how to balance the kindness

dear friends

it seems july of 2012 is the month i fall off the blogging wagon. when i originally posted about the tour i was going on this summer, i also said i’d be keeping track of the details in an analog manner and then post them however i could whenever i could. but get this: i haven’t really¬† been keeping up. i don’t know what’s going on. except that i might as well call it like it is, apparently i’m taking an unofficial break from the details. with some intermittent posting. and i’m not sure who i owe an apology to, but i’m feeling the urge to tell someone/something sorry. (perhaps it is my writing practice i apologize to. or the sky, for taking it in but not writing it down. or you, family/friends/readers, for closing the window to my adventures so that you only get a slice of a peek. or me, for not stepping up to the plate.) or, maybe the opposite (congratulations) are in order. congratulations to me for living in the moment rather than stepping outside of the moment to take it down.

first morning sounds:
three-year-old oscar in the room next door
crying at 7something a.m.
i don’t wanna get up yet
followed by aggressive industrial weedwackers/lawnmowers
just outside the window
edging in
at 8:00


jon (also nicknamed ampersand) and i hi-five three times today:
once on the trail for passing a fellow biker with the wind at our backs
once when we arrive, 20 bike miles under our belts, at the kalispell library
and once some other time i can’t remember, though i think it was upon arrival back at sky and heather’s house


when we reach the abandoned cottage inn
at kila, mt
i dump the rust hosewater
over my head
which is almost
jumping in a glaciermelt river


this summer i went swimming
this summer i might have drowned
but i held my breath and kicked my feet and moved my arms around
i moved my arms around
this song running through me
as i pedal east
towards flatirons and the rockies
a sing a few lines to the wind and
think of danny with ramona-the-great on his hip

my body humming
thanks me
for returning to it
after 10 miles into the wall of wind
and 10 with it at my back
what’s the elevation of this city i ask
three thousand feet he answers


a meeting of toddlers
and their bike-attached buggies
in front of kalispell community thrift

how to balance the kindness and openness
of our generous hosts
with various
that’s gay
she looks like a dude. woof.
besides saying
that’s amazing and it’s about time
when one of them mentions a fashion designer
who insists on stilletos and small purses
for male models
this is one of the many reasons
i prefer campsites
to people’s houses
because we can still build our own little worlds
to our liking/safeness


three masked men in lincoln nebraska
tied the wrists, gagged and carved dyke and other anti-gay epithets
into an openly gay 33-year-old woman’s stomach and arms
before splashing her home with gasoline
and attempting to set it on fire
and i’m wondering
when news sources
will begin replacing the word victim
with the word survivor

olympia, washington

they’re all gathered around each other
micah says
pointing southeast on the atlas
flat under his palm on kitchen table
and later when he says you’re welcome
always (even in shiz’s absence)
i say wherever i am, ditto


soula’s fritatta in cast iron skillet
oveanbaked on one rack
10 pieces of sourdough toasting on the other
when we ask what we can do to help
she hands us a bowlful of blueberries


in a gathering of canadians and united statesians
it’s inevitable
that we talk about healthcare
and that the conversation
will be rich
and wise


there are things i would say
i laugh
kitchen stool perched
but i’m being nice right now
after i tell my two-part dream

about a royal wedding

when we drive off on holland street
i throw my hands out the passenger window
in a frantic wave to shiz
on the front porch at 642


snaking around the white apartment building
at jefferson and tenth
we find nikki behind door #16
across from mail slots
dark hallway leading to teal glitter guitar and
mini-doughnuts pulled from the warm oven


wherein we gather
at the artesian well
and how water draws
humans (young/old)
with bottles, cups or hands to drink from
plus dogs, (and puppies)
and banjo/harmonica playing and singing
folks who know each other passing greetings/call outs back and forth


first thunderstorm of summer:
mostly, it was all about sky
renaissance sunset clouds
blooming over state avenue
on our walk to burritos
then light streaking sky apart
split skin
smell of wet asphalt
nightcool air on bare legs
followed by a sit on otis’s front porch steps on glass street
honoring this summer coming alive


adell’s this is all you have
stencil art
bird on shoulder
tacked to yellow living room wall


there are repeated offers of nettle tea
and rest
from a force field of wellness witches
for a forty year old
and her liver


from unknown origins

corinne and i between buildings
the pacific northwest is so fucking beautiful
you say
the smell of woodsmoke rising
from unknown origins


shiz and i exchange condensed appreciations
over bubble tea
almost like that day
two years ago
on mount tabor
before i unmoored


a trifecta of ocean-green
(the table top, tshirt, your eyes)
you tell me you are going to get a tattoo
for bob
and when you ask about kate
i say
the only reason i want to publish a book of poems
(in my process vs. product leanings)
is so that i can put her name
at the beginning


68 degree night
ankles and calves exposed
if nights were lovers
i’d lay alongside this one and
sweat but never sleep



under a storm-thick sky

when we realize it’s t-minus 10 (minutes) and counting
before we have to leave
this unrested body resists
the offerings of bed and couch
by laying down right where i stood
which happened to be a driveway
under storm-thick sky
at least three layers of clouds
passing over/under and melding
and instead of slipping off to sleep
i watch
and feel so close
that if i reached out my arm
i expect i might find your fist
curled and ready
for a secret powerup handshake

sound stitched

single egg frying in small pan
adhamh on track four:
i wanna die happy so i don’t wanna die now
i don’t want this to be the last taste in my mouth
i wanna go down singin hallellu
for the gift of this stardust my soul’s passin through

section 722
in the purple room
paused in front of the thin shelf dedicated
to water

shiz praises
made-up piano songs
and a water-based reading list
and i wonder
about the tension/power
of reading/writing about water
in a land-locked prairie place
but then i remember
the force of summer thunderstorms
in the first book of water
i read about atoms
and how elements are born out of stars


speaking of water
faith’s says in her voicemail
how water offers balance
in this time of dry and fire
the land is genetically encoded in my being
she says
in the alberta park half-sun/half-shade
about michigan and the english countryside

satan-something she says
about the flower she cannot name

sunset shifting above my old-old street
criss cross of electrical wires intersecting
a refusal to be captured by camera
let’s just say it’s river-weather
and the clouds are gilded
with pink-orange light pressing out at the edge
which means i meant to send you the image
but couldn’t bring myself to pass along
such a lousy re-production

pedaling down holman street
past the conifers
five stories tall
rising from the intersections
something about the lilies and roses and magnolias and lavender and everything else that is in bloom right now
and the bike images stenciled onto the street
and the way i don’t have to fight here
is enough to
bring my bones to sing

_______speaking of old streets:
the vertical blinds are back up and
the hydrangeas are almost flowering and
the closest it gets to a sprawling altar is the
red white and green
of a mexian flag
sometimes slack
rippling in the wind

a movie about an orphan
a movie about an island
a movie about what happens
when someone says
i will take you in
a movie about knee socks
a movie about lightningstrikes
a movie that is really just a place to laugh
from the gut
when the funny moments come up
deep and resonant and pealing out across the theater seats
like church bells at noon
going off long after the minute has passed


sound stitched through this city:
train whistles
sometimes carried on
sugar-sweet air
drifting south from the nabisco factory


shannon and i hold hands
in ayla’s backyard
a bit after the bamboo incident
we hold hands because we don’t know what to do
(to the sound of someone throwing someone else around
in the neighbor’s house
the sound of broken door jambs
or glass
whatever else that hasn’t been broken yet
in the daily assaults)

and on the front porch
we hold our dishes near our mouths
while we bring the kale
the white rice
the fried-fried tofu bits
to our mouths

sewing up the skyline

we sing that 500 miles song by the proclaimers
on our hike in
which is one way to get me laughing off the allergy/cold crankiness
which is one way to bring us closer
to the sandy river
and because
upon arrival
no one else is there
we walk/splash in without our suits/tops on

(sure, it takes me about a half hour to acclimate
but once i’m in
you couldn’t pull me out if you tried.
flat-back floating
lodgepole pine sewing up the skyline)

music is also responsible for bringing me back
on the ride home
(the goosebumps are not
from being chilled
the goosebumps are what happens
when you play the indigo girls – – –
direct circuit to highschool and
all that singing/performing
and how it saved us
and how i wanted to become it)
closer to fine
kid fears
least complicated
power of two

premonition: leather and lace

it is a good sign
dorothy says
of our giddiness and joke-cracking
as we are about to hit the north-bound road
guitar our fourth passenger


i offer pastries from the mexicatessan on 24th
from the backseat
while dorothy gives out her secret technique
and joolie takes a drag or two of dorothy’s cigarette
laughing about something she has either made up or noticed
and laughing more on top of that about how easily amused she is


somewhere between here and there
the rolling gold gives way to green


there is no word for it
but i’d like to name
the phenomena
of the relief
that comes with following the contours of eel river
something about the cool clear water
but something even greater
about /entire mountainsides of pine and cypress
and how they signal home
which means i can breathe easier
let my shoulders down


also, the abandoned motel
the town of orick
the last sights of the ocean
the redwoods (we roll through with the windows open
so i can carry the forest in my lungs)
how these things become signifiers
pinpoints on timelines
entire histories


we talk about building memory palaces
before being served
at sacha’s soda’s bar
where we pull premonition cards
(leather and lace)
and drink homemade seltzer with flavors
some of us handing our fate over to bartender’s choice
(and some of us do so, with a hint of direction
in my case: rose syrup)


removes a tick from the back of my right calf
in headlamp light
under starspill sky
curled into the fire-warmed spaliday

ways we wait

five a.m.
awake in the same position i fell into
why’d you think i’d put out your fire?
why’d you think i’d put out your fire?
don’t you know i breathe in fire?
breathe out fire
circularing my head
stalk of aromatic mugwort
pillow-lain still emanating
canyon strip of sky
lightens (white) in degrees
gutted rooms with panoramic views
for sun salutationing


grey sky cool air
along the 580
or i-80
or some combination of the two
and i remember learning recently
how it would rain after battle
how all that smoke
drew water from the sky


highland hospital
overheard in waiting room:
i’d rather be in one pain
than constant pain
and other details:
silver heels
purple gowns
seagreen caps
bundle of mugwort
fistful of rose quartz
ways we wait


when they wheel her off
(i love you, she says)
i am the only one there that knows
how last night elena said:
there is a difference between needing rest
and wanting to die


lisa and i
smalltalk what we can
across each other from the vinyl cafeteria tablecloths
while i unpeel a hardboiled egg


i am honored to be the one
always offering water


when they wheel you out
and we wait for lisa’s car to come down the drive
you ask for a hug and say
i hardly ever ask for hugs and i hope
this post-anasthesiological moment
is the first of many
new leafs of hug-asking


how you have to see this deck
to really know what i’m talking about
but maybe it helps if i say
it overlooks a whole fucking canyon
and beyond that, the foggy air of the bay
this deck three floors up perched on canyon edge and
how it is the only thing one sees
out the kitchen windows
and every other window of the east-facing side
and even now, i’m not sure you can imagine
but i’d like to tell you how i curled up on it
in the sun
slipped off into sleep
while my collaborator snored off her post-anasthesia pass-out
in a double matress lisa and i hefted up the steps
which made me feel butch
because usually i’m the one that doesn’t know how to strategize that kind of effort

bay area rapid transit ode (what momentum brings):

a string of white lights at a street corner, looking in on the glow from above

a bright orange house

an unexpected american flag hanging

the sound of a technician dialing a rotary phone

a man polishing his gold teeth with a napkin

a neon green/yellow blanket and the woman wrapped in it

a grown out hair cut

the screech of the underground

the old macarthur transfer move

ashby station, which is near a brick church wall, a burrito place suitable for role play, a back yard, a borrowed bedroom – passing through

a blue and orange dress

the sound of rolly wheels on yellow safety bumps

a passenger discussing her personal statement and CV

the sky dusking
out the silvertrimmed window

seven cashews in my stomach

metal horses of the east bay

a stain on the carpet underneath my two-toned boots

how it looks like the buildings are leaning, but really, we are


she lives close to _____
i say
chopping the best of the yellowing kale