pink purple everything

more than a drizzle but less than a pour
a galosh kind of day
i leave my hood down
for the rain to work its hair magic
and there is the moment of attaching clothespins to line
which means looking up
at the rain spitting down
into the spruce tree
and it reminds me of
that portland rainforest i am home feeling


the dodging dance we do
at the back door
where the gutters haven’t been reattached


a name for that last flash
on a cloudy day
when the sun, as it lowers itself into horizon
breaks between cloud cover and earth-edge
blasts sky with a white gold shine
followed by
pink purple everything
then dusk

those double insulated windows
make all the difference trish says
in a room so warm
we are down to tshirts and tank tops
at the end of october


emory’s halloween candy
left out in a box by the door
for the switch witch
(most brilliant halloween candy approach ever:
leave candy out overnight,
switch witch takes it and leaves a gift of their own
in this case: pegs for emory’s bike)


night without a moon means
i can see you glittering up there kate
on my walk to the whitehouse in search of
pre-bed snack

in the timezone of my birth

this i say, holding up a thin sheet of plastic used for doughnut handling from the zimms cafe case, is a sad sad thing
and then a joke about carrying it around always
perhaps flagging
doughnut-related play


from here (the turning off M and onto sandhill road)
it’s almost as if noticing the turning treeline
(oranges, reds, greens, crimsons)
for the first time this season

something about the color of
the sweet potato skin
matching the color of the leaves coming off the
sugar maple along the road
and something else about
the contrast of white sap bleeding/rising to the raw edges
of the deep purpley ones


we should both know the answer to this question by now
joe and i laugh about the whole
yams vs. sweet potatoes conundrum


post-lunch business:
invitation creation



caramel (from the sorghum cookbook)
gold/brown and boiling over on the karma kitchen stove
which we fill with laughter
for various reasons including
how sugarcrazy we get
(emory licking maple syrup from measuring cup
emory licking sorghum from measuring cup
emory stabbing the bag of sugar with a chopstick
followed by all of us
crunching on candy coated mini m&m type things
and generic reese’s pieces
and sampling bites of caramel-covered popcorn)
laughing, sugared up, at our sugared-upness
(trish eating off a metal serving spoon from a big metal serving bowl)
and all of us scrambling for the candies that fall off
the popcorn cake

what garden carts were really made for:
a pile of blankets
plus a five year old
and their burst of blond hair
perched on top


a list of small joys/wonders that seem gigantic to a five-year old:

using the rope in the cow barn loft
to hoist up the walls and roof (blankets and sheets)
of our blanket-fort-in-the-making

mattresses on a dusty floor that are ok to jump on
and the wrestling matches that ensue
and even though this might be from boxing and not wrestling
the holding up of one’s arm while the word victory is called out
and the countdown that we call out before it all starts

dangling a rope
out the cow barn loft window/door
while calling out watch it dance!
wiggling it from side to side
and calling it cat-fishing
(the wonder of, after a while of this rope dancing,
hearing brenda wizard kitty’s meows
and calling her closer)
attaching a rope to the loft wind0w/door latch
and using it to pull the door closed
without having to touch the door
clipping clothespins to the hankies hanging out of my backpockets
and stepping back and laughing
at how hilarious that is
on the garden cart ride back to the whitehouse
emory laying down on blanket
all covered except for caramel-sticky face
we stop under the sugar maple
do you know why i stopped here i ask
because i was hoping the wind would make some of these leaves fall on you
i have some baggage around oatmeal raisin cookies trish says
at the octagonal-ish table
i understand i respond
what do you mean you understand? she asks
i understand what having baggage is like


this will be the first time in thirteen years
that i am back in the timezone of my birth
(and that last time, it was also out here
along the gravel roads
and in the creek-following tree lines
with firecrackers and a drum and a chair for standing onin order to recite a quarter-of-a-century birthday spectacle)


the magic of woodburning stoves:
the last log must have been put on hours ago
yet the metal beast is still radiating heat


on the kitchen couch
next to the woodstove
chapters 6-10
of the magic treehouse (dragon king) book
(where the gold silk thread
saves the day
and the scholar and spinner
wave farewell from the field)
aloud to emory

clipping laundry to line
there is a certain kind of satisfaction
of knowing you chose
a warm-enough sunny-enough day
to do so


when the blood drains out the top of an upside down traffic cone 
after the chicken was lowered in
i think about
how quiet today is
how light the air feels
how breezeless the day

later, a table of necks and feet
a bucket of hearts, livers, intestines
a bucket of feathers


mica writes LADY BUGS in black marker
in today’s calendar square
to mark the day the sky was full of them
and our faces, arms, shirts became their landing pads


a few words from stargazer li regarding the oncoming of the dragon wave
regarding this a time of ripening into the magic of new ways of being
we undergo a death and rebirth of the fundamental structures and foundations upon which our life is built
we’re being asked to take form from the deepest places in our beings
this is literally one of the most potent times of the year, the other is in late april 2014
this is the birth of a new form, that develops and unfolds over the coming 9 months

into the dark, into the deep, learning how to dance in the shadowland
the birth of this new form is really about us learning to be able to live in a more what we might call magical sense

magical in the sense where we trust ourselves and life
and that we dance with it rather than try to control it

news from the water world:


People look at a large sinkhole on a street after a water pipe broke underneath it in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China, Oct. 27, 2013. – voice of america, day in photos


Brazilian big wave surfer Carlos Burle rides a wave in Nazare, central Portugal. – voice of america, day in photos


A man sits on a stone and meditates at Hibiya park in Tokyo, Japan. The park has been a military training ground until 1903 when the ground was converted into a modern public park. – voice of america, day in photos

Screen shot 2013-10-28 at 9.12.36 PM

stormy sea at Porthcawl harbour in south Wales. An associated weather system has caused widespread disruption in several countries in north-western Europe. – bbc, day in photos

we shape into

future boy and lizard man tunes
cranked on the kitchen radio
while future boy himself and i
de-rib kale and rip into chip-sized pieces

the appearance of a half pie (apple)
sent along from gigi’s
how i mangle as i slice in
through center and crust


let’s tape cardboard to them
and bring them to the picnic
so we can just throw them around! emory suggests
regarding the foil we shape into
gold coins


walking away from the orchard-situated picnic blanketradiant heat stored in the
soles of my shoes


it takes a long time trish says
about the chicken-killing
to pluck out all the feathers


how about a b.r.b. b & b? i suggest shiz in ecuador via skype
where the front desk would always have a be-right-back sign on it
and no one would ever really be there
and later i add: it could be a b.r.b. bdsm b & b
and every room could have a wedge-shaped sex pillow


selling organs to pay debts
sounds like some sci-fi/nightmare story
but the bbc posted an article on it
turns out it is real

just as real as the 18 wedding guests on their way to a wedding
killed by a roadside bomb and the five that survived, two in critical condition
just as real as the five killed by a bomb attack on an opposition rally


teenage boy swept away by sea

sometimes i envision a project
involving accidentally poetic headlines

we call it choreography

in lieu of the details
some scraps of a smaller water project
(quotes from the ripple effect – the fate of freshwater in the 21st century by alex prud’homme):

we call it choreography. moving irrigation pipes from one end of one field to the other end of another. lightweight but long (thirty feet), we carry four at a time – two on each shoulder. josh, the field manager at one end and me at the other. the clink of the connecters near our ears with each step. in order to turn, we rotate underneath the pipes, on person at a time. i develop this technique of balancing two pipes on a lifted knee while holding the other two on my shoulder simultaneously turning underneath them. a mix between tree pose and a quarter-axle. one scene from the ballet of bringing water.

as water use shifts from mostly rural use to urban use, and drought is on the rise, farmers in the american west have begun to cut down nut trees, fallow land and sell of their water rights to expanding cities. to some longtime irrigators, water has become more valuable than crops. a drought in 2008 prompted farmers to fallow their fields. instead of planting in april, they sold their irrigation water on the open market. (prud’homme, 125)


from the deck of a 20-foot keelboat, lake michigan teaches. dad at the stern, sisters stationed at the lines (there are no ropes, only lines) that release and tighten the main sail boom every time we tack. as the hull leans further into the waves, the fear is of falling in. with this tilting, there are two options: a tight-knuckle gripping (a kind of fighting) or the lean-in-and-let-go. when i finally do lean, i reach and rake the turbulent surface with my fingers. cool spray on my sunward face.

while water is the most abundant substance on the planet (it covers 71 percent of the globe), 97 percent of it is too salty for consumption. only 3 percent of the world’s water is fresh, and most of that is frozen: just 0.3 percent of it is accessible and clean enough for people to use. (prud’homme, 12)

the five great lakes – superior, huron, michigan, erie and ontario – contain  about 90 percent of the fresh surface water in the united states and approximately one-fifth of the entire world’s supply. some 42 million americans and canadians rely on the great lakes basin water for their drinking supply. in 1998, the nova group announced its intention to withdraw 158 million gallons of water a year from lake superior and ship it by tanker to asia. (prud’homme, 196)


other news from the water world:


An Indian villager maneuvers through floodwaters with the help of ropes in Agastinuagaon, Ganjam district of Orissa state, India. – voice of america, day in photos


A child runs among a newly opened water installation between the “National Theatre of Nice” and the “Promenade des Anglais”, in Nice, southeastern France. -voice of america, day in photos

on the surface of everything watery

first hard frost of the season
grass blades silverwhite underfoot and
slightly crunching


one egg fried over-medium
on one slice of home-baked bread (toasted)
layered in home-made mayo
plus salsa from the root cellar


gripping blue metal clippers i snip
luffa gourds dangling from the fence around the chicken coop and okra beds


parsnip whisperer trish calls me
based on my digging fork techniques
resulting in some unscathed parsnips
but for those that are scathed
there is that giveaway pop sound
of the root snapping as we dig


aren’t you cold sitting in the shade i ask emory
as i look up from the north garden bed
one hand leaning on a digging fork
yes he says in his camo jacket
which is small
(not small on him
just small, as things go, with the bodies of five year olds)
there’s a patch of sun right next to you i point out
no he says i’m too tired to move


there’s three of them emory says
about the planes chalking lines
bright white against a blue-blue
fall clear sky


first we work through the turnips
then the rutabaga
plucking the largest roots
(purple/white and globe-like)
before cleaning and trimming


despite the hardfrost night
the sun / clear sky combo
brings us enough heat
to make it an eating lunch outside kindof day


cookshift playlist:
budos band
ethiopiques volume 8 album
bruce springsteen (nebraska)
somewhere between the horns and the harmonica
tyler walks in with offerings of
a zimmerman’s monster cookie
and a chrsitian name card
(frank with an ‘ie’ added)
meaning free man


the glimmer of crumbled sage
in pitch dark
burning up on bonfire-warmed bricks
in the middle of the
sweat circle

while i can’t remember which song we were singing in the firestone steam
(something about spirits and mothers)
i remember the feel of of hands
cupping then sliding down my shoulderneck

inside, time is measured
in buckets of water

there is something about that first light
flooding in on the escaping steam
as the door/hatch is opened
by someone on the outside
(all the blackness before that
becomes something
once light is injected into it)

don’t think don’t think!
sharon calls back to me
(i’m not! i’m not even thinking! i call ahead)
as we run (bodies already cooling) from lodge to pond
and when i say pond i mean
there was ice on the surface of everything watery this morning


privy visit in the dark
stars sharp in cool pitch sky and
the sound of a freight train
roaring across the night


10:39 pm
the drone of a combine
somewhere to the north
working back and forth across a field


from the water world:


An Indian child plays in a dry river bed after flood waters receded in Allahabad. – voice of america, day in photos

in this transcendence

one of the things that happens when your friend who happens to be
an artist in an mfa program puts a call out for collaborators:
(it’s true, art, in this transcendence of time and space
we are finally hanging out!
[in a menards-turned studio/gallery
in iowa city])


mica carrying two shovels
me with a digging fork and the metal pyramid
and trish brings antlers and the jug of fire cider,
while we head forest-ward

pyramid power i announce
as we construct and choreograph
a ritual
guided by the pyramid
(similar to those who seek water
with a forked branch)

in the patch of forest
i can’t remember the name of the tree
(cut berry?
chop berry?)
but i remember the pattern
of lines and layers


what happens
past the forest
on underpass road
a kind of spilling/breaking open
a kind of expanse
(some way of describing the sensation
of shifting from tree-cover
to hills rolling over each other
until they hit treeline
which is far into horizon
which means there is so much space
to breathe into
and so much space for breath to be taken
and when the sun is warm and the air fall-chilled
and the leaves being kicked up in the ditches
the best way to serve and be served
is to take it all in
in all directions)


still falling mama wolf says
must be a tall chair i respond


i hear it’s supposed to get down to 27 degrees tonight
i say near the sink
with a cashew butter – covered spoon in my hand

filthy everlasting and filled with light

a name for the slice of stepping outside
to be hit simultaneously
by the powder-silver moon in the blue (but still lightening) sky
and by the sting of cold to my cheekbones
into a still-mooned sky


7:30ish a.m.
we meet at the room divider
layered up for a frosted land-walk
an asian pear each in our pockets


the winter birds are here rachel says
as we crunch through gold/green dotted skin
this land is for walking i think
(to the east
the glow and shadow
of a sun in its early hours
through patches of passing cloud
to the west
what the gold-lemon light does on the frost-nipped grasses, petals and branches)


tall, dried and blends of gold/purple/green/orange/yellow/red
i pluck four blades
and stash them in my back pocket
later i learn their name: indian grass
and question the appropriateness
of the use of the word indian


a small stack of tony’s pancakes
fluffy and steaming
on a plate next to mica’s sweetcooked pears
not to be mistaken for potatoes


tyler, jon and i
taking down the asparagus beans
first we must wind up the trellising
then undig the tposts
and somewhere in there
pluck out the plants
and somewhere in that
pluck the fruit tree branches from that

followed by a putting-to-sleep
of the prolific pepper beds as well
how sam and i clip what we can
(some green some green/red)
into a 5 gallon bucket


of many, one gem from an article titled decolonization is not a metaphor
by eve tuck and k. wayne yang:
Settler colonization can be visually understood as the unbroken pace of invasion, and settler occupation, into Native lands: the white space in figure 1.2. Decolonization, as a process, would repatriate land to Indigenous peoples, reversing the timeline of these images.
Screen shot 2013-10-24 at 8.30.23 PM
and following this, a shedding-of-light regarding the discussions and proposals to oakland’s occupy community about the aspiration to “Decolonize Oakland,” rather than re-occupy it (a quote from Lenape scholar Joanne Barker’s blog [the responses from many non-indigienous forlks to a proposal for a Memorandum of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples])

Ultimately, what they [settler participants in Occupy Oakland] were asking is whether or not we were asking them, as non-indigenous people, the impossible? Would their solidarity with us require them to give up their lands, their resources, their ways of life, so that we – who numbered so few, after all – could have more? Could have it all

essentially begging the question
what does/could decolonization really mean
(as a verb, an act, not a metaphor)


a story about how someone told some band
i lost my ego at your show
somehow reminds me
of how two of my friends had the agreement
that one could tell the other
your male privilege is showing
when his male privilege was showing


filthy everlasting and filled with lightfound note to self
perhaps referencing fishnet photographs


mica rolling out the cracker (with sesame seed) dough
while i press lines into it


kim brings us a tiny serving of broken candy corns
in the jack-o-lantern light
(and because of the scarcity/thinness
i savor
as sweet treats should be savored)


fumbling at first in the dark
until we land on the main path
blanket of clouds
pulled across the moon


we come home to
sweet potato fries on the stove
snacking while overviewing
hard times and heaviness


news from the water world:


People stand near a car destroyed by a mud slide in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. Several people were killed after water released from a dam caused a flash flood in the resort area, according to local sources. – voice of america, day in photos

next big thing interview

(by franciszka voeltz, interviewing franciszka voeltz)

Photo on 2012-01-29 at 01.05 #2

the situation: once upon a time (at least several months ago, which means this post is long long overdue) Adrienne Dodt (fabulous human, bionic human, badass teacher, writer kicking it in chicago) tagged me in her own Next Big Thing interview. and you know what happens when one gets tagged in a next big thing interview? one has to provide their own next big thing interview. Adrienne and i wrote together (and met through this writing together) at the naropa university’s summer writing program in 2008.

Q: What is/was the working title of the book?

A: the title needs to wait until the whole has been formed. titles seem to come last… i  often need to see the entire scope/picture before i  can call it by name.

Q: Where did the idea for the book come from?

A: at this point, it feels more apt to call this thing a project rather than a book. I think it will conform to book format eventually, but for now, the term ‘project’ allows me more space for more possibility while ‘book’ can narrow it down too much while psyching me out at the same time.

There are some beginning points though. They include how, after reading ‘parable of the sower’ by Octavia butler, I haven’t been able to think of water in the same way again. She treats the issue of water privatization in a stark way. This image from the book has stuck with me ever since: folks migrating (on foot, in 2023 or sometimearound then) from the l.a. area up to the more water-plentiful pacific northwest along the i-5. During this on-foot migrtion, it becomes necessary to step off the road (and find a place where one will be unseen) to drink water because, if one is seen drinking water, they run the risk of being injured or murdered for it by other humans.

Another beginning point is the clear/cold shock of jumping into the Washougal and Clackamas rivers (two pristine-seeming rivers I fell in love with while living in the Pacific Northwest).

Even another is reading about migrants who die of thirst while walking across the desert to cross the border into the u.s. (and of the activists who place water at different points in the desert and of the vigilantes who slash open the water containers left by the activists).

Q: What genre does your book fall under?

A: I wish for the project to fall under something like documentary poetry, but because I’m also interested in including other peoples’ stories and accounts, perhaps also something like collective storytelling.

Q: What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

A: the project doesn’t really have any characters, per-se. but I’d like everyday people to be part of transforming it into another medium. I want real bodies and real faces and real places (not airbrushed or falsely lit… though I would probably prefer to shoot at times of day when the light makes everything gold) and real clothes and real thirst and real reveling.

Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A: there was never a time that life occurred separate from water.

Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

A: there is no clear point of when this project began (I’m a water sign. I was born in 1975. Perhaps it began then? I read that Octavia butler book somtime around 2006, perhaps it began then?) and im not sure there will be a clear point when it ends (when the ogallala freshwater aquifer is completely drained? when i no longer have thirst? )

Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A: see question 2.

Other writers that have made documentary poetry work that continues to guide me include: Juliana Spahr, Charles Reznikoff, and Mark Nowak.

Q: What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

A: I love when text and image (or texture or other elements) get to work side by side. So, this project certainly includes slideshows and videos when it is being presented to a live audience. I’m hoping to find meaningful ways to include image alongside the text.

Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

A: do poets have agency? I think the best we can do is believe in our work enough (and have access to a considerable amount of dollars) to be able to submit and resubmit our work to any and every contest that seems a decent fit for our work. so, the answer is probably neither. Instead, if it wins one of the aforementioned contests, it will be published by a small (perhaps university-based) press. I am also interested in performing/reading/touring it…. and that, I imagine, to be more of a do-it-yourself approach.

Q: Who are the NEXT Next Big Things?

A: taylor mardis katz, who is my most favorite poet/farm stand hustler in the world (i know you always had a job to do, those sunday mornings taylor, but all i wanted to do is kick it with you and laugh and laugh and admire your suspenders and laugh some more). she says my poems seem much more individual dudes walking around, chatting at birds, than a BOOK right now. but she is still pumped to take on the next big thing interview challenge.

regarding the fear of split stitches

wondering when water became a verb
with tyler while rolling back patches of sweet potato vines
and while tyler is more interested in that transition
(what was it before ‘watering’? ‘giving water’? ‘feeding’?)
i am more interested in that duality
that bothness (duality)
of nouns that can be verbs too


snap of sweet potatoes
popping from their roots
(and sometimes splitting in half
exposing bright orange)
as we dig in and up at angles
careful as we can be with their thin skins


outer layers (hat, fleece)
draped over garden cart
as we work our way down the rows while
cloud cover gives way to sun


his absence is big, don’t you think
i  ask
about our morning work party without darien


being asked to not jump or run or climb
is like being asked not to be himself trish says
about emory and post-cut care
(regarding the fear of split stitches)
his primary mode of transportation isn’t walking i say
it’s tumbling


it makes more sound i say to myself
(a phrase that seems more apt than it’s noisier)
about the colors/patterns of the quilt compared to the blanket


mica sets the first fire of the season
in upstairs karma’s wood burning stove
sound of red hot heat
crackling behind the creaky metal hatch


still steaming in silver thermos:
rooibos plus
orange peel