dusk becoming duskier

the particular sound
of the metal plates under my running-shoed feet
as i run over them
across the trainbridge
and back again
while the cool (but not yet as cold as it’s going to get)
bites at my cheekbones
and thinly-layered forearms
the skin of my right hand
glowing bright pink
while washing the sandy dirt of tubers
in the 36-degree-feels-like-27-degree
whose weather conditions feature harsh winds
while i kneel by the spiggot
in the video tutorial
by the dahlia guy
i learn to find where the eyes
on dahlia tubers are and what they look like
and where to cut the interlocking puzzle of them
(which reminds me so much of harvesting
galangal on the big island)
the dahlia tubers
snipped and trimmed
laid out on newspaper to dry
on the kitchen table
all 6 varieties
(some featuring as few as 5 tubers,
some as many 12 15)

from a distance, what i think could be
a heron or some kind of white crane anomoly
reveals itself (as i approach slowly with two cats swirling
about my ankles) as a plastic gallon jug and a couple
of beer cans
bullet-punctured (target practice) and perched atop
several rebar posts stuck into the ground
how on thickly clouded days like this one
the sun dips down into horizon
without ever being seen
from here
(which might be something like
when a tree falls in the forest
and no one is around to hear it
does it still make a sound)
cartful and cartful plus
forkful and forkful of mulch
how i move it (the hay)
as long as i can until i can no longer see
(dusk becoming duskier)
the pitchfork tines
sounds like a pound in there someone in the kitchen
says about emory, ada and raven
in the living room yipping and whining
like puppies
at a pound
don’t be afraid of it baigz says
to trish about the stew-soup
on the butcher block he made for dinner

for you

this one is for you,
ice-bright star
carving your silent and dazzling way
across newmoon (no moon) night sky
over me
over the orchard
over the great undulations of these missouri rolling hills
as i step out into the inky night
which is not even night yet, more like 5:30
but dark as a moonless sky
after sunset

this one is for you,
half-feral mama cat
curled in my lap
and for you,
ashby perched on the wood stump
and for the yowls that escape as you two
work your shit out

this one is for you, yoga mat
who helps me land
who tells me home is wherever i place it
who gives me a place to remember my breath
who gathers dirt when i leave you out on my floor, but sometimes,
i’m just not ready to roll you up yet


this one’s for you, magnificent sun
you don’t know (or maybe you do)
how ahrd it to sit all day in meetings
when you are throwing your light down
warming things up to the mid 50’s
while there are tomatoes to untrellis
and beds to be mulched
and frost-killed plants to be pulled


this one’s for you, radiant heat
rising off the (cast iron?) thick metal
of the once-was-a-barrel
and sinking into
my skin

this one’s for you, colored markers and tears
which is what this segment of the annual retreat
is sponsored by
as we look back and look forward and
slash budgets and share excitements and fears

of the lemon tree

6:30am wake up
and how it feels right to begin the day
at a time when the sky is lightening

a second day of the kind of ache
that makes me ask about arthritis
running through

the gray-for-days
sky of rain that tyler drives through
on our roll home
during which ty, cyn and i
sip our kombucha/kevita/vitamin water
ashby the cat greeting us
at the top of the steps
by the dinnerbell
in the shadows so shadowy
that i mistake his undiscernable gray/racoon stripes
for all black and call him moonstar
my favorite shirt i call out
to emory whom i hug hello in the kitchen
by the butcher block
how i cannot help but
sip down three (small) cups
of joseph’s egg drop soup
(which features shreds of chinese cabbage
of the only head that survived
this year)
because it is exactly what i need/want
right now
stepping into the scent (sweet and powdery)
of the citrus blossoms
on the lemon tree
parked in the cozyness of the woodstove-warmed
upstairs karma living room

pressing my nose to moonstar’s cool coat
after she comes in through the window
smelling earthy (like just-dug potatoes)
and the scent of woodfire smoke
layered in her fur
from the water world:

Visitors watch as members of a local winter swimmers club pour buckets of cold water over their daughters, 7-year-old Liza Broverman and 2-year-old Alisa Smagina, during a celebration of Polar Bear Day at the Royev Ruchey zoo, with the air temperature at about minus 5° C (23° F), in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. – voice of america, day in photos

the long climb up salt mountain

sun on face and 
limbs moving through space and time
as i walk my way along the curving street maze
m.i.a. in my ears and
good morning greetings on my tongue
for every runner/dog-walker i pass

the fraying cattails
and the gold grasses waving
reflected back on water edge
under clouds in patches scooching across the sky


self-assigned homework i write sole/mahogany to seek out beauty among the box stores and freeways 
and i send this photo of 
the holding ponds that i walked past on my back route way
to the post office

mom pinning the fabric
(of what was once a duvet of grandma siedlewski’s)
and me feeding it through the machine
something magnificent about
sorting through my basement storage boxes
and reading papers from undergrad and professor comments
before i toss them
(the magnificence being:
having spent three recent years
grading undergraduate papers
i like to draw parallels, have better insight to where i was as a student
compared to where my not-so-unrecent students
were as students)
dad puts the extra leaves in the table
while mom whips up the breaded walleye he caught
and eventually, i put together the salad

will you tell us about where the fish came from i ask as we eat
lake erie dad says on the shores of northern ohio

izzi joking about how when she was our age
she had to climb the mountain just to get salt
after we finish our fish/potatoes/salad/roasted cauliflower and before we encounter the
apple and cheese kringle

when we get to the end of the sheet of paper i say when mom asks
what we’re playing up to
in this final hangout rummy game

the weight of it

the presser foot that mom
attaches to the sewing machine
so that the already-there stitching groove
guides the needle
through fleece
as mom and i work on
attaching a new zipper

smell of  what i swear is pinon wood burning
(which is an instant transport/time travel
to two years ago at this time,
running the mountain town streets while
frost still clung to the alfalfa
and the sun had already broke across morning sky
and everything
was unfolding and everything
was absolutely perfect)
as i round the bend, running, 
along what mom calls the holding ponds
where a small paved trail makes its way
past ponds and milkweed and cattail and cardinals flying through the webs of bare branches

an early christmas present izzi says handing me 
a small glass tub
of izzi-made lip scrub (bubble gum flavor)
the weight of it cool and pleasing
in my palm

the big warm bowls of noodles
that chris and izzi and i pass
back and forth
at the family table
while eli notices weirdly located outlets and
isaiah downs his mac and cheese and nica
joins us in her workshirt and hair swirled into a bun under her black cap

from the water world:

A girl showers her sister at the displacement camp for earthquake victims at Chuchepati in Kathmandu, Nepal. – voice of america, day in photos


this poem titled thanks by w.s. merwin
waiting for me in my inbox and
resonant enough that i send a copy
to my sister and my aunt:

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions


back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you


over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you


with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is


dad asks if we talk about
politics or religion around the dinner table and say something about
how it’s not uncommon (especially politics),
but it doesn’t lead us to the danger zone
because we, though differeing in thoughts on tactics and such, are still aligned
for all the resources i (and we)
have access to
i say in our
go-around of gratitude
which is a less politicized way of saying
for the water protectors and those supporting them
while they face the water cannons on below freezing days,
for those who have been defending the water, the earth long before the phrase water protectors came along,
for every pair of hands that have touched this food
before we put it in our mouths,
for the sun that gives us the brilliant light we orbit around,
for all of those standing up in the various ways they do
against racism, transphobia, homophobia, islamaphobia, immigrant-a-phobia, the patriarchy (etc) especially in these times
for those who spend time leaving water in the desert, for those who spend time sending boods to prisoners, for those who spend time working to abolish the prison system, for those who do what they must, risking what they risk, to make the world a more humane and place and to preserve what shreds are left of this wild planet
and of course i want to mention
colonialism and small pox blankets,
of course i want to mention
big oil and coal companies,
of course i want to mention
that thanks is a sentiment
but it is also a gesture and
i want to know
who will help me carry water
in the borderlands and
who will help me
with the harvest and who
will help herd the sheep of the elders
out at black mesa who are resisting relocation at the hands of peabody coal and the u.s. government,
and who will stand alongside me
when i say i am a safe space
for all those who are watching white supremacy groups
salute the president elect and listening
to the bullshit about a huge huge wall and who are navigating the world
knowing that there is no real accountabilty 
for those who perpetrate sexual assault
make america gay again izzi says across the table and while
i usually don’t say or use this phrase much, what comes to mind is:
bless her dear soul
(meaning: thank you. not that you did it for me, but thank you anway)

the small shreds of turkey that eli
brings to gypsy the guernsey-spotted cat
perched on her climbing tower


from the water world:

Fishermen sail their wooden boats in the bay of Port-au-Prince, Haiti – voice of america, day in photos

A man bicycles down a flooded street with empty cooking oil containers during a rain storm in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. – voice of america, day in photos

in these times

signs that read we back the badge
sprouting up in yards of this 93% caucasion city
as i run along subdivision streets
and in these times, in this context
it’s difficult to not read this as saying
black lives never mattered and they never will

how i thank the day for its gray as i run through it
for the way its clouds hold in the heat, meaning
it doesn’t take much movement
in these 40some degrees
before i am unzipping my fleece and tying it
around my waist

granola snackers anonymous i joke about what the GSA acronym stands for
and nica, 16, explains the presentation she and the rest of the 
gay-straight-alliance put on for teachers at her high school
whose topics included things such as
not making assumptions about the gender of someone’s partner/date based on the perceived gender of that person and
a discussion/go-around on pronouns
which, in suburban wisconsin, is a remarkable and unexpected moment

the round and iced ring of kringle
revealed under its wax paper
on kitchen table

the shine of izzi’s trophies all lined up and
i ask her if she misses dancing

izzi and i taking turns djing a song or two
while she brushes on glitter and shadow and sometimes
tilts my head up by nudging it up at the chin
spicy she says of the gem-and-the-holograms look
and spicy i say would be a great name for your salon

the rattle of the boggle cubes
inside their plastic case as we shake and
the tick tick of the scattegories timer as we
try our best to think of words that begin with N or K or C and
the ridiculous jokes that we toss out
and how our laughter lands alongside the
redpink plastic snack bowls from which
we can’t stop picking,
mom, dad, chris and i 
at the kitchen table on doverhill