this might look like a post about me gardening, but read through to the end.
it’s about how my heart and spirit long for an end to white supremacy and the violence that it perpetuates. it’s about how i long for those in positions power (especially white men in power) to hold that power with integrity and compassion instead of using it to brutalize other humans.  it’s about how i long for black people to live without the daily terror of what a cop can do in broad daylight at any given and unexpected moment.

me, levering and wrestling with the digging fork
in the soil that, after six years of tending to without tilling,
has turned from hard pan to dark crumbling clay-ey actual soil
that crumbles from one’s hand

me, lifting wisps of hair out of my eyes
as i work – soil dirt under my nails

what is the name for that proud-kindergartener feeling
of holding a leafy and green and steady-stemmed plant
that you grew yoursel in its small pot in your small hands

me, over here, on my knees on the earth
lowering the strong green baby
with its holding-on roots
down into the topsoil-gives-way-to-clay-layers

me tending, while sky blues over the looming garden
and sun lemons my arms, my rough hands
and i make weather -small showers of water over each transplant
with a tin can whose bottom i punctured
with the point of a nail  by hammer hammer hammering
perforating the bottom’s entire surface

this is the movement: haul water buckets to the garden
scoop the tin can in and lift out and hold over the newly transplanted
while the rusting can rains the shower down

a first drink in a new place
an act of love
a crucial detail

me, marveling at the hairy stems, the persistent new roots,
the mellow green of the tomato plants whose variety
is named after Paul Robeson, a black civil rights acivist
and musician and actor

i plant the music of him in the ground
i plant the courage of him
i water his speak-up spirit,
his long lasting legacy
i bring him a drink
as if i could quench
the anger and  hunger
of a whole movement that i move with
fighting, still fighting, though wikipedia tells me it ended in 1968
fighting for the most simple of rights:
to live
to live free and vining and hardy and flourishing and rooted
and wild and  thriving
to live
to live
to live


air conditioner sandwich

juniper in the “yard” before the dew dissipates
to scythe the magnificently overgrown “lawn”
followed by the resulting cart full of green mulch
that i apply to the sideyard beds
like lead
how this body felt when i took it out
for a four mile run
but i did it
and i’ll be back to do it again
seen out the office room window:
a hummingbird zipping into the just-opened columbine flower
ki’s ruby throat ablaze in the sun
temperatures in the upper 70’s,
the centrail air conditioner sandwich commences
(twenty feet between our trailer and our neighbor’s trailers on both sides
and neither of them believe in windows open after we hit 70, 75 degrees
the peace was fun while it lasted
and it is a damn shame
to not be able to hear the silence of the stars,
the wind in the tree leaves,
the driplets and droplets of a light rain on everything
because it’s all one long loud reverberating nerve-gnawing extended replay of industrial machine home)

by someone else’s claws

the actual tears
pooling in gray kitty’s eyes and rolling down the sides of his nose
his ear puncture wound reopened/repunctured
and small tufts of fur cut loose from his coat
by someone else’s claws
and the gravel road grit dusting his coat
while he slowly eats his breakfast on the porch
the slight thunderrumbles coming in from the west
while jennifer and i porch-sit at tanja and evan’s,
a colander of apricots on the table
and the approximate six feet of distance we keep between us

shiz and i exchanging a secret look of knowing on the group zoom call (which didn’t know one could do until now)
when someone mentions the hilarious details of living in a collective/punkish house
and the squirrels that moved into the cabinet next to the sink
(may the legend of the squirrel ship live on, infinitely)

blooming on the hillside

the first of the irises –
deep bright purple –
blooming on the hillside
just down the way from the dark bright red tulips
it was rough
i say about the run but i kept a good pace
given the wind and the hills
juniper at the cutting board chopping peppers, onions, broccoli
to make kung pao tofu all over again
because it was so good the last time
(which happened to be just last night)
birds seen at the feeder today:
a starling
rose-breasted grosbeak
downy woodpecker
red-bellied woodpecker
he’ll go for my jugular juniper jokes
about lisi the cat being on the loose
while juniper sews the catnip toy
for our friend vishnu the cat in oregon

dance dive twist

in the dream i am trying to get the words out
but none of them are exactly what i am trying to say through tears
and maybe my voice and throat aren’t working either
but what i’m trying to articulate is something about the wall,
like a garage door she has pulled shut to the ground
and she won’t tell me anything
while in waking life
she pets my head and asks what’s happening/if i’m ok
the pinkwhite crabapple blossoms
i step off the road and stand on tiptoe to smell
as i bend a branch down to my nose to inhale
and inhale
and inhale
the dance dive twist spin
of the great blue heron over the beaver ponds
before doing a fly-by just overhead
the ambulance on the lower tier of the trailer park
pulling silently in and silently out
and somewhere in between, unloading the empty stretcher from the back
not that it is necessarily covid-related
but it does come to mind
that the covid case count in our county is up to twelve

now neighbors are relevant

genomes that proofread chane says i thought that might tickle your writer brain
chane also says now neighbors are relevant
talking about how he and his neighbor (also an introvert)
who are on the same property but in different houses
have talked more in the past few months than they have
in the 6 or so years preceding that
the u.s. is in for the darkest winter in modern history
unless leaders act decisively to prevent a rebound of the coronavirus
Immunologist Dr. Rick Bright is quoted in the New York times
Bright as removed from his post as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority after sounding the alarm at the Department of Health and Human Services. Bright alleged he became a target of criticism when he urged early efforts to invest in vaccine development and stock up on supplies.

where the sun was when i began

the passage of time marked (and noted)
by where the sun was on the light red/orange mat when i began the yoga session
and where ki’s light was landing on it when i ended

the three great blue heron sightings
the eagle i first spot perched in a tree before ki takes off, open-winged, to sky
the deer walking slowly down the path on the hillside across the way in the golden 6 or 7 oclock light, stopping to munch here and there and moving in a manner that makes me say deer are so peaceful
the coot-looking bird perched in a branch
the fat dark round beavers at the waters edge and paddling through, munching on a dinner of branch innards
mama nature pulling out all the stops
on this walk i dragged my feet to
because some days these days have a lot of feet-dragging in them
i better get some power suits i joke with jacob
about being a dean of students

you’re instant pot twinsies i exclaim into the marco polo video
that i record for a.m.
from the kitchen with jennifer near the instant pot

i can hear sounds

it’s like being adrift on a sea in a raft in a fog
and towing my dad behind

i can hear sounds but don’t know what they mean or where they’re coming from but i think i will try to follow them,
the truth is unknowable, liz reflects on what this (pandemical times) has been like
how are we responding with joy and compassion
and how do we connect with the beauty in the everyday
emmet says/asks
holding my cold hands to juniper’s hot feet
poking out of the pumpkin-orange comforter
i didn’t notice until juniper pointed it out: how low the water is –
so low that it no longer presses up against the edge of the dam that the beavers built
but has receded away – leaving a sortof beachy space between the dam and water’s edge
we could use some rain she says
not a lot, but some
looks like a hamburger patty she says of the flat round purplegray white cloud
immediately visible once we step out the front door
then eat it i respond

without binoculars she names off the visible characteristics of the unknown bird seen presumably diving for insects over the creek
black vest
black cap and white chin strap
light wing bar on gray blue wing

your dad and the bonsai boys

waking to morning snow/rain
and  mom reporting the same over the phone east and south of here
and she tells me about the incognito chalk drawings
that the niecephews have been sneaking over to create
in the cover of night
on the driveway, on the porch
juniper reading aloud from julia ward howe’s mother’s day proclamation
julia ward howe, in 1872, asked for the celebration of a mother’s day for peace
(which, 36 years later, became mother’s day due to the work of anna jarvis, whose mother worked with julia ward howe)
the original sentiment behind it was essentially: as mothers, why would we support the killing of other mother’s sons? why would we celebrate the carnage of war when it is our sons killing other mother’s sons and other mother’s sons killing ours?
anyhoot, juniper reading aloud from the proclamation while we eat the homemade feast of waffles, strawberry rhubarb blueberry ginger compote, and toasted nuts for sprinkling on top alongside a ramps garlic sundried tomato omelette:

Again, in the sight of the Christian world, have the skill and power of two great nations exhausted themselves in mutual murder. Again have the sacred questions of international justice been committed to the fatal mediation of military weapons. In this day of progress, in this century of light, the ambition of rulers has been allowed to barter the dear interests of domestic life for the bloody exchanges of the battle field. Thus men have done. Thus men will do. But women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror. Despite the assumptions of physical force, the mother has a sacred and commanding word to say to the sons who owe their life to her suffering. That word should now be heard, and answered to as never before.

Arise, then, Christian women of this day ! Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears ! Say firmly : We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession…

the deep purpley red of the rhubarb strawberry ginger blueberry compote
spread over the surface of the waffles on our plate
almost glowing
might be my favorite bird time of year i say
while out at the feeder, the orange of an oriole perches alongside the bright pink/red kerchief shape against the white of the rose breasted grosbeak’s chest
the bonsai boys  my mom calls the group of men
from the bonsai club that my dad used to regularly meet with for lunch
but instead, she says, they got together for cocktails over video

the sweet lemony taste before bed
of the ground cherry sweet bread
stored still in the pan in the oven

lisi’s large eyes looking up at me in the  fridge light
and i offer him a fingertip of yogurt cheese

what would the name of your group/people be juniper asks
while we walk the highest point of the ridge along J
inspired by the bonsai boys
the demented fermenters i say
except that i’m into fermenting, but not that into fermenting
or the moo crew i say as we walk past the cows
what about you i ask
the word nerds she says

the pink on my and juniper’s cheeks
after our four mile loop in the cool  wind
and under a sky of at least 23 different grays


the blue sky in me greets the blue sky in you

juniper in the kitchen clapping clapping clapping
for the cheeto-orange oriole
plucking pulp from the halved orange stuck to the feeder just outside the front window
javi, 7 months old, a sweet bundle strapped to zara’s back
as we hike up and up and  up
but from six feet apart neither J nor i can lighten the load
we do not participate in the generations and generations and centuries old tradition
of passing the baby from set of open arms to set of open arms

the glow radiating out from somewhere in my heartspace
at gathering with and joking with these writers/friends on the screen
from both coasts and me in the middle,
writers/friends i’ve lived with, cried with, eaten with, organized with
over the past thirteen years
and though we are not in the same room
it almost feels like it
like family
lo reporting windy conditions in portland, oregon
and deborah reporting high winds in boston
and me mentioning the howlings at the windows here in southwest wisconsin
the wind connects us,
i say
there should be a namaste for that,
junper says at the dinner table
in candlelight over spicy curry beans,
the yellow violet in me greets the yellow violet in you,
the oriole in me greets the oiriole in you,
the blue sky in me greets the blue sky in you,
the watercress in me greets the watercress in you