letting light in

forsythia branches crossing over us
hatched – letting light in like
light through lace
while emory saws and lops off branches
of what i later call
the fortsythia

working the soil block mix
like bread dough i lean
my entire body into it

moonstar the still-kitten cat
seen opaquely from underneath,
her paws padding up the greenhouse roof panels
which underneath  i drop seeds
into their soil blocks
(two varieties of cabbage: murcof and caraflex,
four varieties of kale: vates, red russian, white russian, and rainbow lacinato)

rutty road in shades of brown and gold
underneath me as i press/pound on
towards creek bridge and away again
in this sometimes made-of-lead, sometimes
made-of the lightestness

toasted hazelnuts on top of
baigz’s not-too-sweet brownies (that he
cracked earlier today) which i
dollop with left over fresh whipped cream
and sprinkle with triplespice
(cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom)
gathered in a pinch of fingers
from the tin that traveled with me
for the past three months

something upsetting happened
so her cellmate gave her a hug
and a guard walking past saw
so they each got a month in solitary (for hugging each other –
the prisoners aren’t supposed to touch)
trish tells me of fran locked up
3 hours from here

tyler as conductor, trish as baton-tosser
baigz on trumpet, joseph on sax and emory on trombone
playing the go! fight! win! song after dinner in the kitchen

in the dim of the moonless night,
though i can’t see, their sounds give them away:
shriek-honk of traveling geese high overhead
plus owl calling off in the distance

(still) reeling

tripping into the gap
between wake and sleep where i lay
dazed, cycling through disorientation
and some sense of attempting to arrange
pieces that don’t fit
which is fascinating i later expound
since, in all three months i was in
motion – much of which involved staying
in spaces i’ve never been before – i never
felt this way, not one single morning

sixty seven joe/tyler/baigz say of
the gallons of maple sap hauled in
for sugaring today
discovery in the tool shed:
a scatter of blue/black/white feathers
while two cats curl and nap on
tufts of nearby row cover
(still) reeling i say in one conversation
my body has landed but i’m still waiting
for the rest of me to arrive

and in another i compare it
to a train smashing into a concrete wall
car after car piling up against each other
last night’s sweated-in red/gold glittered jerseys
pinned to the line and flapping
in the wind
how easily we forget that we belong
to each other, that we belong
to the earth
she says
about the connectivity of water while
the puppeteer wind pulls marionette cedar branches up and down
and swishes them sideways
the moment the east wall in the kitchen
glows pink mandarin, soaking up the spill
of neon-like light the moment the sun
contacts horizon and clouds
curtain-lift, letting the hue through
like i was in a car accident i say
of the soreness in my thighs,
my ribs, some places in my arms,
my back
all of which might be from last night’s
basketball frenzy or
from yesterday’s yoga (after not fully practicing
for a week or so) or
from the body rising out of
sedentaryness into use
sharing pieces of what she says might be her best story
(not sure if this is any guage for that,
but it is one i could listen to
over and over again – and in fact,
have even attempted to re-tell)
never look back babe, never look back
trish says imitating duke combing his
hands through his hair fixated on his reflection
in the hotel mirror

the legend of trish the swish

trish in red wig and sequinning silver leggings
that throw the light off them onto the ceiling
we hello-hug/reunionize in karma living room
it’s almost like it’s my birthday i say getting
to see you in that red wig and shining things

the bees are bringing in pollen
for your birthday stan gives
the first-signs-of-spring bee report

it’s not sour joe says of
the injera he folds into quarters and
sets on a plate on the table
where we feast on
greens, ber ber (miser wat) red lentils and
mustardy brown lentils followed
by the most extravagant
from scratch
key lime rich smooth pie

polished smooth and dangling
the earrings that joe made in trish’s ears
featuring a cross section of bone
from the deer trish killed this year

echoing off gymnasium walls:
the bounce of basketballs as we warm up
traveling net to net and
MIA bumping in the background and
as the game starts: the mini pep band playing
in three parts: joseph on sax, tyler on trombone and
baigz on trumpet
louie louie is of course
in the rotation

TRISH THE SWISH i call out
after she in her sequinned jersey
makes a rim-less basket
amidst the chaos
and i, in my glittery 27star jersey
yelping and hollering and
bee-lining down the court
pivoting and aiming and passing
to my delight’s content

into the slow current

discovery of enveloped card
tucked into foodbag as i pack it away
and hold myself to my self-written rule
of not opening farewell things
until i am on my way
small boats of bundled men
in neon and black
on the morning water just past the dam
casting their lines into the slow current
remembering the spell gifted to me
on my last birthday (something like saying:
are you fucking kidding me? i’m 40 years old!
in situations where i need to remind myself
to ground/let go/get real)
and wishing i had recalled this mantra
how the sun does that thing
on water where its light lands
in a line that stretches across the
mississippi’s surface and seems to
end directly at me (and then,
continues to stay with our
point of contact as the train
curves and hurtles this body south)
helmeted workers in neon at milwaukee train station
(where it appears that perhaps some light rail tracks/stops
are being installed)
cutting metal and caulking stairways and
rising up and back down again
in the accordian-like scissor-lifts
young lady the conductor calls me
and announces chicago union station
in twenty two minutes
and i like thinking
how perhaps i’m pulling one over on him
regarding this whole young/age thing
the blessing of neon-orange ear plugs
worn in the audio assualt that is the
south amtrak gate in chicago
(the assualt includes: the blaring-tv,
the shout of announcements coming donw out of
a PA that is only four feet from our heads
in this low ceilinged room,
the wailing of a tortured-sounding child
going on for at least ten minutes – maybe fifteen –
and the sea-of-voices sound all around me
[phone conversations, neighbor conversations)
the blue-chained necklace memento
that isa hands me in the grand hall
where we sit on a pew-like bench for one
of our many train-station rendezvous
i’m ready to get off the hotbox
loudly calls out one woman
making her way down the aisle
parting from the rest of her
raucous friday-night-with-the-ladies crew
every moment i nod my head yes
while reading ta-nehisi coates’s
between the world and me
as if he was in the seat across from me
watching me agree/be blown-over
by what he’s saying
bouncing around tyler says about
he and cynthia’s travels/visits just
before we make the requisite (and still funny
as hell) dingleberry jokes
while we roll down roadkill highway
approaching the galloping ghost-dog at a curve
not farm from home
a word for returning to the deepest of familiar places
but having been gone for so long, the re-seeing is in
sharp focus (the hand-drawn calendar pages,
the still-kittenness of moonstar when she
shadow-slinks in front of me,
the musty/foody smells and clutteredness
of these well-used spaces,
the sweet shock of quiet,
the pierce of multitudes of stars
through night sky,
the imaginig of what this place might look like
through truly new eyes, say, of a visitor
swinging by sometime this july)

just add one strawberry

as seen from kitchen table while
scrawling out a letter addressed to
brooklyn: one hawk swirl-circling high up
while two others careen closer
to the back yard tree tops
and what is remarkable is the way
the light burns through
their wings illuminating the spaces
between the edges of feathers
if i were a super hero
my fatal flaw would be not
being able to walk on the ground

i joke while we skip across the street
referencing my hand-me-down spongeboots
(meaning: boots whose soles are the excact opposite
of impervious to water)
we can walk to wisconsin ami says
in the blustery but sun-filled air
about crossing the st. croix river
via the stillwater bridge
on which we pause to take in the
hardened white thick glaze of ice
across the water’s surface
perched on downed tree trunk
surrounded by leaf litter and bare branches
plus the river stretching out beyond all that
we laugh about mike barman the poleman at the option,
discuss the history of a first kiss after a dorm-room
showing of clockwork orange,
talk about the time i was on the dance floor
but couldn’t move or talk while someone
interrogated her on the staircase about knowing
who siousxie sioux (the person whose image
was on the shirt (mine, borrowed) she wore
upon arriving home from school and discovering
the polk-a-dotted wrapping-papered surprise
left on the bench where he sets his coat/bag
I GOT A PRESENT!!!!! madix’s excited voice
slipping through the front door
just before he slams it shut
just add one strawberry i say
to make it pink ami responds and thus
is born the name of our cooking show
(a show in which we
make delicious food but spend half the time
in sibling arguments about little things
like the little power struggle of
me wanting to add a strawberry to the perfectly
textured cream cheese frosting and her saying
the moisture of just one strawberry will destroy
the frosting’s texture.
in this show, each episode will of course,
end in antics like tossing jam-filled cookies
to stick on teh ceiling or a fantastic
all out food fight)
parade of small bowls lined up
on kitchen table:
lettuce leaves saluting us,
the thinnest slices of tomato slouching into each other,
half of an avocado cut into slice/cubes
awaiting our BLT assembly
drip and sheen of
sweat on skin
as i emerge from
the sauna heat
where we just read splat the cat
before the shower before bed
the moment ami is
sitting on the trampoline and i
am on the stool/chair at the table by the window
and we are talking in our
night-hush voices and both of us
begin to yawn
with the same pitch
at the same time
and we both look at each other like

sequester the secret

silkiest/sweetest (but not too sweet) meringue
(the kind of meringue that makes me realize
i never even desired meringue until now) on top of the
passion fruit tart
ami and i pass back and forth
amid the clatter and buzz of
tables at the midtown global market
a cape for you ami pronounces
draping the flow of cast-off fabric
(shiny/purplepink) over my shoulders
and fastening it at my neck
nastalie and i, inspired by her
co-worker and officemate, drop and
do ten push-ups each
in the entryway of the gallery/intermedia
art space
how’s your heart she asks and a
swell of appreciation follows
for all the ways my friends, scattered across the states,
up and down coasts,
phrase/frame their thoughtful
how has your year/travels been questions,
knowing sometimes words fall short
but offering the asking gesture anyway
which i do my best to answer and offer back
ami’s meditation music
lifting up and emanating out
from one room over while i
triangle and reverse triangle
plow and half wheel
warrior one and peaceful warrior
on the teal mat that gina has observed
has seen better days
madix and i in boots and tennis shoes
racing to mailbox and back again,
playing the guessing game before we
pull open the box
about how many pieces of mail (if any) await
like the first trimester
i sequester the secret
finalist status (next step: interview)
carry it inside like a little growing thing
while taking johanna’s lead and saying
is going to turn out better
than i could possibly imagine

(and on top of that, letting it sink in:
taking this year’s instances of finalist
as a signal that the world is
just opening itself up to the idea of
me/my work)
a sortof strobe:
the headlamp on the head of a six year old
its light tossed back-forth amongst bony branches,
into ice-crystal snow for fossil closeups and
into the tree-thick woods and out again
while madix, ami and i
make our moonlight-less moonlit journey
along the trails of
sunfish park
i muted you i mean
i muted me
i say
about an accidentel button pressing
on the pink flip-phone
two sections into your read-aloud essay
before i describe the red/maroon walls
of the room i am in
factory of fun we call it and laugh
about what if it really stretched
from here to there
obsructing freeways
and so on

swirl-dancing down

madix’s mittened hands wiping
snow from the little free library’s shingles
while the school bus rounds the bend
on its way towards us
the crunch of snow underfoot and
the pause we take to inspect our
bootprints (ami’s = polka dots,
madix’s = wavy, mine = the undescribable
vibram hiking boot sole)
snowflakes i report from my time in the field
(time in the field being: the bus-stop wait
at the end of the driveway)
as big as a kid’s mitten
what i don’t include
is the way these windows frame
this ripped confetti free-for-all
swirl-dancing down
tender hot she (who i sometimes
address as boy) writes as i feel
the seeds you planted in my ribcage grow

the pitcher of pandan leaves swimming
in filtered water how i hydrate
more than usual due to this
flavor sensation to be added
to the list of food firsts
the sound, when ami and i pause on the
birch-lined trail, of snowmelt dripping
from skeletal limbs onto
not-quite-ice but not-quitee-mush ground
thorned branch grabbing at
my sleeve a flashback
to the desert month
weighted by gallons of water in my pack
where, amongst us, someone has packed a sharpie,
someone is carrying calcetines,
someone is carrying a blanket and garbage bag,
someone is carrying the gps and maps,
and someone is carrying vita cocoa and expired energy bars,
and grilled cheese flavor cracker sandwiches
and someone, of course, is carrying sunvista
pop-top beans
post-pizza at the kitchen table:
in the first game, ami, madix, andy and i
do the same math problems
with pencil on paper padded with a
magazine underneath
in the second, we roll the dice and
read the corresponding sentences outloud
sounding out the words and going slow
when we get stuck
whale song sounds repeating from
the whale sound sleep animal
placed on the pillow valley
between madix’s head and mine
while he snuffles and shifts eventually
giving way to stillness carried on a steady breath

like a shot of something that burns

slicing into citrus fruit whose rind
matches the kitchen walls
i place the segments in a bowl and
set it on the table between amber and i
click of smooth tiles
against each other on living room table
during a morning round of banagrams
featuring the words linty, axioms and quell
a bottle of 4-thieves spray
made in the minneapolis basement of a
friend of a friend
wrapped in a plastic bag featuring
cartoon teeth
which is twine-tied with a new-orleans
fleur de lis charm (mardi gras remnant) dangling off
romantic joAnn says to describe
how i blow through town
like an unpredictable wind
and rather than ask me for a summary/recollecting of
the past three months she says let’s start at
how has your morning/today been
stimulating, nourishing i say
of what happens when we
put our brains together
nothing is resolved she says in
the front seat
and i admire/commend her for
being with the being in process
ami animated in her bright micro-down jacket
telling tales of the fastest skis
(waxed by devon) at the berkebeiner
where the groups race in waves
and the comical culture of each wave
(how the elite wave is chill and no-fuss,
they’ve already made it into the top 200,
nothing to sweat
and the first wave that follows
practically tramples each other
when moving forward from corral to corral
to get a good start position
so that they might make the top 200
and in the fourth wave, people kindly call out
on your left as they are about to pass
to which a typical response might be
oh hey, no problem or how’s your day going
to collages! we joke-toast
holding up our small glasses of
mangosteen juice and pocardi sweat
before throwing them back like
a shot of something that burns
even though they don’t
silver pot of broth stove-simmering
while i mix the miso marinade in a
pyrex pitcher as amber breads the
small tofu rectangles and ami sears
the bok choy halves,
pandan leaves soaking in blue painted pitcher
a flurry of flipped magazine pages and
scissors chopping and
the rough-torn edges of
photos that might fit our
visions for 2016
(let me know if you find a cozy writing desk, i request)
and the many jokes about hot men and
dreaming big that ensue


the orange and white striped barricade signs
that those of us who have flocked to the falls (minnehaha)
today climb over to make our way
down snowmelt/icemelt stairs to get
as close to the frozen falls and
mini iceberged creek as possible
icicle stalactite clusters
solid white and almostblue in
the nooks/crevices between them
the mississippi
its dark winterslow water and the
notch out of its bank
where minnehaha creek flows in
small flecks of snow gathering
as they land on pink fleece and black tights
while we walk over frozen mounds
of grass/mud ground
even though i lived here for a short time (continuously)
i say it’s such a grounding/good feeling to still know
and hold parts of town (streets, businesses – some of which are no
longer open: the riverside cafe, north country co-op, adiis ababa)
and the stories they carry
a certain lack of the kind of disconcerting amnesia
i have with other places i’ve lived

i stitch in this flourish (i miss you)
at the end of our conversation
connected by satellites from taos to minneapolis
in which i say those (dreams) are yours
(re: home) and they’re going to happen

the joke of how all these 90’s board game pieces
(the beeper from taboo, the card holder from guesstures)
are nearly the same color as eamon’s shirt
thereby creating a hilarious camo/disappearing affect
real people doing imaginary things amber says
in order for us to guess the word actor
which later becomes some kind of tag line
in the eve of the buzziness vs. the linoleum dispatchers
the delight on caitlin’s face as she
recalls amber’s halloween snack spread:
a bowl of guacamole arranged to resemble
a melted witch, for instance,
salsa made to look like the bloodspill of
a busted-open head etc.
it’s become a bit of a habit i say
about the hot water bottle as i
stand by the kettle whose water temperature
slowly climbs

of a defrosting

oatmeal buffet set up on butcher block
(cranberries, cinnamon, walnuts and an apple
chopped into small bits)
this is what i mean sometimes when
i say there are so many ways to say i love you
without saying i love you
rolling across the rock river
on i94 due west
undulations of ice-white and deep-water blackblue
specked with bodies of something seagullish
while geese V overhead
even on this bus
made of all this profane plastic
whose forward motion is made possible
by the burning all this profane oil
across the miles and miles of all this
profane pavement
that lines parcels of stolen land used to
grow gmo (in other wordss, profane) corn
even here, the power
of breath taken in and held
deep in lungs before a slow release
rings its clearing tone
through each ribbon of vein
each layer of tissue
each marrow-filled bone
how the song playing in the gas station stopover
as i pee in the bathroom makes me tear up
while thinking of dad and the fold of money
he softly pressed into my palm
sprawled across seats 13 and 14
back to the aisle and view
out the window of a defrosting landscape,
maggie nelson’s the argonauts
opened in my lap
this dough called home:
dumpling-puff of scallope edged
mushroom/cabbage filled pierogie
packed into ziploc packed into
canvas back packed into backpack
and feasted upon
somewhere halfway between
snowmelted milwaukee and
snowmelted minneapolis
do you have any questions
a man walking past us asks
while amber and i puzzle out
the parking meter situation
i work for the city he explains
delightful timing i think
if only every time i have a question
some person who works for that confusing entity
from which i seek answers
appears to offer such kind help

amber and i purusing titles
in the comedy section
which really just seems to be a general section
because i spot so many movies that aren’t really
that funny
trying to find a title neither of us has seen
that promises to be one of the funniest things
we have seen
the fsssshing of pulling the knife blade
at a 15 degree angle
across the file/sharpening metal thing
in amber’s orange kitchen
and the resulting ease with which
i slice through the onion for our
green curry dinner