for the nog

the kleenex depleter tour
of 2017 i say
about the past few weeks
first at my sister’s
then amber’s
then here

at some point all of a sudden,
i’m terry gross interviewing jenafr
about being an author who teaches writing workshops
to turtles and cats and soon, this year, 
to giraffes
bundled up
and walking through the single digit temperatures
down to the creek
we take turns
naming all the warm things
we can think of
including but not limited to:
the steam rising from a teacup
the inside of a greenhouse on a sunny day
candle flame
sex in a second floor bedroom in july
a sauna
chili peppers
the horseshoe prints 
and tire-less wheel marks
(which i initially mistook for bike tire marks)
we find in the gravel road
on our way back
and then the black horsetail hair- a curving shape against the new snow- she picks up
and then another
the smell of nutmeg
as i pull it across the grater
while she beats the eggs perfectly
for the nog

her secret hobby

the snow so cold
it squeaks under our feet as we make our way
over la crosse’s sidewalks
past the daytime unlit rotary club light display
(loses its charm she says in the daylight)
towards lunch
a backpack filled
with clothes and leftovers
(popcorn from last night’s movie,
and the fanciest mac and cheese (with shell-shaped noodles)
plus a few remaining cranberries from the salad
from lunch at the charmant
whose ceiling is filled with belts and pulleys and wheels
that don’t move anything or attach to anything
she leans in
near the dairy aisle telling me
about her secret hobby of walking in such a manner
that makes men
move out of the way
i think you might have just had a facial expression i say
as we make our way east on the rattly bumpy bus
through a frozen landscape, snowdusted and glimmering
our notebooks on our laps

a charming way

how no one in the theater
seemingly run by kids
(in a charming way)
on this bittercold night of what i’ve been calling
the permafrost, even though it’s most likely not permanent at all
takes off their coats during the movie because the chill
cannot be escaped
the astounding number of lights/strings of lights
set up alongside the river
glowing in the dark
and how we walk through
like a holiday song (jacketed arm in jacketed arm)
while most people drive slowly along
with their lights off

the frosty glistenings

the bubbles that rise along the edges of
homemade tortillas as they float/brown and sometimes puff
in the hot and shallow oil
in the cast iron on the stove
i wonder how long they will last jennifer says
about the old card catalog cards
set out along the digital card catalog computers
as scrap paper
(they meaning all the analog card catalog cards in the world)

the little placard stakes in the library-permieter landscaping
that we tuck handwritten guerilla poetry into
while the sun (weak in its wintryness, but bright in its mid-day-ness)
tumbles down onto the sidewalk around us

the frosty glistenings
on the tips of my eyelashes and
on my eyebrows too
as we walk through town
on a one-degree day
and the condensation from my breath
trapped and rising by the wool scarf i’m wrapped in
rises to land 
on brows and lashes

there are the kinds of movies
with semi endearing narrators who say
don’t worry  – she doesn’t die about another endearing major character in the film
even though the film ends
with her dying

love hard, grieve hard

the thinnest layer of snow
plus air so cold
it crunches in that certain
single digit temperature
kind of way
raw quesadilla she jokes
about the unheated corn tortilla
with the unmelted cheese
folded in

the joke awards we’d win:
me: best parlor game player in the universe
lisa: hottest body
jennifer: fastet thinker
joel: best non louisianna-dwelling white zydeco accordion player

tamara laughing about
the camo teddy in wyoming
you wouldn’t be able to see me she says
without a safety orange hat on

been swinging this heart hinge open all my life i say
i love hard, i grieve hard

she was like the ocean i say
too unpredictable and me
wanting too much to be her/like her

the teaspon of coconut oil turning
from waxy white and solid to 
shiny melty
in my palm
from the water world:

Children transport drinking water in a village devastated by flash floods in Pansor, Salvador town, Lanao del Norte, in southern Philippines. – voice of america, day in photos

the sweet smallness

the air
blurry with slight snowdust
sifting like a crossword:
and down
the sweet smallness
of cat paw prints pressed
into fine show grains gathered
on gravel road surface
the trick she shows me
for not too dry scrambled eggs:
flipping them once the bottom side is baked,
turning off the heat
adn letting them do their thing
the crunch of cardamom pods
(tucked in the blue cloth napkin)
under the rolling pin
on the wooden cutting board
for the million dollar tea experiment # 1.5

how, on this eve, i cannot help but think
of a certain fire ring
warming the toes and fingertips of desert-crossers
distant from their families
under the starpunch
of a vast and stark sky
can you feel it i ask the cold coming in
about the upcoming teens and then single digits predicted
as highs in the coming days

how i jump

in the dream
the fresh snow-covered ledge
stapmed with hearts and letters and hello  kitty pictures
and how i jump from ledge to rooftop and am slipping off
struggling to get my grip and swinging by a limb and sizing up the distance
between me and the ground
while in real life
a soothing hand moves through my hair
the laughing kind of tears in my eyes
at the pupet show birthday video
that we film in front of the orange couch
featuring an array of sock creatures:
stripey, penelope and mousie


the scandanavian handclap game
at jumping jack junction
how we double over
in our doown and wool layers
when we miss and how i cheer
when we get the gist

candlewax  she says 
about the sunset colors and i say
lavender blueberry, i think i’ve said that one before and
jem and the holograms
as we walk the lightbrown gravel road
headed out of the wind
the dimness i say appreciating
the glow of three advent candles (which she later realizes should be four)
and the floorlamp turned down low

brittle air
a cold night slap
on bare cheeks as we
crane our necks
brilliant lights pricking through
the inky dark

stay green

how does it stay green i ask
about the vibrant vegetation along read’s creek
whose water runs clear and
features dark fish darting
and whose gurgling and bubbling – the consistent yet small variations
is just complex and soothing enough
to want to listen to for hours
the ripple patterns across
the creek surface where rocks posit themselves
not far below the surface:
a kind of crosshatching
but always moving
jennifer punching
the cattail whose fluff
is everywhere including
on her hat and mouth and nose and jacket
and later i dub her
with a stalk of shaken-out seed pods
while a driver-by can be seen laughing
through the window

first we cannot tell if the commotion
is the squeak-squawk-screeching
of a pilleated woodpecker or a squirrel
so we pause
at the mailboxes
until there is movement: birdflight in flashes of white/black/red
wherein we measure and record
the ratios/amounts
of roasted roots (chickory, dandelion, burdock) with all the other spices,
including but not limited to: cardamom, peppercorns, fennel, anise, star anise
pursuing the million dollar tea experiment #1

i thanked the chicken i say
about the healing soup
floating with rice and veggies and eggs in
the broth of chicken

seven damn degrees! i exclaim
about tuesday’s predicted high temperature

too much water and not enough

in the dream
there was a black and white and brown and grey cat
curled and twitching in my arms
with labored breathing and speaking to me in english
saying that she is too much water and not enough food

the solstice list of many possibilities
written in purple pen
which includes things like:
hibernate like bears
sing songs
dictionary divinations
write a love letter to the darkness
write a love letter to the light
write and burn what we want to shed
write and bury what we want to plant
things involving light and candles

first, there is the jumping jack junction and then
there are the electrical poles we sprint to
zipped up in blue
the skunk skin and vole hole and a flicker
drifting from wire to wire
what one finds on a morning-into-afternoon walk
along a gravel road
that intersects with highway J
and is green acres road on one side of J
and sullivan road on the other
rachel, over pot roast, talking about
the tutus she sews her friends
and how there are two
still floating, mismailed, ownerless
in reykjavik iceland

in the mirror of river

the medicine pack
(a ziploc with decongesting pills, toe warmers, probiotic packets and lozenges)
that my sister hands me
when she appears in the door
to transport me to the train station
and how this is just the kind of gesture
that makes me feel deeply cared for
the bridge over the mississpi
whose design of three not-white-but-not-gray arches
(two small arches on either end and one in the middle)
reflects itself back
in the mirror of river
whose edges are unreflective and in pieces
of ice
at the river edge in la crosse
where it is almost too cold to be at a river edge
though the ducks in the unbelievably cold water
(complete with little ice islands floating through)
don’t seem to mind
we both think the white stuff they’ve got in their mouths
is some kind of plastic or styrofoam
before we realize
with relief
that the white is the bellies
of small shiny fish
and then there’s the eagle
swooping over them
not hunting the ducks so much as
getting a rise out of them

the surprise
in the office
at Real Human Headquarters™
under the banner that reads welcome, homo:
a hot pink desk
complete with a unicorn temporary tattoo in the drawer
(plus post-its and tape and notecards)
and the emotionary (a dictionary of words that don’t exist for feelings that do)
and to round it all out: a kneely chair

which, not that i believe in absolutes, might just be
the best surprise to ever exist on planet earth
in chinese medicine, the lungs are associated with grief she says
to which i respond (jokingly), weird, i don’t have any of that