feb 11/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
21 degrees
wind + ice + snow

Watched most of the next episode of Dickinson. Emily is trying to help everyone, yet is failing to help anyone. She’s torn between Sue and her mother and sister, Austin and her father. She wants to lock herself in her room and write, believing that her poems are the only/best way to help others — her family and the nation, both divided, and the dying soldiers. A key question comes up a few times: what can poetry do? (and, is poetry ever more than just words?) I haven’t quite finished the episode, but this answer seems to be the most compelling, offered by the local seamstress, an African American woman named Betty:

Emily: So what if I can’t fix all the messy relationships in my family? The best thing I can do for the world, is to lock myself in my room and write my poetry.

Betty: But what good are your poems going to be if you do that? If you can’t handle the mess of the world, why should anyone need to hear what you have to say? Writing that shuts real life out is as good as dead.

Right before I started running, I listened to a recording of myself reading my mannequin poem. I have too many details, but I like the direction it’s going. Lots of editing needed. Here’s the beginning:

At the far edge of the fair
behind Merchandise Mart
in a red brick building
squeezed into an enormous glass case
are the mannequins.
Surrounded by
a glorious mess
of mismatched
textures textiles techniques
and adorned in handmade
hats and sweaters and coats
these legless armless women
preside over
a celebration
of an art form
both timeless and timed out.

Listening to the recording before I ran didn’t help me solve any of my poetry problems. Instead, I focused on my playlist as I ran.

It’s windy and white, with ice and snow covering the sidewalks. A blah day. February in its dreariest. Speaking of which, a poetry person posted this awesome news segment about February:

The idea about the trees revealing the truth, telling it like it is, seems like another version of, “What you see is what you get.” It’s funny because I have the opposite reaction to bare branches; I love the view they offer, and the gnarled truths they reveal. This could be another “WYSIWYG” poem.

feb 9/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 1.45 miles

32 degrees, feels like 22, with 22 mph wind gusts. Puddled paths that are part slushy water, part ice. With these conditions, and since I ran outside yesterday, I decided to stay inside. Watched another episode of Dickinson. Sue is in labor, Emily’s mom (also named Emily) is her self-appointed midwife. Austin is drunk and hosting a maple sugaring party. And Emily is meeting up with Austin’s college friend who is about to leave for the war and who Emily believe will die (and become the “nobody” ghost that haunted her in season 2). He tells her that she is the only person who is willing to tell the truth about the horrors of the war, to “call it like it is,” to look straight into the darkness. Could this be another definition of “what you see is what you get”? A straight shooter, truth-teller who calls it like it is? While I ran, I listened to a playlist and tried to think some more about out-of-date mannequins and the “as is.” And, maybe I did, but now, about 30 minutes after I finished my run, all I can remember is connecting my love for the unloved, dismissed mannequins with the aging body and a fear of death.


feb 7/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 2.6 miles
7 degrees / feels like 0

Thought about running outside, but decided that it would be warmer tomorrow, and that I wanted to watch some more of Dickinson. Finished the first episode of season 3, which was all about death — Aunt Lavinia’s death, too many young men in the community dying due to the Civil War, Edward (Dad) having chest pains and then almost dying from a heart attack, the barely alive relationship of Austin and Sue. Some of the parallels between the never-ending, nation dividing war and the pandemic seemed a bit heavy-handed, but it was funny to hear Lavinia (sister) lamenting her lost 20s because of the war: “It’s soooo boring and taking sooo long. This is our 20s, we’re supposed to be having fun!”

Started my run by listening to Erik Larson’s No One Goes Alone, but then decided I wanted to listen to music and think more about my latest version of “what you see is what you get”: as is…In praise of the “as is,” the outdated, bargain basement dwelling forgotten ones. I’m thinking about the State Fair mannequins and how I’ve wanted to write about them for years now. Maybe I finally will? I hope so.

A few minutes into the run, I had some ideas, so I stopped my music, pulled out my phone, and recorded them while running. A bit awkward, but I didn’t drop the phone or fall off the treadmill. Listening back to the recording, it’s hard to hear my voice over my striking feet, so I won’t post the recording. I talked about the “as is” as the old, out-dated, bargain basement, and progressive lenses versus bifocals and how the type of cone dystrophy I have is progressive cone dystrophy because my vision has not stabilized and is continuing to grow worse — it’s progressively deteriorating, as opposed to stationary cone dystrophy where your vision stays at the same level; it’s already lost what it’s going to lose. The progress I’m experiencing is progress as getting worse not better, which is a type of progress that rarely gets mentioned in all the appeals to it. This reminds me of Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing and a line she has about capitalism wanting uncontrolled/unlimited growth and how that’s what cancer is. I found it on goodreads:

But beyond self-care and the ability to (really) listen, the practice of doing nothing has something broader to offer us: an antidote to the rhetoric of growth. In the context of health and ecology, things that grow unchecked are often considered parasitic or cancerous. Yet we inhabit a culture that privileges novelty and growth over the cyclical and the regenerative. Our very idea of productivity is premised on the idea of producing something new, whereas we do not tend to see maintenance and are as productive in the same way.

How to Do Nothing/ Jenny Odell

I also found a similar, and much earlier quotation by the park ranger/ troublemaker/ writer/ environmental activist Edward Abbey:

growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.

Edward Abbey

About a mile later, my thoughts went in a different direction with the as is. Here is some of the notes I recorded into my phone mid-run:

  • “as is” in terms of metaphor — I think I was thinking about the “as” or “as in this or that…” — and how what you see is what you get is the opposite of metaphor, the what that you see is what it is and nothing else, not almost or approximate.
  • what you see = your perspective, how you perceive/interpret/understand the world is how it is (or, more precisely how it seems/appears) to you. I was thinking particularly about my struggles to see/recognize other people’s faces and how I imagine others see me as rude or distant or unfriendly because of it. But, do they, or is that how I see myself? I feel like I’m not quite explaining this as I’d like to, but I’ll leave it for now

Of course, when I think about “as is,” I also think about IKEA and their as-is department:

The As-Is section is where you can view the selection of floor samples, discontinued pieces, and customer returns at a reduced price. IKEA has a certain amount of merchandise throughout the year that we retire, which ensures that we keep our selection of products up-to-date. That merchandise can end up in As-Is along with seasonal products that are left over after summer or after the winter holidays.

source

priced to sell, reduced, retired, discontinued, out-of-date, used, floor sample, damaged, banged up, unwanted or not wanted enough, last chance, remainders, hidden in plain sight (you know it’s there, but you ignore it), minor flaws (descriptions from the IKEA interview).

As Is/ Nicholas Friedman

Just north of town, a quaint Sargasso Sea*
for bric-a-brac: the barn, itself antique,
spills over with a grab-bag panoply
of outworn stock revalued as “unique.”
Typewriters tall as headstones fill the loft
where they’ve been ricked away like sacks of grain;
a coffer yawns the must of oak—gone soft—
when one man, squinting, lifts the lid to feign
intrigue. Nearby, his wife surveys the smalls:
art deco bangles bright as harpsichords,
a glut of iron trivets, Christmas balls,
Depression glass and warping Ouija boards.
One man’s junk is another’s all the same.
They don’t buy much, but that’s not why they came.

*I am familiar with Jean Rhys’s book, but wasn’t sure how Sargasso Sea worked here. Looked it up: “a vast area of the northern Atlantic Ocean which is home to sargassum, a kind of seaweed. The Sargasso Sea is legendary for being an oceanic black hole, where ships get ensnared by huge forests of floating seaweed, or drift helplessly when the wind ceases to blow.” Also found out: It’s the only sea not bounded by land.

feb 5/BIKERUN

bike: 10 minutes
bike stand
run: 3.25 miles
treadmill
10 degrees / feels like -6

Watched a few more minutes of Dickinson. Austin is drunk all the time, Sue is expecting his baby, Sue and Emily have declared their love for each other, Edward (Emily’s Dad) is having chest pains, and the mean girls are back. Oh, and the Civil War is raging and all the men in the town are dying. Should be an interesting season. Began listening to Erik Larson’s new book about William James and his expedition to a haunted house while I ran. Excellent! It’s called, No One Goes Alone. Listening to a book on the treadmill might help me to run longer. 30 minutes went by pretty quickly.

While I ran, I had some ideas of what and how to write about what you see is what you get: a lyric essay that juxtaposes many different ideas about it. I pulled out my phone and recording myself as I ran:

notes while running

Later, after I finished my run, while I was doing a cool down walk on the treadmill, I thought of another idea about what you see is what you get and Medusa and spoke it into my phone:

notes while walking

And, thinking about WYSIWYG as whizzywig, here’s a delightful poem I discovered about wigs:

Wigs Everywhere/ Justin Jannise

The brown squirrel, coiled & clinging
to the guardrail of my balcony,
is a wig.

I stepped out of the shower to dry my feet
on a damp wig.

You can fold a wig in a certain way
that it becomes a cup from which you can swig

water or juice or wigskey,
which is whiskey distilled
from fermented wigs.

I met Dolly Parton & she was all wig.

Kristen Wiig is a wig.
So was Ludwig van Beethoven.

In Britain, there used to be two political parties
—the Whigs & the Wigs.

There are wigs that are mops
& wigs that seduce cops.

In some countries, it is illegal for wigs
to marry other wigs.

Have you ever slept in a wig? It’s itchy.

The best wigs in life are free,
but the second-best cost
extraordinary amounts of money.

Somewhere in Detroit, you can trade
20 small wigs for one giant wig

& the award for Best Wig Ever goes to
Medusa. I love how she’d rather lose her head
than part with it

& how, even without a heart,
the head maintains its awful power.

feb 4/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand
run: 2.2 miles
treadmill
7 degrees / feels like -8

Finished the final episode of season 2 of Dickinson and started the first episode of season 3 while I biked. This first episode of season 3 is titled, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” I memorized that poem last March. Didn’t think about it that much while I was finishing up my bike, but it, particularly the idea of hope, returned to me on my run.

I started my run feeling out of sorts, thinking about the possibility of a job I could apply for that sounds like a good/fun opportunity, but might require more vision than I have. As often is the case, I wondered: am I not pushing myself enough, using my vision loss as an excuse, or is this job just something too far beyond my abilities — too demanding, too much, too impractical for someone who can’t see fast enough? It took listening to several songs before I forgot these worries.

As I ran, I stared ahead at the blank tv screen, noticing how that empty black screen filled most of my central vision, while all around it, on the edge and outside of the frame were images — the light above, the wall to the wide, parts of the treadmill and the floor below. All the things I can see in my periphery. Even when my central vision is all gone, if/when that happens, I don’t think I will see the world like this, with a black space surrounded by slightly fuzzy, but identifiable shapes. Everything in the center will be more like a smudge, or a fogged up window.

Thinking about my periphery and what I can see with it, I’m reminded of watching ice skating on the olympics last night. I can tell my vision is worse; it is very difficult to follow, or to see the skater — well, I could see the skater, but mostly just flashes of their movement, not as a whole, complete object. To actually see the skater, I tried looking off to my right so I could see them through my periphery. Much better. Not completely clear, but they became a discrete, stable object on the ice.

So, I was thinking all morning about my theme for the month, what you see is what you get. I discovered that it was the catch phrase of Flip Wilson, used by his character, Geraldine. One source I found suggested it meant: this is me, accept me for who (and what and how) I am. I also was reminded that this phrase turns into a computer acronym: WYSIWIG. I mostly use the WYSIWIG editor on wordpress. I forgot it was called that because now they refer to it as the visual editor (as opposed to the code editor). I kept thinking about how this idea that what you see on the screen is what appears on the printed page is an illusion, concealing all the code that is required to make it appear as you want it. About a decade ago, I started learning some of that code (html, css). I don’t know much, just enough to understand that everything about how words or images look online involves a ton of behind-the-scenes brackets and semi-colons and classes and ids (and more). I find a lot of value in understanding, or at least being familiar with, how this works. And, I find a lot of danger in believing that all of what appears on a screen just is the way it is, almost by magic. I’m not suggesting that everyone should learn to code — wasn’t that a trendy slogan a few years ago? — but that they should be aware of how it works, and that it exists.

This ignoring of the process, and the naive belief that “things just happen,” reminds me of how many (most?) people believe vision works: you see what’s there with your eyes. They don’t think about the complex processes of vision, from cornea to retina to visual cortex, and how the brain, to make things easier and/or efficient, or because it has limited data, distorts or alters or guesses. When we see, we are not seeing the world as it is, but how our brains have figured it out.

Human perception is patently imperfect, so even a normal brain must fabricate a fair amount of data to provide a complete sense of our surroundings. We humans are lucky that we have these fancy brains to chew up the fibrous chunks of reality and regurgitate it into a nice, mushy paste which our conscious minds can digest. But whenever one of us notices something that doesn’t exist, or fails to notice something that does exist, our personal version of the world is nudged a little bit further from reality. It makes one wonder how much of reality we all have in common, and how much is all in our minds.

Chuck Bonnet and the Hallucinations/ Alan Bellows

As I was running, I thought again about E Dickinson and her feathered hope, and then the idea of hope and faith, and why we need it, how we envision it. Then, I pulled out my phone and recorded myself, mid-run:

What you see is what you get is an illusion, a type of empty hope, false faith, that some need to survive.

Is this fair? I’m not sure, but it’s something to think about some more, the idea that people invest an uncritical faith (I’m resisting the impulse to write “blind faith” here) and superficial hope in the belief that what we see is what is there, and that what we see is what is real. This belief provides comfort, makes it easier, enables them to not have to question or challenge, just accept.

Also on my run, as I listened to the excellent-for-running song, TNT by AC/DC, I thought about alt-text, and alt-text poetry, and how I might use it for a poem that pushes against the idea that what you see is what you get. Maybe vivid text descriptions of some things I see in my strange, slightly off ways, paired with straight, clear/basic description of those same things? I really like this idea; I’ll keep going with it to see if it could work.

To remember:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers/ Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers —
That perches in the soul —
And sings the tune without the words —
And never stops — at all –

And sweetest — in the gale — is heard —
And sore must be the storm —
That could abash the little Bird —
That kept so many warm —

I’ve heard it in the chillest land —
And on the strangest sea —
Yet, never in Extremity,
It asked a crumb — of Me.

“Faith” is a fine invention / Emily Dickinson

“Faith” is a fine invention
For Gentlemen who see!
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency!

feb 2/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minutes
bike stand
run: 2.8 miles
treadmill
2 degrees/ feels like -13

Another short stretch of very cold weather. Started the next episode of Dickinson while I biked, which is continuing the themes of fame, whether or not to be published, and the possible value of being invisible/ a Nobody. Fame is associated with glory and the impending Civil War and is presented almost exclusively as empty and unsatisfying. Invisibility, a quiet power, is better.

While I ran, listened to a playlist. Stared at the blank, black screen of the television. Don’t remember hearing anything, other than my music, or smelling anything. When I ran a few days ago, my daughter was cooking herself some lunch and had left the basement door open; I smelled her Velveeta mac-n-cheese. It was unpleasant. I don’t remember feeling much, other than my feet striking the belt. No wisps of hair falling out of my ponytail, feeling like spider webs. Did I feel any drips of sweat? Probably.

Missed Time/ Ha Jin

My notebook has remained blank for months 
thanks to the light you shower 
around me. I have no use 
for my pen, which lies 
languorously without grief. 

Nothing is better than to live 
a storyless life that needs 
no writing for meaning— 
when I am gone, let others say 
they lost a happy man, 
though no one can tell how happy I was.

I found this poem buried deep in a folder yesterday afternoon. It fits with the conversation I’ve been having with Dickinson as I watch and reflect on fame and being invisible. I didn’t think about many things while I was running, but I do remember thinking about how so much of my writing and documenting my life, on this running log, and my other online spaces (trouble, story, undisciplined, unofficial student transcript), is about recording my life for future others, including future Sara. This impulse (or compulsion) to document is partly the result of my love of storytelling, but it also comes from my desire to give others, especially my kids or their kids, etc., what I desperately wanted from my mom after she died: more words about a life lived — thoughts, experiences, accounts, stories. I missed the epic conversations I used to have with my mom, and I would have loved to continue them with her words. And, I wanted to know more about how she felt, what she thought about. Will my kids want my words? I’m not sure, but if they do, they’ll be there, a lot of them.

I disagree with the idea that nothing is better than to live/a storyless life that needs/no writing for meaning, and I don’t think happy is how I’d like to be remembered. Delighted? Joyful? Patient? Satisfied?

jan 28/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minutes
bike stand
run: 2.2 miles
treadmill

Watched the rest of the Dickinson episode about fame, which includes ED in a carriage with Death (Wiz Khalifa) and recently deceased, Edgar Allen Poe (Nick Kroll), who tells her how unsatisfying fame is, to which she utters: “Fame is a bee.” Nice. I wish they would have had the bee in the carriage too.

Fame is a bee./ Emily Dickinson

Fame is a bee.
It has a song—
It has a sting—
Ah, too, it has a wing.

Ran to my new playlist. Again, didn’t think about much, or if I did think about anything, I don’t remember what it was. Returning to Dickinson, here’s a poem that includes doors (I mentioned a twitter thread a few days ago about doors in poetry) and ghosts!

One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —/ Emily Dickinson

One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —
One need not be a House —
The Brain has Corridors — surpassing
Material Place —

Far safer, of a Midnight Meeting
External Ghost
Than its interior Confronting —
That Cooler Host.

Far safer, through an Abbey gallop,
The Stones a’chase —
Than Unarmed, one’s a’self encounter —
In lonesome Place —

Ourself behind ourself, concealed —
Should startle most —
Assassin hid in our Apartment
Be Horror’s least.

The Body — borrows a Revolver —
He bolts the Door —
O’erlooking a superior spectre —
Or More —

And, here’s another poem that includes both doors and ghosts that I’ve posted before:

Doors/ Carl Sandburg

An open door says, “Come in.” 
A shut door says, “Who are you?” 
Shadows and ghosts go through shut doors. 
If a door is shut and you want it shut,
why open it? 
If a door is open and you want it open,
why shut it? 
Doors forget but only doors know what it is
doors forget.

jan 26/BIKERUN

bike: 16 minutes
bike stand
run: 3.25 miles
treadmill
0 / feels like -8

Cold. Reviewing the temp now, maybe I could have run outside. Hopefully, tomorrow. Watched more of the Dickinson episode that I started yesterday while I biked. On the same day that her poem is published in the paper, Emily wakes up invisible and is confronted with the limits of fame, and the freedom that not being noticed can bring. Fame is a common theme in ED’s work. From what I’ve read, scholars/lovers of ED don’t always agree (surprise surprise) on how much fame did or didn’t matter to her. Did she crave fame? Did she keep her poems private because she was happy to be anonymous? Was she shunned? I need to revisit my notes, to remember more of the thoughts. In the beginning of this episode, fame is presented as empty and fickle. According to the “Nobody” ghost that haunts her in this episode (it’s been too long since I watched this show, but I know this dude appeared in earlier episode. I’ll have to check if I mentioned him before), being invisible is better, while being noticed is overrated. I agree. More on this soon, I think.

Listened to a new playlist while I ran, with some good songs for my pace: Wannabe/ Spice Girls, Work It/ Missy Elliot, Poker Face/ Lady Gaga. One song that didn’t work as well, but that I really like anyway: Get Ur Freak On/ Missy Elliot. A little too fast. Didn’t think about much while I ran. One thought: it’s harder to run longer in the basement. Very little to distract you, or maybe engage/delight you. More time to think about how many miles/minutes are left.

In between biking and running, I listened to a draft of my 3 new haunt poems: 1. Before there was girl, there was ghost; 2. Before there was ghost, there was girl; and 3. Before there was ghost or girl, there was gorge. I’m happy with them. I can’t decide whether to put them altogether, as one poem — they’re about 13 5 syllable lines each — or, to sprinkle them between my other haunts poems. Which will work better?

Here’s the poem-a-day from poets.org for Jan 26th:

Inspiration Point/ Jennifer Jean

We’d stare at horses at Will Rogers Park, then hike
the Loop Trail to Inspiration Point, &
I’d lag back 
to be a kid. Alone. & under that aloofness—hid
vengeance. A rusty burr or two 
in my left sneaker. & under that—anxiety. The salt 
dripping through chaparral 
brows, into my brown lashes. &
under that—rage. A perfectly purple 
shell some kid favored & lost.
& under that—hope. The pounded 
ground. & under that—a vast
clearing on the cosmos, also called Inspiration
Point. A gorgeous, inner hilltop

with a curious figure 
taking in the Pacific view. 
Breathing chicory & chamise. Naming 
every wind-boarder near Catalina 
Island. That high-noon, far-sighted figure—seemed
a bit burnt, but warm. A bit divine. 
But—sometimes—I didn’t find that figure 
wow-ing at a thing 
no one had ever seen—at a new bird 
better than a phoenix. (There’s something better than 
a phoenix!) Sometimes, my hand 
stretched towards some nether new
creation & I was the figure 
who named it.

I like the repetition of, & under, and how the poets uses it to peel back layers of her emotions as a kid. I also like the description of rage as a perfectly purple shell. I don’t remember experiencing rage as a kid. Is it because my memory’s bad? or, maybe because my intense emotions would usually manifest themselves in overflowing exuberance (or obnoxiousness)? From what I do remember, I always had trouble hanging onto anger; by the time, I would yell, the anger was gone.

more awesome poetry people

Here’s a thread about meter in poetry that I’d like to spend more time with. I struggle with meter; it’s hard for me to hear. But, I know it’s important, and I’d like to become more familiar with it (in a way that sticks).

jan 25/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.5 miles
treadmill

Started watching Dickinson again while I biked. Finished the episode where they’re at the “spa,” and started the one in which her poem is published and she’s invisible. Listened to a new running playlist while I ran. Stopped to record myself running to check my gait, but it didn’t quite work. I’ll have to try again. My left thigh/hip was sore by the end.

I checked out Paige Lewis’s Space Struck from the library — on the libby app — and I marked a few to remember, including yesterday’s Saccadic Masking. Here’s another for today. I think I wanted to keep it for the question about being the sound or the stillness.

Chapel of the Green Lord/ Paige Lewis

This spring, the smog is so thick
I can’t see the stars, which means
there aren’t any stars left. It’s pointless
to argue against this, to say,
no they’re on vacation, no
they’ll come back with new summer
hats and an answer
to my question: If this world
is a plucked violin string, am I part
of its sound or its stillness?
Once, I woke and believed myself full
of the old heaven. I wanted to trap it,
make it stay. I swallowed
a hive’s worth of honey, and—
and still, no stars. This smog
is thick enough to turn my lungs gummy.
I stay inside, line my bed
with spider plants and succulents,
christen it Chapel of the Green Lord,
and go to sleep with the sheets pulled up
over my sticky mouth.

poetry people for the win!

A great thread on twitter this morning. I’m always looking for poems about exits, entrances, openings, closings: doors!

jan 24/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 2.2 miles
treadmill

More cold, more basement. Watched a Spartan race while I biked, listened to a podcast while I ran. Covered the display panel and didn’t look at my watch, so I (sort of) lost track of time, which was nice. Felt pretty good until the last few minutes, when my legs were sore — my left hip + knee. Did I think about anything? I don’t remember. Oh, I do remember thinking about stopping to set up a camera and do some video of my running. I want to see if I’m raising up my left hip enough. I didn’t stop. Then I thought about physical therapy and remembered the last time I was there, when the therapists recorded some of my running on an iPad. Anything else? Nope. All the thoughts, good or bad, gone. That’s cool.

I’m continuing to work on my Haunts poem. Not sure how I will weave these in, but I want to add a few more parts that deal explicitly with my story of vision loss. Here’s what I have so far. It’s still in the 3/2 form, but turned into 5 syllable lines:

Before there was ghost,
there was girl. Fiercely
physical, sturdy,
not certain but sure
footed, the ground firm
beneath her, able
to shake worlds with her
body, to make worlds
with one glance — meadows,
forests, stintless stars —-
all hers instantly.

Before there was girl,
there was ghost, carried
deep within unknown
ancestors, passed on
to the girl.* Scrambled
code in the back of
each eye, starting a
shift from sharp to soft
so slow it will go
unnoticed until
lines dissolve, letters
blur, ground unmoors, and
a gorge is carved out
between girl and world.

*initially, I wrote this line as:

there was ghost, carried
deep within the girl,
passed on from unknown
ancestors: scrambled…

I can’t decide which I like better.

Since I’m thinking more about vision, and how to express it in poetry, here’s a poem about saccadic masking from Paige Lewis. Like most poems I really like, I don’t quite get it yet.

Saccadic Masking/ Paige Lewis from Space Struck

a phenomenon where the brain blocks out blurred images created by movement of the eye

All constellations are organisms
and all organisms are divine
and unfixed. I am spending
my night in the kitchen. There
is blood in the batter—dark
strands stretch like vocal
cords telling me I am missing
so much with these blurred
visions: a syringe flick, the tremor
of my wrist—raised veins silked
green. I have seen the wings
of a purple finch wavering
around its body, stuck, burned
to the grill of my car, which means
I have failed to notice its flight—
a lesson on infinities, a lesson I
am trying to learn. I am trying.
Tell me, how do I steady my gaze
when everything I want is motion?