august 12/RUN

2 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/hill loop
71 degrees

Just updated to the latest version of WordPress (5.5) and they have changed the interface again. Initial reaction: why do we need this change? I’ll give it some time.

Writing this, an hour after my run, the sky is dark, foreboding. Looked at the radar on the weather app and bright yellow and orange and red are approaching. A heavy storm. Hopefully not too heavy.

Took a walk with Scott and Delia the dog first, then went for a shorter run. Listened to a playlist and don’t remember much. Noticed the house on 43rd that used to have the best Halloween decorations–a light/sound show with Toccata and Fugue, a coffin opening up to reveal a skeleton, a graveyard with bloody heads–until the cool people moved away. The new owners have a large cross hanging on their front door and have lined their path with cutesy flowers. Yes, I guess I am bitter.

The run was nice. Noticed lots of cars at Minnehaha Academy–looked it up, student are returning to campus on August 27th. Wow. Also looked up tuition for high schoolers: $23, 980 a year! Forgot to notice the Aspen eyes. Ran on the sidewalk past the trees that, in less than two months will be glowing yellow, and my favorite trio of some of the biggest cottonwood trees I’ve ever seen. Ran past the house that seemed abandoned for almost a year until suddenly it wasn’t and now they’ve been doing minor renovations all spring and summer. Switched over to other side of Edmund and ran right above where they’re working on the sewers. When I reached 36th I turned left onto the river road and ran down the hill until I reached the bottom. Turned around and ran back up it. Saw some bikers, runners, walker. Any roller skier? Don’t think so.

Before I run I noticed the quiet buzz of bugs. The buzz didn’t sound electric. Was it crickets? Speaking of electric buzz, I found another useful site about cicadas with this harsh and haunting description:

Nymph FoodRoot juices of pine and oak
Adult Food Adults do not eat. After mating they die.

When You Walk Over the Earth/ Katie Farris 

When you walk over
the earth, it asserts
itself: “Here. Here.

Here,” it says to your
feet. You must reckon
with the earth, though it enters

you less. The sky always
has its hand in you,
as if you were a puppet,

through your ears down
your throat into your
lungs—and with the tips

of its fingers there, it caresses
every capillary, every blood cell,
until they blush.

After initially posting this entry, I sat at my desk and listened to the gentle rain falling and decided I needed to add something more here. “A Short Story of Falling” by Alice Oswald is a favorite poem of mine–I should memorize it. A few years ago, I turned it into an homage poem about crunching snow.

A Short Story of Falling/ ALICE OSWALD

It is the story of the falling rain
to turn into a leaf and fall again

it is the secret of a summer shower
to steal the light and hide it in a flower

and every flower a tiny tributary
that from the ground flows green and momentary

is one of water’s wishes and this tale
hangs in a seed-head smaller than my thumbnail

if only I a passerby could pass
as clear as water through a plume of grass

to find the sunlight hidden at the tip
turning to seed a kind of lifting rain drip

then I might know like water how to balance
the weight of hope against the light of patience

water which is so raw so earthy-strong
and lurks in cast-iron tanks and leaks along

drawn under gravity towards my tongue
to cool and fill the pipe-work of this song

which is the story of the falling rain
that rises to the light and falls again

And here is a recording of the rain, just outside my window in the front room:

Falling Water, August 12


august 11/RUN

3.2 miles
turkey hollow loop
63 degrees

Beautiful morning! Calm, sunny, not too warm or crowded. Was able to run on the path above the river heading south. Encountered a few runners and bikers but was able to keep my distance. The river was glowing white, over half the sky green. Passed the tall old guy with the long legs made longer by old school running shorts and a torso made shorter by a tucked-in tank top–or should I call it a muscle shirt? The alliteration of tucked-in tank top sounds better. Passed the ridge above the oak savanna, the steps at 38th street, the bench near Folwell, the ancient boulder at 42nd. Crossed over by Becketwood to the paved trail on the other side of the road, then ran down the hill on Edmund to turkey hollow. No turkeys today. Ran up 47th, back to the river road, on the narrow grassy stretch between Becketwood and 42nd that Scott and I have named the gauntlet, and then back over to edmund.

Between 42nd and 36th, many of the houses on Edmund are modern and big–lots of huge windows and intensely colored doors (red, lime green) and inviting decks, funky chandeliers, and futura-fonted house numbers. From ages 5 to 9, I lived in a modern house in Hickory, North Carolina–2 1/2 levels, with open staircases you could hang from by your legs and that had hiding places behind them, several balconies, both inside on the top floor, and outside, above the private front patio, a stone fireplace you could walk behind, cubby holes, a screened-in porch off the kitchen on the second floor overlooking the neighbor’s pool, huge light fixtures that glowed like ghostly heads at night, awesomely 70’s zig zag wallpaper in the kitchen, a family room that could fit a 20 foot christmas tree. I loved that house and all of its quirks. I wonder, what quirks do the houses I ran by (and almost every day for the last 5 months) contain?

sound: buzzing bugs

Every August, there are still birds chirping and cooing and trilling, but they are harder to hear because of the relentless electric buzz of the bugs. Cicadas. There are 2 types of cicadas: those that appear every year (dog day) and those that emerge from underground in large numbers every 13-17 years (periodical). I just learned that in Minnesota we only ever get the dog day kind. And I am glad after reading about how many periodical cicadas can emerge, covering cars, sidewalks, and emitting obnoxious noises! I could hear their power line buzz as I ran. I don’t like the sound as much as the black capped chickadee’s call or the pew pew pew of the cardinal, but it doesn’t bother me. Whenever I think about cicadas, I remember my introduction to them: the 1986 movie, Lucas, which is set during a summer when a brood of periodical cicadas are emerging from the ground….Reading an article from the Smithsonian about how weird they are, I discovered zombie cicadas:

In recent years, researchers have unearthed peculiar and sometimes horrifying relationships between cicadas and fungi. Massospora fungi infect cicadas and hijack their bodies. The fungi can even synchronize to the cicada’s life cycle, staying dormant until the cicada is ready to emerge. Once active, they take over the bottom half of the cicada’s body while somehow keeping the cicada alive. The infected cicada flies away, spreading spores that infect future generations (Source).

Also, while early Americans despised cicadas, confusing them with plagues of locusts, the ancient Greeks loved cicadas, writing odes about them.

[the cry of the cicada]/ Matsuo Basho

The cry of the cicada
Gives us no sign
That presently it will die

august 10/RUN

3.1 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/33rd st, east/river road trail, south/42nd st, west/edmund, north
67 degrees
humidity: 80%

Non-stop thunder and lightening for most of the night. Wild. Unsettling to the dog, but no damage or power outages. This morning everything was wet and a darker (but not an ominous dark) green.

Ran north on 43rd until 32nd then turned right. I think this is my new usual route. Ran on 32nd to edmund, right before the river, and ran a block until crossing at 33rd to enter the trail. I decided today I would try to run the tunnel of trees and hope there weren’t too many people when I reached the narrowest parts. Success! Didn’t encounter anyone.

Ran past the old stone steps, past the concrete wall/ overlook/ bench that Delia likes to jump on, past the four barriers (2 walls, 2 fences), past the amphitheater of green air (the spot where the trees open up slightly to create wide space surrounded by trees, blocking out the sky but still feeling uncrowded), past the spot on the trail where you can just see the top of the hill. Beautiful! I had forgotten how much I love this stretch of the trail. Above the forest, on the edge of a ridge, looking out at endless layers of green with no floor and no sky. Tucked below the road, hidden behind a wall and a fence. Dark and mysterious. Quiet. Enough time alone to gain some peace, not enough to feel afraid (of critters* or lurking humans).

*Speaking of critters, I have seen, earlier this year in March, a coyote run down into the tunnel of trees. I was not running, but walking and was across the road. And yesterday, a jogger reported seeing a black bear near the Summit Monument overlooking the river on the east side close to the trail that’s part of one of my frequent (in non-COVID times) routes: the Ford loop! One more, less scary one: at least twice, while walking around the neighborhood, Scott and I saw an albino squirrel.

After the tunnel of trees, I ran through the welcoming oaks and above the ravine. I was surprised to not hear any water rushing out of the sewer pipe. Ran past the oak savanna–too many leaves to see anything, past the steps at 38th street, past the bench on the dirt path that links two steep hills each winding back down to the Winchell trail. Encountered some bikers who didn’t even try to move over for me and when I moved off the edge of the path to give them room, they biked even closer. Did this happen, or did it seem like it did because of my bad vision and lack of depth perception? People always seem too close to me with my messed up macular.

As I ran, I tried to recite “Push the button, hear the sound” again. I made it through several lines, but became distracted as I tried to avoid other people. It’s hard to recite poems and get lost in the words when you’re having to look out for other runners. Thinking about the poem and it’s refrain, Listen and can you hear?, I thought about what I’d like others to listen to by the river and what I wonder if they can hear:

Listen to the gravel crunching on the trail.
Can you hear the electric buzz of the cicadas, relentless and rumbling under everything?
Can you hear the rowers on the river?
Listen to the roller skier’s ski poles striking the ground.
Can you hear the poles clickity-clack or do they just clack, or only click?
Listen to the doppler effect on the bike’s speakers.
Can you hear the talk radio host yelling through someone’s phone?
Listen to the pileated woodpecker laughing at us.
Can you hear that circle of light on the surface of river inviting you in?
Can you hear your shadow running beside you?
Listen to the oaks exhaling.
Can you hear your lost innocence?
Can you still hear your mom’s voice? Her laugh? The way she said your name?
Can you hear the asphalt buckling?
Listen to “Black Wizard Wave” by Nur-d.

Earlier this morning, before heading out for my run, I came across–and not for the first time–Walt Whitman’s wonderful “Song of the Open Road”:

from Song of the Open Road/ Walt Whitman

3
You air that serves me with breath to speak! 
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape! 
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers! 
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides! 
I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me. 

You flagg’d walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges! 
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides! you distant ships! 

You rows of houses! you window-pierc’d façades! you roofs! 
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards! 
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much! 
You doors and ascending steps! you arches! 
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings! 
From all that has touch’d you I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me, 
From the living and the dead you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me. 

5
From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines, 
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute, 
Listening to others, considering well what they say, 
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, 
Gently,but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me. 
I inhale great draughts of space, 
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine. 

I am larger, better than I thought, 
I did not know I held so much goodness. 


august 2/RUN

4.1 miles
ford bridge and back again + extra
64 degrees

Cooler this morning! Cool enough to wear a short-sleeved shirt instead of a tank top. Overcast, windy. Ran south on the river road to the Ford Bridge and back. Glanced briefly at the river through the trees. Heard some talk radio coming out of a runner’s smartphone as I passed them. Was it MPR? I think so. Lots of bikers, walkers, runners around. Almost passed two bikers heading up the hill between Locks and Dam #1 and the double bridge at 44th because they were biking so slowly and I had picked up my pace. Looked for turkeys in turkey hollow but didn’t see even one. No roller skiers either. Didn’t recite any poems in my head. Tried counting to four for a while and then chanting triple berries: strawberry, blueberry, raspberry. Nothing stuck. I don’t remember much about my run. No deep thoughts, but also no worries about whether or not the US or the world will ever get this pandemic under control. A strange, difficult time.

Yesterday, I had my first break from running since July 9th. Scott and I took Delia the dog on a long walk instead. We ended up above the Franklin hill before turning around and heading back. So relaxing to watch all the runners and bikers and roller skiers moving below us. Lots of roller skiers! We watched 3 strong, graceful, badass women powering up the hill. I love watching graceful, confident bodies in motion.

TIME FOR SERENITY, ANYONE?/ William Stafford

I like to live in the sound of water,
in the feel of mountain air. A sharp
reminder hits me: this world still is alive;
it stretches out there shivering toward its own
creation, and I’m part of it. Even my breathing
enters into the elaborate give-and-take,
this bowing to sun and moon, day or night,
winter, summer, storm, still—this tranquil
chaos that seems to be going somewhere.
This wilderness with a great peacefulness in it.
This motionless turmoil, this everything dance.

july 30/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
68 degrees

Walking down to the end of the block before starting my run, I marveled at the slightly cool breeze and the soft sun. What a morning to be outside! Perfect for walking, slightly too warm for running. Ran south on the river road. Heard the birds–which birds? Not sure. Glanced at the river for the brief moment I was able to run on the trail. Saw my shadow. Tried to stay calm and block out the relentless worry, simmering under the surface, about pandemics and tyrants and upcoming elections. Was mostly successful.

Running past the steps at 38th street that lead to the lower trail, closer to the river, I longed for last summer when I regularly ran the 2 trails route. O, to be closer to the river, below the road on the undulating trail!

Recited the rest of Halos this morning. The rhythm of this poem doesn’t work well with running and I found it hard to keep reciting the lines in a steady flow. Lots of stopping and starting. Was this also because of the heat or the effort or my still shaky grasp of the words?

I like, whenever I wish, strolling past
the myopic me
in a window or a mirror or whatever

reflects back to believe the soul is
ubiquitous like water
in our voices, our cells.

How else, when blinded by life,
would I remember:
to the dead, we’re the ghosts?

I am not sure what he means here or what to do with souls as ubiquitous as water or the idea that we’re the ghosts to the dead. What does it mean to be a ghost?

Ghost (noun), definition (OED)

  1. The soul or spirit, as the principle of life (to give up the ghost)
  2. Philosophy.  the ghost in the machine: (Gilbert Ryle’s name for) the mind viewed as separate from the body 
  3. The soul of a deceased person, spoken of as appearing in a visible form, or otherwise manifesting its presence, to the living. (Now the prevailing sense.)
  4. A shadowy outline or semblance, an unsubstantial image (of something); hence, a slight trace or vestige, esp. in phrase  (not) the ghost of a chance.

Ghost (verb), definition (OED)

  1. to expire
  2. to haunt
  3. to scare with pretended apparitions
  4. To flit about, prowl as a ghost. Also  to ghost it.  to ghost away: to steal away like a ghost.

Ghost (Colloquial), definition (Wikipedia)

Ghosting is a colloquial term used to describe the practice of ceasing all communication and contact with a partner, friend, or similar individual without any apparent warning or justification and subsequently ignoring any attempts to reach out or communicate made by said partner, friend, or individual.

I would like to use the phrase, “to ghost it” somewhere. Also, having stared at the word “ghost” for too long, the letters seem strange, especially the g and h right beside each other.

Thinking about being “ubiquitous like water” I was reminded of Bruce Lee and his great poem? speech? about being like water. Then I was reminded of the poem by Ed Bok Lee that I discovered yesterday and just listened to right now, “Ode to Bruce Lee” from his collection Whorled. In the poem, he says:

Boxer and cha cha champion
style of no style
teacher, waiter, philosopher, dragon

Style of no style is also in Halos. I want to think some more about what this phrase means–to him, what it might mean to me. Fluid, not trapped any identity or label or “box”, flowing like water?

Here’s a recording of me reciting Lee’s “Halos” after I returned from my run. I still have a few extra/wrong words to fix:

Halos, July 30

july 27/RUN

3.2 miles
ford bridge and back
66 degrees
humidity: 80%

Sunny and cooler this morning, although it still felt warm. Lots of sweating. Ran south on the river road and thought about how they will be opening up the road to cars next week. Will the paths be much more crowded, or will many of the people who came to walk on the road stop coming altogether?

Overheard by one biker to another: “…they are told to just not give a shit.” Who are they? Who told them to not give a shit, about what, and why?

Also overheard: some music coming out of a bike speaker, talk radio out of phone speakers. Couldn’t hear it well enough to recognize any of it.

No roller skiers this morning, only bikers, walkers, runners. Don’t remember hearing any birds–how is that possible? No laughing or crying or yelling kids. No rowers. No river. No trail, only road.

Saw my shadow running beside me.

They have started clearing off the gravel they had put down on the roads to cover the tar they also put down to seal some cracks. To get rid of it, a truck drives through slowly, sweeping and spraying water. Last night on our evening walk, Scott and I witnessed a roller skier attempting to ski on the gravelly road. So awkward and difficult looking! The skier was wearing pajama pants and despite my efforts to not judge him, I did–they looked like flannel pants and it was still 80 degrees outside.

Writing this, I am sitting in the front room, looking out the window at some birds–are they robins?–who are digging up something in the grass near the part of the lawn that we have begrudgingly ceded to the ants. There are 4 of them (at least) and I can’t tell if they’re friends or enemies. Frenemies?…A few minutes later, two squirrels chasing each other…and a few minutes after that, a scuffle on the tree–annoying little squirrel claws clicking and clacking on the dry bark.

Speaking of squirrels, I was just wondering about poems featuring them–are there many and are they odes or love poems or what? I can’t ever imagine writing a love poem about a squirrel. I don’t like squirrels. As I was thinking about all of this, I suddenly remembered a poem I memorized earlier this summer that features some judge-y squirrels: What Would Root.

The poem begins:

Walking through a cathedral of oak trees
and bristlecone pines, scolded by squirrels
in priestly black, their white collars
wagging with the force of their scolding…

then later:

The squirrels,
I mentioned them already, etc, and lizards
ran down the spines of rocks like a bad feeling.

and even later:

Oh yes, I drank water from the ground; I
was wild, even then, though the squirrels scolded
me and tried to convince me I was not.

So much scolding! Doing a little more thinking, I remembered another poem I love that features squirrels–even better, squirrels being punished for their bad behavior! Forsythe Avenue by Aimee Nezhukumathil.

Tulip bulbs that a girl once planted and sprinkled with
pepper flakes have all been scratched up by brave squirrels
who strut the streets with tiny blistered mouths.

july 26/RUN

3 miles
47th ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, north/river road, south
71 degrees
humidity: 95%/ dew point: 72

Rained last night and early this morning so everything was dripping when I went out for my run. I didn’t feel the water so much as hear it coming off the trees, trickling off the gutters, gushing through the sewer pipe above the ravine. Several puddles on the sidewalk in the usual spots. Because the rain had only recently stopped, there weren’t too many people out near the river. When I finally reached it, just past the aspen eyes, I was able to run right above it. I even saw it a few times through the thick green. Running up the hill from below the lake street bridge I kept running on the trail that veers away from the road and right above the rowing club. I haven’t run on this part of the path for months! Ended my run climbing the hill near the tunnel of trees. In other summers, when I can safely run on the trail, a mist gets trapped here after it rains in the mid-story canopy. On the road this morning, there was mist too, but not as thick. It felt strange and dreamy to run through it.

Yesterday I began reading a thesis about Lorine Niedecker and how her vision problems shaped some of her poetry. The author focuses on this poem in particular:

Wintergreen Ridge /Lorine Niedecker

Where the arrow
         of the road signs
                 lead us:

Life is natural
         in the evolution
                of matter

Nothing supra-rock
        about it
                simply

butterflies
        are quicker
                than rock

Man 
        lives hard
                on this stone perch

by sea
       imagines
               durable works

in creation here
        as in the center
               of the world

let’s say
        of art 
              We climb

the limestone cliffs
        my skirt dragging
               an inch below

the knee 
        the style before 
               the last

the last the least
         to see 
              Norway

or “half of Sussex
         and almost all
              of Surrey”

Crete perhaps
         and further:
             “Every creature

better alive
        than dead.
              men and moose

and pine trees”
       We are gawks
              lusting

after wild orchids
       Wait! What’s this? —
             sign:

Flowers
        loveliest
            where they grow

Love them enjoy them
        and leave them so
            Let’s go!

Evolution’s wild ones
        saved
            continuous life

through change
       from Time Began
            Northland’s
unpainted barns
       fish and boats
            now this —

flowering ridge
       the second one back
            from the lighthouse

Who saved it? —
       Women
            of good wild stock

Stood stolid
        before machines
           They stopped bulldozers

cold
        We want it for all time
           they said

and here it is —
        horsetails
          club mosses

stayed alive
        after dinosaurs
          died

Found:
       laurel in muskeg
          Linnaeus’s twinflower

Andromeda
       Cisandra of the bog
           pearl flowered

Lady’s tresses
       insect-eating
          pitcher plant

Bedeviled little Drosera
       of the sundews
          deadly

in sphagnum moss
       sticks out its sticky
          (Darwin tested)

tentacled leaf
       towards a fly
           half an inch away

engulfs it
       Just the touch
          of a gnat on a filament

stimulates leaf-plasma
       secretes a sticky
          clear liquid

the better to eat you
       my dear
          digest cartilage

and tooth enamel
        (DHL spoke of blood
          in a green growing thing

in Italy was it?)
       They do it with glue
          these plants

Lady’ Slipper’s glue
       and electric threads
          smack the sweets-seeker

on the head
      with pollinia
          The bee

befuddled
     the door behind him
          closed he must

go out the rear
     the load on him 
         for the next

flower
     Women saved
        a pretty thing: Truth:

“a good to the heart” 
     It all comes down
        to the family

“We have a lovely
     finite parentage
        mineral

vegetable
     animal”
        Nearby dark wood —

I suddenly heard
     the cry
        my mother’s

where the light
     pissed past
        the pistillate cone

how she loved
     closed gentians
        she herself

so closed
     and in this to us peace
        the stabbing

pen
     friend did it
        close to the heart

pierced the woods
     red
        (autumn?)

Sometimes it’s a pleasure
     to grieve
        or dump

the leaves most brilliant
     as do trees
        when they’ve no need

of an overload
     of cellulose
        for a cool while

Nobody, nothing
     ever gave me
        greater thing

than time
     unless light
        and silence

which if intense
     makes sound
        Unaffected

by man
     thin to nothing lichens
        grind with their acid

granite to sand
     These may survive
        the grand blow-up

the bomb
     When visited
        by the poet

From Newcastle on Tyne
     I neglected to ask
        what wild plants

have you there
     how dark
        how inconsiderate

of me
     Well I see at this point
        no pelting of police

with flowers
     no uprooted gaywings
        bishop’s cup

white bunchberry
     under aspens
        pipsissewa

(wintergreen)
     grass of parnassus
        See beyond —

ferns
     algae
        water lilies

Scent
     the simple
        the perfect

order
     of that flower
        water lily

I see no space-rocket
     launched here
        no mind-changing

acids eaten
     one sort manufactured
        as easily as gin

in a bathtub
     Do feel however
        in liver and head

as we drive
     towards cities
        the change

in church architecture —
     now it’s either a hood
        for a roof

pulled down to the ground
     and below
        or a factory-long body

crawled out from a rise
     of black dinosaur-necked
        blower-beaked

smokestack-
     steeple
        Murder in the Cathedral’s

proportions
     Do we go to church
        No use

discussing heaven 
     HJ’s father long ago
        pronounced human affairs

gone to hell
     Great God —
         what men desire! —

the scientist: a full set
     of fishes
        the desire to know

Another: to talk beat
     act cool
        release    la’go

So far out of flowers
     human parts found
        wrapped in newspaper

left at the church
     near College Avenue
        More news: the war

which “cannot be stopped”
     ragweed pollen
        sneezeweed

whose other name
     Ambrosia
        goes for a community

Ahead — home town
     second shift steamfitter
        ran arms out

as tho to fly
     dived to concrete
        from loading dock

lost his head
     Pigeons
        (I miss the gulls)

mourn the loss
     of people
        no wild bird does

It rained
     mud squash
        willow leaves

in the eaves
     Old sunflower
        you bowed

to no one
     but Great Storm
        of Equinox

july 25/RUN

2.35 miles
47th ave, north/river road, north/river road, south/edmund, south
82 degrees
dew point: 73

So hot and thick outside this morning. And it’s only 8:30. Decided to end the run with a sprint up the final hill–the same hill I was sprinting up at the end of my runs in the winter except this time I was on the road and not the trail. Felt pretty good at the end. I should try a workout where I warm up for a few miles and then do some sprints.

Encountered mostly walkers and bikers, a few runners, some roller skiers. Saw some people heading up the hill from the rowing club. Had they just been rowing? I’d like to try that sometime. Heard some music coming out of a bike speaker but it was too quiet and distorted from the doppler effect for me to identify what the song or genre was, just tinny noise. Don’t remember hearing or seeing any birds or dogs or squirrels. No river. Quietly called “Watch out!” at a clueless pedestrian slowly walking across the road right in front of me, not looking at all (except at her phone). Don’t think she heard me. Ran on the gravel several times. Mostly level but in mounds at the edges. Scott says they will come through and clear it all off when they’ve done all the roads. I hope they do it before they open the river road back up to cars next week. I’ll miss the crunchy sound but not the uneven ground.

Birds!

While I don’t remember hearing any birds this morning, I did come across a tweet about birdsong mnemonics that inspired me to think about birds and how they sound. Here are a few links I want to revisit:

And, here are 2 bird poems, one just about birds, one about birdsong, both my Emily Dickinson:

A Bird, came down the Walk – (359)/ EMILY DICKINSON

A Bird, came down the Walk – 
He did not know I saw –
He bit an Angle Worm in halves 
And ate the fellow, raw, 

And then, he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass –
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall 
To let a Beetle pass –

He glanced with rapid eyes,
That hurried all abroad –
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
He stirred his Velvet Head. – 

Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers, 
And rowed him softer Home –

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon, 
Leap, plashless as they swim. 

The Birds begun at Four o’clock —/ Emily Dickinson

The Birds begun at Four o’clock —
Their period for Dawn —
A Music numerous as space —
But neighboring as Noon —

I could not count their Force —
Their Voices did expend
As Brook by Brook bestows itself
To multiply the Pond.

The Listener – was not —
Except occasional man —
In homely industry arrayed —
To overtake the Morn —

Nor was it for applause —
That I could ascertain —
But independent Ecstasy
Of Universe, and Men –  

By Six, the Flood had done —
No Tumult there had been
Of Dressing, or Departure —
And yet the Band – was gone —

The Sun engrossed the East —
The Day Resumed the World —  controlled
The Miracle that introduced
Forgotten, as fulfilled.

july 24/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
72 degrees
humidity: 78%/ dew point: 67

Hot again this morning. So crowded on the river road! So many runners going so fast that I wondered if there was some event going on. Listened to a playlist and didn’t think about any poetry or pay attention to much around me except all the runners and bikers I needed to avoid. Ran faster than I wanted on the second mile because a runner who I was passing decided to speed up just as I approached. Finished the run by listening to Demi Lovato’s “Sorry, Not Sorry” as I ran up the hill near the Welcoming Oaks. Running back through the neighborhood, the next song that came on Spotify was Hailee Steinfeld’s “Hell nos and Headphones.” Wow.

Finished watching the 1981 “Clash of the Titans” with Scott. I remember seeing it in a theater in North Carolina when it first came out. I was 7. The special effects are very bad, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the movie this time–loved seeing Maggie Smith as a vengeful Thetis. I started thinking about Medusa and how her gaze turns anyone/thing that looks into her eyes to stone. And then I started thinking about how my gaze does that to people too–because my central vision is almost gone and I have an increasingly bigger blind spot in the middle of my field of vision, when I look at people’s faces or into their eyes they often look like unmoving objects–I can’t see facial gestures–no smiles or frowns or eyebrows raised, and I can’t make eye contact. In a way, they turn to stone. I’d like to explore the Medusa myth some more and see if I can do something with it.

Thinking about vision and eyes a lot this week. Here’s a poem from 1925 I first encountered on twitter, then found online at Poetry Foundation:

Eyes/ Laura Riding Jackson

Imagine two clouds shot together by the sunset,
One river-blue,
One like a white cloth passed through a purple wine,
Dripping and faintly dyed,
Whirling centrifugally away toward the night
And later halved and rounded by the moon;
Rolled like blue butter-balls
In the palms of the moon’s hands
And rimmed elliptically with almost-white moon-stuff,
The moon’s particular godmother gift.
Some nearly impossible vision like this
Is necessary for the mood of my eyes.

Formally announced by my eyebrows,
Sad squires of my eyes,
Preciously fitted into two fine skin purses—
Two rose petals might fashion them—
So firmly, gently guarded,
Yet so free to roll a little
In each socket,
In each pocket,
Attended by the drawn regiments of my lashes,
These my head’s hair’s farthest fallen,
Wayward strayed for the love of my eyes,
With only a runaway’s last inheritance of curl
Lifting the final rite of this ceremony of presentation:
Sight is there soul of charity.
when the feet are tired,
When joy is caught in the full throat,
Sight is the good Samaritan,
Wandering to the last horizon
Or staying at home to laugh in joy’s place.
Though the trouble be none of its won,
When grief comes like a beggar to my eyelids,
Sight throws it pennies,
Sight throws it tears,
Though for the minute it rob itself,
Though for the minute it blind itself.

Exegetes of the tongue—
Love’s best inquirers
And courteous heads of hate,
Yet meanwhile not deposing
The immediate service of seeing
Or the darling self-denial of sleep—
My eyes, my eyes,
Patrons of light and dark!

Busy, ever busy,
If I have no other errands for it,
Yet sight keeps turning the looking-machine,
Always sitting quietly aside—-
The self-appointed and voluntary philosophy of me,
My ironic interpreter of things,
Smiling behind the bodily ruse
Of my amused, amused eyes.
Or, if the eyes fail,
If the optical bodies of sight die,
Sight still lives while I live,
Sight is immortal in me,
Free of the bond of outward vision—-
The inner sense of life,
The living-looking.
Death is the only blindness.

july 20/RUN

3.1 miles
big loop*
68 degrees

*44th ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, south/42nd st, west/edmund, south

Another good run. Cooler and very calm, still, quiet. Don’t remember hearing (m)any birds, no conversations, no rowers. At least 3 separate times, I thought I was hearing the clickity-clack of roller skiers, but was actually hearing a bike with noisy wheels or messed up gears or something. Strange that it happened 3 times when I don’t remember ever making that mistake before. Was it the quality of air? Hardly any wind this morning. Sunny, but not bright. Did I see my shadow? Can’t remember.

Recited “The Gate” one more day and thought about gates and openings and doorways and thresholds and windows and spaces where movement and breathing and new stories/ways of being are possible. I think this is my new theme for the month and/or for a series of poems/essays.

Recorded myself reciting it just after finishing my run–my heart rate was probably around 140 or so as I spoke. I got it mostly right but messed up the second to last “this.” The order she writes the three thises–“This is what you’ve been waiting for, ” “And he’d say, This,” and “This, he’d say” is important. It doesn’t have as much impact the way I recited it.

The Gate, July 20

Yesterday, reading Ted Looser’s Delights and Shadows, I found these two poems that I really liked:

Grasshopper/ Ted Kooser

This year they are exactly the size
of the the pencil stub my grandfather kept
to mark off the days since rain,

and precisely the color of dust, of the roads
leading back accross the dying fields
into the ’30s. Walking the cracked lane

past the empty barn, the empty silo,
you hear them tinkering with irony,
slapping the grass like drops of rain.

The Early Bird/ Ted Kooser

Still dark, and raining hard
on a cold May morning

and yet the early bird
is out there chirping

chirping its sweet-sour
wooden-bully notes,

pleased, it would seem,
to be given work,

hauling the heavy
bucket of dawn

up from the darkness,
note over note,

and letting us drink.

july 18/RUN

2.5 miles
43rd ave, south/42nd st, west/edmund, north
74 degrees
humidity: 87%/ dew point: 71

Hot this morning! Very crowded too. Started out running with Scott but after avoiding too many people together, we decided to split up. Some clueless walkers, but mostly just lots of people. Encountered several cars on Edmund too. Don’t remember any roller skiers or runners. No rowers or river views. Any birds? Not that I heard. Finished by running around the block. Discovered it was .5 miles. Good to know.

Discovered Copper Canyons wonderful collection of poems about connection during COVID yesterday via twitter. So good! Scrolling through them, I found two that connect with the poems I’m reading/thinking about right now:

joy and suffering beside each other (Ross Gay, Book of Delights)

What Issa Heard/ David Budbill

Two hundred years ago Issa heard the morning birds
singing sutras to this suffering world.

I heard them too, this morning, which must mean,

since we will always have a suffering world,
we must also always have a song.

“This is what you’ve been waiting for” (Marie Howe/ “The Gate”)

Goshen/ Ruth Stone

For fifteen years I have lived in a house
without running water or furnace.
In and out the front door
with my buckets and armloads of wood.
This is the mountain.
This is the fortress of ice.
This is the stray cat skulking in the barn.
This is the barn with vacant windows
that lifts like a thin balsa kite
in the northeasters.
These are the winter birds
that wait in the bushes.
This is my measuring rod.
This is why I get up in the morning.
This is how I know where I am going.

july 15/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/south
66 degrees
humidity: 83%

Ah! Such nice weather this morning. Still humid, but cooler. Almost sunny. A thin layer of clouds covered most of the sky. So thin that the sun was still casting shadows on the road. A strange sight. Is there a word for that? I tried looking it up just now and I couldn’t find anything.

I was able to run above the river for a few minutes and saw some blue through the green. Heard several roller skiers, a few bikers, runners, walkers. No music coming out of bike radios or snippets of conversation that made me curious. No rushing water, hardly any birds. I’m sure I heard traffic but I don’t remember that either—actually, thinking about it for a few minutes, I do remember some traffic. As I ran down the hill and under the lake street bridge, I heard cars and trucks on the bridge and kept thinking they were on the river road, just behind me. Noticed many cars in the parking lot at Minnehaha Academy–are they planning to open the campus this fall? I hope not. Also saw soccer practice on the field. Ran past the railroad trestle almost to Franklin. Felt relaxed and strong.

As I ran, I tried thinking about the idea of the dream-like state and Howe’s line, “this might be all we know of forgiveness, this small time when you can forget what you are.” What is this small time? Is forgetting what we are a type of getting lost in a (day) dream (Emily Dickinson’s revery*?) or practicing pure attention (another line from Howe: “speaking for the sound alone”?). And, what is it that we are, that we must forget? Yesterday I suggested that we are creatures who struggle against their solitude, suffering, and the inevitability of death. Here’s another answer from Marilyn Nelson in “Crows”:

What if to taste and see, to notice things,
to stand each is up against the emptiness
for a moment of an eternity—
images collected in consciousness,
like a tree alone on the horizon—
is the main reason we’re on the planet.

*To make a prairie/Emily Dickinson

To make a prairie it takes a clover, one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.

july 14/RUN

3 miles
river road, south/north
73 degrees/ light rain
humidity: 89%/ dew point: 70

Woke up to darkness. Rain coming and staying all day. Decided to take Delia the dog out for a quick walk before it started. Not soon enough; by 1 block it was drizzling and by 2 blocks raining. We ran back. Delia did a great job–except for the time when she ran right in front of me and almost tripped me. Maybe I should try training her to run?

Running felt good so I decided if there was a break in the rain, I would go out for a run. There was and I did. Hardly anyone out by the gorge. I was able to run on the trail right above the river for most of the time. Hooray! I saw the river, heard some birds, ran by my favorite benches, heard the roar of the water gushing out of the sewer pipes down to the river near both ravines — at 36th and 42nd. And then, at the end, I ran through the Welcoming Oaks and greeted each one, “good morning!” “good morning!” “good morning!” Haven’t been able to do that in awhile.

color

There’s something about cloudy, gray light that makes my vision even stranger than usual, especially when it comes to seeing colors. I am amazed that I can still see any color with almost all of my cones damaged. Here are some colors I saw this morning, some stranger than others:

  • From about 2 blocks away from the river road, I could see an orange sign for a pedestrian detour. So bright and so prominent, a glowing smudge in the midst of fuzzy dark green and gray.
  • Twice I encountered, from a distance of about 15-20 feet, a woman in blue running tights. As I approached her, seeing her through my central vision, the tights looked dark, almost navy blue. But when I saw her from the side, through my peripheral vision, the rights were a bright, electric blue. Blue is a strange color with my vision. Last winter, I used to walk by a house with lights in the shape of a peace sign. The circle was red, the inner sign blue. Looking at the sign straight on all I could see was a red circle. It wasn’t until I looked at it from the side that I could just barely see the blue lines.
  • A walker in a pink–or was it coral?–jacket.
  • The river was a pale blue, almost white in the gray light.

on the dream, forgiveness, and forgetting

Still thinking about Marie Howe and “The Meadow,” especially these lines, “My love, this might be all we know of forgiveness, this small time when you can forget who you are” and “Bedeviled, human, your plight, in waking, is to chose from the words even now asleep on your tongue, and to know that tangled among them and terribly new is the sentence that could change your life.” In yesterday’s entry in my plague notebook, I wrote: “We forget what we are because what we are are creatures attempting to find the right words to feel better — less alone, less suffering, less closer to death.”

I want to think more about the value of forgetting. Here’s a poem I’d like memorize to get me started:

Let It Be Forgotten/ SARA TEASDALE

Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten,
Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold,
Let it be forgotten for ever and ever,
Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.

If anyone asks, say it was forgotten
Long and long ago,
As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall
In a long forgotten snow.

july 13/RUN

3 miles
44th ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, north/river road, south/38th st, west/river road, north
70 degrees
humidity: 77%/ dew point: 63

Another beautiful morning! Not much wind, not too hot, some shade. Ran past the aspen eyes and towards downtown, up the hill from under the lake street bridge, then turned around. I think I saw the river, or the idea of the river hiding behind the green. Recited “The Meadow” a few times during the first two miles of my run, then stopped to put on some music and sprinted up a hill while blasting Demi Levato’s “Sorry, not Sorry” — a great song to run to. I got it in my head yesterday after I responded to Scott about something jokingly rude I had just said with, “sorry, not sorry.”

At some point, as I was reciting it, I thought about the line, “The horses, sway-backed and self important, cannot design how the small white pony mysteriously escapes the fence everyday.” I wondered, isn’t small, as in “small white pony” redundant? Aren’t ponies always small? Would it flow as well without the extra syllable of small? Now, sitting here at my desk in the front room, listening to a young child right outside vacillate between cute, calling out “I Love You!” to his mom, and annoying, babbling in a high-pitched voice, I am also struck by Howe’s use of white. Nothing else in the poem has a color–no green meadow or dappled gray horses or golden hay or anything. Why is the pony singled out–given a color and a redundant size? With its mysterious escape, is it a ghost? Still thinking about this line: I like how she uses “design” in this sentence. And I love the self important, clueless horses and the next line’s follow-up: “This is a miracle just beyond their heavy-headed grasp.”

I’m trying to make sense of the meaning of this whole poem (admittedly, I feel like I’m often dense when it comes to understanding poetry) and I’m wondering if these three lines are the most important:

  1. As we walk into words that have waited for us to enter them…
  2. My love, this might be all we know of forgiveness, this small time when you forget what you are.
  3. Bedeviled, human, your plight, when waking is to chose from the words that even now sleep on your tongue and to know that among them, tangled and terribly new, is the sentence that could change your life.

In our dreams, we can forget what we are (the meadow forgets how to make wildflowers, the horses are weary of hay, the wasps are tiny prop planes, the knock of a woodpecker becomes a phone ringing). But, we always wake up (the meadow thinks suddenly, “water, root, blossom,” the horses lie down in daisies and clover, we/humans suffer–moaning, and know we will die). The task as human is to find the right (?) words to give meaning to/transform what we are? Does that work? And how does this line fit in: “I want to add my cry to those who would speak for the sound alone”?

Discovered another delightful abecedarian!

Abecedarian For the Future/ Ada Limón

All the old gray gods have fallen
back to their static realms of myth
cleared from the benches, thrones,
dragged kicking to their strongest tombs,
each one grizzled by their swift exile
frayed, bedraggled, forced to kneel,
give up their guns, armor, swords,
hand over their passports, global security
identification, and be stripped bare.
Justice has relegated them to history,
kept nothing but the long rancorous
list of crimes (slaughterers all)
molded them into dull cement statues
not to worship. but as a warning most
ominous. Here stood Greed and his brother
Pride, note their glazed inhuman eyes,
question their puny stature now, how
rodent-like, how utterly overthrow-able.
Still, remember how long they ruled?
Tyrannical and blustering, claiming
universal power, until the kinder masses
voted the callous thin-lipped lizards out?
What a day that was! The end of hatred,
xenophobia, patriarchal authority–but
yes, we waited too long, first we had to
zero out, give up on becoming gods at all.

july 11/RUN

3.15 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees
humidity: 81%/ dew point: 65

Thunderstorm early this morning then sun and humidity. I’m pretty sure the Olympian Carrie Tollefeson passed me right before the lake street bridge. Very cool. Heard some black capped chickadees. Ran up 43rd ave then down 32nd st to the river so I was able to run right by the aspen eyes. Didn’t hear any rowers or see the river or any “regulars,” like the Daily Walker or last year’s man in black or the tall, slim, older man in the running shorts. I don’t see any regulars this year. Strange and sad.

Recited the first half of Maria Howe’s “The Meadow” — a poem I memorized 3 years ago when I was injured but have mostly forgotten. I had been planning to memorize Wordsworth’s “I wander lonely as a cloud” but it seemed too cheesy or sing song-y or poem-y (whatever that means). I think I’ll wait to memorize his snowflake this next winter instead.

The Meadow/ Marie Howe (first half)

As we walk into words that have waited for us to enter them, so
the meadow, muddy with dreams, is gathering itself together

and trying, with difficulty, to remember how to make wildflowers.
Imperceptibly heaving with the old impatience, it knows

for certain that two horses walk upon it, weary of hay.
The horses, sway-backed and self important, cannot design

how the small white pony mysteriously escapes the fence everyday.
This is the miracle just beyond their heavy-headed grasp,

and they turn from his nuzzling with irritation. Everything
is crying out. Two crows, rising from the hill, fight

and caw-cry in mid-flight, then fall and light on the meadow grass
bewildered by their weight. A dozen wasps drone, tiny prop planes

sputtering into a field a farmer has not yet plowed,
and what I thought was a phone, turned down and ringing,

is the knock of a woodpecker for food or warning, I can’t say.
I want to add my cry to those who would speak for the sound alone.

On my walk home after I finished, I recorded myself reciting this first half. A few wrong words or forgotten phrases. I love the line, “this is the miracle just beyond their heavy-headed grasp” and the pleasing rhymes in “two crows fight and caw-cry mid-flight, then fall and light on the meadow grass”

The Meadow, first half, July 11

Discovered Antonio Machado, a Spanish poet who lived from 1875-1939, and his delightful “Proverbs and Canticles” yesterday. Here are a few:

canticle: a hymn or chant, typically with a bible verse

I

The mode of dialogue, my friends,
is first to question:
then . . . attend.

III

The poets does not pursue
the fundamental I
but the essential you.

IV

In writing verses, seek
to give them a double light: one
to read square by, one oblique.

july 10/RUN

4.15 miles
the falls and back
70 degrees
humidity: 73%/ dew point: 60

Slightly cooler this morning with a lower dew point. Still felt hot. Sweat a lot. Ran south on the river road and around the falls. Heard them roaring as I rounded the corner. Managed to catch a few glimpses of the blue of the river. Otherwise, lots of green. It feels like mid-summer. Encountered many bikers and runners and walkers. One biker was playing Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville,” which sounds distorted–thanks to the steel drums–even when you aren’t getting the doppler effect. Strange. I am sure I heard many birds, but I don’t remember. I do recall hearing one biker say to the other, “They should have told people that wearing a mask helps protect you not other people, then everyone would wear a mask. That’s sad.”

I have completely memorized Billy Collins’ poem about memorizing Donne’s The Sun Rising, but I’ve soured a bit on the poem after seeing a tweet about what a creep Collins is and reading his poem about undressing Emily Dickinson. So gross. Instead of reciting “Memorizing,” I tried to work my way through my list. I recited “Auto-lullaby,” then “It’s all I have to bring today” and “Swept All Visible Signs Away.” Couldn’t remember what was next on my list–I thought it was “Lovesong for the Square Root of Negative One,” which it was, but got side-tracked by the effort of running and avoiding others on the road.

What are Poems?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what poems are to me. Here’s a list of a few things:

  • spells
  • chants
  • charms
  • balms
  • prayers
  • doors/windows
  • ways in/ways out
  • trails
  • alleluias/thanks/praise
  • wonders
  • bewilderments
  • breaths
  • tracks across the snow
  • a ripple in the river, troubling the too-calm water
  • an opportunity to slow down, ruminate
  • an invitation to attend something

Last week, I planned to memorize a series of poems about eyes and vision. Somehow, I’ve been side-tracked. I’m thinking of memorizing Wordsworth’s classic about the daffodils. Other poems I’m considering instead of or after that one:

  • Dorothy Wordsworth/ Jennifer Chang
  • The Art/ Elizabeth Bishop
  • Question/ May Swenson
  • The Meadow/ Marie Howe
  • Hamlet’s soliloquy, “to be or not to be…”

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud / WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

july 7/RUN

2.5 miles
45th ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, north/river road, south/38th st, west/ river road, north
75 degrees
humidity: 86%/ dew point: 71

Very hot! Not much shade. Uncomfortable. Thought about running 3 miles but decided 2.5 was enough. Ran past the aspen eyes. Heard “Devil Went Down to Georgia” blasting out of a bike’s speakers. Sweet. Pretty cool doppler effect after they passed by me. Sounded like the music was melting. Tried to get a glimpse of the river through the gap in the trees, but the green was too thick. Don’t remember any bugs. Almost thought I saw the Daily Walker but it was someone jogging, not walking. Saw a roller skiing family–an adult and a few kids of different ages.

Recited the first four stanzas of the Billy Collins’ poem I’m memorizing (which is a quick break from my current theme on eyes):

Every reader loves how he tells off
the sun, shouting busy old fool
into the English skies even though they were
likely not cloudy on that seventeenth century morning.

And it’s a pleasure to spend this sunny day
pacing the carpet and repeating the words,
feeling the syllables lock into rows
until I can stand and declare,
the book held closed by my side,
that hours, days, and months are but the rags of time.

And after a few steps into the stanza number two,
wherein the sun is blinded by his mistress’s eyes,
I can feel the first one begin to fade
like sky-written letters on a windy day

And by the time I have taken in the third,
the second one is likewise gone, a blown out candle now,
a wavering line of acrid smoke.

I found it difficult to stay focused on the poem because I was hot and sweaty but I managed to recite it all at least once. I like the line about the syllables locking into rows. I also like how he incorporates lines from Dunne’s poem into his own. He describes his forgetting of lines as “sky- written letters on a windy day” and “a blown out candle, wavering line of acrid smoke.” Is that how it feels to me when I cannot remember a line? I’m not sure.

Holy shit this poem is amazing! Found it this morning on poem of the day on poets.org:

Nothing/ Krysten Hill

I ask a student how I can help her. Nothing is on her paper.
It’s been that way for thirty-five minutes. She has a headache. 
She asks to leave early. Maybe I asked the wrong question. 
I’ve always been dumb with questions. When I hurt, 
I too have a hard time accepting advice or gentleness.
I owe for an education that hurt, and collectors call my mama’s house. 
I do nothing about my unpaid bills as if that will help. 
I do nothing about the mold on my ceiling, and it spreads. 
I do nothing about the cat’s litter box, and she pisses on my new bath mat. 
Nothing isn’t an absence. Silence isn’t nothing. I told a woman I loved her, 
and she never talked to me again. I told my mama a man hurt me,
and her hard silence told me to keep my story to myself. 
Nothing is full of something, a mass that grows where you cut at it. 
I’ve lost three aunts when white doctors told them the thing they felt 
was nothing. My aunt said nothing when it clawed at her breathing.
I sat in a room while it killed her. I am afraid when nothing keeps me 
in bed for days. I imagine what my beautiful aunts are becoming 
underground, and I cry for them in my sleep where no one can see. 
Nothing is in my bedroom, but I smell my aunt’s perfume 
and wake to my name called from nowhere. I never looked 
into a sky and said it was empty. Maybe that’s why I imagine a god 
up there to fill what seems unimaginable. Some days, I want to live 
inside the words more than my own black body. 
When the white man shoves me so that he can get on the bus first, 
when he says I am nothing but fits it inside a word, and no one stops him, 
I wear a bruise in the morning where he touched me before I was born. 
My mama’s shame spreads inside me. I’ve heard her say 
there was nothing in a grocery store she could afford. I’ve heard her tell 
the landlord she had nothing to her name. There was nothing I could do 
for the young black woman that disappeared on her way to campus. 
They found her purse and her phone, but nothing led them to her. 
Nobody was there to hold Renisha McBride’s hand 
when she was scared of dying. I worry poems are nothing against it. 
My mama said that if I became a poet or a teacher, I’d make nothing, but 
I’ve thrown words like rocks and hit something in a room when I aimed 
for a window. One student says when he writes, it feels 
like nothing can stop him, and his laugher unlocks a door. He invites me 
into his living.

This entire poem is wonderful. Right now, thinking about why one writes/what poetry is, I’m struck by her final lines: “I’ve thrown words like rocks and hit something in a room when I/aimed/for a window” and “when he writes, it feels/like nothing can stop him and his laughter unlocks/a door. He invites/me/into his living.” Wow. Words as rocks, writing as a freedom and a liberated laugh that can unlock a door.

july 6/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
77 degrees
humidity: 90%/ dew point: 71

And yet another hot morning. Had to wait a few hours until the thunder storms stopped. Not much shade, several annoying groups of walkers taking up almost the entire road. For a long stretch at the beginning, I was able to run right above the river on the trail. It almost felt normal. A wall of green made it nearly impossible to see the river but near 38th street, where some steps wind down to the part of the Winchell Trail that’s paved, I saw it! Blue, beautiful. I miss water–seeing it, swimming in it, hearing it.

Lots of puddles on the path. Not much dripping from the trees, already evaporating in the hot air. Tried reciting “Before I got my eye put out” again but it was too hot. Also tried “Love Song of the Square root of Negative One”– “I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves/ tremble but I am invisible, bloom without flower, knot/ without rope, song without throat in wingless flight, dark/ boat in the dark night, pure velocity.” I love this poem and I love reciting it even as I still don’t understand it. Would it make more sense in the context of the whole collection? I’d like to buy this collection, War of the Foxes. I do know that the square root of negative one is an imaginary number and so I wonder if this is a love song to the imagination, which makes the leaves tremble while still being invisible? I’m not sure it needs to make sense; it’s fun to memorize and recite. Such great flow and rhythms.

This morning, I found a great article from the New Yorker on Why We Should Memorize poems. Here’s one reason the author gives:

The best argument for verse memorization may be that it provides us with knowledge of a qualitatively and physiologically different variety: you take the poem inside you, into your brain chemistry if not your blood, and you know it at a deeper, bodily level than if you simply read it off a screen. Robson puts the point succinctly: “If we do not learn by heart, the heart does not feel the rhythms of poetry as echoes or variations of its own insistent beat.”

Then, while looking up the term “ars poetica,” I found this wonderful poem about memorizing a poem:

Memorizing “The Sun Rising” by John Donne/ BILLY COLLINS

Every reader loves the way he tells off 
the sun, shouting busy old fool 
into the English skies even though they 
were likely cloudy on that seventeenth-century morning.

And it’s a pleasure to spend this sunny day
pacing the carpet and repeating the words, 
feeling the syllables lock into rows
until I can stand and declare, 
the book held closed by my side,
that hours, days, and months are but the rags of time.

But after a few steps into stanza number two,
wherein the sun is blinded by his mistress’s eyes, 
I can feel the first one begin to fade 
like sky-written letters on a windy day.

And by the time I have taken in the third, 
the second is likewise gone, a blown-out candle now,
a wavering line of acrid smoke.

So it’s not until I leave the house
and walk three times around this hidden lake
that the poem begins to show
any interest in walking by my side.

Then, after my circling,
better than the courteous dominion 
of her being all states and him all princes, 

better than love’s power to shrink
the wide world to the size of a bedchamber, 

and better even than the compression
of all that into the rooms of these three stanzas
is how, after hours stepping up and down the poem,
testing the plank of every line,
it goes with me now, contracted into a little spot within.

I’d like to memorize this poem, I think. So I can spend more time with it, figuring out my favorite lines and what works, what doesn’t. In addition to his great lines about the process of memorizing the poem– “after hours of steeping up and down the poem,/ testing the plank of every line,/ it goes with me now, contracted into a little spot within”– I love how it engages with Dunne’s poem, weaving it into his own lines. I’d like to do something like this with Mary Oliver’s poem, “Invitation.”

july 5/RUN

3 miles
47th ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, north/river road, south/38th st, west/edmund, north
76% degrees
humidity: 86%/ dew point: 69

Another hot, still, sunny morning. I was able to run right above the river for a small stretch. I saw a few streaks of blue and heard the rowers! Well, just the coxswain speaking into the bullhorn in a deep, creaking voice. Not too long after that, I heard the clickity-clacks of some roller skiers. Very exciting–it almost felt like summer. (Any other summer, I’d be at open swim right now on this perfect-for-swimming day, but I’m trying not to think about that. Too sad.)

Recited “Before I got my eye put out” for another day and thought about this stanza:

So, safer — guess — with just my soul,
Opon the window pane
Where other creatures put their eyes
Incautious of the Sun —

Sometimes I am very sensitive to bright light, but much less lately, it seems. Does that mean my vision is getting worse? It’s hard to tell because I adjust to things gradually and without much effort. Like, reading. Now I mostly listen to audiobooks, with the occasional ebook. I started the one physical book I am reading, Love in the Time of Cholera, way back in March. So far, I have read about 200 pages of it in 3 1/2 months. The good thing about this gradual shift is that I don’t feel like I’ve lost something. When I can no longer see the words–when and if that happens–I won’t be reading books anymore anyway. Ah, the wonder of the body/self and their ability to accommodate!

I have more to say about this stanza involving too-muchness, safety, the need for caution, the dangers of being too cautious, what it might mean to have your soul (and why just your soul) on the window pane, but I couldn’t put all the ideas into words yet.

Came across this wonderful little poem the other day:

Ars Poetica/ Aracelis Girmay

May the poems be
the little snail’s trail.

Everywhere I go,
every inch: quiet record

of the foot’s silver prayer.
             I lived once.
             Thank you. 
             I was here.

I love this poem and its definition of poetry. The foot’s silver prayer — Wow! I’m thinking about Mary Oliver and her poems as little alleluia on the page, breathing and giving thanks.

july 2/RUN

2.5 miles
a figure 8 + extra*
77 degrees
humidity: 90%/ dew point: 75

*43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, south/33rd st, west/edmund, south/river road, south/38th st, west/edmund, north/river road, north/river road, south

Same temperature as yesterday but higher dew point and sun. Hot. Managed to recite all of the bird poems in my head as I ran. Pretty cool. Made sure to check out the aspen eyes as I ran by them. Was able to run in the shade for more than half of the run. Wanted to find a sprinkler to run under up on edmund, but the only one on wasn’t watering the street or the sidewalk today. Encountered a few other runners, walkers, 1–or was it 2?–roller skiers, bikers. Didn’t see the river. Felt strong and relaxed until around a mile and a half when I started feeling the heat. I remember hearing a black capped chickadee right before I left the house but not near the gorge. I am sure there were many birds chirping away as I ran but I don’t remember hearing them. Also don’t remember what I thought about.

black capped chickadee

This is my bird of the summer. I hear it all the time. Last night, sitting on the deck with Scott, I heard it call, “chickadeedeedeedee” right before it landed in the tree above my head. Usually, I struggle to see these small birds, but I was able to see this one. Nice!

The World Has Need of You/ Ellen Bass

everything here
seems to need us

Rainer Maria Rilke

I can hardly imagine it
as I walk to the lighthouse, feeling the ancient
prayer of my arms swinging
in counterpoint to my feet.
Here I am, suspended
between the sidewalk and twilight,
the sky dimming so fast it seems alive.
What if you felt the invisible
tug between you and everything?
A boy on a bicycle rides by,
his white shirt open, flaring
behind him like wings.
It’s a hard time to be human. We know too much
and too little. Does the breeze need us?
The cliffs? The gulls?
If you’ve managed to do one good thing,
the ocean doesn’t care.
But when Newton’s apple fell toward the earth,
the earth, ever so slightly, fell
toward the apple.

O, this poem from Bass’s collection Like a Beggar! I love how she describes walking as “the ancient/prayer of my arms swinging/in counterpoint to my feet” and being “suspended between the sidewalk and twilight.” Invisible tug is great too–another IT acronym. And, “we know too much/and too little” seems like a great theme for a set of poems to memorize.

The line, “If you’ve managed to do one good thing,/the ocean doesn’t care” reminds me of this Mary Oliver poem, which has a slightly different meaning but still speaks to the wonderful indifference of the water:

I Go Down To The Shore/ Mary Oliver

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall–
what should I do? And the seas says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

july 1/RUN

2.4 miles
river road, south/north
77 degrees
humidity: 80%/ dew point: 72

Hot today. No sun. Oppressively green. Decided to do a short run with headphones. Listened to Lorde and Beck and can’t remember who else. Saw some runners, walkers, bikers. No river views. No bird songs. No Daily Walker or the tall octogenarian in his running shorts, walking the trail. As I ran down the hill above the tunnel of trees glanced down–a thick blanket of dark green. It would probably be fine to run in that tunnel, even if I encountered someone; it seems like the real risk is being inside with other people. Still, I’m not planning to run it anytime soon.

Finished my third plague notebook–a black medium sized Field Notes notebook. These notebooks are a mix between my own notes/thoughts + quotations from books I’m reading + poems I’m liking. A commonplace book or M Foucault’s huponemata. I’d like to scan the notebooks and put them online but that seems pretty tedious and challenging for me, with my questionable vision.

Found this interesting one word image poem the other day by Aram Saroyan:

Very cool, although difficult for me to see, with my weak central vision. Makes me think of my Snellen Chart poems. I would still like to try and publish my chapbook–when I cannot see straight, I will see sideways.

Saroyan also did this poem, which I encountered on twitter about a year or two ago:

The eye word poem is also a play on a palindrome.

Palindromes

  • eye
  • eve
  • madam
  • tot
  • poop
  • refer
  • racecar
  • level
  • kayak
  • never odd or even
  • Madam, I’m Adam
  • Do geese see god?
  • Sara’s or Saras

In looking up palindromes (I was having trouble figuring out my own), I discovered this delightful variation: semordnilap. A word that spells another word backwards.

  • stressed (desserts)
  • dog (god)

june 23/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around
64 degrees

Cloudy this morning. Felt cool when I started, warm when I stopped. Ran north on edmund until I crossed over to the river road at 32nd. Saw the river for about a minute, peeking through the green. I miss being able to pay attention to the gorge, listening for rowers, admiring the river’s shine. Before crossing back over to the road, I glanced at one of the dirt trails leading into the gorge–so dark green and thick! You could get lost in there…and bit–lots of bugs near the gorge right now. They didn’t bother me while I was running, but they did last night during my evening walk with Scott and Delia.

yesterday’s rather ridiculous performance: super chill man on bike, singing

Speaking of last night, about halfway through our walk, we saw a man biking, nearing the top of a hill, just past the welcoming oaks. He was singing–what was he singing? a show tune or a love song or something like that–and had his hands resting on his knees while he was biking. He looked calm and chill and unworried about the fact that he was about to bike down a hill without having his hands on the handlebars. He looked rather ridiculous but his embracing of this ridiculousness was wonderful and delightful and brought me some joy. Usually I would judge this behavior as reckless, but he was so relaxed and ridiculous that I all I could was marvel at it. I wasn’t the only one. About a minute later, I heard some other people talking excitedly about him too. This idea of a “rather ridiculous performance” is a line from Mary Oliver’s “Invitation”: “I beg of you/do not walk by/without pausing/to attend to this/rather ridiculous performance.” Maybe I’ll try to make a list of the rather ridiculous performances I encounter/witness?

I recited “invitation” a few more times on my run. I did a better job of not getting distracted. I thought about the line, “you must change your life” and about how much (and sometimes how little) COVID-19 has changed my life. And I thought about how many of the changes have been less about will and more about letting go–staying home, doing “nothing,” listening. When I finished my run, I recited the poem into my phone. Listening back to it, I’m struck by my mistakes, especially my saying “competition” instead of winning. Winning sounds so much better rhythmically. Also, my choice to say “this” is a serious thing instead of “it” and “their” ridiculous performance instead of “this”.

Invitation, june 23

I love Ours Poetica and I love this poem about aphids and foolishly telling off the nosy, stern older lady–“the town’s most successful corporate attorney’s mother”:

june 21/RUN

3.5 miles
47th ave to 32nd st to river road to edmund to river road
66 degrees/ humidity: 83%

A beautiful morning for a run. Calm, sunny, cooler. Lots of birds, a nice breeze. Did some triple berry chants–strawberry, blueberry, raspberry–for a few minutes, then some 3/2–mystery/is solved, running on/the road. For a stretch, I listened to all of the sounds–black capped chickadees, cardinals, crows, a woodpecker. Wind gently shaking the leaves in the trees, a rock song blasting from a bike radio. Saw one stray bit of white fuzz from a cottonwood tree and a few aspen eyes. Didn’t see the river or hear any rowers down below. No roller skiers. Also, no troops of synchronized roller-bladers this year. For the past 2 or 3 summers, I’ve noticed a group of 4 men roller-blading on the bike path, sometimes accompanied by a coach on a bike. So fast and graceful and in sync–swinging their arms in unison. Not this year. Maybe I’m not running early enough this summer?

I’m still thinking about You (second person) in poems. Here’s one of my favorite You poems by Mary Oliver. I love this poem so much, I wrote a poem about it–a poem I’m not quite happy with but might be someday. Anyway, here’s Oliver’s poem:

Invitation/ Mary Oliver

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
melodiously
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude—
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in this broken world.
I beg of you

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant when he wrote,
You much change your life.

june 20/RUN

2 miles
36th to 42nd to 36th
65 degrees

A short run with Scott this morning. Crowded out on the road with lots of groups of bikers and runners and walkers. Not too hot or windy. Still green. Very green. Don’t remember hearing any birds, although I’m sure they were making noise. What else did I miss while Scott and I were busy cranking about a biker biking too close or walkers social distance-ing across the entire road? A lot, I’m sure. Fairly certain I didn’t see any floating cottonwood. No roller skiers, no Daily Walker, no music blasting from bike speakers.

Oh, this beautiful poem I found on twitter yesterday, “The Stuff of Astounding: A Poem for Juneteenth.” Patricia Smith is amazing–the words here and the form. I love the idea of making another poem out of the last word of each line.

june 19/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/river road, south
65 degrees
dew point: 60

Ran north on the river road today towards downtown. A little cooler, sunny, less wind. Listened to some birds–I can’t remember if they were cardinals or bluebirds or finches or something else–and the rush of the traffic on the freeway a mile down the road. Didn’t think about any of the poems I’ve been memorizing or the significance of doors as ways into something. Didn’t think about COVID-19 or whether or not the schools would be open in the fall. Didn’t think about much of anything. Remember my feet striking a few clumps of wet leaves on the road, running over some mud on the grass. Everything was wet from the rain last night. I wonder how muggy and buggy and dripping the tunnel of trees is today?

I am writing this log entry on my deck and it is delightful. So many sounds! Cardinals close by, another type of chirping bird farther away. A plane, some traffic–is it on lake street or across the river? Sizzling leaves. Buzzing flies. The clicking of my computer keys. A random wind chime. A kid whining. The pop–or thud? or crack?–of an air conditioner starting up next door. A car door closing, the door to a house slamming. The rumble of a motor, needing to be serviced. Feet shuffling through some grit in the alley.

And I am sitting here, thinking about You–writing in second person–wondering what poem to post as a great example of it. Then, I came across this one (which I had already seen on an instagram post earlier this morning) and knew I had found it:

won’t you celebrate with me/ Lucille Clifton

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

june 12/RUN

3.25 miles
trestle turn around
65 degrees

What a beautiful morning! Sunny, not too warm, not too windy. Managed to run mostly in the shade. Thought about running through the welcoming oaks on the trails but decided it might be too crowded. Greeted them silently from afar. Didn’t see my shadow or the river. Didn’t hear any rowers or roller skiers. No birds circling the sky. No cottonwood sticking to the sweat on my face. No annoying gnats or squirrels. Don’t remember thinking about anything. Ran near a sprinkler–the one that has been watering the grass, the sidewalk, the street, every morning this week. On Wednesday I was able to get a quick shower on my shins from the sprinkler. Not today.

Decided to stop at the bottom of edmund to recite the Emily Dickinson poem before running up the hill. I talked with more confidence into the phone, not carrying if any of the runners or walkers nearby heard me. I’m getting better.

I dwell, june 12

And here’s another alphabet poem. I love playing around with the alphabet!

O/ Claire Wahmanholm

Once there was an opening, an operation: out of which oared the ocean, then oyster and oystercatcher, opal and opal-crowned tanager. From ornateness came the ornate flycatcher and ornate fruit dove. From oil, the oilbird. O is for opus, the Orphean warbler’s octaves, the oratorio of orioles. O for the osprey’s ostentation, the owl and its collection of ossicles. In October’s ochre, the orchard is overgrown with orange and olive, oleander and oxlip. Ovals of dew on the oatgrass. O for obsidian, onyx, ore, for boreholes like inverted obelisks. O for the onion’s concentric O’s, observable only when cut, for the opium oozing from the poppy’s globe only when scored. O for our organs, for the os of the cervix, the double O’s of the ovaries plotted on the body’s plane to mark the origin. O is the orbit that cradles the eye. The oculus opens an O to the sky, where the starry outlines of men float like air bubbles between us and oblivion. Once there were oarfish, opaleyes, olive flounders. Once the oxbows were not overrun with nitrogen. O for the mussels opening in the ocean’s oven. O for the rising ozone, the dropping oxygen, for algae overblooming like an omen or an oracle. O Earth, out-gunned and out-manned. O who holds the void inside itself. O who has made orphans of our hands.

My love of alphabets reminds me of the collection of kids ABC books I inherited from my mom when she died. I should look at them, be inspired by them. Should I do an ABC book about the gorge (or the gorge in a pandemic, or running by the gorge, or running by the gorge in a pandemic?).

june 11/RUN

3 miles
2.5 mile loop + extra
65 degrees

About once or twice every month during this pandemic, I’ve had a day where I feel really unsettled and uncomfortable. A little fatigued, tightness in my throat, harder to breathe–not in my lungs but in my nose and throat. That is happening today, so I decided to listen to a playlist during my run and try and forget about it. Success. Felt much better during and right after my run.

What a beautiful morning, although I wish it wasn’t so windy. Sun, some clouds, a few glimpses of my shadow, some shade. No river views. Lots of green. Encountered bikers, walkers, runners, and a troop (6 or so) roller skiers on the road. Didn’t see the Daily Walker or any cottonwood floating through the sky. No sparkling water. I don’t remember what I thought about while I ran–anything? Don’t trip in that pothole, maybe?

Here’s another poem that mentions a door: “What if we wake one shimmering morning to/Hear the fierce hammering/Of his firm knuckles/Hard on the door?” Door as entrance to willful ignorance/exit leading to truth

truth/ GWENDOLYN BROOKS

And if sun comes
How shall we greet him?
Shall we not dread him,
Shall we not fear him
After so lengthy a
Session with shade?

Though we have wept for him,
Though we have prayed
All through the night-years—
What if we wake one shimmering morning to
Hear the fierce hammering
Of his firm knuckles
Hard on the door?

Shall we not shudder?—
Shall we not flee
Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter
Of the familiar
Propitious haze?

Sweet is it, sweet is it
To sleep in the coolness
Of snug unawareness.

The dark hangs heavily
Over the eyes.

Woke up this morning thinking in alliteration: Some Saras sit, some Saras stand, some Saras stretch their limbs in the sand. Why? Not sure. Spent a few minutes in delight, writing out some more lines. This exercise is distracting me, making me feel better.

Alice asks Agatha about Aunt Anne’s asthma.
Bob better buy butter.
Claudia cuts cuticles carefully.
Derek doesn’t do dishes.
Even Evelyn eagerly eats eggplant.
For fourteen fortnights Fred farted ferociously (or Fred fretted fervently?).
Generous Gretel gives giant gifts.
How high Harold’s hats hang!
Isabel ignores idiots.
Joking Jackie jests.
Kissing Kate kills.
Lecherous Lonnie’s lascivious laughter lingers loudly.
Millie mutters malevolent mantras.
No nonsense Nancy needs normal neighbors.
Oliver organizes outrageous outings.
Please plant Patty’s precious petunias promptly!
Quit questioning quarantines Quint!
Rosie recognizes rude Ricks readily.
Susan soothes sad, sobbing Sandra.
Terrible Todd taunts timid toddlers.
Ursula’s urges unsettle us.
Veronica Vaughn’s vests vanished.
Walt Whitman wanders west.
Xavier xeroxes xylophones.
Yolanda’s yurt yellowed yesterday.
Zach’s zesty zebra? Zero zen.

june 10/RUN

4.1 miles
minnehaha falls and back
60 degrees
humidity: 77%/ dew point: 52

Felt much cooler today. Windy. Overcast. Ran all the way to the falls for the first time in several months. Managed to see the river. Noticed how one of my favorite views during the winter–the spot just past the oak savanna, where the mesa dips down to meet the river–was completely hidden behind a wall of green. The falls were gushing. Someone was setting up the bike surreys as I reached it. Minnehaha creek was rushing. Heard at least one woodpecker; don’t remember any other birds. Encountered some bikes, walkers, runners. Heard but didn’t see the clickity-clack of at least one roller skier. Anything else? Happily ran over some grit and listened to it crunch. Almost tripped on a pothole on the other side of turkey hollow.

While I ran, I recited “I dwell in Possibility” several times. Thought about pulling out my phone and reciting it as I ran but didn’t. One day, I’ll finally do it. Love the rhythm of: “And for an everlasting Roof/The Gambrels of the Sky–” About a minute after I finished running, I recorded myself reciting it into my phone. How could I mess up the last line?

I dwell in Possibility, june 10

I really appreciate the prowling Bee’s analysis of the poem:

What is possible is, again by definition, more vast and varied than the Prose world of observation and logic. It is the world of imagination and of poetry. Little wonder Dickinson finds her imaginative world – her true dwelling – “fairer” than the cramped quarters of the prosaic, that is to say, her actual, physical house and home. Possibility has more doors and windows – the better to let in light and to look out of!

Yet there is a wonderful privacy, too. Those “superior” doors have a dual purpose. And despite the numerous windows, there are private “Chambers” as “Impregnable” to the eye as a cedar tree. The poet can be as reclusive as she wishes in this marvelous house.

I love the idea of the freedom the doors and windows bring and the privacy they allow. They’re both an entry into a bigger, fairer world and an escape/protection from an restrictive, oppressive one.

Found a poem on twitter this morning from Donika Kelly who wrote Bestiary–which I just checked out of the library and that has a poem about a door. Here’s the one I found and the door one:

Perhaps you tire of birds/ Donika Kelly

But the yellow-beaked night bird–

in the moonlight,
in the clover,
in the deep deep grass—

could hold me,
always, in the swell
of her little eye.

O, my scouring eye
that scrubs clean

the sky and blossomed tree.
O, my heart that breaks

like a bone. O my bones,
full and flying.

Self-Portrait as a Door/ Donika Kelly

All the birds die of blunt force trauma—
of barn of wire of YIELD or SLOW
CHILDREN AT PLAY. You are a sign
are a plank are a raft are a felled oak.
You are a handle are a turn are a bit
of brass lovingly polished.
What birds what bugs what soft
hand come knocking. What echo
what empty what room in need
of a picture a mirror a bit of paint
on the wall. There is a hooked rug
There is a hand hard as you are hard
pounding the door. There is the doormat
owl eye patched by a boot by a body
with a tree for a hand. What roosts
what burrows what scrambles
at the pound. There is a you
on the other side, cold and white
as the room, in need of a window
or an eye. There is your hand
on the door which is now the door
pretending to be a thing that opens.

Wow! I’m looking forward to reading Bestiary today. What a wonderful poet!

june 9/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees
humidity: 56%/ dew point: 59

Warm, but low humidity. Sunny, green, calm, relaxed. Encountered many bikers and walkers but was able to keep a good distance from all of them. Couldn’t get close enough to the river to see it but did hear the coxswain calmly directing the rowers, her voice amplified by a bullhorn. I wish I could have seen the rowers and the sparkling water. How many rowers were in the shell? Can you properly social distance in those things?

note: was planning to write about how sad it is that open swim is starting today and I won’t be doing it and how frustrated and confused I am by how so many other people seem to think we don’t need to social distance or be careful anymore, but I decided to leave it out. Still, I wanted to make note of it and how it casts a shadow over this time and my log entry today.

Didn’t recite “voiceover” as I ran today…it’s probably time to move onto another poem. Because of the heat and humidity and how difficult that makes it to think about anything but how hot and humid it is, I’m wondering if I should adjust my poem list and memorize some that are short and rhythmic. Yes. I think I’ll memorize some more Emily Dickinson. When I didn’t feel motivated to recite “voiceover” today, I recited “It’s all I have to bring today” instead. I love Emily Dickinson. And I love this poem about possibility, especially after reading the prowling Bee’s analysis!

I dwell in Possibility – (466)/ EMILY DICKINSON

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

This poem fits with my theme of inner and outer–it, along with Smith’s “Threshold” and Dove’s “Voiceover” feature doors.

Smith: “passing through doorway after doorway after doorway” and “but any open space may be a threshold, an arch, of entering and leaving.”
Dove: “We walk back and forth without a twitch…with only the occasional stubbed toe…The keyhole sees nothing”

Door as a way in, way out, to pass through, to close, to open, to protect, to retreat, to keep private, a barrier, a limit.