may 6/RUN

7 miles
st. kates and back
60 degrees

Ran with Scott on a beautiful spring morning. Sun, shadows, a welcome breeze. We ran over to St. Catherine’s University, across the river. RJP has almost decided to go there (hopefully she makes up her mind tonight) and we wanted to check it out. I’m impressed and excited to visit her next year. We talked a lot more in the first half of our run; we were both tired the last 2 miles. Scott talked about some Threads exchange involving Drake, Kanye West, and a diss track. We heard a creaking tree and I said it sounded like the squeaking gate we heard yesterday afternoon while we were walking. The mention of the gate reminded me of Marie Howe’s poem, “The Gate,” which I recited for Scott (of course I did). We talked about many other things but I just remember discussing what a wonderful campus St. Cates is and how great it will be for RJP.

On the sidewalk just outside of campus, we encountered several sidewalk poems that are part of the Public Art Sidewalk Poetry project. Scott took a picture of one:

November/ Marianne McNamara and Scott’s feet

November/ Marianne McNamara (2009)

Autumn winds drag leaves from the trees,
clog the streets in dreary finale.
Bare branches crisscross the heavy sky.
Icy rain spatters, ink-blots the pavement.
I settle at the window, stare into the black flannel, search the woolly lining of the night for winter.

I was unable to read this on the sidewalk, so I’m glad I could find it online. How hard is it for someone with good vision to read? I like the idea of this project, but in practice, it doesn’t quite work. Scott suggested they should use black paint on the letters, to make them stand out.

10 Things

  1. smell: lilac, intense
  2. tree shadows, more filled in than last week
  3. a loud leaf blower
  4. a safety patrol on the corner near Dowling saying I hate you, I hate you — who was he talking to?
  5. the soft trickle of water falling from the sewer pipe near the 44th street parking lot
  6. mud and ruts filled with water at a construction site on the edge of campus
  7. feeling a fine film of dust on my face near the end of the run
  8. more than a dozen signs in the grass outside a liquor store, each one said the same thing: wine sale. Scott: I guess they’re having a wine sale
  9. running down Randolph encountering 3 or 4 sidewalk poems, none of them marked on the map
  10. noticing a faint white thing flying through the air, high above us: a bird? a plane? a trick of the light or corrupted data from my eye to my brain?

the allegory of the cave, part 1

I want to read the cave parable and think about its shadows, but I want to read it in the context of The Republic so I’ve been searching my shelves for my copy. Which class in college did we read this for? Probably The Individual and Morality. Maybe a philosophy class? Anyway, it is very hard for me to find one book among almost a thousand. When we moved in I organized them, but over time, books have moved. Also, it’s dim in our living room and I have a lot of trouble reading book titles with my bad eyes. Yesterday I asked RJP to help, and she found it! Maybe I’ll try reading some of it out on the deck this afternoon. Reading physical books, as opposed to e-books, can be hard; there’s never enough light unless I’m reading it under my special lamp (designed for sewers and cross-stitchers and 80 year-olds with bad eyes and me). Reading outside in natural light helps.

an hour spent outside reading and dozing off and reading again . . .

First, two links that connect Plato and his cave with poetry:

Reading through the allegory, I cam accross these lines:

. . . the eyes may be confused in two ways and from two causes, namely when they’ve come from the light into the darkness and when they’ve come from the darkness into the light. . . whether it has come from a brighter life and is dimmed through not having yet become accustomed to the dark or whether it has come from greater ignorance into greater light and is dazzled by the increased brilliance.

518a, The Republic / Plato, trans. G.M.A. Grube

Of course, I immediately thought of two of my favorite vision poems (what I’m calling them) by Emily Dickinson. And of course I have both of them memorized — but not her punctuation.

We grow accustomed to the Dark
When light is put away
As when a neighbor holds the lamp
To witness her goodbye.

A Moment — We uncertain step —
For newness of the Night
(We Grow Accustomed to the Dark/ ED)

Too bright for our infirm Delight
The truth’s superb surprise

. . .

The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
(Tell all the truth but tell it Slant/ ED)

I remember Plato’s cave and the shadows and the inability to access Truth, but I didn’t remember him discussing how both too little light and too much light blind us. The emphasis, as I recall, was always on darkness = bad, ignorance, the problem. Was I just not paying attention in philosophy class?

Searching for “plato cave,” I came across a video about it and decided to watch it:

The School of Life

I’d like to write more about what I find to be missing (also what’s helpful) in this account, but I’ve run out of time. Here’s one more video for comparison that I just started watching. When I have time, I’ll reflect on both:

After Skool

april 24/RUN

juno and finn, st. paul
44 degrees

A beautiful morning! Perfect temperature for running. Sun. Shadows. Hooray! Tried my new adventure: running to poems that are part of St. Paul’s Sidewalk Poetry project. Fun! Ran south on the west river road, up the hill to the ford bridge, north on the east river road, east on hartford, north on juno, east on finn. It took me a little while, but I found both poems — my navigating skills were not the greatest before my vision loss, but now they’re pretty bad. Difficult to read signs and hard to keep a map in my head. Made a few bad choices on the way back, and probably added an extra mile because of it. Oops.

First impressions — wow, these poems are really hidden — a nice surprise as you walk or run along. Also, there’s not enough contrast for my bad eyes. I couldn’t read the poems at all. I’m glad that you can look them up online because otherwise, I’d have no idea what they said.

Overall: great idea, but not that accessible. Also, how soon before these poems wear away? Even with my (small) criticisms, I love this project and am excited to run to some more!

This was a fun way to run a 10k — I was able to get a nice break in the middle and I was distracted from the effort by my task. Also, it’s good for me to practice navigating. I need to build up those skills so I can get out in the world to new places by myself more.

I wasn’t only focused on finding these poems. I also gave attention to the world:

10 Things

  1. kids at Minnehaha Academy, lower campus, were playing Red Light/Green Light. Green light . . . Red light.
  2. one gutted street lamp on the ford bridge — the one next to it was still on
  3. several streets with no sidewalks, or sidewalks only on one side in Highland Park
  4. bright blue river!
  5. a racket! geese honking beneath the ford bridge
  6. a bright white paddleboat near the shore on the west bank
  7. passed 2 park workers about to put fresh tar on the river road trail
  8. later, running over tar that was put down earlier in the week
  9. fee bee fee bee
  10. bright blue sky, cloudless

Sidewalk Poems — poem + my picture


SE corner of Juno Ave and Finn

Dementia/ Naomi Cohn (2008)

I reach for a name, a song, a tune
and memories scatter,

minnows fleeing

a toothy pike.

I catch a few


But know these are nothing
to the hundred fish that fled.


S. side of Juno Ave, bet. Finn and Cleveland Ave

Untitled/Louis Disanto (2011)

Life magazines for shin guards.
Skates too big, stick cracked and old,
jacket patched and tattered.
I ignored the smirks and winter’s cold,
love of hockey was all that mattered.

A note about this second poem: This is not the poem that is supposed to be here, according to the map.

earlier today

While drinking my coffee, I read about different places along the river to view birds during the migration and found this line:

You can also see a whole hillside of the spring ephemeral bloodroot along the trails near 36th Street.

Must-see FMR spring birding sites along the river

Bloodroot? What’s that, and why is it called bloodroot? This was a useful site for answering my questions.

  • an herbaceous perennial native to eastern North America, from Florida up into Canada 
  • found in undisturbed woodlands, on flood plains and on slopes near streams or ponds
  • the reddish sap that exudes from all parts of the plant, but especially the root, when cut is what prompted the common name of bloodroot
  • used as a natural red or yellow-orange dye
  • the brilliant white – or rarely light pink – flowers up to 2 inches across open in early spring. The blooming period lasts about 2 weeks
  • each flower stalk produces a solitary flower with a number of delicate, elongate petals surrounding the numerous yellow stamens and central green pistil, with a pale yellow, two-lobed stigma at its apex. The flower usually has eight symmetrically arranged petals, with four large petals and four smaller ones

april 23/WALK

walk 1: 30 minutes with Delia, neighborhood
walk 2: 75 minutes to the library

I haven’t walked to the library in a long time. 5 or 6 or 7 years? Why has it been so long? Partly the pandemic and the library almost being burned down and then closed for a long time are to blame, but it’s also all the running and having a dog. If I have any time or energy left to walk, I need to take Delia the dog along, and the library is too far for her. Also, she’s not allowed inside.

It’s more than a mile, but less than 2 one way. It was great. I listened to Taylor Swift’s new album on the way there, and Beyoncé’s on the way back (Cowboy Carter). Wow! The Tortured Poets Department was good but Cowboy Carter was amazing.

10 Things

  1. a big white dog sitting quietly and calmly in a dirt back yard next to a chain link fence
  2. a cedar fence that looked almost new, with shiny wood, bulging out towards the sidewalk — what happened?
  3. red tulips in full bloom right up against the foundation of a house
  4. a big tree with a full set of yellowish-green leaves
  5. a terraced yard, all dirt, looking neat and ready to be filled with flowers
  6. a little free library packed with books, its glass door wide open
  7. music blasting from an open door at the Trinity Church, playing “Shake It Off”
  8. 2 squirrels winding up a tree, one chasing the other, their nails scratching the rough bark
  9. my favorite stone lions in front of a house wearing purple flower headbands in honor of spring
  10. a big moving truck backed into a driveway blocking all of the sidewalk and half the street

earlier today

This past Saturday, I took a class on public art and ekphrastic poetry with the new poet laureate of Minneapolis, Heid E. Erdrich. A great class. When I signed up for it, I was just interested in taking a class with Erdrich and learning more about ekphrastic poetry; I didn’t realize that public art would also be a part of it. Very cool. Anyway, the class inspired me to think more deeply about public poetry projects. I have several ideas for my own, with very little understanding of how to make them happen. Perhaps studying other examples will help educate and inspire me. Plus, studying them is another way to learn more about the place I live. First up: Sidewalk Poetry St. Paul

Sidewalk Poetry, St. Paul

Sidewalk Poetry is a systems-based work that allows city residents to claim the sidewalks as their book pages. This project re-imagines Saint Paul’s annual sidewalk maintenance program with Public Works, as the department repairs 10 miles of sidewalk each year. We have stamped more than 1,200 poems from a collection that now includes 73 individual pieces all written by Saint Paul residents. Today, everyone in Saint Paul now lives within a 10-minute walk of a Sidewalk Poem. 

This art project began with previous Public Art Saint Paul City Artist Marcus Young in 2008 under the name “Everyday Poems for City Sidewalks,” and continues today with evolved stamping approaches, as well as poetry submission and review processes. Our 2023 Sidewalk Poetry accepts poetry submissions in Dakota, Hmong, Somali, Spanish, and English. The poetry on our streets celebrates the remarkable cultures that make our City home and that makes our City strong. With this as a beginning, other languages may be added in years to come.

Sidewalk Poetry St Paul

I think the first step for me in getting to know this project is to visit some of the poems. I’d like to start running to them! Here’s a map to help me out: Public Art Sidewalks

I think I’ll start (tomorrow) with a favorite poet of mine, Naomi Cohn. She has one on the Southeast corner of Juno and Finn. Very close to it is one by Pat Owen, on the southside of Juno between Finn and Cleveland.

Almost forgot to post this: the first song on Beyoncé’s album, “American Requiem” sings about the wind!

Can we stand for something?
Now is the time to face the wind (Ow)
Coming in peace and love, y’all
Oh, a lot of takin’ up space
Salty tears beyond my gaze
Can you stand me?

Can we stand for something?
Now is the time to face the wind
Now ain’t the time to pretend
Now is the time to let love in