didn’t want to stay on (had to stop twice in the middle of the lake to adjust it)
  7. a little choppy on the way back from the little beach to the big beach
  8. spray as my arms entered the water. I noticed it as I turned to breathe
  9. clang clang clang a loud banging over by the menancing swan peddle boats — what were they doing?
  10. breathed every 5, except for when I breathed every 3 or 4


run: 3.30 miles
2 trails + extra
73 degrees / dew point: 62
8:45 am

Stickier this morning. Rain is coming later today. I’m hoping the weather is wrong about the thunderstorms expected around the time of open swim. A good, relaxed run. Started it off by reciting “Auto-lullaby.” Think of a sheep/knitting a sweater;/think of your life/getting better and better. Greeted Mr. Morning! and had a thought as I heard his regular sounding morning and compared it to my, Good Morning! What if I’m the enthusiastic greeter and not him? What if I’m Mrs. Good Morning!?

Running south on the river road trail, I could feel the intense energy of the morning. So many cars on the road! So many runners and bikers and walkers on the trail! It helped when I entered the lower trail at the 44th street parking lot. Much quieter. The river was a calm gray blue. The trickling water from the sewer pipe was calming too. Only one bad smell: sewer gas near 42nd street. Yuck!

surfaces I ran on

  • road
  • sidewalk
  • paved trail
  • very dry dirt
  • grass
  • asphalt — smooth, cracked, rubbled, in slanted slabs
  • mulched leaves
  • gravel
  • a slick, metal grate
  • rocks jutting out of the dirt

I ran through the oak savanna and noticed that finally, after about 6 months, someone cut the big, forked branch that had been spread out over the trail and that I had to look out for and jump over as I ran. I could see the pieces of it stacked and off to the side. I suppose I should be glad, but I already miss having it as a landmark. And I miss how it made me feel pleased that I could still see it and that it didn’t trip me up.

I really like the form of this flash fiction (serious question: how is this different from a prose poem? But, do we need to distinguish it?) Bonus: they mention hating the word “moist,” which is the theme and title of the poem I posted yesterday.

Things I Should’ve Outgrown By Now/ Megan Williams

Crown braids, nightmares, Barbie dolls, mispronouncing library, soft spot for Austin Powers, talking to old men on Omegle, inability to tell North from South, hating the word ‘moist,’ crying during sex, <3 emoticon, embarrassment when I buy tampons, saying cheese & rice instead of Jesus Christ, nightmares about that boyfriend (you know the one), reading fanfiction, telling pedophiles on Omegle Your IP Address is being sent to the Child Pornography Victim Assistance Branch of the FBI, finding Heathcliff and Catherine romantic, the comeback ‘Whatever, Major Loser,’ stomping my foot when I’m mad, stolen liberry copy of The Body Book for Younger Girls, inability to tell East from West, quicksand phobia, wearing sports bras instead of real bras, snow-globe collection, crying when the princesses at Disney World call me a princess too, biting my nails, writing fanfiction, the color pink, sticks-stones-waterfall-girl-you-think-you got-it-all, hatred of sushi, asking pedophiles on Omegle who beg for mercy Have you ever met a girl who got raped?, </3 emoticon, tinted Chapstick, the bunny ears method, nightmares about that boyfriend, you know the fucking one, who said I was very mature for my age.

One more thing: I’m noticing that I have so many more typos in my writing. Okay, I’ve been noticing it for a while now. It’s because of my eroding eyes. I used to be very careful and so good about spelling things correctly and not missing words, or typing the wrong word. I guess it doesn’t help that I turned auto-correct/spell check off, but it kept auto-correcting to the wrong word and I hardly ever noticed. I don’t think I have the energy to proof read my work closely enough — and, with my bad central vision, I probably couldn’t spot the mistakes anyway. I should try working on changing how I write: a lot less words, I think. Or, speaking/dictating instead of typing. Maybe I’ll try both? A new experiment in shifting how I write as I lose my central vision?

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
71 degrees
5:00 pm (there) / 6:45 (back)

Lots of puddles from the light rain that stopped a few minutes before I started. Half the sky was a medium gray, half was blue with some white clouds. Didn’t have any trouble seeing the trail and didn’t have to try and pass anyone. Most memorable thing: they’ve trimmed back all of the bushes at the dangerous curve near nokomis avenue. I always worried that there would be crash in the spot. So glad it’s clear now.

swim: 3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
71 degrees
5:30 pm

At the beginning, the lake was so clear and calm. A beautiful sight! I overhead someone say, “it’s no calm. Not even a ripple. No excuse for getting off course tonight.” Later, as I was swimming I wondered, when it’s this clear, can people with normal vision see all the buoys all the time? I can’t. The lake was still a blank blue for me. I stayed on course, but only because I trust my strokes and have landmarks that help me.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a plane moving across the sky, not looking silver but black. At least one more, a few minutes later
  2. some vegetation wrapping around my arm
  3. more vegetation almost making it into my mouth
  4. having more trouble breathing to my left. I wondered what was wrong with my stroke, then I thought it might be that the lake was a bit choppier. Still not sure what it was
  5. feeling tired in the middle of loop 3
  6. at the start, a menancing swan peddle boat crossing the swimming area, blocking my view of the first orange buoy
  7. the last green buoy seeming so far off, never getting closer, always in the distance
  8. I think they’ve adjusted the small orange buoys that mark off the swim area on the right side. They used to be in line with the last buoy, now there closer in. Am I imagining that?
  9. the water was opaque — a cloudy light greenish brown*
  10. a lone duck waddling on the beach, looking for food…not from me! I know how bad it is to feed the ducks!

*I was curious, so I looked up what the water clarity is: 2.5 feet versus 11.5 feet at cedar lake. And also, uh-oh: there’s an advisory at lake nokomis for blue-green algae. please don’t have to close the lake. please don’t have to close the lake.

july 25/RUN

5.5 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
64 degrees
8:30 am

Hooray for a cooler morning and a wonderful run! It (almost) gets me excited for fall and winter running. I’m not ready for that yet, though. Still loving the swimming. Ran north on the river road, down the franklin hill, then stopped to walk up it. I dictated notes into my phone about my final lecture. Then, I turned on a playlist and ran faster on the way back.

moment of the day

I encountered a group of camp kids, in their bright yellow vests, biking up the franklin hill. Near the top, I heard one kid lament, This isn’t fun anymore. Or, did he say funny? I can’t remember. Then about halfway down, a counselor was yelling out encouragement to 2 kids struggling to keep biking. Let’s go! You got this Lily! Let’s go Mya! It made me smile. I hope they both made it up the hill okay.

Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker and Mr. Morning! Heard the rowers, faintly, below me. Lots of birds. Was there sun? I can’t remember now — I’m writing this the next morning. Oh — I remember the river down in the flats. So calm, so still, almost a mirror. And yes, there was sun. It was hot as I ran near the Annie Young Meadows parking lot. No stacked stones on the ancient boulder. No roller skiers. No big groups of runners. Someone on one of those e-bikes with the tiny wheels. Several people running with dogs. A woman sitting on a bench.

Discovered this poem this morning:

Moist/ Anna Myles

Why should it be so hated, the word for soil
as the farmer longs for it, for the fresh loaf,
for the inside of the lips, the indoor pool’s
sweet chlorine air when winter burns your throat?
For the brush against your thigh of a dog’s nose,
for skin vital in its perspiration,
the velvet eyelid petal of the rose,
those other lips below, and the agile tongue?
Maybe only one who has been dry
and cold for years under Saturn’s tutelage
would need to praise the word that all decry—
a word for tears, for the heart, for new ink smudged.
A word for the peach after the knife goes in:
pried deeply, split, its inner gold now shown.

july 23/RUN

3.8 miles
river road, north/south
76 degrees
humidity: 70% / dew point: 67
7:45 am

Hot and steamy this morning. As I left the house and walked down my block, I could hear lots of birds. At some point, not sure if it was because they stopped singing, or I stopped listening, I couldn’t hear them anymore.

10 Thing I Noticed

  1. the light reflecting off of the river, blinding and bright
  2. a male coxswain’s voice drifting up from below
  3. at least 2, maybe 3, big groups of runners
  4. a water station set-up for some event — a marathon training run?
  5. a runner ahead of me in a bright yellow shirt
  6. bikers, but no roller skiers
  7. a little white dog with its human, stopping to poop
  8. a few bugs on my shoulders, but no bites
  9. white flowers under the trestle
  10. something approaching from behind, sounding like a saw. I thought it was an eplitigo, but it was a fat tire, blasting music — was it the music that made it sound like a saw? I couldn’t tell.

This sounds like a fun experiment to try:

One way you might achieve a similar effect in your own poetry is through the cut-up method I’ve described. If you have a few less-than-wonderful drafts, try splicing them together. In a way, it’s like braiding hair: You pull a line from here and a line from there, weaving them together until you have created a more complex structure than what you had to begin with. If your original two drafts are on the same subject, they may fit organically together to form a new poem. But it’s especially interesting if the original poems are very different from each other. You’ll likely have to weave in new thoughts too. For those of you who keep a file of evocative fragments, as I recommended in my first craft capsule, that file would be a good source to consult for a project like this.

Make it Strange/ Lauren Camp

july 22/SWIMRUN

swim: 1 loop
lake nokomis open swim
75 degrees
9:30 am

FWA did it! Today, he swam across the lake and back again. 1200 yards. It was fun to stop at the little beach and talk with other swimmers, while we took a break. We met an older woman, who loves to swim around the lake, even when it’s not open swim. She said her kids told her she better stop because the fine is big if you are caught. (I think it might be $2500!) One of her responses, Technically I’m not swimming across the lake, but around it. I like her.

The water was great for the swim: smooth, and not choppy at all. Much easier than when it’s windy. It has been fun training with FWA. I’m hoping he’ll swim some in August. What a gift to spend this time with my wonderful son!

run: 3 miles
marshall loop, shortened
80 degrees
11 am

A little while later, I ran with Scott. It was hot. We walked a lot, which was fine with me. A memorable sighting: an eagle circling around, high above us, riding a thermal. It took a while for me to be able to see it in my central vision, but finally I could. What a wing span!

The other day, searching for something else, I found this beautiful interview with Marie Howe from 2013 for Tricycle. She’s talking about losing her beloved brother Johnny and the space she had for grieving. These words fit with other words of her that I’ve read and loved and just used in my class. Putting them in the context of her grief makes them glow even brighter for me:

MH: That was really a big deal. I was given this place to be without any expectations really. And everything changed so that the particulars of life—this white dish, the shadow of the bottle on it—everything mattered so much more to me. And I saw what happened in these spaces. You can never even say what happened, because what happened is rarely said, but it occurs among the glasses with water and lemon in them. And so you can’t say what happened but you can talk about the glasses or the lemon. And that something is in between all that.

KPE: It’s like the Japanese esthetic word of ma. It’s so wonderful. The space between….

MH: This is the space I love more than anything. And this became very important, but there’s no way to describe that, except to describe “you and me.” And there’s the space. I make my students write 10 observations a week—really simple. Like, this morning I saw. . . , this morning I saw. . . , this morning I saw. . . —and they hate it. They always say, “This morning I saw ten lucky people.” And I say, “No. You didn’t see ten lucky people. What did you see?” And then they try to find something spectacular to see. And I say, “No.” It’s just, “What did you see?” “I saw the white towel crumpled on the blue tiles of the bathroom.” That’s all. No big deal. And then, finally, they begin to do it. It takes weeks. And then the white towels pour in and the blue tiles on the bathroom, and it’s so thrilling. It’s like, “Ding-a-ling, da-ding!” And some people never really take to it. But I insist on it. What you saw. What you heard. Just the facts, ma’am. The world begins to clank in the room, drop and fall, and clutter it up, and it’s so thrilling.

KPE: Because it clanks and falls?

MH: Yes! It does. It’s like, “Did you see it? Did you see it?” Everybody goes “Whoa!”

Marie Howe: The Space Between

It is thrilling to notice the world! To hear it clank and drop, watch it create clutter. This reminds me of 2 other things I have recently encountered, one for the first time, one again, after a few years.

First, this poem was posted on twitter the other day:

Do Not Ask Your Children To Strive for Extraordinary Things/ William Martin

Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

The space between us, reminds me of Juliana Spahr’s amazing post 9-11 poem: This Connection of Everyone With Lungs

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby and the space of the cities and the space of the regions and the space of the nations and the space of the continents and islands and the space of the oceans and the space of the troposphere and the space of the stratosphere and the space of the mesosphere in and out.

july 21/RUN

3.3 miles
douglas trail / rochester, mn
67 / humidity: 81%
7:45 am

Ran with Scott this morning on the Douglas trail, right next to his parent’s new apartment in Rochester. A great path! Mostly shaded, off road, smooth. Heard some birds I didn’t recognize; they were very bird-y, meaning their chirps and trills seemed to embody the classic form of a bird. It had rained earlier, and there were puddles on the road and moisture in the air.

10 Things I Encountered

  1. a short pedestrian bridge, crossing over a road, at the start of our run
  2. a long pedestrian bridge, arching over a highway
  3. a helmet-less biker, one hand carrying a small cooler
  4. a fast walker
  5. a speedy runner with long, loping limbs
  6. an adult biker, whose on your left from behind sounded like a little kid’s
  7. only one small, empty road to cross
  8. a runner approaching, listening to music — it was either loud music coming out of headphones, or soft music coming from a speaker
  9. 2 guys, dressed in business casual, walking on the other side of the trail
  10. the parking lot at the trailhead, which included: a big sign with a map of the trail, 2 bathrooms, a picnic trail tucked behind a tree, lots of lush grass

breaklight/ lucille clifton

light keeps on breaking.
i keep knowing
the language of other nations.
i keep hearing
tree talk
water words
and i keep knowing what they mean.
and light just keeps on breaking.
last night
the fears of my mother came
knocking and when i
opened the door
they tried to explain themselves
and i understood
everything they said.

this poem! tree talk, water words! so wonderful!

july 20/RUN

3.3 miles
2 trails + extra
74 degrees
7:45 am

I don’t remember much from my run because I’m writing this entry a day late.

7 Things I Remember More than a Day After my Run

  1. it was hot and sticky, and I sweat a lot
  2. the trail was crowded with bikers and walkers and a few runners
  3. I could hear the rowers, faintly, below
  4. I chanted a lot of my triple berries: strawberry/blueberry/blackberry
  5. oh — just remembered! — a jackhammer and some other construction sounds. At the beginning, one of them sounded like the noise a roller coaster makes at the start of the ride, when it’s slowly climbing up the first hill
  6. instead of running through the oak savanna, I climbed up the 38th street steps to the paved path. Before starting again, I turned on a playlist
  7. as I ran with music, I picked up the pace, to match my feet to the beat

Seven was all I could remember today. That’s cool. I’m happy that I remembered the roller coaster sound. When I hear that sound, I don’t have one strong memory of a roller coaster ride — I used to ride roller coasters as a kid, but I was never really into them — just a swirl of fragments and feelings: that scary and exciting anticipation of the speed to come, the painfully slow climb of the car, the clicking/groaning/turning of the belt louder than anything else.