may 20/RUN

5.2 miles
franklin loop
54 degrees

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

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

Emily and Walt/Campbell McGrath

may 17/RUN

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

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

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

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

The Poetry of Place

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

Field Guide to the Chaparral
Leah Naomi Green

The fire beetle only mates
when the chaparral is burning,

and the water beetle
will only mate in the rain.

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

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

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

that I love you with.
When we get home,

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

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

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

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

The Buddhists say
that the front of the paper

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

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

and the tattered chaps
the mappers wore

through it because they had to,
to keep walking without

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

Chaparral needs fire.
(The pinecones would not open

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

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

may 15/RUN

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

I caught the cold that’s been lingering in my house for a few weeks. Decided that a run might help and it did. Counted the number of biggish boulders on the way to the falls: 5–3 bigger, 2 smaller. Ran above, by the road, on the way there, then down below on the way back. Heard some trickling water coming out of the sewer pipes. Well, the first time was more drip drop drizzling while the second was more streaming. Not quite gushing or rushing but more forceful than seeping or trickling.

What else do I remember?

  • Hearing one woman say to her biking partner, “I’m good at running…” and then anticipating her answer: “a marathon.” Her actual answer? “a small business.” Thought about the different uses of run.
  • The bright orange (or were they pink?) running tights on a woman who passed me near the end of my run.
  • Feeling my blood pounding in my ears after I stopped because of my cold.

I Don’t Know What You’re Called, I’ll Call You by Your Sounds
Susan Landers

dew grass a fire shine
mountain a lung
pine cone the bone
tsunami rock hawk jaw
gravity a fall all consuming
a song chirp for sunlight
spine daggers cracking
the sky an ocean paused in its crashing
creature shake trip whistle
rustle nut squirrel swish
stump thunder or thump
thump a swallowing
you beautiful urchin
you rot mound of moss.

may 14/RUN

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

A nice morning for a run. Hardly any wind. Clear paths. Today, running south, I noticed the big boulders lining the path. How many? 5 or 6 spread out on the way to the falls. Ran the first half with headphones up above. The second, without down below, on the old path. Didn’t really look at the river much because I was tired and too focused on avoiding potholes and cracks. Heard the water falling (not trickling or gushing) down through the sewer pipe near 42nd street. Stopped at the drinking fountain at 35th street parking lot.

Birds Punctuate the Days
Joyce Clement

apostrophe
the nuthatch inserts itself
between feeder and pole

semicolon
two mallards drifting
one dunks for a snail

ellipses
a mourning dove
lifts off

asterisk
a red-eyed vireo catches
the crane fly midair

comma
a down feather
bobs between waves

exclamation point
wren on the railing
takes notice

colon
mergansers paddle toward
morning trout swirl

em dash
at dusk a wild goose
heading east

question mark
the length of silence
after a loon’s call

period
one blue egg all summer long
now gone

I love these haikus. My favorite? exclamation point/wren on the railing/takes notice

may 13/RUN

5.2 miles
franklin loop
59 degrees

A beautiful morning. Sunny, calm, warm. A difficult run. My legs felt very tired and my nose was stuffed up from allergies. Walked several times. Told myself not to feel bad about it so I didn’t. Hard to feel bad when it’s so nice outside. Stopped at the overlook on the Lake Street Bridge again to watch the water. Calm, smooth. Maybe this is my new thing for the spring/summer? Check out how the river is doing from the bridge?

Some other things I remember from the run:

  • So many big boulders. This morning, while reading up on the history of the Mississippi River Gorge, I encountered this sentence about the 36th street parking lot: “Boulders deposited as glacial ice retreated.” Thought about this as I ran by many big rocks, which were mostly not too big–only 2 or 3 feet high. Amazing to try to think about how old these rocks are. And how heavy. And how much they’ve witnessed.
  • The dude I passed on the St. Paul side, right by the railroad trestle is tall! I passed him almost at the same spot on Friday and thought about how tall he was then too. Such long legs which looked a little strange combined with his shorter torso. I wonder, will I see him again at this spot?

I forgot to chant. Maybe that was my problem? No raspberry/strawberry/blueberry rhythm?

Joy
BY MILLER OBERMAN

Like the time I dreamt about a loon family,
just some common loons—not metaphors
in any way, just real loons in a lake swimming
near each other so it was clear they were a set,
preferring each other’s company in the cold
still lake with its depth of reflected pines.
The curve of their black heads and sleek
necks, black and white stripes then checks
on their folded wings, floating so low
atop their reflections they almost seem
inside them. Their wails like wolves, their
calls like an echo without origin, their
calls like an echo of lake, or what makes lake
lake. How nice to think the male and female
loons cannot be told apart by their plumage
and that they build a nest and sit on eggs
together. One of their calls is called “tremolo.”

This poem is in the May 2019 issue of Poetry. So many lines I love: “just some common loons–not metaphors” “just real loons in a lake swimming” “floating so low/atop their reflections they almost seem/
inside them” “wails like wolves, their/calls like an echo without origin” “an echo of a lake, or what makes lake/lake.”

may 11/RUN

4.8 miles
to stone arch bridge
62 degrees

Decided to run to Stone Arch Bridge and meet up with Scott and FWA after his clarinet lesson. Side note: I almost didn’t because I had a big breakfast (eggs, fake sausage, hash brown, english muffin) less than 2 hours earlier. But I went for it and surprisingly all the food didn’t give me cramps or make me feel sick. Another nice day for a run. Sunny. The wind off to the side. The path wasn’t too crowded. I heard some rowers on the river! Saw some roller skiers–one was going so slow up a hill that I almost passed them walking. Encountered lots of bikes going fast down the Franklin Hill–25 or 30 mph or more? One bug didn’t quite make it into my eye but got stuck in my eyelash. Another died on my nose. I could see some small black thing out of the corner of my eye. Everything is green. A nice yellowish green. Took a walk break at the bottom of Franklin hill right by the river. It’s so high this spring and moving fast. Took another walk break halfway up the 35W bridge hill. Then ran the rest of the way, finishing right after passing lots of people sitting on the steps outside the Guthrie for the Mill City Market.

For the past few days, I’ve been writing some haibuns (prose poem + haiku). Here are a few haikus I encountered while trying to get some inspiration:

from Haiku Journey/Kimberly Blaeser

may’s errant mustard
spreads wild across paved road
look both ways

from Blue Octavo Haiku/Rachel Wetzsteon

In fat armchairs sat
indolence and impatience,
plotting my downfall

  *

A wicked cage flew
across the long horizon
searching for a bird.

  *

may 10/RUN

5.2 miles
franklin loop
52 degrees

Sunny. Calm. Hardly any wind. Noisy birds. Showy green grass. Modest trees, covering their bare branches with so many leaves. A great morning for a run. It felt pretty good at first, but harder as it went on. When I reached the river road, 1/4 mile in, I greeted every single oak lining the path. “Good morning!” “Good morning!” “Good morning!” “Good morning!” and a few, “hello friend!” “hello friend!” Tried continuing to good morning all the vegetation lining the rim of the gorge (in my head, not out loud). This helped to steady my running and was a nice way to warm up during the first mile. By the time I reached the Franklin Bridge 2 1/2 miles in, my left leg was feeling tight and a bit sore. I kept running, distracting myself by looking at the river and noticing a strange net near the railroad bridge. I planned to stop when I got closer to see what it was but I didn’t. Wanted to stop and walk just before mile 3 but didn’t. Noticed that the Meeker Dog Park was closed “due to high water.” Walked up the steep hill, listening to water trickling, then gushing out of the gorge. Took the steps up the Marshall/Lake St Bridge and thought about the eagle that used to perch on the dead branch of the tree next to the stairs. Where did it go? Also noticed on the stairs how the lamp posts have sharp looking spikes at the top. Is this to keep eagles and other birds off? Ran past the old stone steps in the final mile and chanted, old stone steps old stone steps–even though those steps aren’t that old. In the limited research I’ve done, I think they were put in around 2002. Were there other steps there before?

I liked my line above about the modest trees and their desire to cover up. Reminds me of a winter poem describing the unclothing of trees:

Winter Trees
William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

Now I’m thinking about layers and how, just as I start stripping down, taking off layers, wearing less clothing, the trees are doing the opposite by covering up. I think there’s a poem there–maybe a haibun!

may 9/BIKERUNBIKE

bike: 20 minutes
run: 1.2 miles
basement, bike stand/treadmill
raining and 25 mph wind

Cold and windy today. There was a possibility of snow, but thankfully it never happened. 2.5 hours north in Duluth they got 8.5 inches. Glad to have the treadmill and my bike in the basement. Soon the bike will be liberated and we will travel to lake nokomis–open swim starts in a month!!–but not today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Mississippi River and my running routes along it, wanting to create a collection of poems highlighting landmarks on my run. Here’s a poem about the Mississippi River Gorge for inspiration (I don’t think I’ve posted this before.) Did you know that the Mississippi River Gorge, 4 blocks from my house, is a National Park? So cool.

And the Old Man Speaks of Paradise: a Ghazal
Wang Ping, 1957

Do not move. Let me speak of a river in paradise
A turquoise gift from fiery stars that is paradise

How do you measure a river’s weight, color, smell, touch?
How do you feel the veins of sand in a breathing paradise?

Eons of earth story, long before rocks, plants or bones
Bulging with flesh and blood in every corner of paradise

You call me Old Man, 12,000 years old, but really I’m a baby of
River Warren, swollen with glacier water flooding the paradise

My torso sloughed by old ice, two cities on sandstone bluffs
Headwaters of a 2350-mile road towards the gulf of paradise

A walk along the beach, a bag of rocks, fossils and agates
Each tells stories of the river, land & life—a kinship of paradise

Come to me at dawn or dusk, by foot, canoe or a single shell
To greet eagles, cranes, fox, trees…a ten-mile gorge of paradise

Gar, bass, goldeye, redhorse, bowfin, stoneroller, buffalo, drum, sunfish
Sickleback, darter, walleye, dace, mooneye…in the waves of paradise

The St. Anthony Fall that walked up 10 miles from Fort Snelling
Clams and shells in Kasota stones—layered history of paradise

Put your fingers into the bluff, and pull a handful of sand
From the Ordovician sea, each perfect to make a paradise

From time to time, I take you into the amniotic womb
A reminder of our origin from a black, red, white, blue paradise

Do not dam me. To move freely is to evolve is to live
Lock feeds fear feeds hate feeds violence to the base of paradise

The Mississippi, temple on earth, home of all living things
Would you tread with love, through the heart of paradise?

We are water—H2O—two hands under an open heart
Pulsing, dissolving, bonding the earth to a green paradise

Stop seeking before or after life, for a paradise
Already in us, in each cell of being that is paradise

may 7/RUN

4 miles
one way to lake nokomis
61 degrees
28% humidity!

Wow. Nice weather. Loved being outside on this sunny, warm, just a slight breeze day. In certain moments, the run felt great. But only in moments. This week, the runs are much harder.

I came up with some more chants which I’m not sure I remember. Lots of raspberry strawberry blueberry creme brûlée vanilla butterscotch chocolate. Here are some more–some I composed mid-run, some right now:

I run down
river road
to the falls
then the lake
beautiful
gorge below
blue and green
magical
mystery
water’s high
path is low
creek is clear
echo bridge
walk the hill
ugly tree
thick black pods
locust tree?
startled mom
round about
little beach
missed my turn
double back
lift the knees
wipe the sweat
water please!
a slight breeze
leafing trees
a lone duck
Sea Salt smells
Dairy Queen
rushing cars
iced out lake
mucky shore
on your left
zooming bike

Here’s a great poem I found from the poet who changed my life (it was her “please add this to the list” book that re-ignited my love of poetry):

Leg of Lamb / Bernadette Meyer

A line
Break could reflect
The way the sun breaks
Through the clouds or breakfast
Or, this rainbow begins here
And then’s over
There
The aurora borealis can be
All over the sky
Wherever you look
Not in one place
Like north
Up and down
East and west, southwest
Sid-saddle, acrobatic as a squirrel
Is an e-mail directional?
I guess I’ll just think
And be as smart as in dreams
So they won’t come to get me
And take me away to
Zanzibar, the mental asylum, the hospital
The jail, turn the line’n you wind up in
Antarctica Australia Mesoamerica mesothelioma
The middle of nowhere somewhere
Where somehow you’ve left all the slush
Behind back there where the line begins, ends
Do we notice? Yes
Are we sorry? No, maybe, always
Sometimes never we will never come to an end because
Starting over’s our addiction, a dead
End and where does that leave
Us?
  

may 6/RUN

3.75 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
53 degrees

Another beautiful spring day. Windier but not too warm. Greeted the welcoming oaks at the beginning of my run, the Daily Walker at the end. It felt difficult–my legs were sore, my nose was stuffed up. Don’t remember much about the run except for that it was hard to be inspired and enjoy it when it felt difficult. Many more leaves on the trees. Bright, light green. Turning around, heading back, I took off my sweatshirt. As I ran I tried to remember what I noticed when I ran through one particular stretch of the path. I couldn’t remember anything. That minute or two lost forever. Saw the silver roof of the maintenance building on the St. Paul side–at least, I think that’s what it is. I noticed it a few times this year, so bright and blinding. Chanted my usual a few times: raspberry strawberry blueberry creme brûlée.

After finishing and walking back, I came up with a 3 beat chant:

I run through
the oak grove
and call out
to each oak
good morning
good morning
good morning
good morning
they call back
hello friend

experiment

Create 3 beat phrases, mostly based on the run. Write them on slips of paper, put them face down on the desk, pick twelve. Make a poem, using them in the order they were picked. Rearrange the phrases to make another poem.

too much green
difficult
mystery
take the steps
aching legs
in the gorge
climate change
up so high
be right back
old stone steps
good morning
stop and walk

good morning
too much green
in the gorge
difficult
mystery
take the steps
old stone steps
up so high
aching legs
stop and walk
be right back
climate change

hmmm…I’ll have to work on this experiment. Not great so far. Thinking about the old stone steps, this afternoon I took Delia for a walk down them to the river. First, we waited for a woman to come up. She paused about three steps down and gazed at the river, the forest, the deep gorge. As she left I remarked, “It’s beautiful.” She said, “like another world.” So true. Taking those steps down to the forest floor is magical. And that view–gorg(e)ous (groan).

Here’s a cool map poem I found this morning in an article about concrete poetry and poems as maps.

I’m thinking it might be fun to try one of these for a running route poem.

may 4/RUN

2.25 miles
mississippi river road, north/south/north
71 degrees

Is everyone in Minneapolis out biking today? It seems like it. I’m glad I ran instead. I would have been scared to be on such crowded bike trails with my bad vision today. Not being able to bike as much as I’d like sucks. Did a combination of running and walking because I just ran 6 miles yesterday. So warm and sunny! My legs felt sore. Do I remember much of the run? Big groups of bikes on the road and the path. Not too many runners. Lots of traffic. The river was beautiful. What a day!

some 3 beat phrases:

what a day
it’s so hot
lots of bikes
stopped to walk
sun beats down
not much wind
green abounds
afternoon
legs are sore

eat my shorts
dive right in
shut your mouth
eat your greens
take the steps
on your left
river road

Summer Haibun
Aimee Nezhukumatathil

To everything, there is a season of parrots. Instead of feathers, we searched the sky for meteors on our last night. Salamanders use the stars to find their way home. Who knew they could see that far, fix the tiny beads of their eyes on distant arrangements of lights so as to return to wet and wild nests? Our heads tilt up and up and we are careful to never look at each other. You were born on a day of peaches splitting from so much rain and the slick smell of fresh tar and asphalt pushed over a cracked parking lot. You were strong enough—even as a baby—to clutch a fistful of thistle and the sun himself was proud to light up your teeth when they first swelled and pushed up from your gums. And this is how I will always remember you when we are covered up again: by the pale mica flecks on your shoulders. Some thrown there from your own smile. Some from my own teeth. There are not enough jam jars to can this summer sky at night. I want to spread those little meteors on a hunk of still-warm bread this winter. Any trace left on the knife will make a kitchen sink like that evening air

the cool night before
star showers: so sticky so
warm so full of light

I’ve talked about it for awhile but I’d finally like to try writing a few haibuns about my running routes. A goal for this month! This example from Aimee Nezhukumatathil is beautiful. I love the line, “There are not enough jam jars to can this summer sky at night.”


may 3/RUN

6 miles
franklin hill turnaround
54 degrees

Almost an hour long run–my goal amount of time. An hour is not too long to be worn out but long enough to really sink into a run. I’d love to run an hour almost every day. Will my body ever let me?

I don’t really remember what I thought about but I do remember:

  • small, light purple (lilac?) flowers blooming in some bushes at the side of the path…I noticed them through my peripheral vision
  • the smell of warming earth, slightly fragrant (not too much or too little, just right)
  • a bald eagle perched on the branch of a tree in the flats…it stayed motionless the whole time I ran by it, almost as if it was doing it just to make sure I could positively identify it, even with my bad vision…once I had, I lost track of it either because it flew away or because it got lost in the dead zones in my central vision that my chaotic cones create
  • 2 different runners, one near the beginning of my run the other at the end, passing me, running effortlessly, inspiring me to pick up my knees more and try to spend more time flying, less time shuffling
  • unlayering: removing my orange sweatshirt mid run and tying it around my waist as I ran down the franklin hill
  • a group of school kids biking south on the river road…encountered them first in the flats, later past franklin, then again under the lake street bridge…one kid called out, “greetings pedestrian!”
  • so much green in the gorge!
  • a biker calling out to me as I ran up the steep, long franklin hill, “you’re doing a great job on a tough hill!”
  • a walker calling out to me as I walked at the top…not sure what he said, something about my legs?
  • chanting raspberry/strawberry/blueberry/creme brule to steady my tempo
  • chanting there’s a bridge/there’s a bridge/at the top/at the top/look at it/look at it/never stop/never stop to keep me running up the hill
  • trickling, gurgling water in the flats near the limestone hill where the mudslide occurred a few years ago
  • glancing at the beautiful blue river
  • running with my shadow, first at my side, then leading me

Speaking of chanting, I have a new exercise I want to try. First, I want to think up a bunch of 3 syllable phrases (down the hill, walk to work, eat down town, out the door, sunday best, monday worst, turnip greens, climate change, just say please, in and out…). Then I’ll write these on small slips of paper and put them in a hat or a bowl or a bag. I’ll randomly pick out 8-10 and turn them into a poem (either in the order I select them or in an order of my choosing). Maybe the phrases should be a mixture of things from the run and popular or whimsical expressions? So much fun!

Oh, this poem! “We are engorged, gorging, and gorgeous”

Life is Beautiful
BY DORIANNE LAUX

                             and remote, and useful,
if only to itself. Take the fly, angel
of the ordinary house, laying its bright
eggs on the trash, pressing each jewel out
delicately along a crust of buttered toast.
Bagged, the whole mess travels to the nearest
dump where other flies have gathered, singing
over stained newsprint and reeking
fruit. Rapt on air they execute an intricate
ballet above the clashing pirouettes
of heavy machinery. They hum with life.
While inside rumpled sacks pure white
maggots writhe and spiral from a rip,
a tear-shaped hole that drools and drips
a living froth onto the buried earth.
The warm days pass, gulls scree and pitch,
rats manage the crevices, feral cats abandon
their litters for a morsel of torn fur, stranded
dogs roam open fields, sniff the fragrant edges,
a tossed lacework of bones and shredded flesh.
And the maggots tumble at the center, ripening,
husks membrane-thin, embryos darkening
and shifting within, wings curled and wet,
the open air pungent and ready to receive them
in their fecund iridescence. And so, of our homely hosts,
a bag of jewels is born again into the world. Come, lost
children of the sun-drenched kitchen, your parents
soundly sleep along the windowsill, content,
wings at rest, nestled in against the warm glass.
Everywhere the good life oozes from the useless
waste we make when we create—our streets teem
with human young, rafts of pigeons streaming
over the squirrel-burdened trees. If there is
a purpose, maybe there are too many of us
to see it, though we can, from a distance,
hear the dull thrum of generation’s industry,
feel its fleshly wheel churn the fire inside us, pushing
the world forward toward its ragged edge, rushing
like a swollen river into multitude and rank disorder.
Such abundance. We are gorged, engorging, and gorgeous.

may 2/RUN

3.4 miles
mississippi river road path, south/mississippi river trail, north
46 degrees

About half of this run was on the paved path above the Mississippi River. I ran faster, listening to my latest running playlist, looking down at the river, leaning into the wind. The other half, after I turned around and made my way back up the hill and over the double bridge, was on a (mostly) abandoned trail midway above the gorge. First it was dirt, then broken chunks of asphalt mixed with mulching leaves, then slightly cracked asphalt sloping to one side. I put away my headphones and listened to water trickling. I watched the river flowing down to the falls. Studied the trail, trying not to twist my ankle or slip on some wet leaves. The first half was flat and faster, the second undulating mini hills winding around the gorge. I encountered runners and walkers and dogs and their owners. My most memorable interaction was with a chipmunk that darted out in front of me. A first–usually only squirrels cross my path. I can recall one other time a chipmunk darted in front of me. Biking with my daughter on the 5 mile wooded trail to Fort Snelling, a chipmunk scurried across the path and right into my wheel. Did it make it through the spokes or was it hit and then flung to the side? Just talked to my daughter about this story and she says that the chipmunk definitely made it through the spokes.I’m not sure, but it was knocked out or dead, lying on the side of the trail. Sad and strange.

Why are they called chipmunks? Here’s what Merriam Webster has to say: alteration of earlier chitmunk, probably from Ojibwa ačitamo·nʔ red squirrel

I call them chippies and, like squirrels and other rodents, find them to be irritating. They used to live in the garage of our old house and now, at our new one, they like to get trapped in the gutter on the side of the house, chirping and chipping and freaking out the dog.

I love this poem I found on The Rumpus for many reasons, including: the repetition and expansion and the flipping (and critique) of the nature poem about a mountain,

ANOTHER POEM ABOUT A MOUNTAIN/joseph rios

Another poem about a mountain
that wants to be about a Mexican
fertilizing the lawn at a ski resort
at the foot of a mountain.

Another poem about a mountain
that wants to be about a Chicano
attending a holistic retreat
at a ski resort looking out a window
at a Mexican fertilizing the lawn
at the foot of a mountain.

Another poem about a mountain
that wants to be about a boy
who mows lawns with his father
then grows up to be a poet
looking out a window
at a Mexican fertilizing the lawn
at the foot of a mountain.

Another poem about a mountain
that wants to be about a gardener
mowing the lawn outside a hospital
in Fresno, which, like this, sits
between two rows of mountain,
where the boy cried for his father
and his brother, the convicted felon
with dog paws tattooed to his neck,
hugged him for the first time, long before
the boy came to the ski resort to write about
the man fertilizing the foot of the mountain.

april 30/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
40 degrees
light rain

I love running when it’s lightly raining. I could hear the drops falling on the bill of my cap but didn’t really feel them. The wind was barely blowing so the drops fell straight down and not into my face. Passed the Daily Walker early on. Encountered a few other runners and walkers. Heard some geese high above. Some voices down below me–were they rowers on the river? Not sure. Felt relaxed and strong. Chanted some triplet rhythms: strawberry/raspberry/blueberry. Thought about the summer and other things that I can’t remember. Noticed that the turnoff to a street that I’d like to run up is 2.6 miles from my house. Marveled at the beautiful green down in the gorge and the slivers of river that I can still see. Listened to the shuffling of the sand under my feet. Almost forgot–I could really smell the rain: chemicals, earth, warmth.

Wanted to find a poem about spring rain. Love the imagery in this one:

Two Sewing
Hazel Hall

The Wind is sewing with needles of rain.
With shining needles of rain
It stitches into the thin
Cloth of earth. In,
In, in, in.
Oh, the wind has often sewed with me.
One, two, three.

Spring must have fine things
To wear like other springs.
Of silken green the grass must be
Embroidered. One and two and three.
Then every crocus must be made
So subtly as to seem afraid
Of lifting colour from the ground;
And after crocuses the round
Heads of tulips, and all the fair
Intricate garb that Spring will wear.
The wind must sew with needles of rain,
With shining needles of rain,
Stitching into the thin
Cloth of earth, in,
In, in, in,
For all the springs of futurity.
One, two, three.

april 29/RUN

3.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
56 degrees

An early evening run (or late afternoon, depending on when you think the afternoon ends and the evening begins). Really helped my mood and energy level. Wonderful to get some fresh air and move around. I’ve always been restless, needing to move, starting to pace if I stayed in the same spot too long, but now my body is revolting even more. Sitting in a chair for an hour or more, I get stiff and sore and my kneecap shifts slightly out of place. Boo. An aging body is no fun….Ran without headphones. Didn’t hear much, even though the river road was busy. Lots of cars commuting home. Runners, bikers, dogs and their humans. I felt overdressed in shorts and a jacket, but many walkers were wearing winter coats–one lady had on ear muffs. Ear muffs?! It was 56 degrees. By the end of my run, I had unzipped my jacket and had stripped down to a tank top. I noticed a lot of green, but not much of the river. Saw a bunch of people heading down to the road to the rowing club. A rowing class? I’ve been thinking that that might be fun to do. When I reached the turn around point at the greenway, I heard some loud bellowing just below the railroad trestle. What was going on? I didn’t stick around to find out.

What a poem:

Anti-Elegy/cameron awkward-rich

She was:

33, bullet.
35, bullet.
20, bullet.
25, stabbed to death & run over by a car.
66 blade.
22 bullet.
17 fist.
36 blade.
blade.
blade.
bullet.
bullet.
bullet
stone
found dead in a field
overdose
bullet
unknown
rope
stone
stone
bullet
oncoming traffic
his own good hands…

& it becomes a kind of music, doesn’t it?
Senseless litany, field of roses, blood red
upturned skirts. I open my mouth & here,
the pith of me. Here, a flock of names, a girl
spilling out onto the street.

The trouble with elegy
is that it asks the dead

to live, it calls them back.
& who am I to say rise?

Walk again among those
who could not bear

the sight of you? Your body.
Your one good dress.

Today, someone will walk into the night
& then become it. Someone’s heart

will crowd with beloved ghosts
& who am I to say, dance

with me here a little longer? Never mind
the bloodshed darling, never mind.

Never mind.

Once, a man said mine
& a woman became an empty room.

Once, a man said mine
& the ocean split & the endless passage.

Once, a man said mine
& there’s a genocide –

how strange. To make the world
with language. To wield desire

as a weapon. To watch one nation burn
& another rise up at your feet.

Once, a girl looked in the mirror
& called herself, said my name is

said I am / I am & a man said
mine / mine / mine

I have so many questions:

Who are

What does

Why

How does it feel to

I’m sorry, I just think

I

And, define

I’m sorry

Your anger

You’re afraid of

Can fear be

Define

knife

Define

Fear is

Please

Forgive

me

Wow. This whole poem, and especially these lines: he trouble with elegy/is that it asks the dead/to live, it calls them back./who am I to say rise?

april 28/RUN

3.5 miles
mississippi river road path, south/mississippi river trail, north
41 degrees

What a wonderful run! Sunny. Hardly any wind. Cool. No headphones. Ran south towards the falls but turned around before I got there then decided to take the lower trail on the way back. The first part of it wasn’t paved. The second part, barely paved. The third, paved but hilly. More interesting and distracting. Couldn’t think too much about how far I had left to run because I was concentrating on avoiding cracks or holes or unexpected dips. I liked it. I should try more trail running. More green today. A few geese. Lots of walkers and bikers.

Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?
BY TRACY K. SMITH

1.

After dark, stars glisten like ice, and the distance they span
Hides something elemental. Not God, exactly. More like
Some thin-hipped glittering Bowie-being—a Starman
Or cosmic ace hovering, swaying, aching to make us see.
And what would we do, you and I, if we could know for sure

That someone was there squinting through the dust,
Saying nothing is lost, that everything lives on waiting only
To be wanted back badly enough? Would you go then,
Even for a few nights, into that other life where you
And that first she loved, blind to the future once, and happy?

Would I put on my coat and return to the kitchen where my
Mother and father sit waiting, dinner keeping warm on the stove?
Bowie will never die. Nothing will come for him in his sleep
Or charging through his veins. And he’ll never grow old,
Just like the woman you lost, who will always be dark-haired

And flush-faced, running toward an electronic screen
That clocks the minutes, the miles left to go. Just like the life
In which I’m forever a child looking out my window at the night sky
Thinking one day I’ll touch the world with bare hands
Even if it burns.

      2.

He leaves no tracks. Slips past, quick as a cat. That’s Bowie
For you: the Pope of Pop, coy as Christ. Like a play
Within a play, he’s trademarked twice. The hours

Plink past like water from a window A/C. We sweat it out,
Teach ourselves to wait. Silently, lazily, collapse happens.
But not for Bowie. He cocks his head, grins that wicked grin.

Time never stops, but does it end? And how many lives
Before take-off, before we find ourselves
Beyond ourselves, all glam-glow, all twinkle and gold?

The future isn’t what it used to be. Even Bowie thirsts
For something good and cold. Jets blink across the sky
Like migratory souls.

      3.

Bowie is among us. Right here
In New York City. In a baseball cap
And expensive jeans. Ducking into
A deli. Flashing all those teeth
At the doorman on his way back up.
Or he’s hailing a taxi on Lafayette
As the sky clouds over at dusk.
He’s in no rush. Doesn’t feel
The way you’d think he feels.
Doesn’t strut or gloat. Tells jokes.

I’ve lived here all these years
And never seen him. Like not knowing
A comet from a shooting star.
But I’ll bet he burns bright,
Dragging a tail of white-hot matter
The way some of us track tissue
Back from the toilet stall. He’s got
The whole world under his foot,
And we are small alongside,
Though there are occasions

When a man his size can meet
Your eyes for just a blip of time
And send a thought like SHINE
SHINE SHINE SHINE SHINE
Straight to your mind. Bowie,
I want to believe you. Want to feel
Your will like the wind before rain.
The kind everything simply obeys,
Swept up in that hypnotic dance
As if something with the power to do so
Had looked its way and said:
Go ahead.

april 27/RUN

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

A good run. Could feel that my cadence was faster. More flying. Enjoyed listening to music. Not too many people out on the path. In southern Minnesota they’re expected to get 4 to 8 inches of snow but here barely even a drop of rain. Nice. I’m done with snow. Don’t remember much from the run except for enjoying going faster. Did my left thigh feel a little tight towards the end? I think so. Noticed all the green in the gorge. Pretty soon, my view will be covered. Looked at the river but don’t remember anything about it–brown, I think. Counted different layers of clothing left by the side of the path–overdressed runners? A black stocking cap. A black sweatshirt. Anything else?

I love this poem about remembering a dead mother. Such a beautiful capturing of that feeling–a sudden rush of remembering!

Wondrous/sarah frelight

I’m driving home from school when the radio talk
turns to E.B. White, his birthday, and I exit
the here and now of the freeway at rush hour,

travel back into the past, where my mother is reading
to my sister and me the part about Charlotte laying her eggs
and dying, and though this is the fifth time Charlotte

has died, my mother is crying again, and we’re laughing
at her because we know nothing of loss and its sad math,
how every subtraction is exponential, how each grief

multiplies the one preceding it, how the author tried
seventeen times to record the words She died alone
without crying, seventeen takes and a short walk during

which he called himself ridiculous, a grown man crying
for a spider he’d spun out of the silk thread of invention —
wondrous how those words would come back and make

him cry, and, yes, wondrous to hear my mother’s voice
ten years after the day she died — the catch, the rasp,
the gathering up before she could say to us, I’m OK.

This poem is one sentence. What a sentence!

april 23/RUN

5.4 miles
franklin hill turn around
49 degrees

Intended to think about the light (so bright today) or green but didn’t. Listened to my new playlist, including a few songs from Lizzo’s new album, and forgot about almost everything. When I want to get lost in the run and make time meaningless (and nearly measureless), I listen to my headphones–it also usually helps me to experience a superficial runner’s high. I did manage to think about a few things: No green above the forest floor. Greeted the Daily Walker. Felt strong and steady and hot–one too many layers. Can’t remember smelling anything or looking at the river more than once. Noticed two runners ahead of me. One walking, then running, then walking again. The other always running. Both faster than me. Studied the uneven path, making sure not to twist my foot. Encountered one goose, down near the flats, sitting in the grass.

Spending a few more minutes thinking about what I do/don’t remember from this run, I remembered something else. As I listened to Lizzo’s “Like a Girl” I thought about femininity and being bad ass (I sped up a little during this song) and what it means to be “like a girl.” For me, I’m not sure. I identify more as Sara than as a gender, but as a former feminist/queer theorist, I’ve thought a lot about performances of gender–read and taught Iris Marion Young’s iconic essay, “Throwing Like a Girl” and Judith Butler’s line from Gender Trouble (citing Aretha Franklin) about feeling like a natural woman. Lizzo has a line in the chorus: “if you feel like a girl, then you real like a girl.” So packed with meaning, powerful! Then I found a quote from her, which really speaks to why I noticed the line and like it so much:

When we got to the bridge, I realized there was an important piece missing: What if you identify as female but aren’t gender-assigned that at birth? Or what if you’re male but in touch with your feminine side? What about my gay boys? What about my drag queens? So I decided to say, If you feel like like a girl/Then you real like a girl, and that’s my favorite lyric on the whole album.

Lizzo on Apple Music

Found my notes for April 23, 2018 in my running notebook. All about layers and inner and outer weather. I’ve been trying to write about layers for over a year now. Will it ever click? Not sure. At the top of the page, I wrote: attention distraction/ distraction attention/ wandering between/ boundary/ border/ layer Two years ago, wrote a lyric essay about attention and distraction. Maybe I should turn it into a poem?

Discovered this beautiful poem this morning:

The End and the Beginning
BY WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA
TRANSLATED BY JOANNA TRZECIAK

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

We’ll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about
who will find it dull.

From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
rusted-out arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must make way for
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass that has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.

april 21/RUNHIKE

2 mile run/.5 mile hike
mississippi river gorge above and below, north/south
72 degrees

Ran a mile with Scott to the Lake Street bridge then hiked below to the river for 1/2 mile, climbed up some stone steps by the greenway, then ran 1 mile back. Beautiful. Everything was brown–almost looked like fall but felt like summer. I’d like to do more run/hikes like this. This side of the gorge is similar to the east side, except the east side has paved paths, an abandoned parking lot and benches/picnic tables. Scott and I encountered some dirt mounds, halfway up the gorge, and wondered if they were burial mounds.

Spent some time looking through the archives of Boaat and found this cool poem: DRIFTING/aya satoh

april 20/RUN

3 miles
stone arch/pink bridge/river road/stone arch
62! degrees

Ran with Scott while FWA was in his clarinet lesson. Warm. Sunny. Windy. Crowded. Instead of our regular room through Boom Island, we decided to take the service road to the U and run across the pink bridge. That loop is only 2.2 miles so we added one more trip across Stone Arch bridge.

This week in my poetry class we talked about the caesura (a stop of pause in the metrical line). Here’s a great poem, by a wonderful person, about the caesura. Love it!

WEIGHT
by Carolina Ebeid

(hush listen)

Is a caesura a quiet hallway

in a church? Is it a silence

with commandments to hush,

listen? Was it composed for

two voices? Is that silence

like the time you said stop it

wait to the boys, how you

should have said stop, but

you said nothing behind

la carnicería that sold live

chickens? When a boy picked

up the brick throwing it at

the hen—wait— from a near

distance? Is the caesura that

near distance a brick travels

from hand to head? Is white

space like piano keys playing

softer & softer until zero

decibels? Is it the cleared

sweep after a missile falls

no more green? Does it share

the pull of gravity? Is it the living

body of Ana Mendieta? Dropped

—stop—out of a window?

Is she in a kind of white now?

Is it composed of no & no?

Wouldn’t you say the white

is like the space of an envelope?

Where the postage must go?

Dear person who won’t write

back, Most esteemed ghost

matter, My darling inventory

of nature? The white lie

white whisper hearsay flickering

all reaching the moment of

a candle blown out? Is the white

break like a hospital door

swinging open & there your father

delivered back to you? Linen

white muzzle across the face?

Does the break assemble into

a waiting room? One woman asks

for the housekeeper’s name

while her friend replies:

aren’t they all named Maria?

Is the white space clean

with the smell of ammonia?

Is there dizzying laughter? Say

stop it, wait. Is it like a hurricane

with the same name? Has it become

marble-quite like a wall

for interning ashes? Is it the sound

of rubble? Isn’t the empty white

more like moons growing brightest

from right to left? Right to left

like a message in the Arab

side of town, spray-painted

on a curfew night? Won’t you say

it’s composed for more than two

voices? Like a chorus that speaks

in unison there? Aren’t they all

named Maria? Do they make

the sound of rubble? The nothing

you say, is it dressed in white

like the guy in your group punching

the girl from the rival group who

talks trash at us & he hits her

because a woman is liberated just

like a man? Liberation?

Is it blurred & blank with flight?

Wasn’t it composed for a pyro-

technic finale? Whites of eyes

like the white of a room you walk into

& no one seems to be grieving?

Isn’t the white, the whites of human

teeth glossed with blood

on the concrete?