jan 31/BIKERUN

bike: 30 minutes
run: 1.5 miles

Stayed inside today. Not because it was too cold or too slippery but because I needed to do less running and because I wanted to watch more Cheer while I was working out. Sherbs dislocated her elbow in today’s episode. Ugh, this show. Very compelling. Also, watching it makes my knees and neck and all of my joints hurt. I guess I’m middle aged because all I can think about is how fucked up their bodies are probably going to be when they turn 40. I hope I’m wrong.

Enjoyed listening to “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Misery Business,” and “Can’t Touch This” while I ran. I’m glad to have the treadmill, but it really instrumentalizes the workout, reducing it to getting exercise and burning calories. I missed greeting the gorge and smelling the cold air and admiring the river today.

For the past month, I’ve been thinking about all I’ve learned through keeping this log and wondering how (or if) to put it into more direct conversation with my past academic work on being undisciplined, breaking bad habits, virtue ethics, troublemaking, and moral selfhood. I guess I’m afraid that if I try, I’ll get sucked back into talking/writing/acting like my former academic over-thinking self. I’m also afraid I will spend all of my time and energy trying to contextualize /justify/ theorize what I’m doing here and won’t have any time or space or energy left to continue actually doing the work I want to be doing.

I was thinking about this dilemma a lot before I went to the basement to work out. Did I think about it at all while I was down there? I can’t remember.

MAKING LISTS/Imtiaz Dharker

The best way to put
things in order is
to make a list.
The result of this
efficiency is that everything
is named, and given 
an allotted place.

But I find, when I begin,
there are too many things,
starting from black holes
all the way to safety pins.

And of course the whole
of history is still there.
Just the fact that it has 
already happened doesn’t mean
it has gone elsewhere.
It is sitting hunched
on people’s backs,
wedged in corners
and in cracks,
and has to be accounted for.
The future too.

But I must admit
the bigger issues interest
me less and less.

My list, as I move down in, 
becomes domestic,
a litany of laundry
and of groceries.
These are the things
that preoccupy me.

The woman’s blouse is torn.
It is held together
with a safety pin. 

Thrown away/ Imtiaz Dharker

They come back somethings, by mistake,
the lost, forgotten poems.
On the backs of estimates
for furniture, behind grocery bills,
black scribbles laid over fine print.
The ones on envelopes, of course,
keep turning up,
others fallen off the edge of maps.
Hardest to keep are the ones
written on paper napkins
with the name of the cafe
in one corner, bottom right,
the kind you could use so easily
to blow your nose,
and throw away.

Some go because they don’t
deserve to stay.

Is there a place where all
the lost words go?
Poems crumpled into balls and
tossed in wastepaper-bins,
poems left behind on trains,
poems flown into the wind,

a litter of kisses blown
on to your cheek,
that you have felt
and brushed away?

jan 30/RUN

4.2 miles
minnehaha falls and back
21 degrees
100% clear path

Turned right instead of left today. Ran towards the falls. Love how the river looks like a giant empty crater right after the oak savanna. Overcast, no shadow. Heard lots of things today. Felt cold, but warmed up quickly, except for my index fingers. It took almost 2 miles for them to warm up. Annoying. Also, my right foot felt cold for the first mile.


  1. the banging of my zipper pull against my jacket
  2. my breathing
  3. the scratch scratch scratching of the sandy grit on the clear path
  4. kids yelling on the school playground
  5. the low, steady hum of traffic on the far away freeway
  6. chirping birds
  7. clanging and banging of something against metal–I think it was the chain/rope against the flagpole at the school?
  8. A truck whooshing by on the Ford Bridge as I ran under it
  9. A kid possibly freaking out at the falls
  10. the buzzing of an airplane
  11. did I hear the falls rushing? I can’t remember–I do remember seeing it gush. So cool
  12. more clanging
  13. some disembodied voices hovering near the parkway
  14. 2 people deep in conversation

Other things I remember:

  1. the cracked asphalt above the oak savanna, just south of a split rail fence and the big boulder that looks like an armchair, was easy to spot because its crater was filled in with ice
  2. a guy looking up at a tree on the Winchell Trail near 42nd–what was he doing?
  3. the stump of a tree in the tree graveyard–where the tree with teeth used to be, across from locks and dam #1–looked like a person sleeping or a person who had fallen or a person who was acting strangely. Had to stare at it for a long time to figure out what it was: just a tree stump
  4. without any leaves it was easy to see the short hill that leads up to the ford bridge–in the summer, it is completely hidden
  5. the view of the river from the bluff heading south is beautiful and big and breathtaking
  6. thought about my form and how the right side of my body seems to lean slightly forward more than the left–is this why it always looks like I’m swinging by left arm farther back?

Natural Forces/ Vicente Huidobro

One glance
to shoot down the albatross

Two glances
to hold back the landscape
at the river´s edge

Three glances
to turn the girl
into a kite

Four glances
to hold down the train
that falls into the abyss

Five glances
to relight the stars
blown out by the hurricane

Six glances
to prevent the birth
of the aquatic child

Seven glances
to prolong the life
of the bride

Eight glances
to turn the sea
into sky

Nine glances
to make the trees of the wood

Ten glances
to see the beauty that shows up
between a dream and a catastrophe

Such power with these glances! I read a little something about Huidobro and his belief in creacionismo and man as god/godlike and “a space where the poet could assume a role as the divine”. Wow, oftentimes because of my vision I feel the opposite with my glances: I’m unmaking the world. Oh–I want to think about this some more! Here’s some info about this poet from a google doodle on his 127th birthday.

Copied the poem into my notebook and wrote: The power of the poet! The power of one who notices, who pays attention! Love this idea of paying attention as a way to imagine/create a world. Is it possible to disentangle this making of a world from hubris and pride and power over?

jan 29/RUN

5.5 miles
Franklin Hill turn around
18 degrees/ snow flurries
100% clear path!

Another day with a clear path and not too cold weather and hardly any wind. Yes! Greeted Dave the Daily Walker twice–once at the beginning and then again at the end. The river was beautiful. Dark grayish brown with a few chunks of ice, moving slowly. The walls of the gorge were white and the air above it was misty with snow flurries. The sun was out, then gone, then out again. Not enough sun to see my shadow. The floodplain forest below my favorite spot was winter-perfect. White and woodsy and blueish gray. Heading south, right by the trestle, I heard a woodpecker pecking away. So loud. It echoed across the gorge. Encountered a few walkers and fat tires. Any other runners? I can’t remember.

Started my run with a sense of unspecified unease. It lingered for a few miles but got lost as I ran up the hill. By the time I reached the top, I felt better. I always feel better after I’ve run. Usually during it too.

Lines for Winter/ DAVE LUCAS

Poor muse, north wind, or any god   
who blusters bleak across the lake   
and sows the earth earth-deep with ice.   
A hoar of fur stung across the vines:   
here the leaves in full flush, here   
abandoned to four and farther winds.   
Bless us, any god who crabs the apples   
and seeds the leaf and needle evergreen.   
What whispered catastrophe, winter.   
What a long night, beyond the lamplight,   
the windows and the frost-ferned glass.   
Bless the traveler and the hearth he travels to.   
Bless our rough hands, wind-scabbed lips,   
bless this our miscreant psalm.

This is not how I feel about winter, especially today when it’s sunny and clear and not too cold, but I still like this poem. “Bless us, any god who crabs the apples”–Love this line! And “blusters bleak” and “frost-ferned glass” and “miscreant psalm”!

jan 28/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
18 degrees
5% snow-covered

A clear path! The Franklin loop! Hardly any wind! Yes! Loved my run today. Even the big dog that lunged at me and whacked my elbow with their skull making a loud cracking sound that echoed in my head for minutes didn’t bother me. Okay, it bothered me more than it should but not enough to make me mad about my run. Starting out, it felt cold. My index fingers were freezing and my face was burning. By the time I reached the Franklin bridge, 2.5 miles in, I was warm. The river looked cold and gray and thick. Running on the east side, I noticed how big the boulder between the walking and biking path is. Wow–I can’t imagine that thing ever moving.

I felt like I was in a dream for this run. Time wasn’t moving or dripping or doing anything. Strange and wonderful to just be for almost an hour. No thoughts–except for about the irritating dog–and no concerns. Just moving and breathing and feeling free.

excerpt from Ode to a Blizzard/ TOM DISCH

O! wonderful for weight and whiteness! 
Ideolog whose absolutes 
Are always proven right 
By white and then 
More white and white again, 
Winning the same argument year 
After year by making the opposition 

jan 27/RUN

4.25 miles
river road, north/south
26 degrees
25% snow-covered

The path was much clearer then I expected. Shouldn’t have worn my yaktrax. Oh well. A great run. So wonderful to be outside again! It wasn’t cold or too windy but I felt my cheeks burning as I headed north. Noticed the river was half covered in a light blue sheet of ice, the rest was dark brownish gray. The light blue part almost looked like clouds or a mountain being reflected in the water, which was a cool effect. The path that winds through the tunnel of trees was so buried in snow that I began to doubt its existence. Encountered a few bikers, some runners, at least 2 or 3 big dogs and their owners. As I neared the trestle, I hoped a train might pass above (it didn’t). Turning around and heading south, I kept hearing a vicious bark in the gorge on the east side. As I encountered more runners and tried to steer clear of them, I thought about my lack of depth perception and how it makes me feel like people are much closer than they are. This misperception makes me uncomfortable, I’m always feeling crowded. Running near the Lake Street bridge I could smell some seriously stinky pot. Looked around, but couldn’t see anyone. No Daily Walker today.

I’m working on poem about Saras, inspired by this one:


Magic Wayne with flowers; Wanye West; Box-of-Tricks Wayne; Wayne sad on Facebook, proving he loves his daughter; the sporty Wayne — loves himself skinny; Bald Wayne, head like a rocking chair; Amy Waynehouse; Wayne the ironic; Fat Wayne — tits pushed beneath a Fred Perry Wayne; Wayne from near Slough; Ugly Wayne — the unlikely mess of his wife Wayne — canned laughter; Wayne who renamed another Wayne Fleabag; Track-suited Wayne — your hubcaps, his pockets; Home and A-Wayne; Randy Wayne; Wayne, fountains of him, every drop snug to someone’s mum; Wayne, boyfriend of Stacey; Wayne-ker; Wayne the rap star, gold teeth, grime; Wayne the Superhero, Wayne the Cowboy; Dancing Wayne — in tights; It’s-Wayning-Men; a cavalcade of Waynes fucking each other up in a Geoff Hattersley poem — in a pub, in Barnsley; Purple Wayne; Wayne’s World Wayne; Wayne “Sleng Teng” Smith; A-Wayne in a Manger; all of them have stopped what they’re doing, all of them divided in two rows and facing each other, all of them, arms raised, they are linking fingers, all of them: an architrave through which I celebrate, marching like I am the bridegroom, grinning like I am the bride


bike: 25 minutes
run: 2 miles
bike: 10 minutes

It’s warm outside, hovering just below freezing, and the air feels great, but the path is an ice rink. Too icy to run outside today. Bummer. Started another episode of Cheer while biking in the basement. Wow, Monica the coach is hard core. She made one of the cheerleaders who had disobeyed her order to not cheer that weekend and then injured his back do practice anyway. It was hard to watch him grimacing and writhing and sobbing from pain. In an interview, Monica talked about how the kids need and want discipline and order in their lives, partly because they’ve never had it. I often think about this balance between the need for discipline, in the form of order and rules, and the negative effects of that disciplining–unquestioned obedience to those rule even when they might lead to permanent damage–like a seriously fucked up back and life long, agonizing pain. How do we navigate that? Can we have discipline without being disciplined? So much to say about what’s happening in this episode with discipline and civilized behavior and manners and looking respectable in the community and unquestionably following the rules of a coach! Maybe someday.

While I ran, I listened to a great audio book, The Changeling. Pretty intense. I am at the part of the novel where the protagonist, Apollo, is on an island of green-robed woman who are trying to kill him. Felt like I was in a trance, running at a steady, easy pace, staring blankly at the reflection of a light bulb in the window, listening to the author, Victor LaValle. Not as invigorating as being outside by the gorge, but still good to be moving.

jan 25/RUN

5.2 miles
franklin hill turn around
31 degrees
30-40% snow and ice covered

Hooray for great runs! Hooray for clearer paths! Hooray for strong legs and adequate knees and functioning feet! I wasn’t planning to run to the bottom of the franklin hill but I did. The path was not perfect–icy and slushy spots, but I didn’t fall or get too tired. Ran straight into the wind heading north. Had it at my back on the return trip. Encountered many other runners, a few fat tires. No skiers. A dog or two. Heard a few birds–no geese or crows. Glanced at the river at least once. Dark brown, then half white. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker near the end of my run. I called out, “What a great day to be out!” Anything else? Forgot to look at the river when I reached the bottom of the hill, so I have no idea if it was moving and how fast.

One of my sisters posted a link to a gigantic list of collective nouns for animals. So cool! My favorite from the Sea Animal list: a shiver of sharks, a glint of goldfish, and a squad of squid, or a squid squad.

This has me wondering what a group of Saras might be called.

  • a satchel of Saras
  • a sink of Saras
  • a swarm of Saras
  • a swath of Saras
  • a swirl of Saras
  • a shiver of Saras
  • a nest of Saras
  • a charm of Saras
  • a stand of Saras
  • a squad of Saras
  • a sedge of Saras
  • a stable of Saras
  • a surfeit of Saras
  • a string of Saras
  • a school of Saras

Maybe I’ll try to work this into my poem-in-progress, the Saras?


walk: 3 miles
Winchell Trail
29 degrees

Walked with my wonderful sister this morning by the gorge. Checked out the Oak Savanna and the mesa at above the river. The water was gray with the feeling of warm blue. It looked still and heavy until you got closer and noticed it was moving fast. Trudging on the trail, we noticed ski tracks and snow shoe tracks. Any animal tracks? I don’t think so. We talked about fences and eroding asphalt and the gorge reclaiming the trails and illness and vision and kids and careers and aging bodies and the cost of college.

bike: 30 minutes
basement, bike stand

Finished another episode of Cheer while I biked. This one was about “making mat” and Jerry (I think that’s his name?) and his loving spirit and how his mom died from lung cancer. A moving story–not sad, just powerful and beautiful. Of course, it made me cry which is an amazing thing to do while you’re working out. So many emotions and endorphins. A great release.

Thinking about blue in winter and why I wrote about it as warm. What is it about blue? The blue hued views in early morning and twilight? Blue snow? The blue gray river? I’ve skimmed Maggie Nelson’s Bluets–maybe I should check it out again? Didn’t Anne Carson write something about blue? I looked it up and found this amazing book: The Blue of Distance.


I have seen enough blue-green 
for one day. My eyes are tired 
of peering at the busy speckled lines 
the lasered surface throws back. 
Outside, the light falls 
in jagged needles through raveled air. 
The world is gray. 

From up there, it’s blue, 
the tiny water world, where life 
climbed into the air and turned green, 
maybe from envy that it’s not 
somewhere else. It’s not easy, being 
this way. It’s impossible to rest 
with that great light going on 
and off always in the same place, 
knowing that it’s necessary, 
unless you want to turn 
white, in icy quiet, 
against the black still motion 
of the tattered specks of stars. 
It’s enough to send you running 
ragged, back to the sea. 

Down there it’s blue, too, 
the color of deep water 
when at eighty feet there’s no bottom 
and no sides to choose. Suspended, 
up-ended, you have no sense 
of proportion, lose perspective. 
There’s only drifting with the flow, 
until your bubbles rip a seam 
upward showing you where 
you have to go—back to the green, 
and then the yellow and the red, 
measured out in time for you 
to find, until you reach 
white, and you’ve got it all. 

All is too much to see. 
We must have shades. 
The separation of the light 
exists somewhere in particles, 
torn into fragmentary bits to play, 
scattered like the fall leaves, 
but moving in waves—hello, goodbye— 
on a collision course with white, 
and black, and gray. 

The green of life requires blue, 
not too deep or too intense, 
just a line of blue-green held in mind, 
to knit tatters of shrouded days, 
tint the darkness, 
and relieve the time of glare. 

Once in a while 
you know where it belongs, 
in the order of the sharp-edged 
double bow I saw this morning, 
cutting its way into gray memory 
to even up the edges 
of the ragged clouds. 

jan 23/RUN

2.3 miles
river road, north/south
32 degrees
100% sloppy wet be-puddled slushied unevenness

A great temperature for a run. An ideal what-you-imagine-when-you-imagine-a-pretty-snowy-winter scene. A terrible path. It snowed an inch or two last night. Wet, sloppy snow that’s half melted into a mess on the path. But I needed the fresh air so I put on my yaktrax and headed to the river, unsuccessfully dodging big puddles. Enduring the mess was worth it. My favorite part of the path was beautiful–the tall, slender trees had just the right amount of snow. Everything so white. I wonder what the river looked like? I didn’t glance at it even once. The air was warmer but not too warm. If the path had been clear, it would have been a wonderful day for a long run.

Read a great article about using figurative language yesterday, How to Use Simile and Metaphor Like a Boss

Metaphors and similes have two parts. There’s the tenor (the original subject we’re trying to describe) and the vehicle (the compared object we’re borrowing qualities from). So if we look at Robert Burns’s poem “A Red, Red Rose,” we see “O my Luve is like a red, red rose.” Love would be the tenor (subject) and rose would be the vehicle (object). Metaphors and similes work only when they illuminate, that is, when they help us better understand or see something by way of comparison. They should feel both apt and surprising—a hard balance! If the tenor and the vehicle seem too similar, the comparison won’t be surprising or illuminating for the reader. You really want to compare apples to oranges, not Fuji apples to McIntoshes. Or, better yet, try comparing apples to baby birds.

jan 22/RUN

4.3 miles
minnehaha falls and back
36 degrees
25% snow and puddle covered

So much warmer today. Lots of puddles and some soft, loose snow, especially at the double bridge. Gray sky. Air heavy with moisture. The oak savanna looked especially open and white and meadow-like. At its edge the dark brown, almost blackish-gray water resembled a big, empty crater not a river. Heard some kids at recess, playing on the playground. One was yelling “help” or “stop it” or something and I couldn’t tell if he was being serious and if I should be concerned. Decided he was just playing.

Encountered a man running and walking on the path. As I ran by he gasped, “you make it look so easy!” I wanted to yell back something about how I had been just like him 8.5 years ago when I started running, but I couldn’t get the words out in time. As I ran ahead I thought about how happy I am to have stuck with running and how wonderful it is to run over 4 miles and have it feel easy. A few minutes later I think I said hello to Carrie Tollefson, the former Olympian, as I neared Locks and Dam #1.

When I reached the falls I didn’t stop to look, but from my quick glances I could see the frozen water. Were the falls making any noise? I don’t remember. Did I see anyone else at the falls? I don’t remember that either.


Ms. Marcus says that an occasional poem is a poem
written about something
or special
that’s gonna happen
or already did.
Think of a specific occasion, she says—and write about it.

Like what?! Lamont asks.
He’s all slouched down in his seat.
I don’t feel like writing about no occasion.
How about your birthday? Ms. Marcus says.
What about it? Just a birthday. Comes in June and it ain’t
June, Lamont says. As a matter of fact,
he says, it’s January and it’s snowing.
Then his voice gets real low and he says
And when it’s January and all cold like this
feels like June’s a long, long ways away.

The whole class looks at Ms. Marcus.
Some of the kids are nodding.
Outside the sky looks like it’s made out of metal
and the cold, cold air is rattling the windowpanes
and coming underneath them too.

I seen Lamont’s coat.
It’s gray and the sleeves are too short.
It’s down but it looks like a lot of the feathers fell out
a long time ago.
Ms. Marcus got a nice coat.
It’s down too but real puffy so
maybe when she’s inside it
she can’t even tell January from June.

Then write about January, Ms. Marcus says, that’s
an occasion.
But she looks a little bit sad when she says it
Like she’s sorry she ever brought the whole
occasional poem thing up.

I was gonna write about Mama’s funeral
but Lamont and Ms. Marcus going back and forth
zapped all the ideas from my head.

I guess them arguing
on a Tuesday in January’s an occasion
So I guess this is an occasional poem.

I love the use of zapped in the second to last stanza: “zapped all the ideas from my head.” I love how “she can’t even tell January from June” rolls off of the tongue. And I love the idea of an occasion poem being about an argument between a teacher and student on an ordinary January day.