april 29/RUN

3.5 miles
marshall loop
44 degrees

Sometimes sunny, mostly overcast, cool. Back to winter tights under my shorts and 2 long-sleeved shirts. I think it’s supposed to warm up this week. I mean, I hope it’s supposed to warm up this week. Encountered the back of the Get in Gear 1/2 Marathon Race on the east side of the river. Heard some cheers farther south on the river.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. right before starting my run, overheard some people standing outside a house for sale — had they just gone for a showing? did they like the house? will they be my new neighbors?
  2. the loud knocking of a woodpecker somewhere in the gorge
  3. a traffic back-up on lake street, the bridge down to one lane because of the race
  4. lots of flashing lights from safety vehicles all around the course
  5. the sharp sound of a bat hitting a ball over at the St. Thomas field. I thought I heard the ball land over the fence, near the road
  6. encountering a woman, a dog, and a kid on the sidewalk. As I passed the woman said, you’re going the wrong way — meant as a joke, I think, because I was going down the hill, while the racers were running up it
  7. the strong smell of pot as I crossed the lake street bridge
  8. a runner with a flag — a pacer? — walking up the summit hill calling out hello to me
  9. a full sized mattress on the sidewalk propped up against the railing on the lake street bridge. Why is it here? What was it used for?
  10. the wind in my face for part of the run — was it ever at my back?

Love this poem I discovered today thanks to Ada Limón and her April selections for poem of the day at poets.org:

Playing with Bees/ RK Fauth

So the world turned
its one good eye

to watch the bees
take most of metaphor
with them.

                    in all their airborne
                            shifted on the breeze

for the last time. Of course,

the absence of bees
left behind significant holes
in ecology. Less

        were the indelible holes

in poems, which would come

Our vast psychic habitat
shrunk. Nothing was

like nectar
for the gods

Nobody was warned by
a deep black dahlia, and nobody

grew like a weed.

Nobody felt spry as
a daisy, or blue
and princely
as a hyacinth; was lucid as
a moon flower. Nobody came home

and yelled honey! up the stairs,

And nothing in particular
by any other name would smell as sweet as—

the verbal dearth
that is always a main ripple of extinction.

The lexicon of wilds goes on nixing its descriptions.
Slimming its index of references
for what is

super as a rhubarb, and juicy
as a peach,
or sunken as a
comb and ancient as an alder tree, or
conifer, or beech, what is royal
as jelly, dark as a wintering

hive, toxic as the jessamine vine
who weeps the way a willow does,
silently as wax
burned in the land of milk and

all the strong words in poems,
they were once

smeared on the mandible of a bee.

april 28/RUN

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

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

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

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

A. R. Ammon’s garbage

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

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

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

april 27/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin hill turn around
58! degrees

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

peripheral vision

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

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

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

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

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

Ammons’ garbage

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

from 17

poetry is itself like an installation at Marine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

from 18

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

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

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

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


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

april 25/RUN

3.75 miles
2 trails + extra*
42 degrees

*extra = instead of ending the run at the 38th street steps, I kept going past the oak savanna and the overlook, down through the tunnel of trees, over the double bridge, before crossing over to edmund at 32nd and running back home

Felt warmer than 42 degrees with the sun and too many layers — black running tights, black shorts, long-sleeved bright yellow shirt, bright orange pull-over. The thing I noticed most today were the shadows. Heavy shadows everywhere. The shadows of trees, some stretching across the path, others leaning down, just above me. The shadow of a flying bird, a waiting lamppost.

10 Other Things I Remember from my Run

  1. the loud knocking of a woodpecker
  2. someone complaining to someone else on the phone. I first heard them up ahead of me near the old stone steps, then as I passed them on the trail, then about 10 minutes later from across the river road as I ran on the grass near edmund
  3. the river, blue with less foam, not quite as high. I was planning to admire its sparkle near the south entrance to the winchell trail but I was distracted by 2 walkers just ahead of me on the trail
  4. lower on the winchell trail the gorge below me was all river, no shore in sight
  5. a trickle of water at the 44th st sewer, gushing at 42nd
  6. kids playing at the school playground, yelling, laughing. one adult chanting something
  7. the leaning trees I noticed a few weeks ago are still leaning, almost blocking the trail. A few times, I had to duck to avoid small branches
  8. music playing (not loud enough to describe it as blasting) out of a car’s radio — some sort of rock music that I didn’t recognize
  9. one section of the split rail fence — where? I can’t remember — is broken and needs to be repaired
  10. most walkers I encountered were overdressed in winter coats, hats, gloves

Having finished my series of colorblind plates and feeling unmotivated to read the final sections of Ammons’ garbage, I’m project-less. Not a problem, except the lack of focus makes my mind wander everywhere. Here are just some of the things I thought about before my run this morning:

a new-ish bio

Once or twice a year, I take some time to submit poems to different literary journals. Not sure about the exact math, but I’d say I have about a 5% acceptance rate, which I don’t think is that unusual. I got used to rejection as an academic. Still stings though. Maybe that’s why I don’t submit that often. I think I also haven’t submitted a lot because I don’t care that much about being published, especially as a way to achieve fancy poetry status. But, I’d like to share my poems with a wider audience and if I only post them on my blog they don’t get read by a lot of people and I can no longer submit them to journals (most of the journals I’m encountering consider posting a poem on your personal blog as it being published already). I’d also like to apply for a grant and do an exhibit/installation of my vision test poems and I think having some of them published might help me to get that grant. So, with all that in mind, I’m currently sending poems out to different journals. As part of the submission, you write a cover letter and include a 50-150 word bio. A few days ago, I started playing around with my bio — I included a few in a post log entry on here. This morning I was still thinking about the bio. I was hoping my run would help me find another sentence for this unfinished bio:

Sara Lynne Puotinen lives in south Minneapolis near the Mississippi River Gorge where she enjoys conducting experiments in writing while moving, moving while writing, and doing both while losing her central vision. Sometimes she composes chants while running up hills, or uses her breathing patterns as she swims across a local lake to shape her lines. 

The run didn’t help. In fact, I forgot to even think about my bio. Oh well.

april 21, 2022

As part of my daily, “on this day” review, I was reading through past log entries early this morning. Last year’s was especially good (I almost wrote fire, but thought better of it — okay, I did actually write it, but then deleted it). So many things to put in my ongoing projects list!

First, this:

While I ran, I wanted to try and think about fungi as hidden, always in motion/doing (a verb, not a noun), and below. Had flashes of thought about what’s beneath us, and how I’m often looking down through my peripheral, even as I look ahead with my central vision. 

an experiment to try: While moving outside, give special attention to what’s beneath you, what you see, feel, hear at your feet. Make a list in your log entry.

variation: while trying don’t give attention to anything in particular. Just move. Then, in your log entry, try to remember 10 things you noticed below you.


I heard the creaking, squeaking branches and thought about old, rusty, long hidden/forgotten doors being opening — a trap door in the forest floor. I didn’t imagine past the open door or the idea that it led to the river basement (using basement here like ED in “I started Early — Took my Dog”). Still, I enjoyed thinking that I could access this door and something in my moving outside was opening a long shut door.

a question to consider: what doors await me in the gorge? where do they lead? how can I open them?

This morning, I was refreshing my memory of a Carl Sandburg poem I memorized a few years ago called “Doors.” If a door is open and you want it open, why shut it? If a door is shut and you want it shut, why open it?

Third: I love this poem — Mushrooms/ Sylvia Plath


An idea I have right now (25 april 2022, that is) for a poem involves playing off of these lines from Mary Oliver:

Listen, I don’t think we’re going to rise
in gauze and halos. 
Maybe as grass, and slowly. 
Maybe as the long leaved, beautiful grass

And this bit from Arthur Sze in an interview with David Naiman:

I began to think I love this idea that the mycelium is below the surface. It’s like the subconscious, then when the mushroom fruits pops up above ground, maybe that’s like this spontaneous outpouring of a poem or whatever.

Something like this?

Maybe like mushrooms, we rise
or not rise, flare
brief burst from below
then a return 
to swim in the dirt…

I (sara in 2023) would like to do something with this fragment, maybe tie it together with some of my thoughts about Ammons and garbage?


Mary Oliver’s mention of grass reminded me of a poem I like by Victoria Chang, which led me to a log entry from Jan 11, 2022:

Left Open / Victoria Chang

We can’t see beyond
the crest of the wooden gate.
We are carriers
of grass yet to be grown. We
aren’t made of cells, but of fields. 

I like this idea of being a carrier of grass yet to be grown. My first thought was of grass on graves — Whitman’s “uncut hair of graves” or Dickinson’s “The color of the grave is green”. Then I thought of Gwendolyn Brooks’ “To the Young Who Want to Die”:

Graves grow no green that you can use.
Remember, green’s your color. You are Spring.

Of course, all this grass talk also reminded me of this part of the cento I just created as one of my colorblind plate poems:

The world mostly g
one, I make it what I want: I 
empty my mind. I stuff it with grass. 
I’m green, I repeat. I grow in green, burst u
p in bonfires of green, whirl and hurl my green
over the rocks of this imaginary life.

This cento is made out of lines from poems I’ve gathered for this log:
The world mostly gone, I make it what I want (Psalm with Near Blindness/ Julia B. Levine)
I empty my mind. I stuff it with grass. I’m green, I repeat. (Becoming Moss/Ella Frears)
I grow in green (Paean to Place/ Lorine Niedecker)
burst up in bonfires of green (The Enkindled Spring/ D. H. Lawrence
whirl and hurl my green over the rocks (Oread)
this imaginary life (The Green Eye/ James Merrill)

addendum, 26 april 2023: Reading back through my entries about A. R. Ammons as I prepare to post my monthly challenge for April, I encountered these lines from Ammons’ pome “Grassy Sound.” How could I have already forgotten them?!

The wind came as grassy sound 
and between its
grassy teeth
spoke words said with grass

Happy Birthday Ted Kooser!

Discovered via twitter that today would have been Ted Kooser’s 84th birthday. What a wonderful poet! I’ve gathered 6 of his poems for this log:

  1. Grasshopper/ Ted Kooser
  2. The Early Bird/ Ted Kooser
  3. A Heron/ Ted Kooser
  4. In the Basement of the Goodwill Store/ Ted Kooser
  5. Carrie / Ted Kooser
  6. Turkey Vultures/ Ted Kooser

april 24/RUN

6 miles
ford loop
40 degrees

Hooray for sun and low wind and clear paths! Ran the entire food loop without stopping to walk. My legs were sore by the end but mostly, I felt good. Ran past all the orange “road closed” signs for the Get in Gear this weekend. Scott and I were considering signing up for it, but he’s not trained up enough yet and I’m not that big into races anymore. Too many people, packed too tightly. Plus, they’re expensive. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker at the beginning of the run and a few other walkers and runners along the route.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the river is still high, but not as much fast moving foam. On the lake street bridge, it was a contemplative blue with swirls of something just under the surface — or were they on the surface — reflected clouds?
  2. sometimes it was sunny, sometimes it wasn’t. didn’t see my shadow
  3. also, didn’t hear the bells over at St. Thomas
  4. checked my watch: from the bottom of the hill, just off the steps of the lake street bridge, to the top, right by the entrance to the shadow falls trail, is .65 miles
  5. one goose, flying low and honking awkwardly
  6. encountered 3 or 4 runners on the east side of the river
  7. a loud leaf blower below me, on the locks and dam #1 trail
  8. water — some gushing, some trickling out of sewer pipes and limestone, some traveling through the ravine and down to the river
  9. heard the loud knocking of a woodpecker down in the gorge
  10. overheard: one woman walker talking to another: we were in Norway without a hotel. I was on the phone for 3 hours… [laughter]

Tried to read the last few sections of A. R. Ammons’ garbage, but can’t seem to do it. Too many words. Instead, I found myself (how? I can’t remember now) reading through some of Dan Beachy-Quick’s poems and thinking, not for the first time, that he writes a lot about eyes and blindness and (not) seeing. Is he writing from experience, or is it all a convenient metaphor? A google search of his name and “eyes” or “vision problems” or “blindness” has yielded no useful results.

This Nest, Swift Passerine / Dan Beachy-Quick

But how find how as it flew onward
& the mountains gave back the sound
to say what I mean the call of the bird
& the echoe after
to say I’ve seen?

Raven hungers and calls and the mountain
Hungers back and calls
The whole range of peaks in the bird’s beak.
Raven lonely and the mountain rings
Loneliness & the echoe after we could see
him no longer

The echo after we could see Light in echo the eye sees
also through the ear a double infinity

The italicized line in the first stanza is a reference to a journal entry from Dorothy Wordsworth that William used in a poem.

I like the last line, the eye sees also through the ear

april 23/RUN

2.5 miles
down franklin hill and back
32 degrees

Cold, but it felt like spring with the sun and the birds and the buds on the trees almost open. Ran with Scott. Started near Lake Street to the franklin hill to check out the flooding in the flats. The river is high and moving fast, but not much worse than it was earlier in the week. Scott took a video with my phone:

We ran back up the hill — the entire 1/2 mile back to the very top, then kept on going until we reached the trestle and 2.5 miles. A nice run.

The thing I remember most about looking down at the river from high up on the gorge was the fast moving foam. And the thing I remember most about running beside it was the way the water (almost) roared as it gathered itself under the I-95 bridge.


one walker to another at the top of the franklin hill: That’s the problem with late capitalism, it doesn’t encourage community.

I love our neighborhood where people walk around critiquing capitalism. As we ran down the hill, I asked Scott: Is that just a problem with late capitalism? Then I mentioned how it seems that community is often defined too narrowly and only as a response to the limits of capitalism. And, right before reaching the flooding, we discussed Go Fund Me.

Author Bio

Inspired by a bio request I encountered on the submissions page of a journal — don’t tell us how many degrees you have or where you’ve been published; in 3 sentences tell us about the real you and what spurs you on — I decided to have some fun. Here are a few I came up with:

Since the start of the pandemic, Sara Lynne Puotinen has been keeping a series of commonplace books that she has named the Plague Notebooks. The 15 of them she has completed so far are not about the pandemic, but include interesting words she’s encountered or ideas for poems. Occasionally she uses them to practice drawing the perfect block-numbered 6, which is surprisingly harder than she imagined. 

When Sara Lynne Puotinen wakes up, she usually has one of three songs stuck in her head: the theme from the TV show Alice, the sunrise service hymn “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” or “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma

Even though she’s way too old to think this and knows it’s impossible, Sara Lynne Puotinen still glances down at the bottom of the pool when she’s swimming laps to make sure Jaws isn’t popping out of one of the drains. Swimming in the lake, she can’t see what’s below her, but she wonders if Jaws might be down there too.

Sara Lynne Puotinen wants to know which one of her parents decided her first name didn’t need an h but her middle name did need an e. She’d like to thank them. Also, she just learned that Lynne means lake in Welsh and wonders if said parent knew this too.

Here are three things that Sara Lynne Puotinen has decided will make for a good day: a wild turkey running through a field, its head bobbling awkwardly; the ski poles of a roller skier clicking rhythmically on the asphalt; the very rare rumbling of a train crossing over the trestle above the mississippi river gorge.

After reading the line, the tree outside my window, in too many poems, Sara Lynne Puotinen can’t help but notice the tree outside her window. She thinks, but is not sure, that it is a pussy willow tree. When she looks out at it, she thinks of her mother-in-law who died last year because she loved pussy willows.  

Sara Lynne Puotinen has decided she likes the wisdom that comes with getting older but not the aches or pain or fear. Or all the people dying from cancer.

Sara Lynne Puotinen enjoys composing poems while running up hills. She also enjoys composing them while running down hills. In other words, she likes making things that are hard even more difficult, and things that are easy less so.

Love this poem I found the other day on Have Has Had:


The facts of this case are murky at best so let the record show
the Church was riding the coattails of Saturnalia and
December 25 proxied for the solstice well enough. The water
into wine thing: grandstanding if I ever saw it. Show me
a Capricorn and I’ll show you the guy rowing the boat,
not the spectacle walking on water. I’d also like
to submit into evidence the carpenter to superstar glow
up. It’s textbook Leo—just ask his siblings. Oh,
you haven’t heard of them? Your honor, the state rests.

april 21/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin hill turn around
38 degrees
snow flurries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. R. Ammons’ garbage

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

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

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

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


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


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

april 20/RUN

3.65 miles
locks and dam #1 hill loop
38 degrees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Found this poem the other day. Birds!

How Far Away We Are/ Anushka Shah

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

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

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

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

Lying While Birding/ Naomi Shihab Nye

Yes       Yes

        I see it

so they won’t keep telling you

           where it is

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

april 18/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin hill turn around
44 degrees

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

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

a walking and biking trail half flooded with river water

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

april 17/RUN

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ran on some grit, listened to it sizzle.

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

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

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

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

A. R. Ammonds’ garbage

Onto section 14 today.

the leavings…

thrown out to the chickens will be ground fine

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

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

time’s and guts alembics

alembics = a distilling apparatus used in alchemy

I love the pairing of time and guts here.

on meaningless:

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

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

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

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

a final colorblind plate (the 8th)

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

Lark-Luster/ Eamon Grennan

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

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