this tomato sadness / hoping the laughter will heal

the eastwinders make their morning rounds in the whitehouse kitchen
for hugs goodbye (jude, dillon, pod, george, rainbow, tomcat)
a quick sliver of sadness in this
letting go of what quickly became familiar
come back i say over tomcats hoodie’d shoulder
so we can play more games


and then it is just the eight or so of us again
in the calm kitchen
too much coffee made on the table and not enough breakfast
a word for this reconvening, this day of downtime, this breathing


i was torn between going to bed early last night (to take care of this ailing)
or staying up late hoping the laughter (from stupidridiculous game playing) would heal


when trish proposes taking down the san marzano seed / paste tomatoes
and i make sad sounds

i remember at one of the csa farms i worked at
one of my fellow workers felt bad about pulling out the weeds
i am not one of those people
but this tomato sadness makes me feel like one of them

perhaps it is a little bit about my attachment to these plants
but perhaps it is more about unrealized potential

weeding the strawberry bed
we pass the dandelion root to darien
and the strawberry runner plants to jon

and somewhere along the line
peppergrass (which also sounds like pepper cress) is discussed
and the question is raised:
is it, perhaps, a strawberry shake kind of day?


several hours later
trish with the ceramic pitcher  and the ziploc of frozen strawberries
and what’s left of the vanilla plus a splash of maple and ice cubes
a lot of milk for the first round of shake and a small splash of milk for the second round
zapped  in the blender just in time for a
monday check-in meeting beverage


it’s not about you (well, it is a bit, but) it’s about them
stan says about being close to those close to death
sing them the songs they want to hear


collective tarot cards shuffled and arc-ed before us
hannah asking questions about returns and forward movement
and the reshaping of relationships

it isn’t until we hug goodbye
like we’ve always known each other
the quality of holding on
not a clinging/lingering
but a hug of kinship
that says take this with you
since we never know if / when we’ll cross paths again


mica, darien, jon, trish, tyler and i
playing inky pinky on the porch at sunset
(too bad this porch doesn’t face west i think)
various clues and answers include but are not limited to:
honest sapphire
chair snare
chowder powder
trumpet strumpet
floral sorrel


which begins by clapping/cheering

in the dream
helping a drunk girl
from the ocean to a room built into the staircase
near the top and to the right
a secretish space
not because she needed to be kept a secret
but because whoever’s house it was
only wanted to offer that dusty spac
to the likes of her

and later, an all-star lineup
of homeslice meetups
one at a time in a public library
where they each challenge me by asking
why are you hanging out with those folks?
referring to the highschoolish frat-y friends hanging out the open windows
of a truck
or perhaps an s.u.v.
being all kinds of obnoxiuos
and me responding with: what, it’s just an inbetween time
but taking a new look at these people through my friends’ eyes
and seeing what they see


i think i have a dance-over
i say in the kitchen
at nine in the morning


the sound of the steam whistle
down at the sugar shack
where the sorghum is pressed and ground
so its juice comes out and flows through a pipe to the sugar shack
where it lands in a gigantic stainless steel steam pan
that is heated by a fire-fed steam boiler (not sure about exact terminology here)
until it becomes the right syrupness
and then the glass jars we labeled on the rainy day and other down times
are filled with the syrup

in second floor karma
mica reminds me about my daily pull up(s)
since our 8 minute abs and hict have gone by the wayside during sorghuming
so we take turns
pulling ourselves up to the orange bar
kicking our legs if we have to
and then she shares the news
i’ve talked to everyone
and they all agree you can stay for the winter
to which i do a version of a happy dance
mostly with my arms


despite the cool clear night
we gather on the porch under xmas light
to play several more rounds of stupid/ridiculous games
(including affirmation, which begins by clapping/cheering for the player as they enter the room,
and i’m going to grandma’s house [not the memory game
but the one with secret rules that determines what you get to bring
and what you have to leave behind])
our laughter ricocheting across the road

highlights include:
tomcat with the fly swatters
george in a blanket fort
and loch trying to figure out where to put the asian pear
plus comments coming through the window from jeremy, the peanut gallery
and emory, calling out from across the street in mica’s window
asking why we are all clapping

machetes in our hands / spinning in stranger’s arms

george, pod and i
head down sandhill road
towards field three
machetes in our hands
while loch returns toward us
(machete also in hand)
meaning completion of stripping/cutting the largest field of cane


kitchen playlist:
philip glass
fever ray
timmy straw
perfume genius


this dinner is brought to you by the smell of rain
and the sound of the mill i say as we circle around the kitchen butcher block
after our moment of silence
(dinner = roasted eggplant and sweet red peppers
sauteed leeks and kale
marinated, breaded and pan-fried tempeh triangles
brown rice
peanut sauce
apple cake/bread)


we feel the temperature drop
(10 degrees)
kitchen window air riding in on a cool edge
(that above-sink window
which is kindof like a drive through window
because folks can walk up to it and ask for things
like have you seen so-and-so)


jar of mica’s salad dressing
on top of the stove
to melt down the coconut oil


how i run down the rock road
past the south gardens
past the mill
past the power lines to my left
chasing sunset
with a camera in my hand
not just sunset
but light breaking through
and all the layers and colors that enter with it








trish and i in our swirly dresses
and dance boots
her holding the banjo case
me holding the bag with the water and sheet music


the sweetness
of walking up a gravel path
under an early autumn star-sky
and approaching a building
that gives off warm light
and even warmer sound:
fiddle, guitar, banjo, accordion
and the color of people circling and lining and squaring across the floor


it’s been a while since i’ve done this
i say at the beginning of my first dance
to a kind man who laughs with me


tuxedo tim makes a name tag
with a white sticker on a pin
writes my name on it with a thick sharpie


after a while of  spinning in strangers arms
i need to sit out every other song
and near the end of the night
when i decide i am finished except for the last waltz
i sink back into a beanbag
spacing out while the spinners spin
i zone in on their shoes
their smiles
their open mouthed laughs
a patch on the floor
the small conversations
and remember the rare late night outings
with my family
when i would fall asleep
to the buzz of adults around me

this in from the water world:


Relatives of Haj pilgrims wave in the rain, as they see off their relatives who are leaving Ahmedabad, India, for Mecca in Saudi Arabia to take part in the annual religious Haj pilgrimage. – voice of america, day in photos


A man carries a boy as he leaps into flood waters on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. – voice of america, day in photos

yesterday’s field was more kind

favorite pancake approach:
one spread with nut butter (almond or roasted cashew)
one soaked with maple
then sandwiched together
(condiment sides facing, a sort of variation on a peanut butter and honey sandwich

if ya’ll are into it, i thought we could start with stretches i say
before leading a small group at the edge of the field
through the morning joint stretches shannon taught me years ago

i bring apples for snacks all around
and water in big thermoses

yesterday’s field
was more kind to us than today’s
i say
both to the crew i lead
and also to stan later over lunch
(the reasons:
1. working on the sunny side (on a slightly hotter and clear day) this morning instead of the shady side on yesterday’s cooler grayish day
2. longer rows in a larger field
3. possible body soreness carried over from yesterday’s enthusiastic first day (which actually has nothing to do with this field or that)
4. more weeds today, including some hellish burrs
(which i think may be called noogoora burrs)


not-quite cuts
but our forearms
marked up and stinging


for lunch:
tempeh balls
(which are like meatballs made out of tempeh
the key/the secret: the sausage spice mix)


in the mail from a four year old and a forty year old in minneapolis:
farm ninja temporary tattoos!
(one ninja on a tractor
one holding a hoe)


contra-band practice
in karma common space
trish on banjo
jon on guitar
and darien on accordion
sounds good! i call out
from one room over
at my loft/desk perch


scrubbed clean in the outdoor shower
bricks for floor where grass grows through
silver tank filled from the spiggot, sunwarmed
showerhead poking out the bottom
attached to a ring to pull which is attached to a metal chain which lets the water run when tugged
it is a small stream
but more than enough


in the distance, a sawing and hammering
which i later learn are the sounds of mica building a new wagon
(which will be tractored through the fields where we will gather the bunches of cut down cane in order to haul it to the mill)


realizing that sometimes my sunset walks
are less about the sun
and more about the black cows (a few with off-white faces) on the other side of the fence
that rumble-thunder alongside it when they see me coming
(most likely because they probably equate humans with the thing that comes to bring them food)
tonight, a sweet staredown into the faces of  those eartagged #289 and  #176


darien on accordion
sound moving through second floor karma
mixed with the night crickets/cicadas
chorusing in through the window


from the water world:


An Indian motorist tries to balance himself as a bus drives past him on a flooded road after heavy rains in Ahmadabad. – voice of america, day in photos

costumed and soundmaking

8:30ish a.m.
post-pancakes and pre-work party
we gather outside the whitehouse
costumed and soundmaking for a parade to the fields
on the first day of the 38th year of sorghum harvest

mica demonstrates
how to strip the stalk of its leaves from the top down
and where to snap the head off
(at the second node, which is near the second leaf)


sorghum grain in my hair
down my shirt
in my eyes

this rhythm, this field full of work
this is what my body came here for


when the wind picks up
the ripple
of stalks and leaves
surrounding us


farm cart stocked with work gloves
bright orange water cooler
glass jars for drinking from
machetes and stones for sharpening
and a first-aid kit in a grey backpack






sorghum before being stripped and de-headed






sorghum seedhead (not fully developed)


fully developed sorghum seedhead


sorghum after being stripped and de-headed


rainbow and anita singing as we work our ways up and down the rows
stripping the leaves off
sometimes call and response
sometimes melody and harmony


after lunch
mica demonstrates how to chop down the stalks
with a machete
we each work three rows at a time
leaving small bundles in the field


on democracy now:
Between 1964 and 1990, Texaco drilled for oil in the Ecuadorian Amazon
and dumped as much as 18.5 billion gallons of highly toxic waste sludge into the rain forest.
The waste contaminated the streams and rivers used by local people for drinking, bathing, and fishing.


a gut-punch, the intro to this news reel (perhaps it is the sense of resistance in the silly protest song
perhaps it is the visual, the gutting, the cutting earth open and extracting what is desired)

followed by melina laboucan-massimo, member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation in northern Alberta, speaking:

the mines we are dealing with are bigger than entire cities

every day, one million liters are leaching into the Athabasca Watershed,
which is where our families drink from.
I’m from the Peace Region,
but it connects to the Athabasca and it goes up into the Arctic Basin,
so that is where all the Northern folks will be getting these toxins,
and these contain cyanide, mercury, lead, polyaromatic hydrocarbin nythetic acids


and then, from tzeporah berman, we hear about tar sands in canada:
The tar sands produces 300 million liters of toxic sludge a day
that is just pumped into open pit lakes that now stretch about 170 kilometers across Canada.

Oil corrodes, it is corroding our pipelines and leading to spills and leaks that are threatening our communities, but it is also corroding our democracy.

the oil is mixed with sand. So, in order to get that oil out, they have to use natural gas
they use natural gas and freshwater to actually remove the oil from the sand, and the result is that each barrel of oil from the tar sands has three to four times more emissions, more climate pollution than conventional oil.

and then, a blurb from neil young speaking at a national farmers union rally describing his recent visit to a tar sands community in Alberta, Canada:
Fort McMurray looks like Hiroshima.
Fort McMurray is a wasteland.
The Indians up there and the Native peoples are dying.
The fuel’s all over, there’s fumes everywhere.
You can smell it when you get to town.
The closest place to Fort McMurray that is doing the tar sands work is 25 or 30 miles out of town, and you can taste it when you get to Fort McMurray.
People are sick.
People are dying of cancer because of this.


some fort mcmurray tar sands google image search results:

feature_tar sands2_520

Syncrude Oil Operations in Alberta Tar Sands


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like feathers
trish’s bright blond hair whisps
floating to the ground (like poodle fur and human hair in that edward scissorhands scene)
as she stool-perches
and i clip with orange-handled fabric scissors


at potluck circle-up
we ooh and aaaah  at each dish as they are announced


steeping in a mason quart jar:
peppermint, spearmint, chamomile and oatstraw


lightening (not close and veiny
but the kind where a whole section of sky gets bright and goes dark again)
pulsing in the eastern sky


from the water-world:

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A resident of Eastwood Village retrieves belongings from his flooded home in Evans, Colorado. –bbc news, day in photos

perennial dilemma

one lone jalapeño
bright red against dusty white rock road
laughing as trish and i walk past it
about how they’ve been showing up in random places
(last week’s was on the second segment of steps past the landing in karma)
and how their color makes them impossible not to notice


the colors from the field at lookfar
gold sorghum tops against green green leaves in the tilt of the sun turning all the yellows gold
topped by skyblue sky


trish up on the ladder as i hold the plastic down in the wind
she works with a hammer and roofing nails
while i pound the hammer tacker
(which not only has a great name
but makes a great sound, especially once you get the rhythm worked out)
other things the hoop-house work party involves:
wiggle wire
zebra-patterned duct tape cut in heart shapes


perennial dilemma stan says on the porch at the meeting
(something about sorghum, perhaps)
while i savor the jelly-ish sweetness of the american persimmons
harvested from the ground on the neighbors hill
sucking each seed clean and lining them up on the pants leg of my jeans


down in the sugar shack
the clink of queen-line jars in the metal trough/pan (used for cooking down maple syrup) in their fire-heated bath
as we shuffle and dip them
it is not just one tone/pitch
but something like watery windchimes
plus the percussioning on the roof now and then
of seed pods and other tree-things pulled from the limbs above by wind


mica says jacob and june will be getting married at the train bridge
and i say i knew some folks that got married in a gigantic blanket fort
and under that statement is the layer of a trajectory that never happened


tyler picks up my 99cent cookie tab at zimmerman’s
while eating his swirl cone
as mica inquires about work gloves


text scrap found on desktop (transcribed from a democracy now show from at least six months back):
having been around such tremendous of human suffereing, on the outer reaches of empire i’m very cognizant of how responsible we are for that suffering.
every time there was an F16 strike in gaza we would pick up the fragments from the bombs and it would say made in ohio, made in dayton ohio, i remember one said those bombs are delivered from us


the eastwinders arrive in a blue van as we break apart the chocolate anya brought over
(the kind of van one might drive o take after-school program kids on field trips)
they just keep stepping out! roman (age 11) says as he observes from the porch
i laugh, thinking clown-car


emory in an almost-too-small deer costume
ok, i’m going to reach up and grab your foot and pull it through i explain
wrestling his shoed feet through the beige legs legs
best part: the hoof-arms (cylandrical brown felt without openings for hands)


soundtrack for reading and writing

what the water brings:


 Visitors take pictures of tidal waves affected by Typhoon Usagi in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, Sept. 22, 2013. – voice of america, day in photos

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Residents cross a makeshift bridge in the village of Omitlan, in the Mexican state of Guerrero, following a mudslide caused by torrential rain. – bbc, day in photos

the gradients

it makes me feel slow and undexterous
i say about moving mulch (straw and/or hay) with a pitchfork


it got down to 45 degrees darien says in his calvin kleins
in the week where the three of them took turns
farming in their underwear
for various reasons
the reason today being the climb in temperature
and not wanting to get that pair of pants dirty


look what i got at the dog-and-gun i exclaim to mica
victoriously holding the stainless steel pastry blender up in the air


the sound of chocolate chips
(transported from a minneapolis co-op bulk section)
against a stainless steel bowl

(perhaps this was my equinox ritual
i type in a letter headed to safford, arizona)


adding flour to get the correct consistency
then tearing off chunks of dough to form cookie ball shapes
a body memory
from mornings in the red and black kitchen
where sole and i invented nirvanaerobics


mica’s sifting-the-hardwheat-flour trick
combined with darien’s add-water-to-the-oven-to-increase-the-moisture trick
resulting in round puffy pitas
still warm in the bowl on the chopping block
(accompanied with red pepper spread
home-made cheese in a metal bowl which is like chevre but from cow milk
emory’s shredded apples
sauteed shitake mushrooms)


the sound of cow hooves pounding into ground
as they thunder-rumble up over a hill on the other side of the fence
on the west side of the gravel road
small tufts of dust rising

i love the gradients trish says
while we watch the post sunset sky
along the gravel-road clearing
blue sifting into yellow orange sifting into pink red