april 8/RUN

10k
the flats and back
48 degrees
wind: 10 mph

Because of the ran yesterday, Scott and I did our long run today. It was wet and dark and so humid that we could see our breaths. First we talked about anxiety — Scott’s was about missing some notes at a rehearsal, mine was about waking up with it, feeling it in cramped feet. Then I described a New Yorker article I was reading before we left about forensic linguistics. My description included misplaced apostrophes, devil strips, and Sha Na Na. Wow. Scott spent the last mile of the run trying to remember the name of the guy who was always on 70s game shows, had curly yellow hair, and shot out confetti — Rip Taylor.

We greeted Dave the Daily Walker — Hi Dave! — and listened to some cool-sounding bird. Heard a seep that had turned into a little waterfall below the U. Smelled the sewer. Watched the river move so slowly that it didn’t look like it was moving. We walked part of the franklin hill then ran the rest.

According to my watch, the wind was 10 mph 18 mph gusts. I don’t remember feeling much wind, or hearing it in the trees, of seeing it move the leaves. In fact, the wind was so calm that the water looked still. Not smooth, but no waves, not even ripples. Am I forgetting?

Here’s a wonderful little poem about wind by A. R. Ammons that I found on a favorite site, Brief Poems:

Small Song/ A. R. Ammons

The reeds give way
to the wind

and give
the wind away

A note about the total eclipse: it didn’t really happen here in Minnesota — it was overcast and we weren’t in the path of the eclipse. Oh well. Here’s a pdf of Annie Dillard’s “Total Eclipse” which I must have read for a writing class but that I can’t find a copy of in my files.

april 7/RUN

3.3 miles
trestle turn around
41 degrees
wind: 15 mph / 35 mph gusts

More wind. Ran between raindrops and beside a 10 mile race. The wind was at my back running north, in my face south. Those racers were hardcore, running the first 5 miles into that wind — yuck! Puddles and mud and an over-sized green rain jacket puffing up like a balloon about to float away:

Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!

from Ode to the West Wind/ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Listened to the racers, spectators, a drummer drumming, a runner giving a motivational speech as he ran — good job! you can do it! the finish line is almost here! you got this! — which might have been inspirational or insufferable depending on how you felt six miles into a race that started with rain and cold and continued with wind. At the turn around I stopped and put in my wind playlist. Today: Wind it Up — sexual empowerment (I know he thinks you’re fine and stuff, but does he know how to wind you up?). Classical Gas – the 70s, Bohemian Rhapsody – fate, and Don’t Mess Around with Jim – street smarts

After I finished running, as I was walking back, I noticed the flash of a bird fly up from the street to the top of a sign, then 3 or 4 other small birds fly out of the tree and into the air. The small dark dots against the smudged sky looked like static or the stars I see when I’m dizzy or had too much caffeine, or (sorry not sorry to be gross) dropped a big deuce — am I the only one that happens to? I decided that these birds would be the subject of my birding poem for today.

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is

from Ode to the West Wind/ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Yesterday, Scott and I met up with FWA in St. Peter. After taking him shopping for his clarinet recital next week, we went back to campus and took a walk through the Arb. So windy! I didn’t have a hair tie and my hair was swirling around my face as we walked on the uneven dirt trail in the open field. Later, winding through the pine trees we had some shelter. Scott saw the tiniest bird, then I saw it too, first as a flash of movement, then as a small dark form on a low limb. FWA guessed that it was a warbler, which it probably was. We listened for birds and heard a creak: one tree rubbing against another — Shelley’s forest lyre! I told Scott and FWA that I knew a beautiful poem that I wish I had memorized for this occasion — Cello by Dorianne Laux

april 6/WALK

1 mile with Delia
neighborhood
40 degrees

A second day of taking Delia for a walk in the morning, and what a morning! Not warm, but sunny and calm. Birds, a slight breeze, blue sky. Did a lot of deep breaths as I walked. This morning, I was anxious, but I recognized it as a phase that I could endure, and that recognition helped. Slowly I’m getting a little better at navigating perimenopause.

Wind in Leaves or, Leaves in Wind

This entire poem by Donika Kelly is great and I want to return to it, but for now, I’ll just post the opening and its description of wind in leaves through the seasons. Such a fun way to think about wind — how it sounds in leaves in spring or summer or fall.

from When the Fact of Your Gaze Means Nothing, Then You Are Alongside/ Donika Kelly

late spring wind sounds an ocean 
through new leaves. later the same 
wind sounds a tide. later still the dry 

sound of applause: leaves chapped 
falling, an ending. this is a process.

What does it mean that the wind sounds an ocean, and how does that differ from that wind sounding a tide?

Thinking about leaves and wind I’m remembering a line from “Dear One Absent this Long While” by Lisa Olstein:

I expect you. I thought one night it was you
at the base of the drive, you at the foot of the stairs,
you in a shiver of light, but each time
leaves in wind revealed themselves

How do I describe the leaves in wind? Something to think about on my run.

april 5/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
54 degrees
wind: 5 mph

What a day! Took Delia out for a walk this morning. An hour later, sat on the deck and was inspired by the birds to write a beautiful little poem conjuring my mom. Then, around 12:30, went for a run by the gorge. Okay spring! The run wasn’t easy, but wasn’t hard either. My legs are sore from running every day since Tuesday. Tomorrow I’ll take a break.

Listened to birds running north, my “It’s Windy” playlist on the way back south. Wind songs heard today: “Ride Like the Wind” — fast? frantic? under pressure? and “You’re Only Human (Second Wind); — forgiving and resilient and a reprieve

I’m sure I looked at the river, but I don’t remember doing it, or what it looked like. I do remember that the floodplain forest looked open and brown and full of trees that had been through a flood or two. No roller skiers or rowers. No radios or impatient cars. Did hear a few unpleasant goose honks near the lake street bridge.

Beaufort Scale

The History of the Beaufort Scale

Before the run I reviewed the Beaufort Scale and rediscovered a Beaufort Scale poem by Alice Oswald. Gave myself the task of trying to describe the wind today:

running north: make your own wind — or breeze?
south: hair raising . . . leg hair raising . . . calf hair raising
east: no need to shield the microphone; a welcomed air-conditioning after a hard effort; still leaves still; the branches moving so slightly my cone-dead eyes cannot detect their movement — no trees waving to me today . . . rude; flag flapping but no wind chiming

Alice Oswald on wind:

Everything you write about the wind really has to be about something else, because the wind itself is so non-existent. I like the way the Beaufort Scale [a system used to estimate wind speed based on observation of its effects] categorizes something so abstract and undefinable. That is partly what drew me to the project. I regard the words as secondary to the silences in my poetry, so I’m drawn to write about things that will exist without the words. The poems are full of gaps and silences through which something that isn’t linguistic can be heard.

A Poem A Day

wind will exist without the words

Beaufort Poem Scale – Alice Oswald

As I speak (force 1) smoke rises vertically,
Plumed seeds fall in less than ten seconds
And gossamer, perhaps shaken from the soul’s hairbrush
Is seen in the air.

Oh yes (force 2) it’s lovely here,
One or two spiders take off
And there are willow seeds in clouds

But I keep feeling (force 3) a scintillation,
As if a southerly light breeze
Was blowing the tips of my thoughts
(force 4) and making my tongue taste strongly of italics

And when I pause it feels different
As if something had entered (force 5) whose hand is lifting my page

(force 6) So I want to tell you how a whole tree sways to the left
But even as I say so (force 7) a persistent howl is blowing my hair horizontal
And even as I speak (force 8) this speaking becomes difficult

And now my voice (force 9) like an umbrella shaken inside out
No longer shelters me from the fact (force 10)
There is suddenly a winged thing in the house,
Is it the wind?

april 4/RUN

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
45 degrees
wind: 12 mph / 21 mph gusts

I thought it was supposed to be less windy today, but it didn’t feel like it. Heading north, I was running straight into the wind. Sometimes it felt fine, and sometimes it felt hard. Listened to birds, especially black capped chickadees but also the faint knocking of a woodpecker somewhere near a house being built. Admired some gnarled shadows from the oak trees I passed by in the park. Heard rushing water at the falls and the recorded ding of the light rail across the highway. Managed to step in almost every pothole without twisting or rolling anything. Remembered to look at the river and notice how it sparkled in the sun.

Listened to the birds and the wind and the water as I ran south. Listened to my new “It’s Windy” playlist, and a LOUD kid on the playground, as I ran north.

wind!

A lot pf wind outside today, and more inside, at my desk (and no, I don’t been gas). Started with a playlist:

It’s Windy

  1. Windy/ The Association
  2. Summer Breeze/ Seals & Crofts
  3. I Talk to the Wind/ King Crimson
  4. Dust in the Wind/ Kansas
  5. The Wind Cries Mary/ The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  6. Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow/ Frank Zappa
  7. Summer Wind/ Frank Sinatra
  8. Wind of Change/ Scorpions
  9. Blowin’ In the Wind/ Peter, Paul & Mary
  10. In the Air Tonight/ Phil Collins
  11. The Chain/ Fleetwood Mac
  12. Ride Like the Wind/ Christopher Cross
  13. Wind Beneath My Winds/ Better Midler
  14. Break Like the Wind/ Spinal Tap
  15. Listening Wind/ Talking Heads
  16. You’re Only Human (Second Wind)/ Billy Joel
  17. Wind Chimes/ The Beach Boys
  18. The Long and Winding Road/ The Beatles
  19. They Call the Wind Maria/ Paint Your Wagon
  20. The Zephyr Song/ Red Hot Chili Peppers
  21. Wind It Up/ Gwen Stefani
  22. Shining Star/ Gwen Stefani
  23. Shining Star/ Earth, Wind & Fire
  24. Runnin’/ Earth, Wind & Fire
  25. Classical Gas/ Mason Williams
  26. Bohemian Rhapsody/ Queen
  27. You Don’t Mess Around with Jim/ Jim Croce

Here are the songs that I listened to today as I ran:

Windy/ The Association
Summer Breeze/ Seals & Croft
I Talk to the Wind/ King Crimson
Wind of Change/ Scorpion
Blowin’ In the Wind/ Peter, Paul & Mary*

*I started with the Bob Dylan version but when he busted out the harmonica I had to switch to the version I remember when I was kid

Somewhere between Summer Breeze and Wind of Change I thought about what words I might associate with these songs: Windy – capricious; Summer Breeze – carefree; I Talk to the Wind – indifferent; Wind of Change – hope; Blowin’ In the Wind – possibility

Listening to Blowin’ In the Wind, I thought about all of the questions posed in it and was reminded of a line I recited earlier this morning from Rita Dove: Someone once said: There are no answers/just interesting questions. I thought about the idea of questions being spoken into the wind and how there are no certain answers to them but that doesn’t mean they’re just rhetorical. Oh — now I’m thinking about the unanswerable questions and the koan.

other things noticed: the word straight was used several times — In I Talk to the Wind: said the straight man to the late man and Wind of Change: The wind of change blows straight into the face of time. In Windy, the wind is tripping down the street. I wonder if the swirls or whirls in any of my songs?

first definitions of wind from the OED: Air in motion; a state of movement in the air; a current of air, of any degree of force perceptible to the senses, occurring naturally in the atmosphere, usually parallel to the surface of the ground.

  • with specific reference to direction from which it blows
  • in reference to navigation, as means of propulsion
  • to take, have, get, gain the wind of, to scent or detect by or as by the wind
  • As a thing devoid of sense or perception, or that is unaffected by what one does to it — talk to the wind, spit into the wind
  • a type of violence, a fury: swiftness, freedom or unrestrainable character, mutability or fickleness, lightness or emptiness — the furies? fates and furies?
  • air in general, as a substance or element
  • gas
  • air inhaled and exhaled by the lungs
  • air as used for blowing or sounding an instrument

So many directions in which to go!

Revisiting a poem from a past entry:

Project/ A. R. Ammons

My subject’s
still the wind still
difficult to
present
being invisible:
nevertheless should I
presume it not
I’d be compelled
to say
how the honeysuckle bushlimbs
wave themselves:
difficult
beyond presumption.

As I wrote about on this log before, wind is a great counter to the claim, what you see is what you get or seeing is believing.

wind thoughts

Early on in this log I was obsessed with the wind, particularly in terms of my run. How much wind was there outside? Would I have to run into it? I disliked running into the wind; it made it so much harder and I needed it to be as easy as it could be. At some point, I’m not sure when (maybe I’ll try to find it?), I stopped caring so much about how windy it was. It’s never really that windy in Minneapolis, not like St. Peter or Rochester. High winds freak me out.

I’d like to search back through my archive, but I have a problem: I mention the wind a lot, over 700 times. I often record the wind speed, or make a brief reference to it in the first lines of the entry like, it was windy today or so windy! Is this an impossible task, to read through and tag all of these entries? Perhaps. I think I might just start looking through entries and see what happens. . . . A few entries in and I’m already remembering some thoughts about and experiences of the wind:

  • shaking the leaves in the trees
  • sounding like sizzling bacon
  • unnoticed, forgotten at my back, but when I turn around I remember!
  • trying to rip my hat from my head — it’s only happened once!
  • making the tassel on my hat tap me on the shoulder, making me think of my mom
  • rushing past my ears, almost forgotten when I have my ears covered
  • making waves on the water, making the river sparkle
  • in the lake, making the waves so choppy — the past few summers it’s been windier
  • summer breeze — on a playlist

two more random wind thought that just popped into my head:

  1. FWA and his love of the Zelda video game, Wind-waker
  2. FWA telling me one day when he was 8 or 9: I hate the wind. When I grow up I want to invent a device that gets rid of the wind

Walking back to the house after my run, I thought about how fun it is to explore an image like wind and how helpful it is to give so much attention to it and to be open to so many possibilities. Future Sara will appreciate all of the wind options I’m giving here, I think.

april 3/RUN

3.15 miles
2 trails
41 degrees
wind gusts: 35 mph

Windy! Overcast. Quiet. A good run. Slow and relaxed until I reached a runner ahead of me with a dog who stopped then started then stopped again. At this point, I passed them and picked up the pace, hoping to avoid any more encounters. It worked! I felt good enough to keep running faster and faster. Fun!

Listened to the wind and some yelling in the gorge running south and on the winchell trail. Put in my winter playlist for the last mile, heading north on the trail.

10+ Things

  1. wind 1: soft, gentle, haunting wind chimes
  2. wind 2: a small branch of a pine tree with some green needles on the sidewalk
  3. wind 3: a swishing ponytail
  4. an empty playground, or a quiet playground
  5. nearing the Cleveland overlook: the memory of the very LOUD knocking of a woodpecker
  6. an open view of the river — can’t remember what the river looked like, just that it was wide and open
  7. mud on the trail
  8. empty benches
  9. the strong smell of weed in the 36th street parking lot
  10. wind 4: leaves scratching the street
  11. wind 5: a white plastic bag rolling across the street, then stopping in the middle, once side being lifted up
  12. wind 6: a waving bush

before the run

The difference between a sunset and a sun set/ting.

or, the moment or the space that exists between a sun set/ting and a sunset. Ever since I read James Schuyler’s “Hymn to Life” and misread a sunset for a sun set, I’ve been thinking about the difference between them — one is a object (sunset), the others an action (sun set) or a process (sun setting). The difference between something fixed and something happening, moving, doing. Why does a sun set/ting appeal to me more? One obvious reason: understanding the sun as a subject, the natural world as an actor. Another reason: movement. A sunset is a fixed image, a sun set/ting moves. Poetry is about movement — associations between ideas, the flow of words and rhythms, the refusal to land (stand still) on one meaning or ending for too long or at all. My life is about movement — restlessness; the practice of running and writing; a difficulty in ever seeing objects as fixed, always slightly fuzzy, buzzing like static, not flickering but bouncing or shaking (or something like that). (quick thought: I’m drawn to light, but just as much to motion. How true is that for people with all of their cone cells?)

note: writing about this sparked new ideas, including a tentative focus for April, and some thoughts for a artist statement — more on that below.

Since last month, I’ve been playing around with a poem that attempts to describe the differences between a sunset and a sun set/ting. It’s slow-going. Here’s something to add to my already swirling, meandering thoughts: it’s a poem by Nikky Finney from Ross Gay’s discussion of her work in his talk, Be Camera, Black-Eyed Aperture. It’s not about a sun set/ting, but one rising. The italics are Gay’s; I’m keeping them because they’re helpful for seeing the connections to the movement of a sun set/ting:

The Squatting Sun/ Nikky Finney

6:38, flying east, I witness birth,
pushing out of the blushing vaginal rim

like some wide cherry-dropped child.
All the colors that make red have come

to the only straight line on the earth.
Ghostly, I blink, my eyes tweak her nipples,

she releases and the head does not wait
for my awe.

I thought I knew what red looked like.
Believed I had seen this daily drama before;

the earth in morning-mother motion,
the first bowl of earth-bread sipped,

but never had I been asked
inside the sun’s womb so deep.

What I see has so much to do
With the permission to look
.

My egg-white eyes labor to midwife
this moment out all the way.

The baby day pushes clean,
a quarter rim of cherry-spilled earth

lands in a head-back wail
inside my ladling pupils,

the first rising brightness, its long
equatorial head bursts, then crests;

new life passed on
to a pan of waiting salted water.

Some thoughts on the poem by Ross Gay:

. . .this poem witnesses the quiet interior horizon of experience, during which the unfathomably beautiful emerges, and is the contemplation of it. As Finney says, “I thought I knew what red looked like, / believed I had seen this daily drama.” Indeed, it’s the quiet looking that brings the sunrise, the day, wailing into the speaker’s eyes. 

Be Camera, Black-Eyed Aperture/ Ross Gay

Gay’s mention of quiet looking here is about black interiority and comes from Kevin Quashie’s The Sovereignty of Quiet. I’m thinking about the quiet looking as the labor it takes to see something — the process from light to cell to signal, from retina to optic nerve to brain, from being distracted to quieting to noticing. Usually, this labor is invisible; we believe we just see things, they are just there for our camera eye or eye-as-camera to see.

Whew — that’s a lot to think about and to try to make sense of. Anyway, back to what this sunset and sun set/ting thread inspired. An April challenge: wind! And, some thoughts for an artistic statement:

To describe the world (primarily in poetry) from the perspective of the peripheral and from where some central vision exists but is not/no longer centered. . . . new ways of writing about noticing the world that don’t center central vision or that rely on but don’t center peripheral vision (because peripheral vision, by virtue of how it works, can never be centered in the same way that central vision was/is). . . . a few images I’m currently obsessed with: birds, wind, the idea of the Form, not as Platonic but as vague, basic, lacking the specificity of focus — Tree Bird Cloud. 

after the run

After I finished the run, I took out my phone and recorded some thoughts, including:

Somewhat similar to sunset vs. sun set/ting: windblown vs. wind blowing
windblown = evidence that wind existed, witnessed, after the fact
wind blowing = moving through a seemingly invisible force that is happening right now

another example: the absence of birdsong — very quiet, which could have been caused by the birds not singing in the wind, but also by the wind carrying the sound elsewhere

birding: thought about the memory of the woodpecker’s knock near the overlook

i.

an echo
almost

memory
of dead

wood hit hard
somewhere

across the
ravine

ii.

Quiet. Not
absence

of singing
birds but

the presence
of wind

carrying
their notes OR their tune

somewhere else.

A good start. I don’t think I should use somewhere for both.

wind!

So many possibilities for this monthly challenge!

  1. Gathering all of the wind poems I’ve already collected.
  2. A wind playlist.
  3. Tagging related entries with “wind”.
  4. Reading The Wind in the Willows, which I was reminded of by Mary Ruefle when she described it as one of her favorite book on a podcast.
  5. Exploring the idea of wind as both a noun for a weather condition and a verb for wrapping something around something else — a scarf around a neck — or for traversing a curving course.
  6. Returning to the Beaufort Scale

march 16/RUN

2.2 miles
neighborhood
39 degrees / feels like 30
wind: 16 mph / 30 mph gusts

Windy! Colder. Winter layers: black running tights, black shorts, black shirt, purple jacket, pink ear band, black gloves, hat. Thought about running more but remembered that Scott and I are doing a 10k tomorrow. So I ran 2 miles through the neighborhood. My restraint was partly due to the wind, which I ran almost straight into heading north.

10 Things

  1. some dull wind chimes — it wasn’t the clunk clank of wood chimes, but also not the tinkle-tingle-shimmer of metal ones — an unpleasant cacophony
  2. right before starting: a crying kid on the next block — by the time I reached then and their entourage (mom, dog, stroller) — they were laughing — oh to be a kid and to shake anger or disappointment or whatever bad feelings they were having off that quickly — my 8 year old self used to be that way
  3. the trail on edmund between 32nd and 33rd started muddy then turned into hard, packed dirt
  4. heavy gray sky — the type of light that makes it hard for me to see anything completely
  5. the sky was dark enough that a house had on their garage light — I felt a flash of light! as I ran by
  6. harder to see the dirt trail and the roots
  7. voices across the road and below, on the trail — next to me, then ahead of me, then gone
  8. smoke from a chimney on edmund — reminder that winter is still here
  9. a loud rush of noise — an approaching car? No, the wind moving through a pine tree
  10. the swishswishswish of my ponytail hitting the collar of my jacket

Thinking about the wind, I reread ED’s poem, “The Wind.” Here are some ways she describes the wind:

  • old measure in the boughs
  • phraseless melody
  • fleshless chant

Searched “wind” on poems.com and found this amazing poem by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, “All Wild Animals Were Once Called Deer“:

High up a plane droned, drone of the cold, and behind us the flag
In front of the Bank of Hope’s branch trailer snapped and popped in the wind.
It sounded like a boy whipping a wet towel against a thigh

Or like the stiff beating of a swan’s wings as it takes off
From the lake, a flat drumming sound, the sound of something
Being pounded until it softens, and then—as the wind lowered

And the flag ran out wide—there was a second sound, the sound of running fire.
And there was the scraping, too, the sad knife-against-skin scraping
Of the acres of field corn strung out in straggling rows

Around the branch trailer that had been, the winter before, our town’s claim to fame
When, in the space of two weeks, it was successfully robbed twice.
The same man did it both times, in the same manner.

This whole poem is amazing, but too long to post here. What a storyteller BPK is! I should read her collection, Song.

more Lorine Niedecker and “Lake Superior”

On Thursday and Friday I read more of “Lake Superior.” I came to these lines and stopped:

Ruby of corundum
lapis lazuli
from changing limestone
glow-apricot red-brown
carnelian sard

Greek named
Exodus-antique
kicked up in America’s
Northwest
you have been in my mind
between my toes
agate

Huh? I am not an agate expert, so I had to look up everything but the last three lines. Without explaining it all (if I even could), I noticed how fascinated she is with language and culture and the history of the agate as it traveled across cultures.

Of course I might have understood more of the references if I had read her journal first, LN opens her travel journal with this:

The agate was first found on the shores of a river in Sicily and named by the Greeks. In the Bible (Exodus) this semi-precious stone was seen on the priest’s breastplate.

A rock is made of minerals constantly on the move and changing from heat, cold, and pressure.

On the next page, she writes: So—here we go. Maybe as rocks and I pass each other I could say how-do-you-do to an agate.

Then, a few pages later:

The North is one vast, massive, glorious corruption of rock and language—granite is underlaid with limestone or sandstone, gneiss is made-over granite, shales, or sandstone and so forth and so on and Thompsonite (or Thomasonite_ is often mistaken for agate and agate is shipped in from Mexico and Uruguay and can even be artifically dyed in the bargain. And look what’s been done to language!–People of all nationalities and color have changed the language like weather and pressure have changed the rocks.

And then:

I didn’t miss the Agate Shop sign. Woman there knew rocks. whole store of all kinds of samples, labelled. Sold them cheaply too, i.e. agates mounted on adjustable rings cost $1.75. I bought one of these, not the most beautiful but a Lake Superior one, I was told. Also bought . . . a brilliant carnelian from Uruguay. There were corundum samples—also from Canada, the stone that is next to diamonds in hardness. (Deep red rubies, which are corundum minerals, are valued more than diamonds.)

and:

The pebble has traveled. Long ago it might have been a drop of magma, molten rock that oured out from deep inside the earth. Perhaps when the magma coooled it formed part of a mountain that was later worn down and carried away by a rushing stream. Of the pebble may have been carried thousands of miles by a slowly moving glacier that finally melted and left it to be washed up for someone to pick up.

I love how LN took all of her notes and ideas about rock and language and culture and commerce and turned them into this small chunk of the poem. So much said, with so little words! And then to end it with: you have been in my mind/between my toes/agate Wow!

The trails above and beside the gorge have not been between my toes but under my feet and in my mind — maybe I could add a variation of this line to the first section of my poem?

feb 26/WALK

40 minutes
to the river and back
57 degrees

A warm, windy February afternoon. Took a walk with Delia the dog and Scott. Heard some kids on the playground that I mistook for a siren. Then later, heard some actual sirens. Also heard some ragtime music coming from a bike on the path. Marveled at the gnarled oaks and the jagged shadow one cast on another branchless tree. Noticed how high the bluff was above the forest floor. Encountered many happy, chatting walkers, one runner without a shirt.

It’s Windy

Is it the strange, too-early spring weather? The fact that I’m turning 50 in 4 months and that my kids are turning 21 and 18? Not sure, but my thoughts have been scattered lately, flitting from one idea to the next without landing anywhere for too long. Maybe it’s the wind. This morning I said to Scott, what a beautiful morning! Too bad it’s windy. Then Scott started singing “Windy” by the Association — I tried to join in, but I was in the wrong key (as usual). I should have a t-shirt that says, I’m always in the wrong key, I said (which, I think, isn’t always a bad thing to be in). Anyway, I decided to listen to the song and read the lyrics. It’s actually about wind! How delightful!

Who’s tripping down the streets of the city
Smilin’ at everybody she sees
Who’s reachin’ out to capture a moment
Everyone knows it’s Windy

And Windy has stormy eyes
That flash at the sound of lies
And Windy has wings to fly
Above the clouds (above the clouds)
Above the clouds (above the clouds)

I think I might create a page of wind poems/songs and add this, along with “They call the wind Mariah” from Paint Your Wagon and “I Take to the Wind” by King Crimson.

an idea (for the future? now?): Yesterday I posted a poem that uses an Emily Dickinson line in the title (I heard a fly buzz), then obliquely references her in the poem. A year or so ago, I had the idea that I’d like to write a series of poems that use some of my favorite Emily Dickinson lines as titles for my poems about vision loss, how I see, and how I’ve been carving out a new way of being with my moving practice. I’ve already written one that was published this past December in the print journal, Door is a Jar:

The Motions of the Dipping Birds/ Sara Lynne Puotinen

Because I can no longer see
her face, when my daughter talks I watch

her small hands rise and fall,
sweep the air, flutter.

I marvel at the soft feathers her fingers make
as they soar then circle then settle

on the perch of her hips waiting
to return to the sky for another story.

I think Victoria Chang’s collection, The Trees Witness Everything, in which she uses W.S. Merwin poem titles and then writes her own poem, might be a good inspiration. I’ve been wanting to do this project for several years, but I wasn’t quite ready. Am I now? I’ve already been moving towards it with my interest in memorizing 50 Emily Dickinson poems before my 50th birthday — did I mention that in here, or was it just in my “to do” list? Oh, I hope this idea sticks and helps me to write more poetry. Lately, I’ve had tons of ideas that I start, but that really don’t go anywhere.

As part of this Dickinson project, and inspired by yesterday’s poem, I decided to memorize ED’s “I heard a fly buzz — when I died”. After memorizing it, I listened to someone else’s reading of it and noticed a line change:

[original] The stillness in the Room
[alternate in video] The stillness round my form

Which is correct, I wondered. At first, I thought the alternate might be the correct one, but it didn’t seem quite right — form neatly rhymes with the last line of the verse: Between the Heaves of Storm. ED liked slant rhymes, not straight ones. I looked it up and discovered that ED’s first editor, Mabel Loomis Todd, had changed the line to form. She also took out ED’s dashes. I’ve read about the fraught relationship between ED and Todd (who was ED’s brother’s lover) and Todd’s heavy-handed editing, so I’m sticking with the original!

medical term fun!

I’m still working with g a s t r o c n e m i u s and s o l e u s scrabble tiles. Last night’s favorite:

Guess a minute’s colors

I told RJP and she said, 7:42 is yellowish-green. Do I see any particular minute’s colors? No. But I do like trying to describe what colors I see at any given minute.

What happens when I reverse 2 words: Guess a color’s minutes?
Or, Minutes colors a guess?
Or, As color, minutes guess
Or, minutes: a color’s guess (as in, meeting minutes)
Or, a guess colors minutes

Back to ED’s buzzing fly. Whenever I read this poem, I think about an article I discovered a few years ago that discusses how accurately and effectively ED describes the physiology of the dying eye — 15 march 2021

nov 14/RUN

3 miles
under ford bridge and back
55 degrees
wind: 20mph

Almost too warm and definitely too windy. The wind doesn’t bother me like it used to, but this wind was tough. I ran straight into it heading south. One nice thing: it pushed me along in the second half. I wore shorts and by the end of my run I had taken off my sweatshirt and pushed up my short sleeves. Bare legs and bare arms in the middle of November. Strange and disorienting.

10 Wind Things

  1. leaf shards in my eyes
  2. holding onto my hat so it wouldn’t blow away
  3. being pushed to the edge of the trail
  4. a roar in my ears
  5. swirling leaves above me, below me, to the side of me
  6. squaring my shoulders, leaning in as the wind pushed me back
  7. a sudden gust from the side
  8. knocking my ankles together
  9. shaking, swaying trees
  10. more sizzle than howl

I didn’t hear any geese or notice what the wind was doing to the river. I might have seen my shadow; I almost remember. Encountered some other runners, bikers, and a roller skier.

I listened to the wind until I reached the ford bridge, then I stopped and put in an old playlist: “Landslide,” “Cheap Thrills,” “Sorry,” and “Love is a Battlefield.”

I came across Wendy Xu’s “Absolute Variations” today and I wanted to make note of the first few lines. What a way to start a poem!

The first time I read a line by John Ashbery
was in a little café in Massachusetts, from left to right
There it was written across my friend’s collarbone
It felt right to be there with someone
who would show me something like that
when we had never met before

I appreciate how she never explicitly names the Ashbery lines. I suppose if you know a lot of Ashbery’s poems, it’s obvious, but I don’t, so it isn’t to me. But that’s okay; it could be fun trying to find them, and it’s not necessary to know them to enjoy the poem. I think her refusal to be explicit here is an example of trusting the reader to figure it out. I like that.

august 31/RUN

4.15 miles
franklin loop
60 degrees

Since we’re driving FWA back to school on Saturday, Scott and I decided to do our weekly run today instead. We ran (most of) the Franklin loop. A beautiful morning: cool, sunny but with plenty of shade, calm. At one point the wind picked up and I had to recite one of my favorite wind poems, “Who Has Seen the Wind?” by Christina Rossetti.

Fall is coming: discarded acorn shells, glowing leaves, the light seems longer and softer, maybe a bit sadder too?

10 Things

  1. empty river — no rowers or kayaks or big paddle boats playing dixieland jazz
  2. 3 or 4 stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  3. waved at the woman who stopped me the other day to tell me about some other runner who had my same gait. I think she wanted us to go on a date — she kept telling me how cute he was. A new regular? I’ll call her, the Fixer Upper — talking with Scott, we agreed that Fixer Upper sounded like she needed to be fixed up, which is not true at all, so I guess I’ll call her the Setter Upper
  4. the porta potty by the overlook has been removed. Why? I bet the people living in tents down in the gorge really needed it
  5. the cracks in the path just past the trestle are growing wider and deeper. Is the bluff becoming too unstable? Will they need to abandon this part of the path?
  6. a steady stream of cars on the road — no soft moments when all I can hear are my footfalls and my breath
  7. the east river road just south of franklin is in terrible condition — so many potholes!
  8. played a game with Scott — was that noise down in the east flats wind or water? I said water, he said wind. I think he was right; it hasn’t rained for a while
  9. another game — what is that loud, strangled cry? Knowing I was being ridiculous I guessed, a giant gobbling turkey. Scott thought it was a man yelling. We were both wrong; it was a dog barking
  10. crossing back over the lake street bridge: shadows of trees on the river near the shore, soft ripples from the wind

the day made

Walking back through the neighborhood, we encountered a pair of dogs that I had run by earlier in the summer (june 10, 2023) and always hoped to see again. 2 tiny dogs, barking with little yips and snorts, especially the larger one. Scott thought the smaller one — a minpin chihuahua mix? — was so small that it could have escaped through the bars of the fence if it wanted too. It didn’t. Of course, I cried out in delight when I saw them. I might have even clapped. Scott started laughing and then imitating the yip snort whenever I asked. Would I love these dogs as much if I had to live next to them? Maybe not, or maybe I’d love them even more.

Earlier this morning, prepping for my class, I was thinking about being open to the world, letting it interrupt you. These dogs were wonderful interrupters. That glorious bark, those cute, impossibly tiny bodies! Before we saw them, we were tense — Scott needed to hurry home to fix a server, but when they suddenly appeared, everything else was forgotten. It was just those dogs and that moment of sound and blurry little bodies.

I’ve written about frantic dogs barks before (and how much I like them). A few years back, I also posted a poem that included some yippy yappy dogs.

from I Heart Your Dog’s Head/ Erin Belieu

Which leads me to recall the three Chihuahuas
who’ve spent the fullness of their agitated lives penned
in the back of my neighbor’s yard.
Today they barked continuously for 12 minutes (I timed it) as
the UPS guy made his daily round.
They bark so piercingly, they tremble with such exquisite outrage,
that I’ve begun to root for them, though it’s fashionable
to hate them and increasingly dark threats
against their tiny persons move between the houses on our block.
But isn’t that what’s wrong with this version of America:
the jittering, small-skulled, inbred-by-no-choice-
of-their-own are despised? And Bill Parcells—
the truth is he’ll win
this game. I know it and you know it and, sadly,
did it ever seem there was another possible outcome?

It’s a small deposit,
but I’m putting my faith in reincarnation. I need to believe
in the sweetness of one righteous image,
in Bill Parcells trapped in the body of a teacup poodle,
as any despised thing,
forced to yap away his next life staked to
a clothesline pole or doing hard time on a rich old matron’s lap,
dyed lilac to match her outfit.
I want to live there someday, across that street,
and listen to him. Yap, yap, yap.