may 3/RUN

5.4 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
55 degrees

What a beautiful morning for a run! Back to shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. Could it finally be spring? The floodplain forest seems to thing so, green everywhere. Saw Dave the Daily Walker, lots of runners, walkers, bikers. Heard some black-capped chickadees and woodpeckers. Smelled some cigarette smoke. The trail is open again in the flats. The river is still high and moving fast but it’s not passing over the railing and onto the road. Ran to the bottom of the hill, stopped to check out the water, put in the soundtrack to “Dear Evan Hansen” (we’re playing it in the community band I’m in), ran up the hill, then, on the way back, ran down on the Winchell Trail. I had to step carefully because the path was slanted with a steep drop off.

During the run, I had several feel good/runner’s high moments. So nice!

Running north, somewhere above the white sands beach, I started thinking about something I was working on earlier today about how my changing vision is closing some doors, opening others. I’m particularly interested in thinking about how it opens doors without ignoring/denying the shut ones too. Anyway, I suddenly had a thought: it’s not just that it opens doors, but it makes it so those doors can’t shut. I waited until I reached the bottom of the hill and then spoke my idea into my phone. Here’s a transcript:

It’s not just that doors open, they won’t shut. I can’t close them to the understandings that I’m both forced to confront but also have the opportunity to explore. But the key thing is that the doors can’t be shut.

my notes recorded during a run on 3 may 2023

I came to this idea after thinking about how vision is strange and tenuous and a lot of guesswork for everyone. A big difference between me and a lot of other people is that I can’t ignore or deny that fact. It’s much easier for people with “normal” vision to imagine, with their sharp vision and their ability to focus fast, that they are seeing exactly what is there. They’re not. Even if I wanted to, I can’t pretend that that is true. I’m reminded all of the time of how tenuous converting electrical impulses into images is and what the brain does for us to make those images intelligible.

Mary Ruefle

Before the Run

I’m trying something different, or maybe it’s not different, just something I often do without recognizing it as an approach: I’m following a wandering path through Ruefle’s work that is not systematic, but seems to suddenly appear as I encounter ideas, words, lines from other poems. This morning, during my daily routine of reading the poem of the day on, then, then, I found a wonderful poem that features the color red. Red I said, then thought, why not read Ruefle’s sadness poem about red for today? So I will. First, the poem that set my course:

A Tiny Little Equation/ Shuri Kido

Translated from the Japanese by Tomoyuki Endo & Forrest Gander

For whom is (the evening glow)
To human eyes,
the red wavelength shimmering in the air
is reflected,
but to the eyes of birds
which recognize even ultraviolet rays,
the evening glow looks much paler.
And when all the lives on Earth are finally snuffed out,
and the human solstice has passed,
every color will cease to “exist.”
As clouds pile up densely above the sea,
kids get restless
feeling some sort of invitation.
On such occasions, when you’re unable to read a “book”
while splashing around in the sea or river
as though dancing with water gods,
you’ll notice beads of water on your skin
reflecting the world.
In such an optical play,
the summer vanishes;
some people have gone off
with the water gods
and have never come back.
Textbooks, left on a desk unopened,
hold on to their tiny equations.
When each and every living thing has lost its life
and there remains not a single being,
for whom is (the evening glow)

This poem! For whom (is the evening glow) “red”? Okay, this will be the next poem I memorize. I want to own every word of it. Should I try to fit one of its lines in my colorblind plate cento? I’ll think about it.

Now, Ruefle’s red sadness:

from My Private Property/ Mary Ruefle

Red sadness is the secret one. Red sadness never appears
sad, it appears as Nijinsky bolting across the stage in mid-
air, it appears in flashes of passion, anger, fear, inspiration,
and courage, in dark unsellable visions; it is an upside-
down penny concealed beneath a tea cozy, the even-tem-
pered and steady-minded are not exempt from it, and a
curator once attached this tag to it: Because of the fragile
nature of the pouch no attempt has been made to extract
the note.

as an aside: In my initial typing up of this poem, I left out the is in the first sentence: Red sadness the secret one. I do that a lot, leave out words. I think it’s partly that my failing vision makes me sloppier, but I wonder if it’s not also because my way of reading/thinking has changed, become more abbreviated. I cut out the unnecessary words, worry less about full sentences, want more condensed, compact ideas. I’m tired of extra words — literally, it hurts my brain when I have to read so many words, but also figuratively, having spent so many years wasting all of my energy on finding the right words (right = smart enough, fancy enough, researched enough) to make an argument that finally maybe almost gets to the point. I also like using less words like a fun experiment — how many words do we actually need in order to understand something or to communicate an idea?

I need to think more about this poem and what it means or does. In the meantime, while searching for an online version of this poem (so I wouldn’t have to type it up myself), I found another red poem by Ruefle. I’ve read it before.

Red/ Mary Ruefle

I fucking depended on you and
you left the fucking wheelbarrow
out and it’s fucking raining
and now the white chickens
are fucking filthy

note: Future Sara, and anyone else reading this, I recommend listening to Ruefle read this poem on the poetry foundation site (link in title). The way she spits out fucking is the best.

Ruefle’s poem is a response to William Carlos Williams iconic red wheel barrow poem. I know that tons of poetry people have studied/obsessed over this poem and have tons of great (and not so great) ideas about what it means. I have not, and am not entirely sure what Ruefle intends/means with her poem. I like it anyway. Maybe she’s sick of all of the attention it’s received?

Read WCW’s poem and Ruefle’s side by side on this twitter thread.

On that same thread, I also found these lines from Fiona Apple and her song, “Red Red Red”:

I don’t understand about complementary colors
And what they say
Side by side they both get bright
Together they both get gray

But he’s been pretty much yellow
And I’ve been kinda blue
But all I can see is
Red, red, red, red, red now
What am I to do

Now it’s time to go out for a run. I’ll try to find red.

During the Run

10 Red Thoughts, Ideas, Things Noticed

  1. the deep and sharp bark of a neighbor’s dog — a red bark, I thought
  2. a red stop sign
  3. a walker up ahead of me, rounding a corner and heading out of sight, a red sweatshirt around their waist
  4. a roller skier in bright red shorts — tomato red
  5. my raspberry red shoes striking the ground
  6. graffiti on a sewer pipe drip drip dripping water, letters in rusted red
  7. a biker in a red shirt zooming by
  8. my face under the bright shadeless sun, a ruddy red
  9. a moment of tenderness inspired by swelling music, a runner’s high, and last night’s haunting and strange dream about cradling my mom’s head not too long before she died: the soft glow of a warm red heart
  10. car, car, car, truck — all red (at least in my head)

A funny thing about looking for red: I found it everywhere. Today anything that registered as a color other than blue, green, brown, or gray was red. Red cars, red shirts, red leaves on the trees from last fall. No orange, hardly any yellow, all red. Red red red.

may 1/RUN

4.35 miles
minnehaha falls and back
47 degrees
wind: 27 mph

Ugh, the wind! A few times it felt like I was running straight into it. Almost took my breath away. The falls were falling — were they roaring? I can’t remember what they sounded like. The creek was flowing. The park was crowded with walkers and hikers and bikers. I stopped at my favorite spot, took off my sweatshirt, and put in my coming back from injury playlist, which starts with “Back in Black.”

Running south, listened to the black-capped chickadees, the howling wind, a loud wave of kids voices yelling and laughing at the school playground. Running back north, listened to a playlist — “Back in Black,” “Upside Down,” “Fantastic Voyage,” “I’ll Be There,” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

favorite image of the wind: the leaves whirling and swirling and scattering just in front of me as I ran northwest

least favorite image of the wind: running straight into the wind, my cap bending with the force, my nose closing up from the dust, one of my feet being pushed into the other, finding it difficult to breathe

May with Mary (Ruefle)

Today is the first day of a new month and the start of a new monthly challenge! For May of 2023, I’ll be spending time with another Mary, not Mary Oliver, but Mary Ruefle. Inspired by a tweet last week about Ruefle’s series of poems on the sadness of color, I ordered 2 books of hers that I’ve been thinking about getting for a few years: My Private Property and Madness, Rack, and Honey. I’m very excited!

I thought it might be interesting for me to record my reading/thinking/wandering process with Mary this morning. Perhaps the only person who will appreciate it is future Sara, but that’s okay. I find my wandering process to be fascinating, messy, very energetic, and an accurate reflection of how I encounter and engage with ideas. It’s easy to forget the path it follows, hopefully tracing it here will help.

Since I don’t have a full plan yet for how to read Ruefle, I decided to start by skimming through My Private Property. The third prose poem is, “Please Read,” which might be my first encounter with Ruefle, years ago when it was the poem of the day on I had bookmarked it, intending to post it on here someday. Today is not yet that day.

Two pieces later (what do you call her writing in this book? Fragments? Mini essays?) is one of two writings from her that I’ve already posted on here: Observations on the Ground. It would be interesting to read this bit, from the middle of the essay (I’ve decided to call her writing in this book essays, at least for now), beside A. R. Ammons and garbage:

Besides burying the dead in the ground, we bury our garbage, also called trash. Man-made mountains of garbage are pushed together using heavy equipment and then pushed down into the ground. The site of this burial is called a landfill. The site of the dead buried in boxes is called a cemetery. In both cases the ground is being filled. A dead body in a box can be lowered into the ground using heavy equipment, but we do not consider it trash. When the dead are not in boxes and there is a man-made mountain of them we do use heavy equipment to bury them together, like trash. It is estimated that everywhere we walk we are walking on a piece of trash and the hard, insoluble remains of the dead. Whatever the case, the dead and the garbage are together in the ground where we cannot see them, for we do not relish the sight or smell of them. If we did not go about our burying, we would be in danger of being overcome.

“Observations on the Ground”/ Mary Ruefle

Next I read one with an intriguing title, “A Woman Who Didn’t Describe a Thing If She Could,” which had a similar approach to describing things as does “Observations” — from the outside, making no assumptions or judgments or reliance on cultural shorthand (shared things that we all are supposed to know and agree upon as true — is that another way of saying assumptions?).

Then I came across a photocopy of an image from her notebook titled “April’s Cryalog,” which I immediately recognized as part of an essay of Ruefle’s I had read sometime this year, Pause. It’s about menopause, which seems to be starting for me. No thanks. I have the vaguest sense of how I encountered this piece, but it’s too fuzzy to put into words. Did I encounter it in a tweet? Was I searching for poetry about menopause? Anyway, when I first saw this image I immediately stopped reading/skimming the book to look for the essay in my reading list document, which is where all of the poems, essays, articles, tweets go after languishing on my “safari reading list” for weeks or months or years. Of course, if I had just turned the page, I would have seen the essay right there, printed in My Private Property.

Searching through the reading list, I also found a quote from Ruefle that I had saved about the eyes of a poem being more important than its mouth. I looked it up and discovered it’s from “On Theme” in the other book of Ruefle’s that I bought: Madness, Rack, and Honey.

I could reread the menopause essay or keep skimming, but I think I’ll read her lecture from Madness, Rack, and Honey: “On Theme.”

“On Theme”

I’ll attempt to offer some sort of summary: Mary Ruefle doesn’t like themes, especially what happens to them as they grow older and get applied to things beyond their original scope, which is that they lose not only their original meaning but any connection to that meaning. The original idea gets distorted, shrinks. Without getting into the many examples (her parent’s Indian inspired suburb, family fun day with the simple Shakers, Victorian home decorating in the 20th century), I’ll add this: she especially doesn’t like themes in poetry and the trend she observes in poetry journals requesting poems about endless topics: “AIDS” “quilts” “dogs” “sailing” …

But, as I try to continue this summary, I’m realizing that summarizing — the trimming down of her words until they fit in the neat little box of 1-2 sentences — is not the right approach. The meaning and purpose — the magic — of her words is found in all of her random examples, her orbits around her topic, “themes.” To leave those out is to reduce the meaning of her ideas/words.

All of this close reading and summarizing is causing me to spend more time on this essay than I’d like and giving me flashbacks of being an academic. Let me try another approach: I read this essay because it had a quotation in it that I’d was struck by and that a lot of other poetry people liked. I wanted to find the original source of the quotation in order to understand it better, or at least not extrapolate with it (this is a word Mary Ruefle uses in the lecture) to some meaning that completely loses its origins. Here’s the passage:

Auden said a poem should be more interesting than anything that might be said about it. If you take the theme out of a poem and talk about that theme, there should still be some residual being left in the poem that goes on ticking, something like, why not say it, color, something that has an effect on your central nervous system. It is not what a poem says with its mouth, it’s what it does with its eyes.

The passage comes just after a discussion of how impossible it would be to organize books around themes — must I buy 3 copies of each book to ensure that it is placed in all of the themes to which it belongs, she wonders. She concludes that organizing by theme is as arbitrary (and ridiculous) as organizing them by color to match the decor of the room. Then, she offers the Auden passage. After it, she abruptly turns to a rant about the endless calls for poems in “any poetry trade rag.” Then she moves to an interesting discussion of how theme has shifted from meaning topic/subject to attitude, which assumes a someone behind the idea/attitude. And, I’ve decided to stop here because I do want to understand what she’s saying, and it will take longer.

Here’s where I am with the essay and her passage right now: why is this passage so popular with poets? Perhaps I’m not quite getting it yet, but it feels like when people pluck this passage out of the rest of this essay without any context or explanation beyond, it’s good craft advice, they’re performing what Ruefle is railing against: taking an idea and extrapolating with it in a way that shrinks/loses the original meaning. Is Ruefle playing a joke here?

A few more things:

  1. I can’t quite remember, but I think I bookmarked Ruefle’s passage initially because I didn’t like it and the idea of the senses being reduced to the eyes — what the poem does with it eyes.
  2. This lecture seems to be responding to the current state of poetry as a field of study (as of 2012). I’m less interested in conversations about the direction of poetry and literary magazines or young poets vs. old poets. Really, I think I’m only interested in this passage with the mouth and the eyes — why it gets shared so much, what it means, and whether it means what people who share it think it does.

Not today, Satan!

Yes, twitter has too many problems. But it still has poetry people who tweet wonderful poems that they plan to include in their, “Not today, Satan” anthology, so I’m not quitting it just yet.

What I Am Telling You, Jessica, Is That Those Chickens Are Fine/ K.T. Landon

for Jessica Jacobs

You say that a poem that contains a fox
and a henhouse must, at some point, include
a slaughtered chicken, that the rifle on the mantel
must go off in Act Three. But what I am telling you
is that my neighbor has built his coop to last
and surrounded it with a sturdy double fence
of chicken wire, and that that fox is out of luck
this time. And I know that good news for the chickens
is bad news for some vole or field mouse or hapless
housecat. So maybe all I’ve done is point that gun
in another direction or into another poem, but this
is a poem in which no chickens will die. A rabbit
will bound across the road and the car will slow
in time. The fox will discover the trampoline behind
the house next door and with it the wonder of flight.
Everyone I love will live and call me after supper
to say goodnight. My neighbor is a good man,
a minor god who has brought forth a paradise
for chickens. And I know those chickens, clucking
contentedly in their self-important obliviousness,
are too foolish to be a metaphor for hope
(though isn’t hope always foolish?) but in this poem
the chickens stand for joy—for feed scattered
with a free hand and fresh water in the trough,
for a swept house and a warm nest, for the sun
and the breeze and friends to admire your glorious,
feathered self and this single, glorious day.
And we’re in pretty deep now, aren’t we,
speculating about the Inner Life of Chickens,
but can you doubt, watching them watching us,
that they have one? That they, too, understand
the urgency of this still and incandescent moment
that is here and leaving already? I know
it’s not always this way. The gun goes off
eventually. One night the latch will fail to catch
or a hinge will rust through, and the fox will bring
terror and death, as foxes do. Every story ends
with a corpse. But, Jessica, it’s not Act Three yet.
My neighbor, the chickens, the fox, you, me—
we love what we love for as long as we can.
Right now, in this blue and breathing hour
that shines inside us all, those chickens are fine.

Do I love this poem enough to add it to My 100 list of memorized poems? Maybe. Although, as I type this, I’m thinking it could be fun to compose a cento with lines from my favorite darkly hopeful poems. I think I’ll call the poem, “Not today, Satan.”

One other thing to add: when I read this poem to Scott this morning, he was convinced that the Jessica in it was JB Fletcher. Nice!

april 28/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
49 degrees / light rain

Thought I’d be able to get a run in before the rain returned but I was wrong. I didn’t mind the rain; I was wearing a cap with a long enough brim to keep my face dry and I had tights and long sleeves covering my arms and legs. There were very few people out on the trail. No runners, only a few walkers.

Listened to my “running: summer 2014” (which is different from my “summer 2014” playlist — why? not sure) as I ran, so I missed out hearing the splashes and whooshes and soft raindrops hitting the grass.

I know I looked at the river at least once, but I can’t remember what it looked like, other than that it was still high. Saw lots of cars, many of them with their headlights on in the wet gloom. The asphalt felt slippery, slick with rain and mud and grit. The path was full of puddles and menacing cracks. At least once I stutter-stepped when I miscalculated my stride and almost stepped in a whole. Twisted or rolled-over ankle narrowly avoided!

A. R. Ammon’s garbage

Just tried to finish the last section of garbage. I’ll have to try again on some other day — or never? So difficult to keep my eyes on the page, my mind on his meandering words. Maybe instead of finishing the book, I’ll return to some things in it that I find particularly interesting, like (the following are all phrases or paraphrases from sections of garbage)

Energy and motion. The spindle of energy, motion as spirit, all forms translated into energy: value systems, physical systems, artistic systems, from the heavy (stone) to the light (wind) and back again. Loops, returns, the constant recycling of stone to wind to stone, waste into something new then returning to waste, using words to find a moment of the eternal, losing it again, the words becoming waste to break down and rebuild. Always motion, flow, decomposing, returning. Always behind it all, the relief of indifferent stars: twinkle, twinkle: just a wonder. And old people dying, bodies falling apart, individual existence ending. All of it happening, whether we believe in or not. All of us motion: a whirlwind becoming gross body, all navel and nipple and knee, then vaporized, refined, distilled into a place not meaning yet or never to mean.

A few days ago, while searching around for interesting journals for submitting my work, I came across a wonderful essay (is it an essay?) in a very cool journal: Notes on Energy in A Velvet Giant. I love all the different definitions of energy that the author plays with in the piece. I want to remember it, and think more about it in relation to garbage and Ammons and energy in its many understandings.

april 27/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin hill turn around
58! degrees

Overcast, but much warmer today. I wore shorts and a short-sleeved t-shirt. Excellent. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker, passed Daddy Long Legs. Noticed the river was all white foam and milk chocolate — or, did it look more like a latte? I’m breaking in a new pair of running shoes. My old ones (worn for 9 months, about 750 miles) died, that is, on both shoes, at the widest part of my foot where my bunions are, the shoe has ripped away from the rubber bottom. I remember feeling like something was flopping in my shoe when I was running 6 miles at the beginning of the week. At home, after the run, I checked. Yep. RIP black Saucony Rides. My new ones, which are also Rides, are white with bright blue laces, red tongues, and orange stripes. They look a bit dorky, but they were 1/2 the price of the other options, so I don’t care. With my vision, I can’t see color that well anyway.

peripheral vision

Straight on, the gorge looked gray, brown, green so dark it didn’t look green but dark gray or black. But out of the corner of my eye, I could see pops of bright green. Green at my feet: little sprouts shooting up. Green by my ear: new slick leaves unfurling. Green everywhere whispering hello.

Speaking of color, here’s a few I noticed: a runner in a bright blue pullover, another runner in a glowing bright yellow shirt.

River update: the river road in the flats is still closed, but the water seems a little lower, with more open road. How long will it be closed, I wonder?

Listened to woodpeckers and sizzling sand under my feet running north. Put on my “summer 2014” playlist running up franklin hill and heading south.

Yesterday, I memorized Sylvia Plath’s wonderful poem, Mushrooms. Why was it so difficult to memorize? I found a youtube clip of her reading it, which helped, especially with the lines, so many of us/so many of us. In her reading, she stresses the of. What a difference! Without her guidance, I would have stressed the so.

Ammons’ garbage

Returned to Ammons yesterday afternoon and this morning. Here are some passages from sections 17 and 18 that I’d like to remember:

from 17

poetry is itself like an installation at Marine

Shale: It reaches down into the dead pit
and cool oil of stale recognition and words and

brings up hauls of stringy gook which it arrays
with light and strings with shiny syllables and

gets the mind back into vital relationship with
communication channels: but, of course there

is some untransformed material, namely the poem
itself; the minute its transmutations end, it

becomes a relic sometimes only generations or
acts of countrywide generations can degrade:

a real stick in the fluencies: a leftover light
that hinders the light stream: poems themselves

processing, revitalizing so much dead material
become a dead-material concentrate time’s

longest actions sometimes can’t dissolve: not
to worry: the universe is expected to return

and the heat concentrate then will ashen wispy poetry
wispier: actually, the planet is going to
be fine, as soon as the people get off:

from 18

you can’t classify except by
breaking down: some people say some things are

sacred and others secular and some say everything
is sacred or everything is secular: but if

everything is sacred (or secular), then what is
that: words, which attach to edges, cannot

represent wholeness, so if all is all, the it
just is:


Returned from my run to discover that 2 mood ring poems I submitted earlier this week for a journal have been accepted! Also this week, a fun poem I wrote about the swan boats at the lake is coming out. What a wonderful dream to be a published poet, especially with poems that are so important to me. I’ve had 5 snellen chart poems published and now 4 mood rings. Hopefully, I can get some colorblind plates ones published soon too.

april 21/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin hill turn around
38 degrees
snow flurries

Strange weather. Overcast, then sun, then snow pellets — graupels. A few times, I saw the faintest trace of my shadow. Almost impossible to believe that a week ago it was 67 and I was running in shorts and a tank top.

Ran through the tunnel of trees and noticed several of the trees had bent branches. Still attached but split. I only noticed them because of how the split part was much lighter than the rest of the tree. As I ran by, I kept seeing flashes of light where a branch was bent. A strange sight. Must have been all the wind last week.

Looking down from high up on the gorge, I could see how full the river was. Water stretching far into the floodplains, moving fast downstream. Lots of white foam. I tried to think of what metal to compare the river to, but decided it was too dull to be metallic. It looked like chocolate milk (and not in a good way, if there is a good way to look like chocolate milk). At the bottom of the hill, the water wasn’t any higher than it had been on Monday.

There were 2 runners on the hill doing hill sprint repeats. Both running fast. Most vivid image: one runner (who might have been Olympian Carrie Tollefson?) sprinting up the hill, her greenish-gray gloves rhythmically moving back and forth as she pumped her arms.

Greeted Dave the Daily Walker at the beginning of the run — Good morning Dave! Passed Daddy Long Legs — in black with a bright orange jacket — at the top of the hill.

I can’t remember listening to anything on the way to Franklin, listened to “swim meet motivation” playlist on the way home.

Had some fleeting thoughts about my vision poems — now in 3 different forms: Snellen Charts, Amsler Grids with scotomas, and Ishihara colorblind plates — and how to put them altogether. Then I started to think more about forms and how it’s difficult for me to see/read some of my own poems, how certain forms are dissolving as words become more difficult to read. I wondered what it would like, sound like, feel like, to write even sparser poems, with even fewer words?

A. R. Ammons’ garbage

I’ve lost a little momentum with the final sections of garbage — too meandering? I’ll try to finish it, but not today. I have about 20 pages left. First, Ammons’ full name = Archie Randolph Ammons. Second, I decided to return to the poem that inspired me to read garbage in the first place: “Corsons Inlet.” I’m hoping that reading so much of garbage might give me more insight into “Corsons.” Reading it again, just now, I’m reminded of a line and a poem that I was reviewing this morning as I attempted to re-memorize it: Rita Dove’s “Voiceover” and the opening lines:

Impossible to hold a landscape in your head.
Try it: all you’ll get is pieces.

And here are some parts of Ammons poem that fit with Dove’s lines:

Overall is beyond me: is the sum of these events
I cannot draw, the ledger I cannot keep, the accounting
beyond the account:


but in the large view, no
lines or changeless shapes: the working in and out, together   
and against, of millions of events: this,
so that I make 
no form of


I will try
to fasten into order enlarging grasps of disorder, widening
scope, but enjoying the freedom that
Scope eludes my grasp, that there is no finality of vision,
that I have perceived nothing completely,
that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.

april 20/RUN

3.65 miles
locks and dam #1 hill loop
38 degrees

It’s supposed to rain all day, starting around 9 am, so I went out for a shorter run at 8. Made it back before it started. Dark and damp. Long line-ups of cars, commuters heading to work, I suppose. I liked watching their bright headlights cut through the gray air. At 42nd street a runner whose cadence sounded much faster than mine passed me. I enjoyed watching the steady, relaxed rhythm of her feet rising and falling, up down, up down. Such grace!

I remember looking at the river and wondering how high it was, but I don’t remember much else about it, except: at the bottom of the locks and dam hill, right by the closed gate, the water was foaming and contained some trash. Yuck.

Heard traffic rushing by, water gushing out of the sewer pipe at 42nd, and my feet shuffling on the grit as I ran south. After running up the hill I stopped to put in music — Kool and the Gang Essentials — and discovered that the soft rubber for my right ear bud was missing. Bummer. Decided just to put the left one in and listen to the gorge and Kool and the Gang as I ran back north.

Yesterday I finished a solid draft of my 8th Ishihara plate poem. Hooray! Very happy with it, especially how I was able to finally (after 2 years of trying) to find a place for a lovely image of the sparkle a swimmer makes as their hands enter the water and light bounces off the ripple they create. Here’s my description in the poem, which I’m tentatively titling, “The Glitter Effect”:

all around swimmers’ hands pierce the 
water, stroke after stroke. Each point of contact be
tween lake finger and light sparks in amber and bu
ilds a glittery bridge from body to body to body 
until we reach the other side.

Should it be sparks in amber or sparks amber? Maybe it should our hands instead of swimmers’ hands? And, what about until the other side is reached? (too passive?)

I also like the ending, although I think the poem might need to do a little more work to get to it:

This is not a 
poem mourning the loss of cone cells. 
This is not even a poem. Th 
is a compass.

Maybe it should be, This is not even a poem, but a compass or This is not even a poem. It is a compass?

Found this poem the other day. Birds!

How Far Away We Are/ Anushka Shah

After “How Far Away We Are,” by Ada Limòn

So we might understand each other better,
I’ve given up on trying to listen for birds
in the morning. But, I am never without them.
The internet is a pocket forest: a green parrot
named Tico who harmonizes in soaring vibrato
to classic rock songs, woolen baby emperor penguins
with prehistoric feet, potoo birds whose fluty songs
haunt even after their diamond mouths close,
a raven named Fable who inflates her blue-black head
feathers before she declares practiced “Mwahs!”
in the same tone as her keeper, and a cockatiel
who sings an Apple ringtone (you know the one)
when it’s upset. How incredible it is that they all
perch together. How to tell you: It’s been years since
I’ve wanted to die, but I still don’t understand why
sometimes it feels so difficult to brush my teeth,
start my day, end my day. Why I always miss you,
but sometimes I can’t even think of you. Why, when
we are separated, when my mind is difficult,
birds are easy. Today, after watching ten videos
of hummingbirds before noon, I feel light enough to push
off my comforter’s irresistible smother and flit around
the house. I want the whir of a sequined green body,
red-adoring eyes, and narrow tongue coiling into skull,
as much as I want the steady sleep-twitch of your
warm body pressed against me. I’m passing this idea
to you: One day, maybe we could plant zinnias
and cardinal flowers in a ruby cluster and wait
for hummingbirds to unfurl and flick their tongues
into an easy sweetness. We could fill two glasses
with cold water and put them on the nightstand.
We could watch together, even on a palm-sized screen—
floating swans, a white, crested pet pigeon waddling
herself to bed, sprinting ostriches, a parakeet father
insistently squawking, “iloveyoubabies gonnafeedthebabies.”

Lines I love and want to remember:
The internet is a pocket forest:
when my mind is difficult,/birds are easy.
I want the whir of a sequined green body,/red-adoring eyes, and narrow tongue coiling into skull,

follow-up, a few hours later: Scrolling through Instagram, I came across a wonderful poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. Around 5 or 6 years ago, when I lost enough cone cells that I could no longer ignore that something wasn’t right with my eyes, I would always pretend to see the bird that someone else was pointing out. Now, I’m more likely to admit I can’t see it. Perhaps when the novelty of knowing what’s wrong with me and not having to pretend to see what I can’t wears off, I’ll go back to saying Yes!

Lying While Birding/ Naomi Shihab Nye

Yes       Yes

        I see it

so they won’t keep telling you

           where it is

note: Nye’s reading of the poem on the site is wonderful.

april 18/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin hill turn around
44 degrees

Great weather for a run! Sunny, low wind, crisp air. Felt strong, relaxed, steady. Kept track of the river as I ran north. Decided I’d run as far on the river road trail as I could before it was closed for flooding. I made it to the bottom of the hill. Wow! How long before the river crests? I looked it up; not until Sunday. Wow! The river is rising because of how fast the snow melted last week.

Before heading back up the hill, I checked out the water and took a picture:

a walking and biking trail half flooded with river water

A few other people — some walkers, 2 dogs, a runner with a jogging stroller — were down here checking it out too.

As I ran north, I listened to the birds, the traffic, the silence. Heading back up franklin hill and running south, I listened to Taylor Swift’s 1989.


First it was the shadow of a bird flying over my head. Then my sharp shadow just in front of me. Then sprawling tree shadows stretched across the trail. I started seeing shadows everywhere and thinking about how they help me to navigate the world — how, when I can’t see something, I might be able to see its shadow cast on the sidewalk. I feel like there was another distinctive shadow, but I can’t seem to remember what it was.


At the very end of the run, Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” came on and I heard these lines:

I was thinking that you could be trusted
Did you have to ruin
What was shiny? Now it’s all rusted

And I remembered, yes, I’m very interested in rust as a color too. I last mentioned in on March 13, 2023 with Schuyler and ED’s “elemental Rust.” I’m thinking of it less as a color-as-noun (like brownish reddish orange), more as color-as-verb and in relation to erosion, decomposing, crumbling — this is where it connects with texture. Does this make any sense, even to me? Not sure, but it seems helpful to think of rust in relation to shiny. Are they in contrast to each other? Only if you imagine shiny and sparkling as new, which isn’t always the case.

Currently, I’m in the weird, all-over-the-place space with my 8th Ishihara plate poem. Trying to consider different possibilities, not shut out ideas, letting my mind meander and take strange (wrong?) turns. This morning I had big ideas about creating a playlist of sparkling, shimmering, dazzling, glittering songs that could help me to find a way into the poem (this method worked with listening to frank ocean’s channel ORANGE as I wrote orange). Not sure it’s working, it’s harder to find “glitter” songs that aren’t by Mariah Carey. Plus, I do better when my inspirations are more slanted, less direct, less literal.

In the hopes of offering a little focus, here are some non-music inspirations and ideas I’m currently drawing from and that I’ve listed in my notes:


Eamon Grennan’s beautiful silver ribbon in “Lark-Luster”: when summer happens, you’d almost see the long silver ribbons of song the bird braids as if binding lit air to earth that is all shadows, to keep us (as we walk our grounded passages down here) alive to what is over our heads—song and silence—and the lot of us leaning up: mind-defeated again, just harking to it.


Tell me how do I steady my gaze when everything I want is motion? Saccadic Masking/ Paige Lewis


gleam (as in gleaming bronze)
catch the light
reflect, echo, bounce


texture — unsteady rough, not smooth ridged, not flat, patterned — and its influence on light: bird feathers, wind on water/waves, crumbling pavement potholes asphalt pools (puddles), gray depressions — holes/pits in snow casting shadows that look gray


heat energy flame burn flicker flare: a. giving forth dazzling, unsteady light, b. sudden outburst, short-lived, intense, c. gradual widening, spreading out, display in expanded form


A. R. Ammons and another wordless language, not made up of reds and blues and yellows: mutual glistening in a breezy grove of spring aspen speech

There are more influences to come, but I’ve run out of time, so I’ll stop at 6.


april 17/RUN

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
37 degrees / feels like 32
wind: 21 mph

It snowed most of the day yesterday, only a dusting. Today it’s windy and much colder than a week ago. That wind! My ears ache from it now, sitting at my desk, 20 minutes after finishing.

Difficult to pay attention to anything other than the wind. In the first mile, I started chanting, I am the wind and the wind is invisible. All the leaves tremble, but I am invisible. Then I thought about how I might not be able to see the wind, but I could sure feel it! At that point, I began to wander a little. I’ll try to remember: I can’t see wind, but I believe in it/not seeing is believing/what you see is not what you get/belief/last year’s monthly challenge — wysiwyg

Tried to notice things that moved or sparkled but got distracted. Instead I gave attention to the shadows and thought about contrast — distinct lines, sharp divisions, dark shadows / light pavement, ground, grass

Forgot to look at the river. I bet it was sparkling.

The falls were roaring. The park was crowded. Lots of kids at the playground. An adult playing “hot/cold” with someone. I could her calling out, hot! warm warm cold! cold!

Ran on some grit, listened to it sizzle.

Encountered some walkers and runners. I don’t remember seeing any bikers — was that because of all the wind, or did I just forget that I saw them?

For the last mile of the run, I was slowly creeping up on another runner. I tried to slow down so I could keep an even (and far) distance behind him, but I still kept creeping up. Finally, I crossed over to edmund so we were running parallel to each other, divided by the boulevard and the parkway. Within 30 seconds, I passed him.

Tracked the Boston Marathon this morning. Happy that Helen Obiri won and that Emma Bates ran so well. Bummed that Des Linden and Eluid Kipchoge didn’t have great days.

Listened to the rushing wind, yelling kids, sizzling sand, gushing water on the way to the falls. Listened to my swim meet motivation playlist on the way back north.

A. R. Ammonds’ garbage

Onto section 14 today.

the leavings…

thrown out to the chickens will be ground fine

in gizzards or taken underground by beetles and
ants: this will be transmuted into the filigree

of any feelers’ energy vaporizations: chunk and
smear, grease and glob will boil refined in

time’s and guts alembics

alembics = a distilling apparatus used in alchemy

I love the pairing of time and guts here.

on meaningless:

meaningless = a place not meaning yet OR never to mean, which is the emptiness and endlessness of space, the distances of stars OR what to make of so many meanings

it is
fashionable now to mean nothing, not to exist,

because meaning doesn’t hold, and we do not exist
forever; this is forever, we are now in it;

Not sure what to do with this section, except this: I don’t want to try and summarize it. Even as I didn’t grasp everything, I enjoyed reading it, like his references back to earlier parts of the poem, including his love of the baked potato. starch (in Arch) in the potato/meets with my chemistry to enliven by chemistry and the comfort he finds in being free of the complexes of big meaning. And I love his vivid descriptions of breaking down/decomposing. garbage is influencing my writing of my colorblind plate poems, but in slight, slant, off to the side ways.

a final colorblind plate (the 8th)

I have decided that I have one more plate poem to write. It will be about silver and the glitter effect and seeing color as movement and contrast and poetry. Inspired by something I heard on my new favorite show (Escape to the Chateau), I searched “luster” on the Poetry Foundation and found a wonderful poem by another one of my favorite poets, Eamon Grennan. (The line I heard was: Dorothy does glitter, I do luster. It was spoken by mom Angel and refers to her 5 year-old daughter Dorothy. I might have to find room for the differences between glitter and luster in my poem!)

Lark-Luster/ Eamon Grennan

Gravity-defying, the lark in the clear air of a June morning stays aloft on a hoist of song only, and only when song goes as breath gives out does the bird let itself down the blue chute of air in such an aftermath silence so profound you’d think it was a double-life creature: one life aloft in blue, all clarity, the other hidden in the green swaddle of any rocky field out here where, when summer happens, you’d almost see the long silver ribbons of song the bird braids as if binding lit air to earth that is all shadows, to keep us (as we walk our grounded passages down here) alive to what is over our heads—song and silence—and the lot of us leaning up: mind-defeated again, just harking to it.

Oh, that long silver ribbon of song that you can almost see! Love it.

april 15/RUN

3.8 miles
marshall loop
45 degrees

As expected, much cooler today. It is supposed to rain until late afternoon, so I’m happy I managed to run between raindrops. I think it started drizzling towards the end of the run, but it was hard to tell because I was overheated and sweating. Yesterday I wore a tank top and shorts, today the same shorts but with tights, a long sleeved shirt and my winter vest. Tomorrow it might snow. April in Minnesota.

Listened to “swim meet motivation” playlist so I didn’t give much attention to the world. I took my headphones out for a few seconds and heard lots of birds. What else?

10 Things I Noticed

  1. near St. Thomas, 2 runners in red jackets on the other side of Cretin, sprinting down the sidewalk
  2. the river: brown, dull, flat
  3. later, exiting the lake street bridge, I noticed an unusual number of cars turning off from the river road. An event somewhere?
  4. I think a house I always pass by on this loop has a new fence, or has it always been there and I just noticed it today?
  5. the sky was dark and gloomy
  6. most of the cars had their headlights on. I could see them through the bare trees on the other side of the ravine by shadow falls
  7. one car didn’t have their headlights on and I could barely see them
  8. 2 different lime scooters parked in awkward spots, one blocking part of the sidewalk on marshall, the other up against the railing on the lake street bridge
  9. no eagle perched on the dead tree on the east side of the lake street bridge
  10. mud + leafy muck + water collecting at the sidewalk curb entrances. a few times I stepped right in it

A. R. Ammons’ garbage

Section 13 took me a few read throughs to find a way in. In section 12, Ammons had railed against words, too many words! In section 13, he describes two types of men who use too many words: the blabbermouth and the loudmouth. Then he ends with this:

whirlwind, not human, I’m the whirlwind: the
creaking hills, not human, my silence cracks and

creaks: the flow of clouds not mine, my
motions trained clear by clouds: and the

streams’ yielding bending fathers my winding:
and the semicircles’ gusts before storms make

grassclumps draw in the sand—these are the
going closures that organize mind, allowing

and limiting, my mind’s ways: the rabbit’s
leaps and halts, listenings, are prosody of

a poem floating around the mind’s brush: I
mix my motions in with the mix of motions, all

motions cousins, conveyors, purveyors, surveyors,
rising from the land, eddying coils of wash,

bristling with fine-backed black clarity as with
brookripples over stone, spreading out, evaporating

or seeping in under, soaking, salt flats, the
turkey buzzard whirling, the wind whirling,

the giant “stills” of the sea and I, and sand,
whirling, stalling, breaking out, getting on,

coming round—cousins, not silent, either,
communicative, but not with human sound,

communicative motions making sounds, much mutual
glistening in a breezy grove of spring aspen speech

prosody: I know I know this word, having encountered dozens of times, but somehow I still forget what it means. I looked it up: the patterns of rhythm and sound used on poetry

This bit reminds me of Ammons’ earlier discussion in section 7 about non-human languages — whales, horses, birds. Here it’s the language of motions. I love this last line:

much mutual
glistening in a breezy grove of spring aspen speech

Spring aspen speech? So good. Reading this part about all the motion, I’m thinking of one of my introductions to Ammons and the initial inspiration for studying him this month: “Corsons Inlet.” Once I finish garbage I’ll have to read that poem again.

april 12/RUN

5.85 miles
ford loop
68 degrees

Hot. Bright sun. No shade. All the snow melted, all the walking paths clear and open. I ran with my shadow today. Above shadow falls she stuck tight to my side, but farther south she dropped down into the gorge. My favorite part of the run was the river, burning silver in the sun and the wind. Second favorite thing: the intense blue of the sky — wow! — against the deep green of an evergreen tree, then the shuffle of my feet over the grit and the dry dirt, and the stopping at the overlook on the east side. Least favorite things: sweating so much and how the heat made my knees stiffen and swell after I was done.

Listened to other people’s conversations, traffic, the wind, geese for the first half of the run. Listened to an old playlist (Jan/Feb long run) for the second half.

A. R. Ammons’ garbage

some lines to remember:


let’s study the motions (55)

motions today: wind, waves, shimmery river, a soaring honking goose, the clicking and clacking or a roller skis poles, falling water seeping out of the limestone, light bouncing off the roof of a building on the other side, flashing lights from a truck, the long-reaching gait of a tall runner, the compact swing of a short runner.


when I learned
about poetry, I must have recognized a means

to command silence in them, the means so to
combine thinking and feeling, imagination and

movement as to spell them out of speech:
people would buy the enchantment and get the

point reason couldn’t, the point delivered below
the level of argument, straight into the fat

of feeling (55-56)

For me, silence = a silencing of judgment and the impulse to always dismiss or tear apart or not take seriously, to listen and let the words move you and make you wonder

delivered below/the level of argument, straight into the fat/of feeling. Love it!

Here’s a poem I encountered on twitter that I’d like to remember (and maybe memorize):

Equinox/ Diannely Antigua

The next spring iI said No.
I said no to the melting snow, the pile
making streams in the grocery store parking lot.
I said no to the sparrow at the birdfeeder, no
to its beak, the small seed it held, no
to the hem of my yellow skirt,
the one my grandmother could’ve sewed,
thread dangling down my thigh.
Then I said no to the sight of green—
the grass covered in winter’s salt, the still wet
lettuce on a plate, the static
glow in the corners of the TV.
But I didn’t know what to say
as I watched the praying mantis
feeding the eggs inside her
their father’s head.