may 29/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls
57 degrees

A beautiful morning for a run! Sun! Shadows! A slight breeze! Ran with Scott to the falls — no stopping today. Mostly it was fine, but the last mile was hard. My left leg was tight. I kept going because Scott wasn’t stopping and I knew I could do it. And now, since I did do it, I know I can do it the next time. Because of my effort, I can’t remember what we talked about. But I do remember encountering some little kids on the path — I was too distracted by the old guy muttering, share the path, as they passed to hear them, but Scott did: the kid, pointing to some flower near the path: We used to have those, but now they don’t grow anymore. Scott was delighted by the way the kid said one of the words — now? — and tried to imitate them.

Oh! Just remembered something I talked about: Emily Dickinson’s “To Make a Prairie.” I was trying to recite it, but I could only remember 2 of the 3 things it took to make the prairie, a/one bee and reverie. Had to look it up: a clover! Of course.

seen: the fine spray of water coming off of the falls, making everything look hazy and dreamy
felt: that same spray, soft, cool, refreshing, barely perceptible
heard: the song, “Eye of the Tiger” from a painter’s radio at a house we passed by at the beginning of our run
smelled: our neighbor’s lilac bush, overpowering, sickly sweet, giving off intense floral energy
taste: anything? probably the salt from my sweat at some point

A few weeks ago, I requested Victoria Chang’s The Trees Witness Everything. Love the brevity of her form! Back in Jan 2022, I got an early, chapbook version of this collection. In the notes of that chapbook, she describes her project:

notes from Victoria Chang’s chapbook, Another Lost Year

Her project of using the different court poetry of Japan is inspiring me to do more with my breathing and striking rhythms: 3/2, 2/1, 3/3/3, and 3/3/3/4. Also, her use of Merwin titles makes me want to use titles/lines-as-titles from Emily Dickinson and other “vision” poets! Yes!

Here are a few:

Losing Language/ Victoria Chang

We were born with a
large door on our backs. When will
we know if it opens?

The Flight/ Victoria Chang

I no longer watch
the birds during the day. I
prefer to save them
for my dreams where an owl’s face
has more than one expression.

In the Open/ Victoria Chang

Weather is wet, it
doesn’t have joints. How snow just
becomes rain, what’s that
change called? Trees witness everything,
but they always look away.

Thinking more about my running rhythms, I’m realizing that I want to tighten up the form some more by limiting the number of lines and total syllables. I like 5, but that might be too few?

Late Wonders/ Victoria Chang

My face is now gone.
Instead, I have a hawk’s face.
None of the poets
notice, they only want fame.
Fame is a bucket of eyes.

and for this month’s focus on shadows:

The Time of Shadow/ Victoria Chang

The zookeepers feed
all the shadows light and meat.
The shadows wish so
badly to leave their bodies,
but they stay for the children.

Thinking about Chang’s use of Merwin titles and my interest in using ED titles, I am reminded of a discussion in Ted Kooser’s book, The Poetry Home Repair Manual:

You can open just about any book of poetry and find poets using titles to carry information. Just look at a table of contents and you’ll see how useful titles can be in suggesting waht poems will be about. . . .

In short, a title isn’t something you stick on just because you think a poem is supposed to have one. Titles are very important tools for delivering information and setting expectations.

The Poetry Home Repair Manual / Ted Kooser

april 25/RUN

4 miles
dogwood run
52 degrees

Did a run with Scott to Dogwood Coffee on a beautiful spring morning. Wore my new running shorts. They’re blue and very comfortable, which is a big deal because it’s difficult to find good running shorts. We ran north to the bottom of the franklin hill, then back up it until we stopped to walk for the last stretch. I know we looked at the river, but I don’t remember what it looked like. Was it smooth? Blue? Any foam? I have no recollection. I do remember that there weren’t any rowers on it. No geese either.

I talked about a video I watched earlier today on how to write poetry for beginners by a poetry influencer. (I didn’t like it). Scott talked about some drama happening in the big band he’s in.

After the run, waiting in line at Dogwood, I overheard the woman ahead of us tell the barista her name was Sara. She asked his name: Scott. I just had to chime in that we were a Sara and Scott too! She mentioned that she just met someone the other day who had the same birthday as her. The only 2 people I know that have the same birthday as me are two of RJP’s former frenemies.

Anything else? Not that many people running . . . just remembered that we saw two people running up the franklin hill. One of them was accompanied by a roller skier.

Also: as we ran under the trestle something was crossing the tracks above us. A train? Nope a truck with special wheels for riding on the track. I turned around and ran backwards to watch it for a minute and discovered that running backwards is kind of nice. I liked how it worked by leg muscles differently.

random etymology: Happened upon the origins of gnarled:

We owe the adjective gnarled and other forms of the word to our friend Shakespeare, who created it in 1603. In Measure for Measure, he writes, “Thy sharpe and sulpherous bolt splits the un-wedgable and gnarled oak.” But gnarled didn’t come into use again until the 19th century. In any case, word experts believe it’s related to the Middle English word knar which means “knot in wood.”

gnarled

Today is Ted Kooser’s birthday. I’m happy to report that although I thought he was dead — having posted about it on 22 april 2022, he is not! I’m not sure why I thought he was, but all the results on my google search indicate that he is still alive. He’s a wonderful poet, and person according to what I’ve read from poetry people on 2022 twitter. Here’s a poem I read this morning on poetry foundation:

So This is Nebraska / Ted Kooser

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.

You feel like that; you feel like letting
your tires go flat, like letting the mice
build a nest in your muffler, like being
no more than a truck in the weeds,

clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
or holding a skinny old man in your lap
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like

waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave
instead and leave your hand out gliding
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.

Oh, I love so much about this poem — everything?! You can listen to him read it at poetry foundation (poem title is link). I want to spend more time with his writing.