several degrees less than drizzling

hunk of blood in
morning phlegm
cause for subtle alarm

________

the swish
of my raincoat arm accidentally brushing
my busmate’s raincoat arm
10:41 am
shuttling north

________

return to a reclaimed library
lights half off
community agreements posters
remain on round beams near the door

________

umbrella colors/shapes on campus
(often open even when several degrees less than drizzling)
as if a theater prop
as if synchronized dance and song
is about to flashmob itself on library walk
at the old student center
in the revelle courtyard

________

how the rain
feels like god/dess / superpower magical force
forgiving san diego
which inspires me to give it a try too

________

the nurse with her stethascope to my tshirt
plotting points on my chest, rib-sides, back
says i must have the slowest heartbeat of all the people she’s seen today
packed waiting room outside
3ish pm

________

some kind of smugness in
knowing how to dress for this
wet cool weather
and by cool i mean
when the wind picks up
throws eucalyptus bark at my booted feet
i wouldn’t hesitate to call it tropical

________

liz, i don’t understand why i just talked
about mango sweet sticky rice
when it was within our reach
(actually, i do know
the sweet is sometimes too sweet
and in this unknown health moment
it seems most wise
not to feed my immune capabilities
to the sugar monster,
otherwise i would have)

________

l l tells the packed lecture hall how she
tells her students to
send me a postcard from somewhere interesting
and the corresponding photo of a bulletin board
crammed with cards and postcards

________

sweet sauted onion taste test at the kitchen table
before i pass around farmers market kimchee
orange and spicy

________

last song of the eve before powering down

justice cascade

riding down one side of the florida street canyon
and up the other
unavoidable
en route to balboa park
and the thing that makes it all worth it is
on the struggle up
if there has been rain
and even sometimes if there hasn’t
the spring lushness and
the rainforest (home) smell

_______

justice cascade
is what the guest speaker calls it
when justice is served
(in other words:
the narrative of what really happened
has been exposed and admitted to)
and how it sometimes chainreactions
setting off other justices around the world

_______

how yesterday
the guy at the coffeeshop said
don’t worry, it’s biodegradable
when i asked for a for here cup for the iced tea
what he doesn’t understand is that first of all:
nothing biodegrades when there’s no oxygen flow
which is what usually happens in a landfill
and secondly: plastic single-use things (biodegradable or not)
are on my profane list
and not profane in the punk rock way
but profane as in opposite of sacred

_______

speaking of profane
the fancy footwork of guatemala’s army and national police in 1983:
slicing ears off
pulling nails out of fingers
slashing throats of
‘the subversives’
(those who wanted to be treated as equals
those who had been pushed down the furthest
including one man whose ‘subversiveness’ was
to gather funeral money from his community
when on of the members died or
his energizing and organizing to bring plumbing into
the shack-town his community lived in)
what strikes me
is how much closer
these folks are
with their dead
than we (western world/’developed’ country) ever have a chance to be
if you can, you must watch this film
and then this one
or in reverse order

_______

how the woman walking up the aisle and i
smile at each other
like we know each other
(her mouth almost formed around the word ‘hey/hi/hello’
my eyes beaming back)
though we don’t
and maybe it takes her a longer time to realize it
than i

_______

one mitten at home
i pedal
one bare hand gripping the handlebar

_______

at florida and cross-street
four way stop sign
drivers wave me on
from either direction

_______

the slice of that pie chart
keeps coming back
how the circle was all the water
and the 1% wedge of it
was all the drinkable/usable water
and how sometimes it feels hard to plan for the future
as if this kind of mundanity
(not to be confused w/ modernity)
will continue much longer
parking spots
water bottles 3 gulps big
10 kinds of waterproof mascara
overtime/lunch breaks
calorie burning
made in china, mexico, indonesia
matching iphones
our pet electronics/digitronics
updated windows
updated carpeting
updated landscape
antibacterial hand soap posted at every intersection of hallways
shopping in pajamas
working in pajamas
sunscreen
coconut water in a can
ikea
flat screen tvs as light up menus in the burger king on campus
flat screen tvs angled to offer updates/headlines that no one looks at
flat screen tvs when something like a chalkboard or ticker tape is too passe
(REALLY?  A FLAT SCREEN MENU? IS THAT NECESSARY?)
flat screen tvs that will eventually be obsolete and replaced by the newest so that all these will get shipped to india where children under twelve will pick apart the panels, bust up the toxic screens for flecks of precious metal
chiquita business mixed in international politics
double-wide baby strollers
trash island
death by neti pot
which isn’t about the neti pot at all
but really about the water in it
how quickly we forget about
the crack in the nuclear reactors
and how long we
entangled in torment
wonder why cancer
why our bodies twist where they do
the technologies/medications
that haven’t been around long enough
to know the repercussions
the language that has been assigned to our bodies
and the medications assigned to our assigned bodies as if
we’ve been relocated
outside of our skin
toothbrushes (offense #1, the handle made of plastic)
with the blue stripe in it
that eventually fades
to tell you its time to buy a new one
and then, the plastic device that holds the floss
BECAUSE OUR FINGERS HAVE FAILED? ARE FAILING?
now the desire to leave a legacy
fulfilled

churchbell remix

noonchimes drifting north
pealing out the we shall overcome melody
over sunspilled roofs
i for a minute in that space of knowing the notes
but not knowing the song to which they belong
mental sifting til i realize
craning my head out the window further
to take as much in
as possible
(i mean, how many times have YOU heard that song
ringing out from a tower?)

_______

and then
after some sips of coconut water
a joke about teaspoons
that we return to
from time to time

_______

plus this:
the viking paperback with its
orange spine
blue unfurling ribbon
and a landscape for a dress
kate, i’m crawling the bridge back to you

snoooring

corinne’s gingersnaps in the mail
small wrapped box covered in stamps
an intentional aesthetic decision
to not buy the barcode stamp
because sometimes
aesthetics are everything

_______

after 10 minutes of circuit training
i can barely hold the phone to my ear

_______

how i laughed while walking out of a
boring but necesary meeting
when i heard the word snoooring
in your voice
and how it is a kind of ache
to have to laugh at it alone
and how it is a kind of glorious
to be walking the sunwashed sidewalk

_______

tonight a return to the birthplace
where the line winds around the corner and
it costs five bucks to get in
14 poets signed up to slam
rawness and pauses
welcoming me home

________

it’s the poem about the father that leaves that gets me
it’s also the poem with at least 6 quotes in six different languages
that talks about the connection across time and continent
that what is being brought to the stage
is a manifestation
of all this
and then a challenge:
you might have a favorite poet
but do you know who your favorite poet’s favorite poet is?

_______

for you, it is the wooden heel
for me, the quadruple buckles

could plummet

socks strung like christmas lights
dangling from loft ladder
tshirt draped over chair arms
60 degree indoor air wicking what’s left of
the moisture that didn’t evaporate
room smelling like someone else’s laundry detergent

_______

i make some sarcastic/lighthearted joke about
the class being a lively bunch today
and marvel how in one short week
the start clean/new year energy
could plummet

_______

in the book the bird illustrations on the walls
flew away
in the book
a funnel
a zone
an inbetweenness that was not called liminal

_______

at the shuttle-stop
a compliment on the pink lap-top case
not pink/bright enough
i respond

_______

and just above the book-edge
out the bus door window
a sky
in layers of color
purple
red
orange
not of the powder/milky variety
but in the nature of fire
thick and blazing

_______

today there is talk of pacific northwest snow
an italian cruise ships
romney’s tax files
websites blacked out in the name of opposing sopa
the pause on the keystone pipeline

lowest common human denominator

tonight it’s snowing in portland
which is a city approximately 1,087 miles north and perhaps a smidge east of here
tonight it’s snowing 1,087 miles from here while i write this post that will hide behind a black screen curtain for 24 hours in the name of protesting the stop online piracy act
tonight an voluntary hush falls
before the mandatory hush is enforced
tonight, a yoga-sore, trail-run sore body
and a cold nose
tonight a flourescent light left on in rachel’s room
tonight
our houseguest and i talked in the kitchen
about europe
farming
intentional communities
and my life bled before me
like ink on a napkin
in a wondrous way
wondrous meaning:
i have come so far from where i was
meaning:
if you read about me in a book,
an article
i might sound like someone i would want to meet

if you read all in one place about
how i built straw-bale houses
planted lettuce
learned about concensus decision-making and
meeting facilitation and
cooking large quantities of food
for large quantities of people
in northeast missouri
you might also be impressed

if you read all in one place about how i
hauled irrigation pipe
drove a green ford truck born the year after i was between fields
laughed for hours with dirt on my hands over schemings like the farm olympics competition
by day and
typed on my green-keyed typewrier in my single-bed trailer
by night
and woke every morning to the fog that settled between the forested mountains and the
river vally
from an island in the portland area
you too might be inspired

if you read all in one place about
how i met my twice-removed second cousin
(or something like that) who i prefer to call my uncle
at a train station in krakow
in 1999
rode through the potato-field farms in his passenger seat
to my great grandpa’s gravesite
all wile wearing my extremely baggy jeans covered in patches
with whisps of blue and magenta hair
sprouting from my mostly-shaved head
you might think
who is this fabulous person?

if you read about my month in hawaii visit
and how waipi’o valley made me cry
from some deep place that wouldn’t let up
when i saw it for the first time in the moonlight
how when i went back to stay
the anxiety dreams came, but the were a part of the healing
how the sound of wild horses on the path behind me
made me freeze
how we brought offerings to the triple-tiered swimming hole/waterfall
and jumped in despite the slimy fishswimmers
you might guffaw
when i ask
oh, and have i told you about the human pyramid hitch hiking extravaganza?

if you read about
the writing workshops i taught on saturdays one summer in a medium security womens prison
the art show i hung in my room in the pink palace at the squirrel ship before i moved in where over 40 people cycled through in one day
everything i learned from every lover who has taught me and everything i intend to continue learning
the greyhounds i’ve ridden from milwaukee to new orleans
minneapolis to rutledge missouri
and the trains i’ve ridden from milwaukee to portland
portland to san diego
the bikes i’ve ridden 200 miles to seattle and
100 miles to the coast and
60 some along the columbia river gorge to a small town named bingen washington where joolie and i stayed at a grade school-turned-hostel with the world’s worst smelling (fish grease and the unnammed) kitchen and the dustiest shelves and she talked for the first timewhile we lounged about the ladder of scars climbing my left thigh

if you read about the time i slammed in front of 300 people
in san francisco
or 70some people
in minneapolis
and 50some people
in portland

if you read about how my dad taught me to look up
(sky/clouds/sun/moon)
because he was a landscape painter
and how my mom taught me how to rock a needle
through three layers of fabric and batting
because she is a sewer/quilter of astounding proportions

one of the most amazing thing that happens
as one ages
is that one moment
they might look back
and see/marvel
at the scope of places they’ve been
experiences they’ve had
skills they’ve learned
which might feel like the most contradictory statement
that could be made in the midst of the everydayness
of carrying on

listen
i’m not trying to brag here
what i am trying to do is to tell you is that we are all made of this
patchwork magic
even if we’ve lived in the same place our whole life without leaving
(and maybe, in that case, because we’ve lived in the same place our whole life without leaving)
how incredible magnificence might be the lowest common human denominator

and even then
i haven’t said it all
but just look
at how we accumulate
over time and space