Monthly Archives: January 2017

what was abandoned

in the place where the afternoon sun
lays itself and the building is shaped such that
when i tuck myself against its maroon fauxdobe
there is no wind,
this is where i read a vandana shiva essay titled
the sacred waters in a book titled water consciousness

in india, every river is sacred she writes
and she talks about how rivers
are bridges from here to other places
and that’s the reason
people scatter ashes of loved ones
in the waters – so that they can cross that bridge

she mentions shrines at the headwaters
and shrinking glaciers and then gets to it:
spiritual worship of water was wiped out
in europe with the rise of christianity
and even though it makes sense

it still punches me in the gut
because i’ve never really read it spelled out before
and it feels like encountering a sign with an arrow
indicating this point in history with letters that read
this – this is where the grief begins

she goes on: the new religion called water worship pagan
and denounced it as an abomination.  at the second

council of arles, held around a.d. 452, a canon declared,
“if in the territory of a bishop, infidels light torches or
venerate trees, fountains or stones, and he neglects
to abolish this usage, he must know that he is guilty
of sacrilege

and if i could stand up and point
to a time in history i would  point to this time and say
here. here is where global climate change begins.
_______
the cloud
which i can only see a corner of
that calls me out of my room
to a speedwalk towards it
so that i might catch its colors
(pinkgold light casting itself
from the west)
and lenticular layers
stacked above the sangre de cristo peaks
_______
how in my seeking
(of light and color and cloud and sky
beyond parking lots,
beyond stripmalls,
beyond the looming of fauxdobe)
i discover another footworn dirt path
revealing itself at the edge of campus
_______
if one walks the perimeter 
of a fence
they might be lucky enough
to find a move-throughable shaped hole
that at the last minute
they might decide to duck into
just to take a look
at what was abandoned
_______
rachel reporting from the bay
and she says action, i’m in action mode,
not very introspective right now, just
‘what can i do’

_______

the peacock spider’s mating dance video
complete with didgeridoo soundtrack
that amy shows us around another
inadvertent evening gathering
(the very thing that keeps getting me
through this) around the kitchen table
_______
from the water world:

8255303e-7442-490e-9300-93e5f595bbb0_w987_s_s
Devotees cross the Triveni River during the Swasthani Bratakatha festival in Panauti, near Kathmandu, Nepal.  – voice of america, day in photos

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fight, rest, dream, fight

that’s what i say  i tell melanie about my
‘see you soon’ as we hug
farewelling in the commons
_______
the golden yellow round of beeswax
from jan’s bees that she
left on the corner of my desk
on a square of muslin-like fabric
_______

how i didn’t know until i read on page
160-something that alamo
means cottonwod
_______
the line of shade advancing
upon the sunny patch in which i have 
planted myself in the courtyard
to finish this due-tomorrow library book
_______
final stanza typed
onto light green paper that says
fight, rest, dream
and fight some more

_______

the moon a sliver slung
between two invisible tree trunks, hammock-like,
the north star clear and bright above it adn
the coppery pink it becomes as
it heads horizonwards
_______

kate in this evening’s quiet kitchen
telling me about this teen vogue article
that lists what’s-his-face’s businesses
and their phone numbers 
encouraging readers to call those numbers
with the complaints that they can’t get through
to the white house because
the white house phone lines
have been shut down
_______

heart medicine:
A6715A9C-8228-44AE-B1E0-DEB781457A7D_w987_s_s.jpgA group of attorneys work inside the arrivals terminal at JFK International Airport in New York. The group is trying to aid arriving passengers who might be affected by U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration order.  – voice of america, day in photos

1071cfea-0ea6-4d40-9a40-9c4349979b0a_w987_s_s
People gather to pray in baggage claim during a protest against the travel ban imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order, at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Dallas, Texas. – voice of america, day in photos

_______
from the water world:


1D935530-AE61-418C-A691-D597851F777C_w987_s_s.jpg
A member of the Pollution Response Team collects a sample of an oil spill from boulders at the coast, a day after an oil tanker and an LPG tanker collided off Kamarajar Port in Ennore, in Chennai, India.
– voice of america, day in photos 

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An ice-swimmer swims in the partly frozen Ourcq canal in Pantin near Paris, France. -voice of america, day in photos
(note: a fellow who lives and works right near the Canal de l’Ourcq asked if i’d post a link to a write-up about it . i said yes, so here it is!)

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awaiting the honey

listening to me first and the gimme gimmes
on our drive back as the light begins changing
everything to gold
and we talk about soundtracks
to the resistance
and sing along here and there
to the punk rendition of 
me and julio down by the schoolyard
_______

the gray and otherwise camouflaged shapes
tucked into the dried grass/juniper bush/chamisa scape
huge mule deer ears
poking up
giving them away
the deep dark of their eyes
seen as they meander closer
absolutely swoonable

_______

sun so bright bouncing off
cliffside cave dwelling walls
at bandolier park
and even though i’m squinting
at the cliff face
which seems to big and bright a thing to take in
i can’t take
my eyes away
_______

the sand grit on the rungs
i grasp and step up
behind melanie and before jan
as we climb above treeline
_______

sopa pillow our server (who calls us friends) says
serving the puffs of quickbread pastry
awaiting the honey drizzle
to our table
_______ 

brainstorming resistance tactics
we turn to sexy sax man
in this time when it is necessary
to combat absurdity with absurdity
six of us laughing
for nearly the entire five minutes
of tomfoolery
_______

this
is what i’m talking about
(thank you new york)

e9e25450-bef6-4e37-9ecf-387fb7ef0295_w987_s_sA man yells during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban, outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York. – voice of america, day in photos

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this is a gesture, a curiosity

the small bag of almond cookies
bobbe shares that her neighbor made
for chinese new year
_______
this is a gesture, a curiousity jan says
about inoculating the burlap bags
with mushroom spawn and setting them out
on the soil near where the effluent
flows out of the wastewater treatment plant
_______
you’re probably drinking viagra amy recalls
a presentation on watersheds/water sources
and how there is no way to completely remove
traces of pharmaceuticals 
_______
the fruiting body they call the actual mushrooms
while talking about bioremediation
and how this is a dangerous part because
it is the part that holds/carries the heavy metals
_______
patch of sun so warm and wind-protected
i sit on the brick walk paging
through lucy lippard’s undermining
before the cold shadows of treelimbs

land on me
_______
i hear amazon sold out of “1984” – the book
says israel f. haros lopz

we’re in a really
beautiful place right now
he says with the choke of tears in his throat

and the image of the five of keys
comes to me
(the one where the forest has been destroyed
by a fire that swept through
but how some seeds
need this fire
to burst them out of their cones
to land in the earth
and grow)

israel later tells a story of
students at the school he works at
handing other students trump pamphlets
that read get ready to go home
and so he responded
by making space on fridays
a space for students to feel safe in

and later , in response to another question he says
if you’re asking ‘why’s that happening?’ 
then go ahead and ask ‘where’s the money?
where’s the money at and where is it going?’
which is partially about the immigration detention system
and partially about prison
and partially about all the people in power
especially right now
_______
robert stands up to ask
an important question
of the panel given this current moment
and all that’s unfolding
what are your next steps 

_______
and then there’s tara trudell
who types each word four times,
once for each direction,
saying this is what i’ve been training for
my whole life, i hoped i’d never have to
but here we are, i think i’m going
to start making soap boxes

and later she says
my love for humanity is deeper
than anything i know
which is the guide
the phrase
i’ve been seeking to help direct
my own motions/moves/makings

_______
among all this 
for the first time in 41 years
it occurs to me that janina (grandma)
is one of my heroes
even though she never bounced back
even though i could never get in close enough
to know who she was
even though she lied and was manipulative
and abusive to my mom and her siblings
even though she would go off on people without warning
(which, way later, was finally guessed at to be bipolar)
even though she didn’t keep track like i assume
most other grandmothers do
(having not lived in portland for years
and i have to remind her that i’m not there anymore)
even though she was such a shred of a remnant of herself
that she didn’t have much to give/share with others
even though she was judgemental and would say
racist things at times
this woman, perhaps part of the undercommons,
who found ways to survive
trauma after trauma
even if she wasn’t a bright beacon
of dazzling resilience
is still
a hero
_______
are ya’ll open to off-roading i ask
before leading jan, jessica and amy
through the secret back way
and through the path
that dips down into the backporch landscaping
and back up again
_______
for melanie we say
(for the immigration attorney
who has been innundated with
help-seeking messages from friends/acquaintences etc.
asking for answers/assistance in the midst of the
rapidly shifting immigration law landscape.
for melanie we say,
unfolding the clue boardgame board
and placing its pieces while shuffling the cards
_______
amy showing me how to
eat a sopapilla (rip off a piece of
sweet warm doughy bread and drench
in honey)
but i’ve done this before
in this very city
which gets me to wondering
if there’s a word for this thing
that somehow makes me think of 
synesthesia but it’s not like synesthesia at all
but it’s something like
rather than thinking/seeing in colors
it’s thinking/seeing in all the layers of history-
existing in all layers of time at once
which means a sopapilla is not just
a sopapilla
but an instant-transporting
to a golden afternoon after
20some hours on the train and how a certain we
walked the river, our arms wrapped around
each other’s waists
and how little room we took up afterwords
in that huge booth because of how close we sat as
we drizzled the honey out of its squeeze bottle
onto the steaming fresh sopapillas brought to us
in a mesh basket
all of which is similar to 
how the river is not just a river
but the clear cold body
whose edge we perched at when you said
i think i’m rising into
and it was the only time
i ever saw you scared

which means a chair is not just a chair
a tree is not just a tree and a quilt
is not just a quilt
and a particular bridge is
a monument to a particular letting go and a prince song
is the anthem of fingers meet skin for the first time
in dolores park and a pair of boots
is a sequel to this story

there must be a name for the way a certain street,
a particular smell,
a color of a truck
are woven
with a million stories

how a spoon is never just a tiny spoon
but code for saying
i love you
_______

something about the contentment
of returning to room two 
for slumber (and the writing that comes before slumber)
under the lime green blanket
over the lemon yellow sheets
radiant heat rising
xmas-light lit
the simplicity
the quiet
at the end of another 
provoking/healing day

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we become undone

8:30am
sun bright and temperature reads
thirteen degrees
_______
i’d pass you a glass of water if i could 
i say

to the postal worker on the other end of the line
who says it’s his first day back
from being out with bronchitis
as he coughs out the tickle in his throat
_______
we become undone by each other lois says
quoting judith butler
while quoting others too
about how encountering others’ faces/bodies
disarms us
_______

the muffin tin of chocolate cupcakes
that jessica the intern with culinary skills
leaves for all on the kitchen counter
_______
the shine under the marquee light
in both sylvia and i’s eyes
brought on by witnessing the phenomenal,
the brilliant and compassionate life and forces
of dr. maya angelou
_______

it’s necessary  i tell amy as we laugh
into the turn from cerillos onto st. michael’s
referring to ridiculous and absurd humor
_______

the warmth of radiant heat
i return to
rising up through my thin wool sock-clad feet
from the water world:
8b1457a4-7a8e-42c6-80cf-523e280950ae_w987_s_s

Nepalese Hindu women stand to fill their vessels with Bagmati River water to offer prayers at Madhav Narayan festival in Kathmandu, Nepal. During this month-long festival, devotees recite Holy Scriptures dedicated to Hindu goddess Swasthani and Hindu God Lord Shiva.- voice of america, day in photos

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breaking gold

reading judith d. schwartz’s book
water in plain sight she talks about
antonio nobre’s notion of green oceans
which is what he calls

stretches of dense extensive forest
whose moisture, enormity, and ongoing
exchange with air and wind
mirrors that of its blue marine twin

and she also goes on to say that
the root system of a mature tree can retain 
tens of thousands of gallons of rainwater
_______
we laugh less
without you here i write simona

or maybe it is the reality of
living under the rule of a xenophobic, racist, anti-feminist zealot
beginning to sink in or maybe
a combination of both
i write simona

who has landed back in the drear
of new york city
_______
what is the smallest sound amy asks
the upright pencil brigade
from her post in tucson
_______

two precisely appropriate questions
posted on friend’s pages
about living under/in this new regime:
what do we do?
what even is this world?
which are exactly my sentiments

because the doing feels better
than the being innundated
with all the traumatic news
coming out of washington
which is now run by a selfish,
rude, kazillionaire who also happens
to be a perpetrator of sexual assault
_______
the sun breaking gold
through cloud and casting
its coppery light on everything
east of it
_______
the comfort of the sound
of the zippers/buttons 
being tossed and spun across the hall
in the barrel of the dryer
_______
the plate of nachos and small
glasses of red wine and 
tub of guacamole that jan and lois
invite me to join them around
11something pm
_______

electrolytes lois says
as i slowly make my way
sipping all the clear cool water
from the hot pink nalgene
_______

lots of lead in bullets and other heavy metals
jan says about decommissioning weapons

and how bioremediation is one tool
that is being used and this is yet
another moment i can’t help but be
incredulous –
the guns and weapons are assault/insult enough,
but then, their toxifying the land… 
_______
and then there’s the image from today’s news
of fresh nazi SS graffiti on a wall dedicated to Polish officers
and on polish gravestones
at the Bykovnia Memorial Cemetery, near Kyiv, Ukraine
that turns my stomach
and steels my fists,
red drool of paint over lists and lists of names
and this is where it gets personal:
the nazi soldiers killed my great grandmother
and my grandmother watched it happen,
my grandmother wheeled a cart with her mother’s body in it
searching for help
from a church or a doctor
(and there is so much more trauma
to add to this list
which turned my grandma into half-there
which fucked with my mom
and there is not a day i don’t carry that trauma in my gut
as if i was there
as great grandma bled out)
and the red drool of paint
is a punch in my already-tender gut
that says we wish they would have killed your grandma too
(even though they already kindof did)

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a constant salt

the mango cubes i place
on a white plate which i place
on the glass table in the common space
in front of jan and bobbe
_______
a constant salt is what i think i hear melanie say
in the hallway (as in: salt to the wound)
[though is more likely, constant assault]

about every bit of terrible news
especially including what’s-his-face’s executive orders
to immediately get to work on building that
wall that basically says “fuck you, i hate you”
to mexico and central and south america
and all of its people
and to cut funding to sanctuary cities
which basically says “i’d rather you live in trauma
and the thread of assault and torture and death that we most
likely fund than have you leave a home
you would never dream of leaving
but are so desperate to survive and live with
dignity and access to resources
that you find your way 
braving more possibilities of death, injury and assault
to live in sanctuary in this so-called country.”
_______

how i laugh out loud about
the santa fe graffiti
along the train tracks
sprayed on someone’s backyard trail-facing wall
an image of the rail-runner commuter train
with its avian mascot
and how the nameplate on the train engine
reads thunder chicken instead of
rail-runner
_______

how it feels like a long walk
when all i can see is flat trail before me
with the sangres in the distance in one direction
and the jemez looming into view in the other
_______

the brown-orange and white stripes
on the tail of a big and unexpected cat
i catch a quick glimpse of before
s/he disappears around the corner
and tucks into a stand of tall dried grass 
for cover
_______
ball of cool wet brown clay
in my hands 
unsure as i shape the pot
but also grounding
in its earthly tactileness
_______
the sound of the typewriter bell
bounchig off the white walls
of the sfai gallery
_______

penstemons – amy showing me photos
of different varieties and how we ooooh/ahhhh at the colors
and how i say they remind me
of a mix of foxglove, sweetpea and snapdragons,
they’re also called beardtongue
_______

and then there’s this,
beautiful resistance,
which helps so many of us
keep going:

ba693624-a2b3-48f4-97a0-bc8a1b5fa94b_w987_s_s
greenpeace activists hold an anti-Trump protest as they display a banner reading ‘Resist’ from a construction crane near the White House in downtown Washington, D.C. – voice of america, day in photos

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