aristotle was there

the tiny faerie house
em and i build
on the dirt ground
inside the fortsythia
i like how we
hang out and talk there in the tunnel of shade
before moving along
forks we call the forked branches
that are the main posts
of our faerie dwelling

emory, curious and fascinated
with plenty of questions
about maverick and goose and ice man
and how goose died and who was fighting who

while he holds his lego copter/drone and
i tell him the plot (from what i can remember)
of top gun
how i build color blocks
with the legos as emory
finagles with the drone/plane
and how we admire each others’ work
just after freestyling about
the grates and the finishers
(which are two types of lego pieces
he keeps filed away in his
plastic sorter container)

so uh, what kind of take-out are you
ordering for lunch tyler jokes
about our ongoing joke of
being in cubicle town
(him in stan’s room working on organic
inspection reports and me at the living room table
punching/crunching numbers
for farm accounting for the past two months
in about 5 minutes i say
about how long it took the 90-something degree swelter
to cool to 70something or maybe even the high 60s
when the cold front swooped in followed by
a short fury of a storm

the green shapes of leaves
as seen from inside the greenhouse
where they are plastered on the opaque roof
after being ripped by storm winds
from their branches
aristotle was there mom says
about the production
which is a play on grease
named greece lightning

when i kick the bucket
you won’t have to do much digging
just a small hole dad says/jokes
about how a trowel will do
because he wants to be cremated
(or donate his body to research)

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sweating already on the frisbee field
at 9am ted says in the endzone
that mitribah, kuwait and basra, iraq
both reached 129 degrees fahrenheit yesterday
which, later, the internet tells me is
highest temperature ever recorded on earth

getting moist ted says
sweat glistening on all our skins and soaking
our clothes
and it’s about to get moister i call back
as we are about to make our way to the pond
don’t know mica says if that’s possible
turns out it’s pretty shallow over here
i call out from where i just jumped off the dock

and appeared to have plummeted into watery depths
only to be standing on the bottom
with the water up to my hips
the still-warm glasses of tomato juice
that stan pours mo and i
in gigi’s blue kitchen
before the three of us toast
(and dottie toasts too
with an invisible glass)
and sip the salted goodness slow

thwarted multiple times
on our ice cream hunt we finally choose a
6-cone pack from the freezer section
of jay’s
the deep fuschia
of the experimental kraut
(cabbage, beets, onions, carrots, apple)
as i transfer it from
crock to jars
joseph and i
from behind our sewing machines
exchanging amused eyes
as emory sings
i’m a cowboy
on the steelhorse i ride
and i’m wanted
dead or alive
into the box fan
that chops his voice up into little pieces
and sends it back out at him
a name for what the sun/sky is doing as i
harvest mottled tomatoes and
nearly perfect cherry tomatoes
in south garden
while dottie wheels around on that mower
breaking through perhaps
or maybe goldening or
and a name/word for what this light does

as it lands in the treetops

in the very last light of the day
after wrestling (only not really wrestling)
tomato limbs into their trellising
i walk the zinnia spiral
(flowers fireworking)

which is where i find
my breath again
i’m not writing about bullets
and black bodies
not because i don’t want to
but because
i don’t know how

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in the humid aftermath

loud thunder cracking
across sky
out-running the lightning
as i slowly roll into wake
on this day slated for tree-trimming/felling
joseph-made buttermilk pecan pancakes
how i chow one down and put one on a plate
with a ramekin of sorghum
to deliver
you do a lot of work here
she says after spending some weeding time
in the north garden tomatoes
i respect that / you
rachel in the kitchen
levering bike tire away from wheel
as i peel skin from the beets and sift
flour with the steel crank sifter
and when i ask for the story
behind the blue/yellow jersey shirt she
says when i was in sri lanka
i played on this professional sri lankan cricket team

and how i believe her for a moment before asking
fifty miles, eleven hours
her dad says

when i ask about the ultra-marathon
and when i ask about training he says
it’s a lifestyle
and how, when he comments on the farm,
i joke, it’s not a lifestyle – we’re in training
five mosquito bites in less than five minutes
on my way to harvest small handfuls of parsley
and a simple bouquet
(of strawflowers, globe amaranth and
one dahlia)
in the humid aftermath of this morning’s rain
on a quiet day
i can hear her breathing
a new world is possible
she’s on her way
how we stumble at first
with the timing and pitch
but soon enough
over the dinner we are about to eat we
are singing the three part round
the tiniest of tiny pieces i request
of the challah we feed each other
shabbat-style around the butcher block
with the braid of bread baigz baked
what’s the thing
you are most afraid to tell me
mo sharing the thing
isaak says to her
while we color and embellish the
swim like a fish, emory poster
for tomorrow’s meet

the best thing about earphones is
that no one else can hear
and i laugh/smile to myself
at the songs pandora throws me
on the eye of the tiger playlist
(including but not limited to
guns and roses, motley crue,
def leppard, guns n’ roses)
while i send the elastic through the machine
stitching harness by harness
into the late-ish night
from the water world:


A Filipino girl takes a dip in a used tire at a vulcanizing shop in suburban Manila, Philippines. – voice of america, day in photos

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sometimes we carry the song, sometimes others carry it for us

when i have said
we don’t know how to do death
i mean, mostly, as a larger culture, we really don’t
but today is an exception
how today is made of
many things that can break one’s heart
one of the first of which is sharon appearing
(before or after dennis’s shrouded body
is pulled along on the bike trailer, i don’t remember)
with that full and gorgeous
round and bursting
wreath of wildflowers
perched on her back bike rack
beginning the procession
(some on bike some on foot,
almost all with flowers in hand)
another of which is the song sounds
we make when we can
and sometimes the words
that come with them too
another is how sometimes sharon
bows into herself
hands to heart or mouth
and how every time i look
someone is there
at her side
another is the ripped openness of this day
of the hearts gathered around
the fabric-wrapped body
and the hand dug grave
and the closeness we are allowed to approach
this thin veil
between worlds
and the ways it comes and goes in waves
which means sometimes we carry the song
and sometimes others carry it for us
bikes first sharon calls out
and there we are pedaling
down the hill and through the woods
flower bouquet wrapped in my right hand wrapped
around the handlebars

sharon sharing one of dennis’s outgoing messages
that said something about cycling, recycling and the cycles of life
and how another was along the lines of

it’s a great day to bike
(regardless of the weather

or what kind of day it was)
he’s loving this she says
of the bikes
and the oak grove
and the people gathered on mullein hill

eva reading this poem outloud
while the light breeze lifts and falls
under the not sunny not grey sky
in the clearing on mullein hill
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rushOf quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there; I did not die.
-mary elizabeth frye
how for some
the lowering in of dennis’s body
seems to unearth something in them
and how, for others
it seems to ease/put something at rest

the not quite clunk and not thump either
but something like that
of the clumps of super-clay soil
we first toss in by the handful
and then by the bucketful
on top of the flowers and
sharon’s ring of hair
and wood, stone, feather and bone
how it feels good to sweat
in my nice-ish clothes, leveraging/lifting
shovel-ful after shovel-ful
of recently dug up earth
into 5 gallon buckets
how bear and i laugh about
how the weight of the clay clumps sometimes
dumps the bucket over
how the four or five or how many of us there are
shoveling sometimes sing along
with the songs and sometimes not
and how it feels good to be doing together
what dennis spent so much time doing
on robinia – laboring, flexing muscles,
connecting to others via work – how we laugh out there
on the clay pile
and how this work/motion
brings us back into ourselves
and somehow shows us that
things are going to be ok
not that they ever weren’t
and not that there won’t be
a long unspooling of grief
but just that
if we can lift these shovels
and work
and laugh
under humid july sun
we can keep on
i’ve got something for you i say
of the season’s second dahlia
to sharon and ask
if i can pin it on her

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
sharon reads one of the closing lines from
the Max Ehrmann poem titled Desiderata
that dennis once hung on his wall

the tree frog
as seen from its white belly and
sticky feet bottoms
splayed out on loft window
revealed upon curtain-opening
moon casting its glow behind
the sleep tremors (technically called hypnic jerk)
felt moving through paws and jaw and ears
against my left thigh

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dirt cake

the flash of lightning so bright
that even in the morning light
it shocks light through my closed eyelids
and then, the booming/cracking open
(of what sounds like the very ground around us)
in several parts
they put one of your snapdragons
over dennis’s heart emory tells me
about returning to visit dennis an hour or so
after he passed on
which makes me think about
the times when both poems and flowers
(two things i make) are
needed/necessary/leaned on/useful,
of which death is one
there is something bigger in this
that i cannot yet name
but feel reverberating
through me
trees grow slow
and trees grow strong
and trees sway with the wind
their whole lives long…
emory and i sing in the canoe
me in front in the paddle and he in back
with his fishing pole
(with bait on it without a hook)

how i take my shirt off
at the helm and emory
strips out of his blue paisley sundress
we haven’t jumped in the water yet
but you can bet we will
it works better if you say it like a clock i say
about emory behind me pointing to bullfrogs
and turtles so he says
bullfrog at three o clock and indeed
it is at three o clock and indeed
it is much easier to find
introducing sandhill
to an improv bio of rachel tucson
i begin with the enneagram and end with the fact
that we are the same height which makes
trish smile big

 i think we need these i say
carrying the tall blue glass (candy glass) jar
filled with a sharpie and four letter words
for temporary knuckle tattoos
mo and i both committing to
choosing only two and going with it
mine: dirt cake
hers: fire feed

how i laugh at the cloud to the east
in the oncoming sunset sky
that looks so much like a snail
(round shell home with body sliding along underneath)
when i realize the round shell home
is the almost-full moon
(something about the texture of it
and the color of the cloud)
makes moon and cloud appear
as if they are made of same stuff
group of what must be at least 15 mennonite boys/teens
lining both sides of the highway
where a bridge overlooks the tracks
how i nod and wave feeling like a real
weekend warrior in my spandies
and how, i’m moving too fast
to see if nods/waves are returned
but i do hear a dog barking which
makes me wonder if it is an actual dog
or a boy in his button up shirt barking at me
and the latter is confirmed
on my return when i pass them again
this time they are walking back to where they adventured in from
without a dog and yet
the barks as the sky powders above me
i mutter a fuck off under my breath and later
have fantasies about turning to pedal into them and then
squealing to a halt within inches from their
blue-jeaned knees and standing
tall/proud/unfuckwithable and saying something like
are you fucking kidding me!?
BARKING!? i aint gonna take that
(and then pulling some serious badass ninja moves here)
not now and not ever
and then zoom off, throwing dust as i recede

into a speck up some hill along the horizon line
the screech in the sky that draws my eyes skywards

and in the very same spot, on the return ride,
the (red tailed hawk?) cruising along on the air
above me before landing on top of the electric line post

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joking about the handcuffs

the heat of the day
rising already under the
7:30am sun as i run
the curves of gravel
from treeshade to sun to treeshade
trish asks if it’s worth it
a digging fork in her hand
about this sad potato harvest
(sad meaning, there are still potatoes,
but they are too small to sell to stores
or to save for seed)
in this year that was too cold/wet followed by
too much dry and hot
and we go on
digging small red potato after
small red potato
the two quarters stacked together
like a sandwich that i hand
the woman behind the counter
for a 47-cent kid (extra small) twist cone
punching kraut (whose cabbage shreds
have turned pink from the thin rounds of beet
sliced in) down into the crock as the
briny liquid rises up

the dust kicked up by
the horses (some squeaky with all that
gear on – i know there is a word for this – the saddles and stirrups/etc)
during the 13 and under speed competition
cowperson hats bouncing and threatening to fall off,
rhinestoned denim pockets,
braids flopping,
horsetails cut and groomed
how we (meaning baigz on one side of me and
joseph on the other in the uncomfortable wooden bleachers
surrounding the speedway)
can’t help joking about the handcuffs
as we watch mario manzinini-
magician and escapologist perform
on a small stage on the other side of the
chain link fence
at the scotland county fair

the young girl freaking out about
not wanting to walk on the bleachers and her
parents befuddled as they carry her, crying, her legs lifted high
and i remember this fear
– the unease of seeing, the ground far below
and what would happen if i fell down there
how dottie’s sister and i can’t stop laughing
at dottie up on that stage
whipping the strappy arms of that straight jacket around
would make our parents proud she says
while her husb takes photos to send
the kind of night whose breeze
wraps itself soft around limbs
and makes me want to sleep outside
under its half moon and sequinned sky
this isn’t anger, this is symmetrical – line from dream
as i fall asleep writing this
slanting and blurring off the paper

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the moving shadows
of circling swifts
between the sun and me
as i pedal across the fabius bridge
and back again on A
and how ridiculous it takes a triathalon
to get me back out here
the hum of my wheels rolling beneath me
the screech/call of the red-tailed hawk
that lifts itself from the electrical/telephone pole
as i pedal past
and how i watch as much as i can while
picking up speed headed downhill
and how i thank their soaring
for the encouragement

coming from the basketball ‘court’
that make me smile as i sweat
while weaving a new layer of twine
amongst the Tposts and tomatoes in south garden

plant brass scrawled on my hand
so that those kale/collard seeds
will go from jar/envelope
to soilblocks so that they will sprout
and be planted in time to
become a fall/winter harvest
emory and i counterweighting each other
on the voyage (which is the name for the ginormous
tire tractor tube we motor with our kicks out
into the middle of the pond)
so we can each take turns
jumping off
you’re makin me some lemonade
emory says as we descend sappy limbs to the ground
which was the price of the bet about whether or not
i could climb as high as he could
in the pine tree
and the thing is
i am physically capable of such a feat
but the differences in our body weights
as we reach the higher thinner branches
is what determines who
can get the highest

hottest june in the world on record,
honduran environmentalist/activist (and leader of a campaign against the construction
of a privatized hydro-electric dam
along a river in the region of la paz) from an indigenous rights organization murdered
and her body found near a garbage dump,
800,000 gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River
in 2010 due to a massive pipeline (owned by Enbridge) break
how can we
listen to these headlines
and keep listening
(enough heartbreak for a lifetime
crammed into the first 5 minutes
of democracy now)
there have always been
brutal violences
just like there has always been
more beauty than we think we can handle
i say
getting macro about
wanting to live
in a world that never saw the need
to invent a semi-automatic weapon,
a world that never saw the need
for militaries or cops or
trainings that teach people
how to kill other people
or entire scores of them,
a world that isn’t driven
by the power of money
which is just a concept attached
to pieces of metal and paper
but somehow determines
who has access to what resources and how much,
a world where no one knows what it’s like
to feel unsafe
or to lose those who could have been saved
if it weren’t for lack money which means lack of access to health care
i want to live in a world
where none of us have known what it feels like to sometimes not know
how to move forward or be in life because
they never chose to be born
into this weave of violence and indescribable (even though
it is described to us every day across news and social media) crueler-than-cruelty
from the water world:
Workers reinforce the electric pylons at a flooded area as Typhoon Nepartak approaches in Xuancheng, Anhui Province, China. – voice of america, day in photos

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