in all this quiet

the soft plunk of persimmons falling
one after another after another
into the already laid carpet of yellow orange brown leaves and every now and then a red one
on the ground around the sugar shack
a gatherer’s paradise
a scavenger’s sweet gold
_______

the first fall fire
a small one,
first one log then two
and later a third
in the cleared-off stove
of my mess-piled room
_______
sandhill doing what sandhill does well,
dressing up for the red carpet
of the kid-made movie debut:
tyler in his tyeliner (ty’s eyeliner) and his press pass and his camera with the flash and paparazzi looks,
cynthia in sequins of gold and red and black, plus blue makeup and silver wig
and emory and jeauxseph in suitcoats
and myself in fishnets and heels and that fucked up kids dress (altered into an adult’s dress nearly ten years ago now) plus prosthetic hairs and always the F bling necklace
and trish in the velvety tight red plus the luxurious rabbit fur coat
and eric, simply in a drape of sheepskin- stiff and still smelling of sheep

how we line up along the red carpet (that isn’t a red or a carpet at all, but the ramp leading to the double doors of la casa)
and whoop and cheer and holler for the kid movie stars as they parade their way up the ramp
_______

not sure how to explain the sound
except it has a rhythm
and i can hear it in all this quiet
on the other side of the door
a repeating medium to high pitch
but soft in volume:
mama cat snoring 
in the swirl of fleece
of her warmbox
on cool ranch porch
_______
i like how we kept finding each eather i say
that’s because i was LOOKING for you, sweet magnet she replies
_______
a bedtime story of lightning and meteors and lioning and the quest for everyday magic
told from two perspectivs
i wanna keep retelling the stories i say 
so i can hear and see all sides

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this is a muscle

bruin reflecting back to me that right now
i’m seeking enthusiasm and encouragement; that’s the kind of listening i’m most excited for
this is a muscle he says about making
this clear of a direct request
_______
Real Writers™ have lots of different work to do she says:
emerging, accepting, grounding, flying, sharing, breaking hearts and taking names
_______
in the nearly-dusk, those of us that gather do so around the red hot coals
of the darth-vadering steam boiler
_______

the second time in a week: a softball team pose for a photo
(the group in the sugar shack gathered while the sweet steam of sugaring rises behind us
_______
my rainwet cold hand in zeke’s at dinner circle
and how he helps warm it
_______
emory bumblebee and i emailing bitmojis back and forth from the same room
where we sit five feet apart
_______
stoking the internal fire
i move on a yoga mat
in a 55degree room
The rainwet cool air slowly slipping in
as i vinyasa
to the top 40 radio station
whose ads are so annoying that everytime i tune in
i eventually have to tune out

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gale/gust: a defiant and humble cry

8am sips of just-pressed sweet sweet sorghum juice 
swilled while gloved and earmuffed
ready to feed cane to the clacking mill
this rhythym
this making
this feeling connected to the fall harvest humming out everywhere around us
this coming together
this tradition of literal sweetness
this heartcore of sandhill farm

oh, and the sun
lsying its light
across everything

(and how good this work feels
in my spirit and limbs
and how tyler letting out a whoop! upon my arrival at the mill to feed cane through the pressers/rollers is so much history,
is kinship,
is all of these beautiful weird wild years
in these handbuilt gorgeous and mildewy spaces
and on the breaking and broken tractors and in the weedy/wonderful gardens/fields
and around the heat of fires glimmering in stoves
and all of these things stacked on top of each other and 
distilled into the sweetest sips of squeezed cane 

that whoop! is every joke we’ve ever made about dingleberries and furries and putting a ring on it and haunted hayless rides and greens on the side of a salad meal and lord knows what else
that whoop! is the heartbreak of knowing what it is to love a place while coming to understand that one can no longer live there
that whoop! is the yelp-yowl of a high school senior walking out on the last day after the last class
that whoop! is a word for all the other words we haven’t learned yet or don’t know how to say about leaving, about trying, about how becoming family is beautiful and about how family is perhaps the most difficult thing on the planet
that whoop! is a nod to all the celebratory twist cones ever consumed at the mennonite store down the road and that whoop! is also a word for how we, believe it or not, might be weird and nostalgic enough to feel sentimental even about the weekly sunday meetings which most of us typically drag our feet to
that whoop! is for the butcher block – one could do the math to estimate the number of meals lovingly or annoyedly or celebratorily chopped and set out there – but the real sense of it is countlessness – that butcher block that has stood there in one single place longer than any of us (sandhillians)  have lived in a single place in our lives – and that butcher block will remain as the sun seems to – a thing to orbit around – regardless of who does or doesn’t plant the sorghum or who stays and who goes or what thrives and what is given back to the land or who the land is given back to
that whoop! is a defiant and humble cry – for having believed enough to try and for still believing and for deciding/knowing that we will try again/another
it is a defiant and humble cry admitting that we are just putting one foot in front of the other, best we know how – not always graceful, but committed to the learning – the lifework, the lessons that come through unlikely teachers
that whoop! is a call up to the occasional Vs of geese, migrating overhead at an altitude too high to hear us, but still, we whoop! to all the wild wonder of here, of what got us here, and of what will take us – like a gale or a gust – away)

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nothing says fall

em asking me to tie his skull-print piratey do-rag on his head
and then him lego-ing while i read aloud from a book of scary things (weather, killer animals, the bermuda triangle)
and there is something throughout the day that i smile extra to myself about that do-rag
(i would already smile in the first place because i love it
but then the extra-ness because of tying it on in the second place)
which might be the closest
to a parental tug
i might ever feel
_______
how i grab the shovel and emory meets me on his bike and 
i ask him to grab a stick while i leverage
scooping the roadside rigid and perfect possum body
(lighter on top, darker in the legs)
with flies and bees buzzing
in its mouth
and the three chicory flowers i place
over its eyes
before layering the dried grass on/over

________
robbie and i, new berlinites, doing the softball pose in the dahlias
while cynthia snaps the photos
_______
nothing says fall like a ride on a wagon hitched to a tractor
and here we are all
riding down the gravel road
on the double wagons
hitched to the gas-fuming tractor
(my neckercheif pulled up over my nose)
our work gloves on
our bodies readying for the field dance
of scooping up awkward-to-carry bundles of cane
and dropping them onto the wagons
_______
emory, eric and i
in the field to the west of the pond
awaiting the next wagon
each of us with a sorghum leaf tucked
in the back of our hats
like a single tall feather,
kendra and zeke follow suit
_______
dottie and i in the orchard
after several rounds of cane pick-up
kicking and kneeing and headbutting and chesting (etc) a work glove back and forth
as if it were a hacky sack and me
losing it to the hilarity
completely
with every kick
_______
the hum-whine of combines drifting in the distance
at night in light of moon
as they harvest what seems like endless corn
(though not as endless as the corn in nebraska)
how this is another entry
for the sandhill sound dictionary
and how, if there is ever a fall northeast missouri sound to be nostalgic about,
this is one
_______
i want to be seen
and i want to know the world
and mess with it
she says (i’m paraphrasing)
about how our kind
want to burn

_______

from the water world: 

Lanny Dean, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, wades along a flooded Beach Boulevard next to Harrahs Casino as the eye of Hurricane Nate pushes ashore in Biloxi, Mississippi. – voice of america, day in photos

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if a tree and i can have inside jokes

emory’s morning sleepy face
combined with his slightly pointy black hood pulled up
and the way he stands there along the coathooks, statue-like
i tell him he looks like a gnome
_______
the array of yellows, reds, oranges
arranged on dehydrating trays
not the most cherry tomatoes in a harvest
and also, certainly not the last
_______

the persimmon fruits i spy
up in the branches of a non-persimmon tree
(the result, i’m deducting, of a branch with fruits falling
and lodging itself in this other tree)
and how i appreciate the playfulness 
if a tree and i can have inside jokes, this is one of them
_______
the press and warmth of jack the jack russel in my lap in truck backseat
as he snarfle-sniffs out the cracked-open window
as a crew of us roll zims-wards –
some of us for ice cream, 
some of us for flour for tomorrow morning’s doughnut-making,
and some of us just to go along for the ride
_______
the kid size twist cone tyler hands through the truck cab window
which kindof resembles a drive-through window
_______

how all the color (green of grass
plus bright yellow and red and orangebrown leaves)
speckles the path between cool ranch
and the white house
and how i try to love it all
with heartdoors flung open
_______
cool ranch lights blinking off and back on again
as someone over in the sugar shack flips the breakers
while prepping for the sorghuming
_______
top forty songs (from now and from the 80s and 90s)
that the ottumwa radio station plays
while i yoga
this field-soar body
(headstands to cyndi lauper
and planks to prince
and warriors to adele)
_______
the moon as seen from east-facing window
and how, because of all the branches between me and moon,
it appears not as a moon at all
but a ball of christmas bulbs glowing
because of the way the twiggy lines
break the light up
_______

from the water world:

A man releases paper lanterns to float in Shwe Kyin creek during the annual light festival in Bago, about 183 km from Yangon, Myanmar. The ritual is believed to bring good fortune at the end of Buddhist Lent. – voice of america, day in photos

A man is seen bathing a horse in Dickenson Bay, on the northwestern coast in Antigua, a month after Hurricane Irma struck the Caribbean island near St. Johns, Antigua and Barbuda. – voice of america, day in photos

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we think of all kinds of reasons to hi-five

the drizzle-mist that comes down for a bit

while we work our way stripping and machete-ing through field 3b

and how the mild temperature plus precipitation reminds me of the big island (hilo side) and the afternoon rains that would come in

but would never feel cold

_______

all 285 pages of a radical existence

sealed and mailed and awaiting me

in my cubby

_______

i almost went for rhapsody in orchid eric says

about his bowling ball selection

but instead he went for something nondescript – a plain color without a fancy name

_______

almost spilling out of my cupped palm

a skittles rainbow

poured out from the quarter-machine

near the front door

_______

nodding off as i write this

but slipping back into wakefulness enough to be lullabyed by

dottied in the next room singing and guitaring

a sweetest drifting off and rolling back in

_______

how, due to my machete arm, i refrain from tossing a heavy-ass ball down the lane

but i still feel just as participatory, especially when it comes to half time

when i do my little dance in my cats-and-doughnuts leggings

careful not to step with my street shoes anywhere on the actual alley

_______

besides strikes, we think of all kinds of reasons

to hi-five

(and this also includes the snail, the turkey, and the rocket ship)

_______

in the backseat on our way home through the dark

emory (who normally doesn’t ask this question, and has met a fair share of genderqueers) asks whether tami who runs the bowling alley is a girl or boy

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searching for the unfindable

in the dream, i was missing trains and
losing kids in my care and
getting locked out and scrambling
through my mess of stuff (that resembled the waking life mess of stuff in the field first aid backpack) searching for the unfindable tickets
_______
the 6something a.m. eastern screech
whinnying/cooing into the just-lightening day
soothing out the rough edges
that the dream gave me as souveneirs
_______
welcome aboard i say to dottie
who’s stripping cane in sorghum field 3a
and also ironing out their wild (compared to the rest of us) sleeping habits
 _______
thought about you today dad says and tells me
the title of the book that the milwaukee county sailing club
is reading for a book group: the death and life of the great lakes
_______
you couldn’t just go to the stre and buy paint unless you belonged
to the artist group
 
my mom tells me about a polish film
she saw with her polish speakers group – 
the film was based on a true story of life under communism after world war two
_______
may the force be with you dad says
about my upcoming
uprooting
and later: your body needs rest, it heals while you’re sleeping –
go get some healthy sleep
_______
when the rain begins bucketing
i can’t keep from worry-wondering about our guests in tents
while i write away under a roof
held up by four walls
_______
the yellow-gold glow
candlelight by which i write (and ironically text)
in – it is another one of those evenings, the kind where i am compelled to not turn on a light

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