dear readers,

i’m in san diego and i don’t even know what that means. not that it’s supposed to mean something. but i think what i’m referencing is what felipe said about this city on friday morning: san diego, it’s a void that everybody wants to get into.

(it’s so brilliant, it deserves a space to allow it to resonate a bit).

yeah. it’s something. and it’s a mutual void. once you get into it, it gets into you.

which leads me to this:
one of my housemates is in the final stages of moving out, and we just sortof drift past each other in this end-phase. i think one of us is becoming a ghost, but i can’t tell which one.

one of the difficult things about approaching the detail collector right now is that i have plenty of things to reflect on, but not as much to detail with, and i don’t want this blog to have my voice in it (or my experiences) in that bloggy way. don’t get me wrong, i read some powerful blogs. it’s just that that’s not what i set out to do in this project.but the details aren’t coming and i don’t have the energy to construct them. because it is a little bit like building, you know. sourcing the materials (content), hammering, smoothing plaster. sometimes drawing a blueprint first.

one of my favorite parts of moving is taking the things down from the walls, which i have begun doing in the tiniest ways. i think about how my reliance on the things i own to create nest / home / a space of magic is pitted against how i’m always struggling to pare what i own down to five things, yet . (this urge to pare down is, at the core, the urge to get free).

i’m missing two residency application deadlines as i type.  part of what returning to this city and taking on the project of finding a new house has done to me is melt any shred of discipline i tapped into at the edge of the cornfields in nebraska. here there is too much. i’m thrown off by not showing up to my waterbooks everyday. i miss them even though they’re just across the room on a shelf (four strides from here). i can feel the project going gray the longer i am away from it. and i know how i am about beginnings and follow through and i believe so hard in this project, i don’t want to lose it to grad school.

there are other things. like frayed, and how that might be a good word to describe the places where i end and other people begin.  maybe it’s an autumn thing.  a 2012 thing. an aftershock of my saturn return. i don’t understand how my astrologer missed these things in our last reading.

another thing i don’t understand:
how could everything feel possible, light, do-able whilst in nebraska (by everything i mean: applying to residencies, a lily pad landing post-grad school, transporting myself places far or near.  literally, a sense of possibility unknotting every feeling of incapability i’ve ever gotten tangled in). while here, i am quicksanding. up to my ankles, my knees, my thighs.

the jewel of the day:
besides sweat gathering at the back of my knees during early evening nap
besides leslie passing along free veggies at the farmers market
besides the juice man’s smile
besides the smell of a fullish moon night on a late walk
was this:
walking on university
1030am and already warm
a man in a native pride tshirt
steps out of el sol restaurant
(i get the feeling he works there
maybe owns the place)
and when i greet him with a good morning
he replies with
good morning tiny precious
and those, those are tiny precious toes
(pointing at my sandaled feet)
he is el sol
crinkly smile radiating

two days ago

someone used the phrase
thesauruses gone wild

and earlier that day
when asked about my abandonment of the pita chips in my salad
i responded with something abouta
all that wheat on wheat


in the dream, there was a twister
dark cloud touching down in the distance
far enough away that me and (not sure who)
could walk back to the victorian house (named victoria)
for shelter
once there, we found a basement i never knew existed
through the corridors of a neighbor’s house
(a neighbor i never knew existed – neighbors generally don’t just appear like that
in a place where each block is a mile long and made of gravel
which is kindof where we were. nebraska. ish.)
so we hung in the cement sub-earth depths for a bit
before stepping back out into the light
(desert this time, for sure
like the desert where old westerns were shot.
which i have rolled through on the amtrak before
just north of san diego)
big boulders.
red hills rising.
where i saw movement.
people scrambling up a hill that jutted into sky
bright colors (clothes) that drew my eye in
they could have been n or survivors
and at first i couldn’t tell
but then i saw the smoke plumes
and the rescue helicopter lowering its lines
look! there are people running up that hill!
i called out to the person with me
who was no longer there when i turned to either head back
or just scan (360) the scene
smoke/dust was moving in
and hung low
a gray haze eating up the desert

and i can’t help but think of the images of
protests and general strike (!!!!!) in athens/greece
(woman walking across tracks of commuter trains not operating
a man standing in a abandoned looking airport)
and the images of clashes in madrid
against recent austerity measures
(protestors hurling stones
cops respond by raising their batons
and bringing them down on the bodies of the fighters)
the statement from obama condemning the anti-muslim film that has set off recent/current unrest in muslim countries

bbc news of conflict and uprising
global and inflamed
braided into
my apocalyptic slumbervisions



flourescent lights flickering on and off
so quickly it is not visible
seven hours we sit beneath them
from 9-4
and when we are robbed from our outdoor lunch meeting place
only to sit in more prisonmade chairs under more flourescent light
it is an ache/terror/irrateness
and i can pinpoint the moment
i leave this body


of the waterworld:

UP HIGH: A woman hung clothes outside her partially submerged home in Pandu, India, Monday. Floods and landslides caused by relentless rains in northeast India have killed at least 33 people and displaced more than 1 million over the past week, officials said. (Utpal/Reuters)


the wonder
of stepping out
into the silverfrost
of a moonspilled sky

life is such a short summer

dear friends/readers/people i haven’t met yet,

i’ve been away.
and even upon physical return, it’s been difficult to bring myself back to the details. my body aches, sitting at the end of the day, and my eyes go blurry before the screen and there’s so much to catch up on and i’ve been time-traveling through fourteen years of letters from my dearer-than-dear departed rubyhearted kate which has been pulling me far away from 2012 and far from computertown. (the first time i’ve read her letters as a  collection.) what is far from computertown? it’s something like 12 layers down. ancient temple bricks. planetary dust. star matter. hand carved wood. fog lifting off fields before the first dazzle of sun. the shimmer of emerald hummingbird feathers. the earth under the earth under the earth. and the ocean at its edge.

(attempt at catching up)  :
i want to tell you about minneapolis fall. how long its been since i’ve breathed that fallen leaf crackling into bits on forest floor smell. how the edge of cool is a blade slicing the day open. i want to tell you about walking home side by side  from the park with my sister who looks so much like me that i understand what it might be like to fall into a fold of time where a past and present self meet. and my sister’s three-year-old speeding into the gray ahead of us on his pedalless starter bike in a time when the dark comes on earlier and earlier. the idea is that he won’t even need training wheels, she says.

i want to tell you how hard the wind tugged at debbie and i as we reconvened at the edges of lake nokomis. enough to pull tears out of my eyes and make me take my big square scarf of so i can make a joke about how we could each grab two edges and hold on as we parachute/hot-air-balloon back to my sisters. we were wearing matching shoes in different colors and we were trading terrors of the familial kind. mutual disinterest is a term i toss her way to describe dynamics we sometimes find ourselves in.

i want to tell you about a play at the frank theater called the way of water that amber and i went to. about four characters living in the gulf coast after the bp spill. how the storyline weaves in the sicknesses brought on by the dispersants released into the ocean water.  (bp  admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of widely banned toxic dispersants, which can create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil.)

i want to tell you about the curtain of rain that fell as i waited at the milwaukee amtrak station. how when we pulled out of the station, the rain was rolling down the windows and the thunder and lightning were going off in the sky. whistle calling out. triple-feature is what i named it. a kind of equivalent to mind body soul. a kind of visitation.

i want to tell you about dipping my hand in lake michigan (like a spoon, a scoop) (my birth-lake) as we tilted towards it on the black-to-green flag day in a sailboat who’s name i forgot. dad at the helm. crhis + elijah stationed port-side across from isaiah and i, starboard. when dad asks over the water if we’re ready to come about, we all shout ready before strategically releasing or pulling the mail sail line til taut. do you remember what it’s called i ask isaiah this going back and forth instead of in a straight line? (tacking). and also, do you remember the names of the little boats? (dinghies).
and before that, the frisbee fest that saved us all.
and after that, how good the enchiladas were and how kind i was to our wait-people.
and just after that, a spoon with a burn mark on the bottom and a band for tightening around a limb found under a tree.

i want to tell you about how good iowa looks at sunrise-o-clock in the morning from a train window heading east. how the fog is like the cornfield spirit levitating. how the land curves and falls. how there are many roads. how the swell of pennsylvania dutch (or some kind of german) rises from the seats behind me with the sun. how i am surprised to see the group of young mennonites smoking at the smoke stop. (ignorance). how i imagine this ignorance often plays out. which has me imagining the probability of a mennonite person (and what that person does or says) causing surprise is much greater than the possibility of myself causing a surprise. not sure how to say that, but something about the unnamed phenomenon of when you are visible as something largely unknown by those around you, you are bound to surprise them.

i want to tell you about how i laughed with a perfect stranger most of the way between chicago’s union station and milwaukee’s intermodal station. how we shared a farmers market plum and peach. how i gave her my zine and she gave me a jar of mint chutney. how her family in india calls her alamu (just think alamo, she says, or a la mode), but her full first name is alamelu. how this kindness, these small things, the laughter, feel like shining. not just any shining. but something like horns. not the light on their brass, but the brightness of the sound that rises out.

i want to tell you about how good it feels to be in motion. and how the opposite of motion is something like rust. crusted on and jamming/joining metal to metal.

the catching up cannot be caught up on.
but perhaps i can drop slices as they arrive.

for now, i want to take you to the archive housed in a sizable shoebox.
i want to tell you how sometimes i’m convinced i’ve made kate up. not created her, but made things up about our closeness. or thought that i gave a lot of closeness and intimacy to her and that she kept her distance. after reading her letters, as it turns out, there were things she said she shared with only me because i was unlike others and she knew i’d understand. and then there’s the letter below. from 2004. a letter she wrote to 4 of her people. one of them being me. what a goddamn wonder it is to (re)discover, we are mutual stars in each other’s skies. sometimes even north stars. though she passed in early 2010, it feels off to speak of her in the past tense. especially after holding the paper she once held in my hands. she became a kind of light. prismatic. as i made my way through her handwriting, her words, i could see her shining. throwing colored light. spinning. i saw it so clearly that i bought a prism to hang in my san diego window. a kind of morse code. or lighthouse. pulsing out into the world. a way to call her back to me if she needs guidance. an intergalactic namaste (the light in me greets the light in you).

i debated on the ethics of internerding this letter.  all along i’ve been trying to convey kate to people i know. and failing. but i thought this letter could get some of her across in a way that i never could. so it’s not with the intent of exploiting, but rather bringing others to her, or her to them. not sure how she feel about this. i think she’d be pissed/boundarycrossed if she were still in that body i knew her to be in on this earth. i think as whatever she is transforming into now, she doesn’t give a fuck about the internet.

(click images to open separately where you can then click again to enlarge them.)

life is such a short summer she wrote in one of her letters. i have thought before about the unnamed phenomenon of the spirit/the life/the extra layer that things (belongings, cloths, smells, words, etc.) take on after the person they once belonged to steps off the planet through a little rip in the backdrop.

yesterday i showed shannon the sizable stack over skype. shook it in her face. told her about how (unproudly) one of my thoughts (braided in with all the grief) was about some kind of will. surely i would have been in it, no? surely she would have wanted to send me… and i hand-to-heart laughed at this mini-mountain of  letters. knowing she couldn’t have given me anything more.
and how, when i look closely, i see how my room/my life is filled with her givings:

•watercolor paints in blue and white case in my bottom desk drawer
•the honeydew colored sari, currently tucked in closet but once spilled down the steps of an attic room in a house called the secret garden
•the two the east indian puppets in traditional dress that once upon a time looked down on me from a high shelf at a house called the train station but that i passed on somewhere along the transitions
•the spiral pin. first object she ever gave me. pressed into my hand in the hallways of university of wisconsin, green bay. after a trip to somewhere in europe. how it swirled like my tattoo.
•the red satiny fabric. make something. she said. she meant for it to be soft against my skin but it hangs layered with lace. as curtains.
•the starry flannel pj’s i gave away
•the wool sweater i gave away
•the costume jewelries in my top drawer
•the teal scarf my first tarot deck is wrapped in
•the black scarf she knit for me with green tinsel layered in that milo wore on a visit to the east coast and didn’t return with.
•the cloth basmati rice bag i keep my hair clippers in
•my name printed in the acknowledgements of her book, testimony of an irish slave girl
•the bundle of sage on the alter with her photo

after all that, i shamefully laugh at myself for ‘not being included in her will’. it’s not really that i wanted stuff from her. i just wanted that validation. (you were so important to me, i wrote you into my will.) i’m not sure she included anyone or any of her things in her will. i’m not sure she had a will. i just know her ashes were put in the care of the irish consulate and sent along to a friend of hers in eire (ballyferriter, county kerry) which is one of the places she wanted to have a cabin. (there’s so little money between me and the sidewalk she wrote. teaching/the lack of good things coming through for her three other books never allowed her enough money to buy this home).  i imagine myself kissing the ground there. or the sea.

flood and fire

the day begins
with a heavy hammer
able body
bottle of water
baseball cap
strips of reclaimed gymnasium floor
(i’ve got the 3-point line!)
balanced on sawhorse and ground as assistant
booted feet as counterweight
ripping rusted screw-nails
i put my back into it


Pakistani children play cricket in the monsoon rain in Karachi. At least 78 people have died and dozens more injured in torrential rains and flash floods that have wreaked havoc in Pakistan over the past three days. – NY Post, day in photos


Firefighters, soldiers and volunteers try to extinguish a wild fire in a rural zone nearby Quito, Ecuador. Quito’s mayor Augusto Barrera declared the state of emergency after near 3,000 acres of urban and rural woodland have been affected by some 2,000 wild fires. – NY post, day in photos


refloated and dead

what the water brings/takes

A total of 16 whales have died after being stranded on the east coast of Scotland. Ten others were refloated after being kept alive by vets from British Divers and Marine Life Rescue. The incident between Anstruther and Pittenweem in Fife involved pilot whales, each of them approximately 20ft (6m) long. – bbc news, week in photos

Tests are being carrying out on the carcasses.

The causes of the events remained unclear.

“As a deep diving and sociable species, pilot whales are very vulnerable to human activities, and especially noise pollution. Reportedly, old munitions were being blown up off Cape Wrath, an MOD bombing range that is routinely used for such purposes. However, the way the pathologists will approach this is to collect as many samples from as many dead animals as possible and do a thorough investigation for ALL causes of death.”

I approached my first live pilot whale with my heart in my throat. It looked more like the models we trained on than a living creature. It proved itself conscious with explosive exhalations, its blowhole opening from a half moon slit to a fist-size gape and then swiftly pulling shut. At 4-5 breaths per minute it was in the normal range for a beached pilot. I went to the mother and calf and offered to take over from those who had been keeping them wet and monitored since they’d beached hours before.

facing south


it feels good to arrive/re-arrive at this contentment
black ink on beige page in sunday morning sun
reporting from the wraparound deck
facing south

this rightness
i guess it takes the quiet/remoteness/pared down-ness of this place, this time, this experience
to get me there
to reacquaint me with myself
(who’s been waiting so patiently for so long to receive me)something like a drought-ed/dammed river that hasn’t reached the sea in so long
finally funneling into ocean

[the colorado river hasn’t reached the sea of cortez for about 12 years]

an hour later
an account of a 60-day notice taped to our front door arrives
to which i say
it’s just information


types of floods:
riverine – heavy precipitation causes rivers to overrun their channels
estuarine – caused by storms or tidal surges
coastal – result from hurricanes
tsunamis – catastrophic floods caused by significant events such as the breach of a levee
muddy – generated by agricultural runoff
flash – in which water rises to dangerous levels within hours; these are typically caused by dam failure, collapsing ice jams or an intense downpour


single deadliest natural disaster ever recorded
central china floods in 1931
2.5 – 3. 5 million dead


rich countries are reluctant to fund flood protection in poorer nations


an estimated 60% of the world’s wetlands (and 90% of europe’s wetlands) have been destroyed over the last century due to being filled in and built upon
when the wetlands disappear, the displaced water (runoff) has to reassert itself
result: flooding, erosion, wet basements filled with mold


in the midst of a drought in atlanta georgia
the governor prays on the statehouse steps
for rain
two years later
after days of rain
(3.7 inches on wettest day)
the chattahooche river rises
to heights not seen since 1919
and the us geological survey later reports
the chance of a flood of this magnitude
is 1 in 10,000


field of filament


in the dream
i was on the stairs
near a worksite
and a closed cafe (before/after hours)
an arriving
in the early light


first waking:
rooster alarm going off
in backyard coop
where i unhinge doors
and let the feathered entourage out


second waking:
begin in child’s pose
and work my way up from there

first breakfast: miso cup morning
sun warms nightcooled air
jeans still on clothesline
hung by pockets


second breakfast: 1 egg from the egg lady
covered and cooked the way alison w taught me
one piece of toast
with jelly


spiderwebs spun to prairie stalks
a field of filament
pulled horizontal in the wind


mixing limeade in the sink
alison and i laugh easy
which is something i deeply appreciate


and then there’s this:
corinne informs me that
new zealand grants its third-longest river
(the whanganui)
that there is not enough joy
in the english language
for this victory

needle-point spring
summer 2001
a dozen wild horses die of thirst


greasewood, native species to great basin desert
a phreatophyte: long roots stretch underground
hold earth in place
keep it from becoming dust


in the world of western water managers
(aka water buffaloes)
buckets = wet water / actual water stored in reservoir (like money in a bank)


in 2010
there were
45,000 large scale dams
in operation
in the world
a joint study by the world bank (backer worldwide of dam projects) and world conservation union
concluded that
while dams have made a significant contribution to human development and have led to considerable benefits, these advances have come at an unacceptable and often unnecessary price. (dams have ruined forests and fisheries. dams have displaced at least 80 million people globally over the last century. dams have often failed to achieve their objectives for irrigation, flood control or hydropower.)

pat mulroy says
in a video of her speech
at the r4 conference in las vegas


trees grow thick rings

clothespinning laundry to line
thunder in the sky


on page 129 i learn the difference between drought
(period of months or years region has consistently below average precipitation)
and climate change
(change in weather patterns over time from decades to millenia)
and later:  megadrought
(prolonged drought lasting two decades or longer)


when there’s a lot of moisture, trees grow thick rings
when it’s dry, rings thin
arizona forests are drying again


antarctica is the driest continent in the world
australia, the driest inhabited continent


late 2008 and early 2009
109 degrees in melbourne
 224 degrees in adelaide
the highest on record since the 1950’s
it was so hot that
railroad tracks buckled
wildfires sparked and burned out of control
power plants were idled due to a lack of water
and, unable to rely on air-conditioning, people resorted to wearing clothes they had cooled in the freezer


virtual water
the water that is used to grow exportable crops

when reading about rivers dammed, reservoirs created, aquifers pumped
i attempt to imagine the one million miles of pipeline
in u.s. and canada
used to bring water to people
settled in deserts
locked in land and consider the possibility of
what it might look like
if people brought themselves to the water instead
(one million miles of pipeline = enough to circle the earth 40 times)


they taught us how to make puppy chow i say
stirring the chocolate and butter in a double-boiler
in hom-ec
in seventh grade


somewhere in there we talk about privilege
and how
some names are lost at sea


popcorn tutorial and
loren with a towel-on-fire
running for the sink


fargo, the movie
how it took us at least an hour to vote
how emma soothes my shoulder at the violent parts
9 of us gathered at the juncture where 100-year-old farmhouse
meets color tv and vcr


what the moon and i say to each other
me on a gravel road after midnight
the quarter moon tossed into a star-spiced sky