we each pick out a spire

the sunrise dusky desert view
through the quaking aspen trunks
as seen from the bed through the window
upon an early-ish wakeup
how we each pick out a spire in the distance
from our perch at the top of black elk peak (at 7,242 feet –
highest point between the rockies and the pyrenees)
where we
pause for a snack lunch
before making our way back down
in the mica-glittered sand dust

windows so big and tall
that one can lie on the couch
and watch the clouds move
in a way that usually requires a blanket and the ground
the heart-shaped piece of fool’s gold
that juniper leaves on top of my laptop
right near the chunks of mica
that traveled along with me in my jean shorts pocket

where the cool clear waters run through

the sound of the creek (little elk creek) that we walk along
for three miles in each direction
and the rock flats near the end of the trail
where the cool clear waters run through and over
and we stop to take off our shoes and hats and shirts
and put our feet and hands and arms and shirts and hats
in the water
and how my legs feel lighter, newer as we walk away

with all the trees and the green and the creek glimmering
i feel like we could be in the german countryside
or switzerland
while the clouds stack themselves
bright white against blue

the joke about how we’d do a couple week’s worth of grocery shopping
at dick and jane’s adult novelty naughty spot
to avoid going to town during the motorcycle rally
which means we’d be on a steady diet for half a month
of penis pops and edible underwear

that’s why we came here

juniper and i begin the day by singing bohemian rhapsody
loud in bed in the morning
and laughing hard and big and this
this is the way to also start a day
my body feels alright
i say in the morning
after our hiking hijinks
“alright” meaning nothing particular hurts or aches
but i just feel slammed
(perhaps from the distances walked
but also from the bodies exertion of energies
to stay warm while rainsoaked
they burned half the city down and crime is up like 200 per cent
(neither of these are true)
says the woman in line two people ahead of us, unmasked,
she’s talking about minneapolis
a city she doesn’t even live in (but rather, in the burbs)
that’s why we came here
she says
here meaning south dakota
when the person she’s talking to says something about guns

i want to pray to every dawn

sunrise hike at bear butte:
3:45am wakeup
quiet dawnduskdarkness travel
kp mountain-goat-ing ahead of us on the trail
mama and fawn mule deer on the trail leading the way,
i want to meet the sun but the jane goodall in me
always wants to sit/stand in stillness and watch/witness
up and up and scree and up and up and then, around the jutting rock corner
bam, sun impacts heart, face, eyes
big star heartgutpunch
i want to greet every morning like this
i want to pray to every dawn like this
the burst of wild mountain raspberries
and the mild tropicalness of wild currants
that i pluck and taste along the precarious ridge-side way
(tasting a few and leaving the rest for the other animals)
the wind carrying the messages of the prayer ties
(in gold and red and blue and yellow and black and other varied colors)
attached to branches along the way,
the good morning greetings to the few others i see along the way
what is the name
for being the first humans of the day to summit and descend
bringing blessings from the top to the others on their way
how the light changes as we go
and how we sing the bear song
winding our way down
out for round two for an ‘easy hike’ on the big hill trails
that will have me back to the cabin
by my 5pm meeting time
savoring thimbleberries and wild raspberries
and the quaking of aspens and the
vanilla of ponderosa
and singing a song or two along the way –
enter thunderstorms
enter little streams of water gathering in the path
enter a sign that tells us we’re only halfway
when we’ve been getting rained on and lightened on
for a half hour or more already meaning, by the end of it all,
we’ve walked about seven miles, trudging through for about 3.5 of them
all in addition to the 4 mile 1,000 foot gain hike we did this morning
enter how the storm seems to pause
long enough to switch out a wet shirt for a dryish sweater
though my hands don’t work to maneuver into the sleeves
enter more singing
about putting one foot in front of the other
and leading with love once the storm picks up again
throwing lightning as if to joke cruelly
enter juniper hyperventilating (or almost)
and naming the plants she knows as she goes to keep her calm,
rainsoaked pants cinched at the bottom to keep out the ticks
and yellow backpack making her look all gradeschooler-like,
enter the trail marked with orange
that is not the trail marked with blue we were supposed to be on
enter, finally, the blessed sight of the road in the distance
and a car or two zooming by on it
and a phone whose gps works that tells us
it is the road we indeed parked off of
enter the shivering that comes
once we know there is a way home
to warmth
hiking mishap i write in a text i send
about a meeting i end up only catching the last 10 minutes of


ice cream headaches

ice cream headaches in our calves
from stepping into the cool cold clear waters
of iron creek in spearfish canyon
while the dry air temperatures climb
into the upper 80s

the shape of my ear
imprinted on juniper’s upper arm
after falling asleep in a post-hike nap
elf ear she says

the smell of moth balls (snake deterrent)
wafting around me as i sun salutation
on the south facing deck

all the growing things

like chocolate chip cookies i say
about the first ponderosa pine we stop to sniff
on our way up crow peak
the names of all the growing things we’ve seen on the trail
that i try to repeat on the way down
including but not limited to:
pearly everlasting, monarda, raspberries (tastiest raspberries ever), currants, phlox or fireweed, goatweed, mullein, ponderosa pine, yarrow, asters, wild onion, st. johns wort, sage, goldenrod,

watch them dance

the spill of blueberries on the sidewalk
outside the st. peters co-op
the blue purple dusty colored orbs
scattered across the yellow parking spot line

our first wall drug sign encounter
signaling the many many more to come
beginning from 355 miles away

i like to watch them dance i say
about the windmills, a whole sea of them,
as we roll past on the highway

rise beyond

the dark red cherries in the produce section
speaking to me louder than the oranges and tangerines

setting sun and the almost setting sun glinting on the mississippi’s surface
while the wisconsin/minnesota ridges and hills rise beyond
as seen from the train window
as we roll west on the rails
our masked faces
taking the view in

the pandemic and broken cars

another weird zoom moment brought to you by the pandemic and broken cars and weather radio tornado warnings:
evan in michigan, me 6.5 miles outside of town tuning in via zoom
to robert, jacob and arwyn gathered together in a room in town
but because it is so difficult to hear those in an actual room together in town
and the audio between grand rapids and green acres mobile estate is so clear
it’s as if we’re in our own secret room club
and when one of us laughs about how terrible the audio is
the other does too
mostly unbeknownst to the three gathered in the actual room in actual person
and it’s like that terrible church laughter
that used to strike ami and i in the pews in the middle of mass
where it would feel so terrible to stifle the gurgling giggles
but also so good to let them bubble up,
so terrible if one escaped
but so good to be giddy
but so terrible to be so giddy
in the wrong place at the wrong time
but so good to be with a sister who spoke the same secret language
that we didn’t even neeed words to find something funny – just a look, just a nudge

free-fall freezepose

the small bright green tree frogs about the size of my thumb
at rest, maybe hunting
on zinnia leaves and milkweed leaves and horseradish leaves
the closer i look, the more i find:
one on the horseradish, one on the milkweed and a total of six
in their highrise zinnia condos
looking out at all that cloudswathed sky

the sound of a neighbor, young kid, yelling at their dog to shut up
overheard as i weed, liberating the several varieties of kale from grasses and dock and dandelion leaves
and how it hurts
how i want to tell the kid or the kids parents
about being nice to living beings,
about how to listen and respond
about the importance of their responsibilities
as caretakers of this creature

another glimpse of the comet neowise tonight
despite the town light glow to the west
despite the glare of the streetlight just outside our trailer
neowise, smudging ki’s tails across night sky
unmoving to the naked (or binoculared) eye
a free-fall freezeepose