july 4/RUN

3.2 miles
trestle turn around
71 degrees / humidity: 78%
light rain

Raining all day today. After talking to FWA about how he likes to walk in the rain, I decided to run before the rain got heavy — thunderstorms are predicted in the late afternoon. I never mind running in the rain, but I’m usually reluctant to start in it. I’m glad I went for it today. What a beautiful green: deep, rich, fresh (but not refreshing!), comforting. The rain was light enough that I barely felt it — no soaked, clinging shirt of shorts (that happened a few weeks ago).

I’m not sure if it was raining all the time or it stopped sometimes or it was a combination of light rain with dripping trees. It was fun to run under and beside the trees when the rain-soaked leaves rustled. One time I misjudged how low a branch was and ran through it instead of under it — the cool water on my face was a surprise then a relief.

Under the lake street bridge somebody had parked a lime scooter in the middle of the walking path, forcing walkers/runners to veer out into the bike path. Dangerous — bikes bomb down the hill and cut close to the edge of the path without warning. Also, I can’t always see these scooters, or I can sort of see that they’re there, but can’t properly judge my distance from them. Hard to believe I haven’t already been impaled by the handlebars of one of these scooters (or bikes)!

I was not alone on the trail. Mostly walkers, many with umbrellas — no menacing blue umbrella guy who takes over the entire path and won’t budge an inch. Some runners, one talking on a bluetooth headset. No roller skiers. Any bikers? I can’t remember.

Bright car headlights. The whooshing of wheels through the puddles on the road.

In honor of a run in the rain (more fun to say than a rain-run, or is it?), I decided to look to my friend, Emily Dickinson, for a poem. She did not disappoint!

The Skies can’t keep their secret!/ Emily Dickinson

The Skies can’t keep their secret!

They tell it to the Hills –
The Hills just tell the Orchards –
And they—the Daffodils!



A Bird – by chance – that goes that way –
Soft overhears the whole – 

If I should bribe the little Bird – 

Who knows but she would tell?



I think I won’t – however – 

It’s finer – not to know –
If Summer were an Axiom –

What sorcery had snow?



So keep your secret – Father!
I would not – if I could – 

Know what the Sapphire Fellows, do,

In your new-fashioned world!

I found this poem on a favorite site, The Prowling Bee. I love how the blog author, Susan Kornfield, describes ED’s role as a poet:

 Dickinson again chooses the naturalist’s approach to the world rather than the academic’s or theologian’s. She observes in rich detail but is quite reluctant to draw conclusions. Better, to her, the wonder than to have the Latin names and dry scientific knowledge. I suppose this is a poet’s eye, looking at each event, each bit of the world that catches the eye, afresh. Those of us who name, categorize, and systemetize, inject at least one layer between us and the actual world. This preference for questions over answers is one reason why we love our poets!

the prowling Bee

This poem reminds me of Tony Hogland poem that I memorized as part of my 50 for 50: The Social Life of Water

All water is a part of other water.
Cloud talks to lake; mist
speaks quietly to creek.

Lake says something back to cloud,
and cloud listens.
No water is lonely water.

a few hours later: No thunder storms yet (at 2:40 pm), just a steady rain, a dark sky. I’m writing in this already finished post to add an article that I read on MPR News about Minneapolis Park Workers going on strike. The article offers some powerful descriptions of the difficult labor — physically, emotionally — that many park workers do.

Lane [a park worker] says he’s been with Minneapolis parks for more than a decade, arriving at 5 a.m. daily in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, during 2020 riots that followed the murder of George Floyd and regularly, when tasked to clean up homeless encampments.

It can be a grueling job, he said. He’s frequently cleaning up broken glass, needles and feces, ensuring the public spaces are safe to enjoy. On one of his most difficult days, Lane said he watched a woman die from an overdose. But like any other day on the job, he pushed on.

“Just to see the poverty was disheartening,” he said. “It touched me, man. I cried a few times just thinking about how people are living out here.

Hundreds of Minneapolis Park Workers Poised to Strike for a Week

Wow. I often notice and appreciate the park workers, but it’s usually related to tree-trimming or road patching. I don’t think enough about this other, less visible, labor. What a difficult task to clear out encampments, especially if you disagree with the decision that they need to be cleared out. Last month, while running with Scott, I recall pointing out all of the tents and tarps and stuff propped up near a trash can on the trail just above the gorge. I wasn’t sure why it was there, but now I imagine it was the aftermath from an encampment clear out by park workers.

april 22/RUN

3.8 miles
river road, north/south
62 degrees
wind: 16 mph / gusts: 30 mph

62 in bright sun with very little shade feels warm, too warm. Time to start running much earlier in the day. Other weather-related gripes? Had to hold onto my cap several times so it wouldn’t blow off.

Everything is slowly turning green, especially the floodplain forest. The trees are coming into leaf/like something almost being said.

Noticed some cool bird shadows, one on the road from a bird high up in the sky, another on the side of a house.

Heard something beeping as I ran under the trestle — was a train coming soon? Not that I could tell.

Listened to the wind running north, my “It’s Windy” playlist running south. Heard “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Wind of Change” and thought about how an answer blowing in the wind could mean two contradictory things at once: 1. the answer is coming, change is coming, a better, freer world is coming and 2. the answer is just blowing in the wind, out of reach, as futile/pointless as talking to the wind.

back to the Beaufort Scale

Last week I came up with a great plan to create a Beaufort scale out of poetry lines, but it stalled when I couldn’t figure one out for 1. Today I’ll try again.

But before I do that — I think it stalled also because I got side tracked by metaphor and figurative language. The Beaufort scale mostly uses literal language, describing the effects of wind on various things, like umbrellas or people trying to walk. Occasionally metaphor creeps in with the use of white horses to describe white caps on waves. Is this the only use of metaphor in the scale? No.

Use of metaphor in Beaufort Scale:

0 — “sea like a mirror”
1 — ripples like scales
2 — crests like glass
3 — foam like glass
4 — white horses

If I’m reading correctly, the for use on land section is all literal descriptions of wind’s effects: leaves rustling, trees being uprooted, roof tiles ripping off, inconvenient then difficult to walk. I like how 7 is inconvenient to walk, while 8 is difficult.

Okay, now back to a poem scale. Instead of literal descriptions, I think I’d like figurative ones. It’s more fun!

when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by — “Who Has Seen the Wind?”/ Christina Rossetti

Would this be 5, “small trees in leaf start to sway”? or 6, “large branches in motion”? or 7, “whole trees in motion”?

I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves tremble and I am invisible — “Love Song for the Square Root of Negative One” / Richard Siken

2? “leaves rustle”? or 8, “”twigs break from trees”?

I am stirred, I’m stir-able, I’m a wind-stirred thing — “And All Visible Signs Swept Away” / Carl Phillips

Okay, think I know this one: “Leaves and small twigs in constant motion” (3).

Autumn wind chases in/From all directions/And a thousand chaste leaves/Give way. — “Nature Aria” / Yi Lei

I think this should be 2, “leaves rustle”

Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless/ Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:/It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies — “Fall” / Edward Hirsch

7, “inconvenient to walk against the wind”

the dry/sound of applause: leaves chapped/falling, an ending. — “When the Fact of Your Gaze Means Nothing, Then You Are Truly Alongside” / Donika Kelly

3: “leaves in constant motion”

Unglue the fog from the woods from the waist up/ And speak disparagingly of leaves — “Plea to the Wind” / Alice Oswald

This is a tough one for me. Is ungluing the fog violent or gentle? To speak disparagingly of the leaves seems less forceful than yelling at them — I think I’ll go with 4 “wind raises dust and loose paper, small branches move” but I could also go with 9, chimney pots and slates removed

Whip the green cloth off the hills — “Plea to the Wind” / Alice Oswald

10: “Trees uprooted, considerable structural damage occurs”

When winds go round and round in bands,/And thrum upon the door,/And birds take places overhead,/To bear them orchestra, — “Wind” / Emily Dickinson

6 — whistling in telegraph wires, umbrellas used with difficulty

So that the ocean on one side is wild/With foam and glitter. . ./As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways/ And catch the heart off guard and blow it open. — “Postscript” / Seamus Heaney

11: the sea is covered in foam, widespread damage

So, I already found a line last week for 0. With these lines above, I’m only missing 12. Although some of the lines above are used for multiple levels. I’ll fine tune that in a future entry. This was fun!

Here they are in order, so far:

0 —- the white cotton curtains hanging still

1 —

2 — Autumn wind chases in/From all directions/And a thousand chaste leaves/Give way. — “Nature Aria” / Yi Lei

3 — I am stirred, I’m stir-able, I’m a wind-stirred thing — “And All Visible Signs Swept Away” / Carl Phillips AND the dry/sound of applause: leaves chapped/falling, an ending. — “When the Fact of Your Gaze Means Nothing, Then You Are Truly Alongside” / Donika Kelly

4 —

5 — I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves tremble and I am invisible — “Love Song for the Square Root of Negative One” / Richard Siken

6 — When winds go round and round in bands,/And thrum upon the door,/And birds take places overhead,/To bear them orchestra, — “Wind” / Emily Dickinson

7 — when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by — “Who Has Seen the Wind?”/ Christina Rossetti

8 — Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless/ Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:/It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies — “Fall” / Edward Hirsch

9 — Unglue the fog from the woods from the waist up/ And speak disparagingly of leaves — “Plea to the Wind” / Alice Oswald

10 — Whip the green cloth off the hills — “Plea to the Wind” / Alice Oswald

11 — So that the ocean on one side is wild/With foam and glitter. . ./As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways/ And catch the heart off guard and blow it open. — “Postscript” / Seamus Heaney

12 —

march 19/RUN

4.2 miles
minnehaha falls and back
43 degrees
wind: 31 mph gusts

So windy today! My legs felt heavy. I wonder if part of the problem is that I’m running so late in the morning? I didn’t start until almost 11:30. Still glad I went for a run, but I wish it would have felt a little easier and I would have worn less layers — maybe skipped the buff?

Listened to kids on the playground, birds, random voices, falling water for the first half of the run. Put in headphones and listened to Taylor Swift for the second half.

before the run

Reading through an entry from March 19, 2017 about the new poetry class I was taking, I found this:

In the editor’s note it’s mentioned that Mayer writes hypnogogic poems. I looked up the word and found the definition (a state between waking and sleeping, when drowsy) and an interview with Mayer about how, after suffering a stroke, she experimented with using a tape recorder to record her thoughts in this drowsy/dreamy state. So cool. Currently, I’m writing about running and I’d like to experiment with ways to express the dreamlike state I sometimes enter during long runs.

Reading this bit, I got an idea, which I typed up in my “Notes for Haunts, fall 2023” pages document:

the dream like state of running, when the mind is shut down
haunting = possessing or being possessed — what if haunting was not just being taken over by someone/thing else (possessed) or taking over someone/thing else (possessing) but becoming untethered or loosely tetered from your body — floating on the path in-between in that strange empty space between banks between sky and ground between worlds between You and I? this could be another form of haunting — what if I started writing small-ish poems that offered different definitions of haunt? 

A few definitions of haunt I’m thinking about right now: feeling disembodied, having an out-of-body experience and being obsessed/preoccupied/consumed by a thought or idea — having a bee in your bonnet.

bee in your bonnet

Here’s an article about the origins of the phrase. According to the article, the phrase is still being used in popular culture. I use it, usually when I notice Scott hell-bent on some task — and usually it seems like a task, or idea, that is fool-hardy but that he needs to work through and figure out for himself.

Sometimes instead of saying, bee in your bonnet, I say that someone (or me) is hellbent. Of course, writing that immediately makes me think of Jackie from the 1979 Death on the Nile:

Jacqueline De Bellefort : One must follow one’s star wherever it leads. 
Hercule Poirot : Even to disaster?
Jacqueline De Bellefort : Even to Hell itself.

When I envision a bee in my bonnet, I see something that is relentless, impossible to ignore, urgently needing to be dealt with. That’s not quite how I imagine my preoccupation with haunts and ghosts and writing about the gorge. Still, I like the idea of bees in bonnets, and bees in general, so maybe I’ll spend more time with them this morning?

Reading through several ED “bee” poems, I suddenly had a thought: could the bee in your bonnet be your soul, trying to escape the confines of the body?

This thought was inspired by a poem I wrote about in an On This Day post: Body and Soul/ Sharon Bryan. I didn’t mention it in the post, but the description of the soul in the poem, as leaving the body at night to roam around, reminded me of an ED poem I read a few weeks ago, when I was thinking about the difference between the brain and the mind:

If ever the lid gets off my head/ Emily Dickinson

If ever the lid gets off my head
And lets the brain away
The fellow will go where he belonged —
Without a hint from me,

And the world — if the world be looking on —
Will see how far from home
It is possible for sense to live
The soul there — all the time.

So much to think about on my run (I’m writing this before I headed out). Will I see any bees about by the gorge? Very unlikely, I think.

during the run

Thought about a bee in my bonnet as an obsession that I wanted to release, so I imagined opening the top of my head like the door of a cage and letting the bee fly free. What would/could happen if I did this? Would I find some new ways to think about my experiences?

Also, randomly remembered something about bees in a horror movie, then remembered the movie, Candyman. Looked up, “gothic horror bees” and found this 1978 movie, The Bees.

Not too far into the run I think I forgot about the bee. I was too distracted by my heavy legs and wondering if my calf would do something strange, and the wind. No escape from my body today.

after my run

Now, ED’s poem about the lid of her head coming off makes me think of a favorite Homer Simpson bit:

Homer reluctantly listens to Ned Flanders drone on about the differences between juice and cider. A voice says, You can stay, but I’m leaving, and Homer’s brain exits his head and floats away as we hear a slide whistle. A few seconds later his body collapses on the floor and we hear a thud.

I love the image of the brain floating away. And, instead of a daydream where Homer’s brain gets to wander while his zoned-out body stays and pretends to listen, his body collapses, unable to continue without the brain. This idea brings me back to the Sharon Bryan poem I mentioned earlier:

then they [body and soul] quarrel over which one of them 
does the dreaming, but the truth is, 

they can’t live without each other and 
they both know it, anima, animosity, 

the diaphragm pumps like a bellows 
and the soul pulls out all the stops— 

sings at the top of its lungs, laughs 
at its little jokes . . .

. . . the soul 
says, with a smirk, I was at the end 

of my tether, and it was, like a diver 
on the ocean floor or an astronaut 

admiring the view from outside 
the mother ship, and like them 

it would be lost without its air 
supply and protective clothing,

Okay — I’ve been thinking about a few things here: being weighed down/preoccupied with ideas/thoughts/subjects (obsessed); a desire to be released from the body and obsessions; images of bees in bonnets and bees in general. Maybe I’d like to explore some different images of bees, especially in Dickinson? Also, here are 2 other ways to think about obsessions as repetition and habit:

Camille: Some of the obsessions are never going to leave you, and to me, that was part of what I loved. With each page I thought, Oh, I’ve seen this before, but how is she going to manage it differently? It reminded me of the Miles Davis quote about John Coltrane that was a guiding force for me as I was writing my first book, when I was really worried that I was doing the same thing over and over and over again. And I read the liner notes where Davis wrote about Coltrane’s first solo album. He said, “I don’t understand why people don’t get John Coltrane’s music. All he is trying to do is play the same note as many ways as he possibly can.”

Writing a Grove: A Conversation with Poet Laureate Ada Limón

FADY JOUDAH: There is no life without repetition, beginning at the molecular, even particle level. There is no art without life. To remain viable, art, inseparable from the circularity of the human condition, also repeats. What is a life without memory? And what is memory if not repetition. But not all repetition guarantees what we call progress, a euphemism for wisdom. Repetition with reproducible results, for example, is a foundational concept of the scientific method. Yet science can be an instrument for the destruction of life as for its preservation. This suggests to me that repetition in art is our unconscious memory at work: art mimics the repetition of the life force within us. All art is a translation of life. Take Jackson Pollock’s so-called action painting. What is it if not a rhythm of a life force in all of us? In those paintings, the pattern is recognizable yet unnamable. It’s like watching electrons bounce off each other. The canvas contains entropy. We understand this at a cellular or quantum level.

When It Takes Root in the Heart: Conversations with Fady Joudah

march 17/RUN

6.2 miles
minnehaha dog park and back
wind: 13 mph / gusts: 27 mph

Another weekend run with Scott. We talked about Ada Limón’s National Park project and I recited Scott’s favorite line from one of the poems featured in the project. The line — Surely you can’t imagine they just stand there loving every minute of it. The poem — Can You Imagine/ Mary Oliver. Scott likes the line because it’s also a line from the Loverboy song, “Loving Every Minute of it.” As we ran into the wind I mentioned the terrible wind (and rain and cold) in the 2018 Boston Marathon. Scott talked about a dream he had last night that he went to a friend’s gig and how, when he woke up, he realized that that friend did actually have a gig last night. He also talked about birds — wild turkeys and his favorite encounter with them when he saw two walking side-by-side down a busy sidewalk near lake street.

When we started running, it was snowing — small flurries. At some point it stopped, but it stayed cold and windy. Writing this now, a half an hour later, I’m still cold.

image of the day: a robin on the edge of path, hopping along then flying across the path. Having noticed the leaves skittering in the wind on the other side of the path, at first I thought the robin was a leaf. But then, when it landed on the fence, I could tell it was a bird. After mentioning it to Scott, I recited a line from ED’s “A bird came down the Walk –“. I think I’ll write a little birding poem about this Robin!

10 Things

  1. skittering leaves
  2. a robin — first on the ground as a dark form that could be anything and that I thought was a bird, then fluttering across the path, then landing on the top of the fence
  3. flurries in the air — steady, then swirling, then a clump of them dumped
  4. water falling at the falls, a few bits of ice near the edge
  5. the creek, mostly flowing, but still on the edge, and low
  6. a walker with an unleashed dog, wandering around the trail
  7. the view of the river obscured by a screen of thin, unleafed branches
  8. the fake bells of the light rail on the other side of Hiawatha
  9. the curve of the river below us as we ran south toward fort snelling
  10. a steady cadence — the lift lift lift of my feet, slightly slower than Scott’s

march 6/RUN

3.45 miles
trestle turn around
48 degrees

Another run with no calf pain! Wore my compression sleeves again. My left IT band hurt a little and my legs felt heavy and tired, but no calf pain — victory!

IT fun: I think, I theorize, I twist, I triumph, is tall, is taught, is taut, is temerous*, is tiny, itchy tetherballs, iffy tire-swings, impossible teeter-totters

*temerous: this word appears several times in the great book I’m listening to right now: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Today the river was brown. Is that all I remember about the run? There were a few moments it was easy, effortless, but mostly it felt difficult.

Heard lots of birds — lots of irregular, out-of-sync rhythms. A few drumming woodpeckers. My nose kept almost running. Thought I heard some voices down in the floodplain forest.

Ended at 7 Oaks. Recited “I felt a Funeral in my Mind” and thought about rhythms and interruptions and sense breaking through.

Before the run, I wrote about clocks, priming myself for noticing rhythms while I ran:

That 12-figured Moon Skull!

Today, I’m inspired by my march 6 entry from last year. Here’s what I wrote in that entry:

During the run I listened to the latest “Nobody Asked Us with Des and Kara.” They were talking about recent races, super shoes, fast times, and the future of track. Reflecting on how world records keep being broken Kara asked Des: “What do you think would happen if they took away the clock? Would the race still be exciting?” Des thought it could be, while my mind started wandering. First thinking about how I’ve been trying to forget the clock/watch and not care about pace — mostly, I’ve been successful. Second thinking about Clocks and how I’ve collected some lines (from poems and essays) about the clock, or what Mary Oliver calls it: 

The clock! That twelve-figured moon skull, that white spider belly! How serenely the hands move with their filigree pointers, and how steadily! Twelve hours, and twelve hours, and begin again! Eat, speak, sleep, cross a street, wash a dish! The clock is still ticking. All its vistas are just so broad–are regular. (Notice that word.) Every day, twelve little bins in which to order disorderly life, and even more disorderly though. The town’s clock cries out, and the face on every wrist hums or shines; the world keeps pace with itself. Another day is passing, a regular and ordinary day. (Notice that word also.)

Upstream/ Mary Oliver

So many places to go with the idea of the Clock. Mary Oliver’s ordinary versus extraordinary time. Routines, habits, delight in the daily, repeated events. The Moment between time and its tight ticks, or right before something has happened, or when time (and sense) are disrupted. The time of the day dream. Outside of time and its relentless march forward, towards Death, motivated by progress. Losing time, syncing up with time. What other ways to we have for measuring meaning that don’t involve time passing?

Yes, so many ways to think about the idea of time and clocks!

interjection: Listening to an Apple playlist, ’70s Movie Essentials, and the song, “Time Warp” just came on.

pace definitions (from Merriam Webster)

  • rate of movement, the runner’s pace, especially : an established rate of locomotionrate of progress
  • specifically : parallel rate of growth or development, supplies kept pace with demand
  • rate of performance or delivery : TEMPO, a steady pace, on pace to set a record, especially : SPEED
  • rhythmic animation : FLUENCY
  • a manner of walking : TREAD
  • any of various units of distance based on the length of a human step
  • GAIT, especially : a fast 2-beat gait (as of the horse) in which the legs move in lateral pairs and support the animal alternately on the right and left legs
  • verb: paced; pacing — to walk with often slow or measured tread, to move along : PROCEED, to go at a pace —used especially of a horse
  • to measure by pacing —often used with off: paced off a 10-yard penalty
  • to cover at a walk — could hear him pacing the floor
  • to establish a moderate or steady pace for (oneself)
  • to keep pace with

my new pace: rhythm

I sink in
to a

rhythm: 3
then 2

First counting
foot strikes

then chanting
small prayers.

I beat out
meaning

until what’s
left are

syllables,
then sounds,

then something
new, or

old returned.

My rhythm for breathing, running, and writing. . .and for possessing favorite lines:

from “Practice”/ Ellen Bryant Voight

original:
at night in order to weep, to wait
for the whisker on the face of the clock
to twitch again, moving
the dumb day forward—

mine, in 3/2 rhythm:
wait for the
whisker

on the clock’s
face to

twitch again
to move

the dumb day
forward.

original:
if I came back as a bird
I’d remember that—

mine: 3/2
You — when I
come back

as a bird
will I

remember?

my new pace: a ghost, haunting the trails, inhabiting and possessing words and worlds

Was talking with two of the other clarinet players in band last night about the Calgon, take me away! commercial. Neither of them had heard of it; they’re Millennials. Does a Calgon, take me away, moment disrupt or resist or challenge capitalist time or reinforce it, or both?

Ross Gay and stopping capitalist time: from 29 march 2023

you, too, might’ve been praying for a way to stop the march of so-called time, and poems, sometimes, might do that. Poems are made of lines, which are actually breaths, and so the poem’s rhythms, its time, is at the scale and pace and tempo of the body, the tempo of our bodies lit with our dying. And poems are communicated, ultimately, body to body, voice to ear, heart to heart.9 Even if those hearts are not next to one another, in space or time. It makes them so. All of which is to say a poem might bring time back to its bodily, its earthly proportions. Poetry might make nothing happen. Inside of which anything can happen, maybe most dangerously, our actual fealties, our actual devotions and obligations, which is to the most rambunctious, mongrel, inconceivable assemblage of each other we could imagine.

Gay’s explicit connection to time and against capitalism resonates deeply for me. Stop those clocks, those planes, that machinery we’re using to destroy the planet, the future.

ED’s new grammar of humility and hesitation

Emily Dickinson took the scraps from the separate “higher” female education many bright women of her time were increasingly resenting, combined them with voracious and “unladylike” outside reading, and used the combination. She built a new poetic form from her fractured sense of being eternally on inteIlectual borders, where confident masculine voices buzzed an alluring and inaccessible discourse, backward through history into aboriginal anagogy. Pulling pieces of geometry, geology, alchemy, philosophy, politics, biography, biology, mythology, and philology from alien territory, a “sheltered” woman audaciously invented a new grammar grounded in humility and hesitation. HESITATE from the Latin, meaning to stick. Stammer. To hold back in doubt, have difficulty speaking. “He may pause but he must not hesitate”-Ruskin. Hesitation circled back and surrounded everyone in that confident age of aggressive industrial expansion and brutal Empire building. Hesitation and Separation. The Civil War had split American in two. He might pause, She hesitated. Sexual, racial, and geographical separation are at the heart of Definition.My Emily Dickinson

I really like this idea of hesitation and humility and aboriginal anagogy as a sharp contrast to progress, aggression, confidence/hubris, and time as always moving forwards (teleology). I tried to find a source that could explain exactly what Howe means by aboriginal anagogy but I couldn’t. I discovered that anagogy means mystical or a deeper religious sense and so, when I connect it to aboriginal, I’m thinking that she means that ED imbues pre-Industrial times (pre Progress!, where progress means trains and machines and cities and Empires and factories and plantations and the enslavement of groups of people and the increased mechanization of time and bodies and meaning and, importantly, grammar) with the sacred.

Hesitant
humble —

Okay, now I should go out for a fun. Should I pay attention to rhythms? Chant in triple berries? Look for disruptions? Focus on my breaths?

On my run, I listened to many different rhythms not quite in sync with my own and thought about interruptions and disruptions and how my breathing rhythm is sometimes how I breathe when I run and sometimes my imagined rhythm — real, embodied and also not real, the rhythm I’d like to have.

Concluded the run with an idea that I spoke into my phone: “Regular” time is necessary — I want the conveniences it allows for! — but we need to safeguard that space outside of that time. Poets do that. I try to do that, to keep the door open to that time/space for others.

I’ll end with a wonderful time poem:

[My favorite time is in time’s other side]/ Etel Adnan

My favorite time is in time’s other side, its other identity, the kind that collapses and sometimes reappears, and sometimes doesn’t. The one that looks like marshmallows, pomegranates, and stranger things, before returning to its kind of abstraction. I used to be fond of time as it was a matter that helped us feel intelligent. Those days have gone to where days go, in their own cemeteries. Today I see eternity everywhere. I had yesterday an empty glass of champagne on the table, and it looked both infinite and eternal, though it left me indifferent. At least, I was in good company, and a day closer to all sorts of annihilations.

cemeteries for gone days — to see eternities everywhere — time that looks like pomegranates and marshmallows

march 1/RUN

3.45 miles
2 trails + extra
45 degrees
wind: 15 mph / 31 mph gusts

Everyone knows it’s windy — All week I’ve had that song in my head. Partly because it’s catchy, but mostly because it’s windy. The wind didn’t bother me too much. Ran south to the overlook and was startled by a white truck honking as it drove past — was it honking at me, someone else, the wind? Reached the entrance to the Winchell Trail and entered. The path was thick with dead leaves and some mud. I don’t remember much about the river other than that it was blue and open and there, taking up a glorious amount of space. I heard some kids above playing, also some guy on a bike say, in exasperation, fuuucckk. Felt, more than saw, some shadows. Took off my pink jacket before climbing the 38th street steps — overdressed!

I recited ED’s “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” as I ran. Stumbled over this line a little:

With those same Boots of Lead, again

Not sure why the line was difficult to get right. I thought about sense breaking through, my mind going numb, space beginning to toll. Also: iron boots creaking across my soul. Last night, I asked Scott, after passing a store with the sign “guidance for the soul,” what he thought the difference between a soul and a spirit was — not what he believed — I know he doesn’t believe in either (at least I think he doesn’t) — but how they function theologically. Wait — what I actually asked was, on the scale of most rational to least, where do mind brain soul and spirit fall? I was thinking of ED’s use of mind in the poem as opposed to brain, and her reference to soul. Now I want to look at the Emily Dickinson lexicon and read how she used “brain,” “mind,” “spirit,” and “soul.”

I also want to find another brain poem to memorize — so far I’ve memorized, “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,” and . . . wait — I was just about to write, “I felt a Cleaving in my Brain,” which I’ve also memorized, but the title is actually “I felt a Cleaving in my Mind.” I think that she uses the terms, like many people do, interchangeably, but I’m fascinated by the small gap between them — the mind and brain are not the same, I think, not exactly. The difference between them gets us to the soul and the self and my thinking about the ultra marathoner Courtney Dauwalter last week — how the mind’s desire to keep going can override the body’s desire to stop. Wow — right now, I seem to be obsessing over and orbiting around ideas of the relationship between the mind and the body, the self and the brain, and surrender and the death of self. Okay, that barely makes sense to me —

I wrote in my plague notebook: brain soul mind self sense will death transformation pain

As I’ve been memorizing/reciting ED’s funeral poem, I’ve been thinking about this funeral in her brain not as a migraine or a mental breakdown or an epileptic seizure, which seem to be the dominant readings, but as the process of transcending the self involving feet treading and the repetitions of a beating drum and a religious ceremony (a service) and bells tolling/ringing and moving beyond reason and Knowing. I first encountered this reading in a comment on The Prowling Bee:

from the line “Then Space — began to toll” through the end of the poem, something else entirely is happening. ED breaks through to an experience that is impersonal and liberating — a direct experience that is unfiltered, not obscured by the depression and stress of the prior stanzas. The experience is vast and lonely — if the self is transcended, what would be the experience? 

The last stanza of the poem describes something far from a mental breakdown. Reason, the logical mind, does not operate without reference points. If the poet is operating from the reference point of self, then everything is measurable and comprehensible — graspable — based on that. With reason and logic, we are in the realm of EDs poems that use metaphors of measurement and mathematics and limits. But in the last stanza of this poem, all that is transcended. What is experienced is beyond reason — but entirely sane. It is the ineffable experience of truth — the poet finishes — knowing — then. If you ask what is known, you have not shared the transcendent experience of the poem.

The Prowling Bee

Reciting this poem while running, I kept thinking about how the treading and the beating, foot strike after foot strike, can lead to a dream-like state where you stop thinking and begin to feel the world (sense breaking through) instead of just observing or knowing it. There’s a lot I could say about the bell, but I’ll save that for later.

note: I worry that I getting lost in theorizing about this, but I also think I’m trying to push at deeper understandings of self and consciousness and how bodies and brains and minds and souls are entangled — especially in my aging, almost-50, often anxious, Sara-self.

feb 29/RUN

5.15 miles
bottom of franklin and back
33 degrees

Some wind, lots of sun and shadows and spring feelings. Heard some black-capped chickadees, was dazzled by the sun shining off a parked car, saw some new graffiti on a sign at the bottom of the hill.

Often my legs felt heavy. But my calves were quiet.

Heard a woodpecker knocking on wood somewhere near the rowing club and thought: a door!

Anybody
home? The
woodpecker
knocks on
the tree like
it was
dinner’s door.

Recited ED’s “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” throughout the run and got most of the lines.

Had some great thoughts while I ran about ED’s funeral poem and how it fits with running and the feeling of moving past (beside) your Self to a space beyond thinking and seeing, where you’re feeling and hearing. Thought about the gradual process ED describes — her repeated use of and and then — for how we break through to a different world where Space — began to toll/As all the Heavens were a Bell/And being, but an Ear. I had many other thoughts, but I’d like to think through them and post tomorrow.

ED’s Daily Delight (feb 28)

the line: Superior — for doors — (from “I dwell in Possibility”)

In November and December, while I was working on the revision of my Haunts poem, I started writing a series of door poems, inspired by a Mary Oliver line from Upstream:

I did not think of language as the means to self-description. I thought of it as the door–a thousand opening doors!–past myself.

Upstream/ Mary Oliver

Looking for
ways out,
hoping for 
ways in,
finding doors
open
everywhere

Then I wrote a series of brief 3/2 poems describing the “doors” I’ve found by the gorge. I’d like to keep adding to them, using my 10 Things lists for inspiration.

Before I do that, I found this reference to doors while rereading a Feb 28, 2022 entry:

The sound of boots tamping snow are the hinges 
of many doors being opened. 
(from Statement of Teaching Philosophy/ Keith Leonard

I like the idea of doors opening or being opened. Opening/being opened suggests that something — language or poetry or the sound of boots triggering memories — is doing that opening. But I also like the idea of doors already open that you have to notice.

from December 2023 “10 Things” Lists:

dec 1: most of the steps down to the Winchell Trail are closed off with a chain, but not the old stone steps — why not?

Just one set
of stairs

without a
chain stretched

across the
top step.

Just one door
calling

out to you,
Come in!

dec 1: there are certain stretches I don’t remember running through — like the part of the walking trail that separates from the bike path right before the trestle. Why can’t I picture it?

stretches of
the path

forgotten
moments

I enter
a space

outside of
myself.

dec 3: running by a house I walk by often, seeing the door looking different — a new color? orange? have they painted their house or is the light just weird for me today?

today the
color

of this door
has changed —

a new paint
job or

a trick of
the light?

dec 5: a path winding through the savanna revealed by settled snow

a path winds
through the

savanna
often

invisible
today

revealed by
new snow

dec 6: wet path, shimmering — is it just water, or is it super slick ice?

Here, two doors,
both

possible.
One’s safe

the other
more fun.

note: As I write these, I’m thinking that part of their point is to open up and to get into the habit of converting things noticed into my form. Many of them aren’t great, but they are good practice and could help to loosen me up. For the first time in a few years, ran to Lake Nokomis and back.

dec 15: kids laughing on a playground* (*as I listened to the kids, I thought about how this sound doesn’t really change. Over the years, it comes from different kids, but the sound is the same. Season after season, year after year.)

no matter
the year

recess sounds
the same

the difference
is you

and how you
hear it

dec 18: hot sun on my face, once or twice

hot sun on
my face

I pretend
spring’s door

has opened

dec 19: as I ran south, some white thing out of the corner of my eye kept calling out, notice me! So I did: it was an arch of the lake street bridge

Sometimes doors
don’t speak

and sometimes
they scream

Open me,
enter!

dec 22: halfway down the hill, I noticed some stairs on the other side of the road I’ve never noticed before. Were they leading to the franklin terrace dog park?

halfway down
the hill

surprise stairs
noticed

just today.
Where do

they lead? What
doors do

they open?

feb 27/RUN

4.5 miles
VA bridge and back
46 degrees
wind: 16 mph, 29 mph gusts

What a wonderful morning for a run! Okay, maybe the wind was a bit much, but the sun and the warm air and the clear paths made up for it. I felt good and strong and relaxed. A few times my right calf reminded me it was there — no pain, just a strange stretched feeling. I recited ED’s “I heard a Fly buzz — when I died –” several times, mostly in my head, but once, as I climbed out of minnehaha park, out loud! Should I be celebrating this? Do I want to be that person who doesn’t care if others hear her reciting poems as she runs? Yes, I do.

10 Things

  1. the hollow knocking of a woodpecker on dead wood, echoing across the gorge
  2. lots of black capped chickadees calling to each other
  3. oak tree shadows, sprawled everywhere
  4. the brown creek water lazily heading towards the limestone ledge
  5. rustling below me, on the winchell trail — someone walking over the leaves
  6. climbing up from the part of the path that dips below the road, seeing the shadow of trunk on the path that was so sharp and dark I thought it was a fallen tree
  7. sirens on Hiawatha, getting louder as they off the walls of the tunnel near 50th
  8. passing a runner — What a beautiful morning!Yes! Almost perfect!
  9. a biker in a bright yellow shirt, as bright as the one I was wearing
  10. the meandering curves of the sidewalks that wind through the part of minnehaha falls near John Stevens’ house

This morning, while drinking my coffee, I decided to write about the delightful noise of geese wings cutting through the air that I’d recalled hearing a few weeks ago on my back deck — I remembered it after reading a list of 10 things from a feb 27th from another year. I wrote a draft of a poem, then decided I’d like to start writing delight poems every morning. No pressure — just patch a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate — this isn’t a competition but a doorway into thanks and a silence in which another voice may speak (Praying/ Mary Oliver) — just the opportunity to sit with one of the delights I’ve encountered while running beside the gorge. A few minutes later, I had a further idea about including Emily Dickinson:

The practice, elements:

  • write a poem each day
  • the poem should be about some delight noticed on the run — either from that day or a past entry
  • any form running/breathing form: couplets of 3 syllables/2 syllables
  • uses, in some way, a favorite line from an Emily Dickinson poem

Here’s the poem I wrote this morning:

Too Silver for a Seam / Sara Lynne Puotinen

Even more than the sight of them
it is the sounds they make
that move me.

Usually it is the mournful calls
from within a tight formation
then the lone honk of the last in line,

but today the geese were low enough
to hear the sharp swish of their wings
cutting the air.

In their wake only the echo
of scissors and sharpening knives
and movement too silver for a seam.

The ED line is too silver for a seam and it comes from “A Bird came down the Walk”:

And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer Home—

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam—

I like it! It needs a little work, but it makes me happy and captures my delight in hearing this sound. Scott wondered about the scissors and sharpening knives — such violent imagery — so I explained — the scissors make me think of Scott’s mom and the old scissors I inherited from her that make a wonderfully sharp scissor-y sound when you use them — it also makes me think of my mom who was always using scissors for her fiber art. The sharpening knives make me think of Scott’s dad and the enthusiastic and dilligent way he would sharpen their knives with their knife sharpener. I think I might need to add a line or two that signals my affection for these sounds without making it too obvious.

During the last mile of the fun, I started reciting other ED poems, including:

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.

Note: This seems like an edited version from Mabel Todd, with all its punctuation and no capitalizing of clovers or bees.

As I recited this small poem, I suddenly thought about how I was a bee, wearing my bright yellow shirt with my black running shorts and tights. I kept running, feeling ready to stop, looking ahead and wondering how close I was to being done. Suddenly I saw it: the bright yellow crosswalk sign with black figures at 38th street! I’m almost done when I reach that sign! I watched it getting closer and thought, it takes one bee or, it takes a bee?

update, six hours later: I’m back. Decided that I might want to add one more rule to this ED delight daily practice: I want to use my running/breathing form of 3 syllable/2 syllable couplets. I tightened up the poem I wrote earlier using that form. Here’s the new version:

Today the
geese flew

low enough
to hear

the quick swish
of wings

slicing through
the air. (I could leave air for the unintentional rhyme or switch to sky)

In their wake —
echoes

of scissors
cutting

knives being
sharpened

their blades too
silver

for a seam.

feb 25/RUN

5 miles
franklin loop
45 degrees

A regular run! It felt mostly fine, a few times strange. I told Scott that often when something is sore or stiff or hurts, it just feels strange to me. I need better words.

A few time my calf felt strange…but what does that mean? It felt like it was trying to talk to me, like it wasn’t used to moving, like it was complaining. During the run, once or twice, the smallest flare of something that wasn’t quite pain yet. After the run, tight, a little sore along the outside of my calf starting near the knee and moving down. Here’s some information that I might want to look at: Calf Muscle Tightness

While we ran, we talked about Scott’s latest work project involving wrangling a lot of data about water quality and temperature and more and turning it into a user-friendly widget. I talked about Courtney Dauwalter and listening to your body and pushing your limits and the memory palace. Near the end of the run, we encountered people protesting Israel’s invasion/war against Palestine on the bridge. I almost called out from the river to the sea! but didn’t — do I wish I had? yes, I think so. Saw some Palestinian flags and people with signs. A few minutes later, we heard a bullhorn from up on the bridge — were they marching to the capital?

earlier today

While reviewing the feb 25 entry from 2022, I came across a reference to the memory palace. I’d like to do something with this idea — an experiment, a poem, something else? Found a helpful discussion of it in a Paris Review article about Wordsworth:

The idea of the mind as a palace or church, whose individual rooms can be explored with training, is familiar from the memory treatises of antiquity and the Middle Ages. The “memory palace” as a mnemonic device was widely used before the advent of printing to organize and remember vast amounts of information. By memorizing the spatial layout of a building and assigning images or ideas to its various rooms, one could “walk” through the imaginary building and retrieve the ideas relegated to the separate parts.

The Celestial Memory Palace/ Aysegul Savas

I mentioned the memory palace in a feb 25, 2022 entry. In a feb 25, 2020 entry, I also wrote about place, the house:

I’d like to put this poem (A Skull) and the idea of the skull as a house beside the two other poems with houses that I posted on feb 22.

Two different, yet connected, versions of imagined place. Can I do something with these?

Here’s a delightful poem from a chapbook, Cheap Motels of my Youth, that I just got in the mail:

I Heard a Fly Buzz/ George Bilgere

I stumbled out in to the kitchen,
got the coffee maker started,
did the dishes from last night,
and then you came out in your robe,
wondering why I was up so early,
and I realized I’d misread the clock,
I’d actually gotten up at 7, not 8,
and suddenly I had a whole hour
bestowed upon me by the gods
who dole out our span to time.

And this was long ago, years ago, but
I still have that hour, I’ve guarded it
zealously, and when the time comes
and the darkness is closing in, and perhaps
I even hear a fly buzz—I’ll take out
that hour from the secret place
where I keep it, I’ll show it to all of you
gathered around my bedside
and I’ll cry out, Look! Another hour!

And that fly will pause in its
goddam buzzing, and all of you—
and that means you, Michael and Alex—
all of you will be forced to smile
and say, Really? That’s just awesome!

And I shall continue with my reminiscences.

I love this poem — the way it gently references Emily Dickinson, the delightful story it tells, his use of goddam in the second to last stanza, the calling out of his kids in the poem, how the first stanza is all one sentence, and that last bit about reminiscing as what he’d want to do with his bonus hour.

I like his use of goddam, and I wonder: how often do women poets use goddam? It seems like a swear word male poets would use. What are some good examples of women poets using goddam in their poems? I looked up “women poets goddam” and came across Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam.” Listened to it — wow — and found this article for later: The long story behind Nina Simone’s protest song, “Mississippi Goddam” Kept scrolling in my search and found a link to a Book Notes series in which authors create a playlist for their books. Cool! What does this have to do with goddam? Nothing, but I love that I found this site, especially after creating a playlist for my windows month.

Okay, time to stop wandering. I think I’ll go study and memorize Emily Dickinson’s “I heard a Fly buzz — when I died”

Almost forgot: still playing around with the tiles for the two main muscles in the calf: gastrocnemius and soleus

Glass moon curse suite

feb 23/WALK

20 minute walk with Delia
neighborhood
33 degrees

A short walk through the neighborhood with Delia the dog. My calf is feeling better. I think I’ll try running 1 or 2 miles tomorrow morning. Today, just a walk. Brrr. The thing I’d like to remember from the walk — other than the happy feeling of walking without fear of cramping — was the exclamation point on the sold sign in front of house 1 block south. Sold! Maybe I’ve missed it, but I don’t think sold signs usually have exclamation points. I love exclamation points! So did Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman!

Searched through my archives and found a reference to exclamation points in a Diane Seuss sonnet:

how many exclamation points can I 
get away with in this life, who was it who said only two
or maybe seven, Bishop? Marianne Moore?

In that 27 march 2023 entry, I tried finding the reference — Bishop or Moore — but couldn’t. Still can’t.

Returning to Emily Dickinson, I think my favorite exclamation point poem by her is ‘Tis so much joy! ‘Tis so much joy! — especially these lines, which I like to chant on some runs:

Life is but Life! And Death, but Death!
Bliss is, but Bliss, and Breath but Breath!

While rereading the entry for feb 23, 2022, I re-discovered these poems by Rebecca Hazelton — 2 examples of ekphrastic poetry: The Husband’s Answers