glimmer is the word i use

a little past nine am
fingers still citrusy with tangerine residue
i wave through the windshield

to mom at the front window
in a red sweater and waving with both hands

this day last year the sun was bright
and the snow was high
i say in the passenger seat as the
grey grey drizzles down
as we head west (madison-wards) on i-94


the difference between
being comfortable
and too comfortable
has something to do with fear
we discuss


why we want the things we want for the people in our lives
i ask for instance do we want others to change because it would make us happier
or themselves?


muriel rukeyser collection
(purple and gold cover)
open and in my hands

those holiday cookies look good i respond
when asked if i want anything else
and debbie emerges with a blue/white iced snowflake
in a paper bag

we have to fight i say eating an egg stack
prepared by debbie (with a side of kraut)
to get our work/words out


glimmer is the word i use
about a zinemobile inheritance

e, mollie, debbie and i
roll the scattergories die
in a living room in a house on ingersoll
yellow legal paper in our laps
pens in our hands
constructing our own categories
including but not limited to:
spices and herbs
euphemisms for sex
kitchen utensils


mistaking the phrase
horizontal refreshment
for horizontal snack
we laugh while going through the alphabet of slang


the glow of a bedside lamp
made of himalyan rock salt
under a weatherproofed (plastic attached) window


west on the 94
then a little bit south towards the capital
tiny slush-ice building up underneath the wipers
two cars in the ditch between here and there

you offer a regret for all the times you told me to put it into second gear

and the other day you recalled another thing about me:
(i thought it was going to be how i would climb into the closet
amidst all the yelling
even in middle/high school
but instead
it was about the time that everyone was yelling
and i flung open my door and shouted
(one version of the mouse lion-roaring)
everybody just stop yelling!)

and then we get to thinking/talking about
the things we want for someone that is afraid

i am grateful
to not be alone in that
and grateful
to have someone else’s versions of a shared past
to line mine up next to
(a validation/reflecting back
that show me i haven’t been making it all up)


morning pancakes with
berry compote and maple syrup
served before we wave goodbye

a roof rake tutorial on the back porch
this body i think was meant to work
while winding my way around the perimeter
developing my technique as i go
the thud of snow as it falls in piles
from roof to ground


on the ride home
i animatedly describe
when katniss began fighting the system
instead of fighting the other tributes


i remember another thing you used to get upset about
dad says
recalling one time when i exploded/screamed:
everybody! stop yelling!
which is quite contradictory to the recollection i thought he was going to say
(the one of me climbing into my closet
during the yelling matches
not out of fear
but out of desire for quiet/calm)
news from the water world:
Screen shot 2013-12-28 at 12.03.18 AM
Heavy rains have killed many people in Espirito Santo state in Brazil. Here the Doce River in Vitoria has burst its banks. Tens of thousands have been left homeless. – bbc, day in photos

Workers and a crane are seen next to a newly-built ice sculpture castle ahead of the 30th Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, in Heilongjiang province, China. According to festival organizers, nearly 10,000 workers were employed to build the sculptures, which require about 180,000 square meters of ice and 150,000 square meters of snow.
– voice of america, day in photos

This handout image released by the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales shows the ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy trapped in the ice at sea off Antarctica. The ship, with 74 people on board, has been trapped in ice about 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont D’Urville since Dec. 24
. – voice of america, day in photos

california closes in on driest year on record

An aerial view of the Big Sur fire last Wednesday. Still from video by KRON/NBC News, San Francisco. – weather underground

flickering a welcome

shuffling through scallop-edged photos
for the first time
i see the resemblance
between my father and his birth-father(whom i’ve never met)’s face

i count on my fingers
(brought on by the photo-shuffling)
determined to get it clear
the names of my dad’s
full siblings (pat, richard)
half siblings (bob, theresa, david)
and step siblings (danny)
they had a mixed family before mixed families were a thing
mom says
postcards composed at the kitchen table
apple-stamped and addressed in cursive
ami’s tea party accent
while she pours from the fischer price pot on the fischer price tray
would you like one lump or two?
followed by madix’s
bursts of laughter
as he sips his imaginary steaming beverage


fortune cookie fortune:
something about
today being yesterday’s worries about tomorrow
two ice globe lanterns
flickering a welcome
on the front snow-lined walkway

max’s cabinet
workspace view
with a cement floor for a background
(why yes, indeed that is mine, thank you for noticing!)
games played
(accompanied by bowls of nuts
hard candy
and pretzels)
mad gab
apples to apples

from the waterless world:
In this aerial photograph, dry river beds snake among the rugged terrain in eastern Afghanistan. – voice of america, day in photos

if i fall i fall

i keep my nails short i say
while showing izzi (my 12 year old niece)
do you think you can work with these?
yeah she says
so i sort through the polish
choosing a royal and sea/pastel blue
(plus big gold glitter on top)
and take a seat at the makeshift
manicure station


isaiah (11)
shows me how to wrap rubber bands
on the rainbow loom
so that i end up with a
blue purple black
rubberband woven bracelet

i don’t know about you
but for me, there is always a joy when those who teach me
(anything. from bracelet making to the uses of rosehips to how to surf)
defy the standard of what/who a teacher is

if i fall, i fall i declare
feet strapped in boots clamped into skis
as dad and i approach a downhill
unnamed phenomena:
how witnessing others do things they are phenomenal at
(often some physical feat
like landing a triple axle
or crossing a marathon finish line
or bowing their head to receive a wreath of laurel)
leads me to something like inspiration or aspiration or admiration
or all of the above


the buzz of powerlines draped overhead
while snow comes down
(light like crumbs,
something we can brush off)
sled hill to the left
groomed tracks underneath me


wherein i learn
via observation and guidance
to skate-ski
styrofoam cones
poked through with toothpicks
stuck with red and green gumdrops at the other end
(gumdrop tree)

this in from the water world
(this week and also six months ago):


The facade of a house collapses due to floods after the Dirk storm in Quimperle, western of France. – voice of america, day in photos

A participant in a colorful costume jumps into the water during the104th edition of the Copa Nadal (Christmas Cup) in Barcelona’s Port Vell, Spain.  – voice of america, day in photos

Screen shot 2013-12-25 at 8.05.37 PM
In June thousands of people fled their homes as deadly flood waters caused havoc across central Europe. Here a swimming pool is surrounded by flood water from the River Elbe near Magdeburg in Germany. – bbc, year in photos


dear readers,
i am absconding to familyland
it is my intention to continue posting
but there is no guarantee

i’m thinking of all of you

from the water world:


 Washerwomen, who earn close to 2,000 Ar (less than $1) a day, wash laundry along the banks of the Ikopa River in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo. – voice of america, day in photos

when i say someone, i mean kin

slab of marble
surface for sugar cookie dough rolling
floured and cut into stars and moons
shapes placed on parchment
to cool before heating

things we bring
to the mama maple altar
injecting light
into the shortest day of the year:
various rocks
paper and pen to make words for burning
sugar cookies in star and moon shapes
a bell from sledge’s string of bells
a pipe cleaner bracelet
dried apples
a heart
sage, which, when i say i don’t know where it’s from
but it’s very special
means: my friend kate sent it
i think from spain
at least 5 if not 10 years ago
and when i say kate
i mean
someone who passed from this world to the next
two years ago
and when i say someone
i mean
which means
this is not just any old sage
it is an invocation

we burn the year behind us
and fan the flame on the one ahead

mica cracker-making while i
whisk together peanut sauce
prepare veggies for stir frying
start the garbanzo beans with coconut oil in the cast iron
hall and oates playlist on the stereo

all ice, a road that
won’t allow us to go anywhere
except slip from side to side
at least we tried
(the  gathering three miles down the way
solstices on without us)
wailing maybe
(what a broken wrist sounds like)
mica working the mitten off her hand

badass is the word we use
when talking about the kind of truck
that will get mica and her broken wrist
from here to the hospital
in the sleet-on-ice conditions

freezing rain
on the corrugated metal roof


this is why i’m not a medical worker
i say
tentatively wrapping the ace around mica’s braced wrist/forearem (busted radius)
mumbling something about being so careful to not hurt someone else
you’d get better at it she says
if you had to

taken to a curadora

in the dream
i am visiting china
and there is a line of men
while i take part in this tradition
one at a time they step forward and we hug
then we hold our hands layered one on top of the other
for a long few seconds
with the idea that based on these two things alone
i choose one
(i reflect on the warmth of the first hug
as i hug the third
and consider how that one felt the best to be held in)
but halfway down the line
a girl with her eyes done wild
(think: punk meets jem meets drag queen/lady gaga)
steps in
pulls me close and says something like i want this one
but saying it to me rather than to someone else
(which was also like saying
i see your queerness and raise you mine
let’s get the hell out of here
and make some trouble)
and then i’m wandering around the common spaces of her
collective house
taking in traces
my pulse electric


trish rolls out the dough
spreads cinnamonsweet over it
and rolls it up, dough and cinnamonsweet sticky swirling

twenty two minutes later
the taste takes me to the last homemade cinnamon rolls:
a day of waiting in various places
(due to misplaced passport hijinks)
including in the living room of history
at 3030 victoria
the squeaky dog toy i’d throw in the backyard
(an effort to connect
with the canine whose spot i took
everytime i came home
which was not the home i lived in
but the home housed inside another human
six hours north)
fighting a cold in the dampcool of an oncoming winter
crossing my fingers on the arrival of the craigslist ride
not wanting to leave
but not wanting to not be able to leave (birth certificate in the next-day mail) either

we have our doubts about making it
up that ice coated hill
but we arrive without a hitch
and find it is more difficult to navigate by foot
over the slope-ery slipping

notice our clothes are wet
sharon says about the slide on the screen
of herself standing next to an older man in front of a house-looking building
the slide just one segment of the show she and dennis presents
about their recent visit to cuba for a permaculture convergence
she mentions the nearby waterfall
and tells us about the man whose brother was sick
and the doctors couldn’t do anything
so he was finally taken to a curadora
who said pour three buckets on yourself a day and drink three glasses a day
and it was this that cured him
it’s not a religion, just a belief – that the water heals
said the man

we also pass around a fidel castro coin

brought to you by water:

Screen shot 2013-12-20 at 10.13.27 PM
A Palestinian family in Beit Lahia sits in a tent after their house was flooded following storms across the region. – bbc, week in pictures

the slow stillness

em-oh-REES pizZA place!
they say
in fake italian accents
welcoming us into the ktichen
(table covered in cloth, napkins
silverware set, candles lit)
a five year old in an apron leading me to my seat
and handing me my order form to fill out
(sauces and toppings options to circle)
papercut out snowflakes dangling above us
a kind of magic

bobbie rolls out the dough
trish layers on the toppings
while mica and i consult wednesday
on her cat experties
i can’t quite catch
what music is
tumbling (a sortof crooner) out of the speakers


the slow stillness of possums
in the chicken coop after dark
undeterred by snowballs
threats of “get out!!!”
pokes hits and jabs with a stick snagged from the yard
the shine of their eyes
in wind-up-flashlight glare
the looking up from the flayed-open bird
the quiet of the snow around us and
the thud and thud and thud
of a dull machete
to the skull

fold and cut

tyler post-lunch kitchen cleaning to my bloody valentine
i know this song i say
referencing 1999 and a room in indiana

a gathering and miniature flood
the sound of snow and ice
melting so rapidly it almost
could be rain
entire rows of icicles
and rectangles of snow
landing at once
around the perimeter of the main house


if i were you i say
i’d get to my grandmother as soon as possible


steam rising from metal pot (black tea and sugar whisked in)
set on a table in a room that is cooler (indoors)
than outside’s 49 degrees


sawdust (stuck to sleeves
and deposited on today’s desk/computer)
from all of yesterday’s
schlepping of wood


home-baked crackers (with our own field grown wheat) redux
this time with salt
and a side of potato leek soup and greens

post-dinner activity we
fold and cut snowflakes
until the octagonal table is covered
in white paper scrap and snow

the kind of headline that seems like it might be from the onion
but is, in fact, 100% non-fiction:
tourist walks off australia pier while checking facebook