April Diary 31: in conclusion

This entry is part 31 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April what have we learned from this so-called diary?

  • blogging the way i used to blog is still fun and apparently i still have things to say (not such a surprise since i live alone)
  • it’s possible to create blog posts entirely on the phone by assembling notes, scraps of poems and photos during the course of the day
  • creating this additional daily post did mean i sometimes had to sacrifice a full night’s sleep, so for that reason i’m glad it’s over—finishing the Pepys diary erasure project is a higher priority right now
  • i don’t have a whole lot to say about what i read. i don’t read nearly as much literary criticism as i used to and it shows. sadly (or not) i have no immediate plans to rectify this situation for the simple reason that life is short
  • i’m clearly incapable of separating poetry from other aspects of my life. why i thought i could write a poetry-focused diary is a mystery to me
  • so glad i decided not to try to use the series plugin for the pepys project years ago. it’s still as buggy as ever

today i put in all the cole crop seedings from the nursery. after two years of deep mulching the soil is in much better shape than it was last year, so i have high hopes. i even talked to the seedlings as i tucked them into their little hills

also went for my usual walk but it was work. guess i was tireder than i thought. the best thing i saw was two black-throated green warblers having a sing-off from adjacent trees up on the ridgetop where the canopy is lower so i had pretty good views for once. they’d sing, grab an insect out of the air, sing some more, it was a pretty low-key contest, really

now sitting up in the woods after supper i find that the ethereal beauty of a singing hermit thrush becomes almost unbearable the moment i recall some of the unimaginable human suffering elsewhere on the planet. maybe this is why when i do listen to recorded music it’s something harsh and pounding. it makes the heavy truths of the world a little easier to face

(but most of what i hear in the course of a day is natural sound, by which i mean ambient sound (but a high proportion of that is nonhuman in origin, which is sadly a huge luxury in today’s world (but really what i hear is words. words in my head words on the page words on the screen audible words on videos words on podcasts words with other actual humans words words words. from the time i wake up till the time i fall asleep. not even my dreams are free of them. but when you listen really listen to something without words, whether instrumental music or the soundscape of a complex natural ecosystem, that can feel like you’re accessing a higher consciousness and i suspect that’s because a lifetime of language use has trained us to associate complex patterned sound with communication. to listen to natural sound means to hear everything as if it were a composition – a practice very akin to seeing natural landscapes as if they were wild gardens, something i do nearly every day. the concept of found art and found poetry goes far beyond art and literature proper, for me)))


this dullness in my head all day. i can’t even imagine writing a haiku right now


some say it was poems that drove him mad. some say henbane

“that’s not the wind it’s just old Mr. Thimblesticks out counting catkins”

April Diary 30: aging in place

This entry is part 30 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April today i feel old in a way i haven’t before. old in my bones. the soil’s discourse seems nearly intelligible

this mountain soil has especially hard consonants

i wasn’t working hard i was hardly working playing is more like it messing around in the dirt

tonight i found a new-to-me footpath through our woods which may seem unusual but it is a square mile property and it’s not surprising at all that one of our hunter friends should create an informal path and i not stumble across it for a while. that’s all the boring background to how i had the exciting experience of exploring a new trail in my literal backyard — which i only found because i decided to go off-trail on a whim, tempted by an opening between the trees

going off-trail is actually impossible. how does that Machado poem go?

Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

wherever you walk creates a path and you step in the easier places which is where other things have stepped and pretty soon you’re drawn into the network of animal trails

this is a path

although i suppose some people might have a hard time recognizing trails if they’re from some highly urbanized environment. those enviable souls get to see the forest with fresh eyes as an adult

which of course is the allure of travel. but seeing the very familiar in a new way is always a worthwhile challenge i believe. it’s the challenge of any marriage or any relationship with a place. most Americans move more often than they change romantic partners. i don’t know if that’s true but it supports my argument so let’s pretend that it is. my contention is that maintaining one’s relationship with a place, or places, is as core to one’s sense of well-being as maintaining human friendships and marriages

i suppose that’s a minority opinion in the country as a whole but in this corner of Appalachia i’d say it’s the norm

shadbush

on the porch listening to a barred owl as i type this. i forgot to tell you of my owl sighting last night: one flew ahead of me repeatedly as i walked back from the far field at dusk. i think i got on its nerves because the last perch it took off from snapped under it and crashed down onto the trail

tonight i was up at Dad’s grave as it was getting dark and i just… felt uneasy. not afraid per se but increasingly uneasy. like i didn’t belong there. so of course i skedaddled


earlier in the kitchen i was remembering something someone had said about Bernie Sanders and the Vicente Aleixandre poem Como Moisés es el viejo popped into my head

Y él agita los brazos y proclama la vida,
desde su muerte a solas.

all that gesturing. “proclaiming the way to live from his death all alone”

apparently i have spanish poets on my mind though it was Zang Di and Shanna Compton that i was reading today. Eleanor Goodman finished up her selection of Zang Di poems with several he’d written in Vermont, which were a great deal of fun—seeing how a major contemporary chinese poet describes iconic american landscapes

so many important poems about america these days are being written by first-generation immigrants it’s easy to forget that shorter-term visitors such as students, lecturers, or tourists may have profound observations as well


today i thought a lot about bears but i’m guessing most bears spent as little time as possible thinking about humans

April Diary 29: wildflowery

This entry is part 29 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

the air is always clearest on the day after a cold front blows in so my mom and i went down to Trough Creek State Park to see what sorts of spring wildflowers they might have

the redbud was at its height all along the little back roads and in the park too. always a treat to see it. we’re so lucky to live right at the northern edge of its range—it’s one of those shrubs that defines Appalachia, along with pawpaw and shadbush/serviceberry. (didn’t stop the car to snap any photos though, sorry)

native bee pollinating a spring beauty

after poking around the park’s usual medley of eccentric geological offerings we headed off along a trail through the adjacent state forest which had many of the same wildflower species we have in Plummer’s Hollow but some different ones as well, including bluets, early meadow rue, pussytoes, and yellow corydalis—a new one for both of us

yellow corydalis

after a mile we reached an area where the spring beauties carpeted the ground for acres. Mom commented she hadn’t seen it like that since she was a child in the 1940s, visiting relatives in Pottstown. it’s difficult to convey this in a photo of course—they’re small flowers

they also had no shortage of rue anemone:

i was taken by this sphagnum container garden:

and for sheer visual interest, rattlesnake weed is always worth a stop:

back home i went for an after-supper walk along the crest of the western ridge toward sunset. the cherries, maples and witch hazels that have just burst their buds added pointillist splashes of color to the landscape that weren’t there two days ago

just after sunset i had a short sit by the vernal pools—the smallest two of which have nearly dried up, the water that remains heaving with desperate tadpoles—to read a few poems from (CREATURE SOUNDS FADE) by Shanna Compton and they were a pretty good fit. it’s experimental poetry meaning inevitably some results will be more exciting than others but if the experiment is well conducted we can learn from it regardless

that sphagnum bottle has a haiku in it i’ll bet

April Diary 28: failing upward, tumbleweed, new beasts

This entry is part 28 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

failure i love you
i suckle you on my bile
and on my melancholy

i see the above-ground hollow in the roots turned trunk of a black birch – that space where a rotting stump had stood — as a magnificent monument to failure

as i suppose we all are, safe perches for new sprouts, new rivers flowing upstream with sweet sap

but that stump had been an oak where now there are only birches and our failures outnumber the trees

our oceangoing freight outweighs the estimated mass of all living organisms in every ocean

the sickly sweet fumes of our failure have driven out all but the severest of angels in heaven

those with the fire
and the brimstone


hiking for three hours before i sit down and take out my tea. i can’t have covered more than five miles in all that time, but who cares. it’s been a good ramble in the gloom


graupel starts falling as i walk the last mile back to the house

thinking a lot about likely ecological futures this afternoon. it occurs to me that one advantage native species have over generalist invaders is in many cases much more genetic variation — essential in a world where drought is followed by a flood year, freak storms become common and last and first frost dates vary wildly. if global trade significantly declines that will give native ecosystems a bit more breathing room, and the invaders will inevitably begin to decline as pests and diseases catch up with them

Japanese stiltgrass

or so i’d like to think

near the bottom of the hollow today, rolling up the road in the wind i spotted an actual tumbleweed, i think

another invasive species coming in via the railroad. i love trains, but.

further up the hollow in a side ravine i spotted what looked like a recent scent marking on a beech: scratch marks and i’m guessing urine.

bobcat?

and from a little further up, at the end of the last logger in Plummer’s Hollow‘s last skid trail before my parents finally got him stopped (as detailed in Mom’s book Appalachian Autumn) here are the only two sycamore trees in the hollow, growing about 50 feet apart, both sprouted right after the logging so around 1990

seeing that second one as a single individual and not conjoined twins so to speak

anyway that’s where my head was today and also by sheer coincidence my feet

i liked this stanza today from Zang Di:

Language lives secretly. It lives out life’s
other flavors. Language waits for you to appear
and permits other lives under the sun.

Zang Di, “Secret Linguistics Series” (tr. Eleanor Goodman)

he’s got a point. without storytelling, without narratives, without song and poetry, we’d be forsaken in a way we can hardly imagine. our lives would shrink to the present moment in all its terrifying immediacy. but we take language so for granted, like fish take the sea for granted. who knows what other fantastic beasts this language of ours may yet harbor

that’s why i write poems: to discover new beasts

April Diary 26: where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees

This entry is part 26 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April i can’t tell you what a thrill it’s been for me to listen from the morning porch to hermit thrush song, that most ethereal sound: imagine a woodwind made of crystal and inhabited by the ghost of a bell and you might get the idea

(i will never fully forgive TS Eliot for mischaracterizing hermit thrush song in “The Wasteland” which i see someone has written a paper on though as a non-academic it’s off limits to me. the quote is

Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water

TS Eliot, “The Wasteland,” lines 356-358

which he justifies with a quote from the great ornithologist Frank Chapman in a note:

357. This is Turdus aonalaschkae pallasii, the hermit-thrush which I have heard in Quebec County. Chapman says (Handbook of Birds of Eastern North America) “it is most at home in secluded woodland and thickety retreats… Its notes are not remarkable for variety or volume, but in purity and sweetness of tone and exquisite modulation they are unequalled.” Its “water-dripping song” is justly celebrated.

but nobody but Eliot himself seems to have called it that)

they’ve never nested up here as far as we know despite occasionally attempting to set up territories as this one seems to be doing. the last time it happened, in 2020 up around the vernal ponds, i watched wood thrushes chasing him, and Mark and I thought maybe the limiting factor for us isn’t that we’re too low in elevation (1600 feet) for hermit thrushes but that we’re not high enough to exclude wood thrushes which out-compete their cousins

anyway Mark first heard this one on the 16th so he’s a persistent bugger. if our theory is correct, we may eventually get them nesting up here if wood thrush numbers continue to decline. so i should be careful what i wish for because i love wood thrushes too


putting Ripple Effect back on the shelf this morning i noticed i had another collection by Elaine Equi, 2013’s Sentences and Rain and i have absolutely no idea where it came from. must’ve picked it up secondhand somewhere

well so much for reducing the height of my current reads pile. but that’s a high-quality problem indeed. Ripple Effect was from 2007 and i was just thinking i should get one of her more recent books

i really dig the title poem:

Equi is certainly in that age-old tradition of the wise jester


well i just lost a fuck-ton of writing here because the WordPress iPhone app froze. i guess if i want to keep composing on my phone i’d better compose in Notes and paste it into the app when it’s done (i have been doing that to some extent already but not today obviously)


i stopped the car in Sinking Valley today on my way back from the Amish garden center to take a photo of our not-so-impressive mountain and captured what appears to be a UFO


putting up a deer fence, you do need to think like a deer. where they can push in, where they might be tempted to leap. if i were ever to move out west where they have mule deer instead of whitetails i’d have to start learning that stuff all over again. this is the kind of local knowledge one gathers over time. to the extent that old people can be said to be wise it’s because of stuff like this (not generally because of their politics, lord knows)

working in the garden after supper i can hear our neighbors out in theirs, a quarter mile away. well mainly the shrieks of their twin grandchildren, who are four years old and love living in the woods

there’s something really special about not only living where you grew up, but seeing and hearing other kids grow up there too. to use an old-fashioned phrase, it gladdens the heart

so i got the fence all moved and patched together and well as they say, a thing of beauty is a joy forever

also today i shot a brief video of a black rat snake pretending to be a rattlesnake which took me back to the first time i saw that, also on the powerline right-of-way, at the age of 12 or so and i thought it was a rattler ran all the way back to the house and either Mom or my older brother Steve went back with me and it was just a black snake being a jerk:

watch on Vimeo

April Diary 24: dueling banjos, a roomier Rumi, and some moving art

This entry is part 24 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April whippoorwills are back. two of them like dueling banjos out here as i cool down from puttering in the garden and going for the usual hike and puttering in the garden before that and going in town etc.

whipoorwhipoorwhipoor is what i’m hearing of their inane battle for vocal supremacy. once upon a time people in places as far-flung as Greenland and Yemen used to settle disputes with song contests though so i guess dueling banjos is better than an actual duel ya know?

this morning on the porch i finished my re-read of Elaine Equi’s Ripple Effect: New and Selected Poems as part of my never-ending quest to keep the current reading pile to a reasonable height. it was as always a blast. Equi is such a fun poet. why aren’t more poets fun?

actually poked some seeds in the soil today. and it felt as futile and ridiculous as ever. it’s a good thing i like being wrong

but whilst hoeing openings in the straw mulch i wrecked a nest of field mice — didn’t hurt any i don’t think but they were still blind and pretty helpless scattering in random directions. i scooped one out of the path and it just lay on the straw trembling. i laid a bit more straw on top of it to give it a fighting chance until i left and mama could come back and move her babies

that was part of my excuse for heading out on a mid-afternoon walk. also i wanted the openings to dry out a little before i stuck seeds in

the new Rumi arrived so i tucked it into my pack

Dear April there are few sights in nature more entertaining than the sight of a wild turkey fleeing at a fast trot. it makes me think the cretaceous period would’ve been equally full of humorously dorky creatures that would also eat you

i did get to see wood frog tadpoles—the doomed ones in the too-small pools that always dry out too soon. they appeared to be feeding on the remains of the egg masses. it quickly became too disturbing to watch, all that teeming and thrashing of tails

i do not care for teeming. in fact i don’t hold with it. it may be natural but that doesn’t mean i have to like it. the buddha was right, life is suffering

don’t mind me i’ll probably go back to being a Daoist tomorrow

anyway so i get to the bench and take out the book and realize why it was so cheap on eBay

so i got a review copy of a New York Review book. seems kinda collectible, right? except for one problem

the entire introduction is missing

do publishers really send out review copies before the introduction is finished? might this in fact be an earlier author proof?

the translation by Haleh Liza Gafori seems absolutely credible in every way, it’s a Rumi that actually reads like a medieval Sufi, translated in modern poetry as good or better than anything out there, as such an enduringly popular poet surely deserves

after reading a dozen or so Rumi poems with great satisfaction at their beauty and power i realized i just wasn’t in the mood for what he was selling actually

so this book probably won’t go on the current reading pile just yet. but it’ll be on the shelf when the mood strikes

i wish i could be more like my mom and methodically read every new book i get plus many many more from the library but i’ll never be half the reader she is. few people today are, i suspect

insert punditry here re: what it might mean for a literate culture to slowly lose its great readers and lovers of books, might we in fact now be post-literate etc. ad nauseum

my relationship with books may not be entirely healthy at least if you accept the once common belief that greed is harmful to the soul. i like owning books even though or perhaps because i can’t really afford to buy them. the problem is with most of the haiku i read, the presses are so small and the entire scene so invisible to academic poets, huge university libraries like Penn State’s don’t acquire them. a lot of the other small-press stuff i read would be a bit easier to get on inter-library loan, but not all of it…

like an addict i clearly have my excuses all lined up

i think i found a winter wren nesting spot down in the hollow but i’m not sure yet. i’ll keep an eye on it

also while waiting for a train to clear our crossing i took some pictures because people don’t believe me when i tell them i can see traveling urban art galleries at the end of our lane

late in the afternoon i paused to admire this massive old wild grapevine, which seemed pretty damn big when i was a kid 50 years ago:

there’s probably a haiku in there. hmm…

brown thrasher
back for another spring
ancient grapevine

but even when this loop of vine dies as long as there’s forest here this individual will go on, sprouting roots as needed and adapting to the ever-changing forest conditions over the course of who knows how long? i don’t think there’s any way to date them. they could go back 8000 years. it seems just barely possible

April Diary 23: earthy day

This entry is part 23 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April it was one of those rare mornings when both the sun and the moon were visible from my usual spot on the porch. not only that but a hermit thrush kept singing in the distance — many years we don’t hear them singing on migration. (sadly they don’t seem to nest on the mountain. we’re not high enough)

when the day starts out as beautiful as today did this time of year i’m always torn: go for a long walk or work in the garden

well today being earth day already the spring is getting away from me as usual so i figured i’d better dig in the dirt— and not fun stuff either like planting things but putting in new fence posts and moving the fence to expand the garden because (Samuel L. Jackson voice) i’ve had it with these motherfucking deer eating my motherfucking potatoes

but first to procrastinate in the best possible way: by banging out three erasure poems by ten o’clock. then outside to dig as the red-tailed hawks circled overhead and wild turkeys gobbled up on the ridge

of course digging holes on a mountaintop you have to expect to encounter a few rocks

that one gave me a good five-minute workout

i do love the smell of our heavy rocky iron-rich clay

after a couple of hours of that i headed off down-hollow to check on the wildflowers. the first rue anemones were just opening…

windflowers
our annual exchange
of nods

the hepaticas were blooming in profusion. “snow? what snow?”

even in the ditch
with last year’s leaves
this April sun

white pine
fused to a hemlock tree
creek voices

ya know people have a point, Appalachian hollows can look kinda creepy sometimes — a combination of long shadows and old things, half-rotted hulks and mossy leviathans

the mid-spring woods is a weird place with all these wildflowers racing to do their whole thing before the trees leaf out and they lose the sun. i love how whole communities can evolve to take advantage of such narrow temporal windows, like when a desert blooms after a rare soaking rain

spring forest
the shadow of a vulture
crosses my page


i’m two-thirds of the way through this Zang Di book and i’ve just found the third poem i feel as if i fully understand and it’s very good: “Scarecrow Series”

all about like effigies and doubles and the other and maybe i feel like i grok it because it’s something i happen to have given a decent amount of thought to over the years. more likely though it’s just a more straightforward less riddling poem


back up the mountain to start supper (venison casserole) then off to the other end of the property. Mom had said all the wood frogs were hatching in the vernal pools this morning and i should be able to get pictures but by the time i got there they had all buggered off to deeper spots. quite a few egg masses had been deposited in a shallow area that almost dried up completely at one point so it was great news that they’d made it to tadpole stage

sitting on the bench up there though i take another gander at the Zang Di book and find that something just clicked and now i seem to get most of his poems actually. i’ve had that happen with other somewhat difficult or arcane poets where because i think i’m a little slow on the uptake it can take me most of a collection before i learn how to read it. i’d argue that’s a good part of the fun of poetry: everyone gets to make up their own universe and they have to trust that a few readers will put in the work to understand what laws govern it

after supper more work on the fence moving project until dusk then sitting out on the porch watching a bat swoop back and forth. the hermit thrush was singing again. every day is of course earth day it’s a ridiculous thing to have to have a holiday for BUT today did feel especially earthy i have to admit

April Diary 22: serious riddles

This entry is part 22 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April would i be a better reader if i were less comfortable with mystery?

a better scholar probably. but would i enjoy it as much? this Zang Di translation for example continues to delight and entrance but i often have only the fuzziest idea what he’s banging on about. “Riddles are serious,” he writes, “must I really prepare each step for you?”


oh hey, poetry prompt time! CIA Torture Queen Now A Beauty And Life Coach

I see you, Queen of Torture, and everything you’ve always been.

Do you think your Instagram ads and Botox siren songs fool me?

I see the eels behind your eyes and the skulls inside your smile; in your heart you are still torturing, and you love it.

Torture is your first love, your only love, your soulmate, your sex; torture is what you’re made of, torture is what you are.

You are inseparably one with the machine which tortures the poor, which tortures our ecosystem, which tortures children under blockades and starvation sanctions, which tortures our dreamworlds and our sacred seeds of disobedience.

We will beat the machine. We will win.

That primal clarity lives within us still, and you can only sedate a giant for so long.

kind of shocked to see Caitlin Johnstone end the essay on an upbeat note but she’s a good egg i think


steady rain and a midday social engagement kept me out of the woods till after supper. the leaf duff shines wetly like an amphibian instead of the usual shaggy mammalian look. fog forms around me as i type that last sentence and slowly dissipates


i decided i would rather be moist than hot is a real thing i just said to myself, concerning my decision not wear rain gaiters

i am finding so many fallen branches covered in jelly ears this evening. well the traffic noise from I-99 is pretty bad. maybe all those ears just couldn’t take it anymore


can one wallow in happiness? or is wallowing reserved for misery?

that may sound like a joke but i really need to know. wallowing is important to me. it feels as if i do quite a lot of it. but i don’t feel at all miserable


where snow
just sat
the red sporangia


mushroom ladder
the sunset’s own
waterthrush


met another hiker:

the first red eft of the year. pictured next to the aforementioned red sporangia. winter’s monochrome seems well behind us even though there are still a few small patches of snow (and lord knows we could get more)

what a crazy lifestyle. as with knights errant the death rate for efts is quite high but if they survive their years-long wandering they get to transform into an aquatic newt and spend the rest of their lives in a pond or spring BUT if it ever dries up they can un-metamorphose back to being a terrestrial eft and walk away. both are considered adult forms

at this point i’m a little annoyed at how literal my earlier likening of the forest floor to an amphibian has become


what does it mean to be found in a lost world? christians think they know. i am way more interested in being lost in a found world. at least as far as poeming is concerned

tongues of fog form in Sinking Valley as night falls. barred owls begin a conversation down ridge. the world is always speaking whether we listen or not

i suppose that’s what i meant yesterday by poetry as revelation. nothing particularly wootastic


i often can’t tell whether i’m serious or joking. that’s the danger with dark humor perhaps — after a while you might forget it’s supposed to be funny

“riddles are serious” indeed


what i just went on felt like a jaunt rather than a ramble. definitely neither a stroll nor a hike. a jaunty wander out with the efts. home in time to finish my erasure poem. and so to bed

April Diary 19: onion snow

This entry is part 19 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April forget drunken sailors, what shall we do with a poet who can barely use a pen?

trying to write bananas on a shopping list my hand gets lost in some kind of 70s folk-rock song going na na, na na na na. i add an s and squint at the result: it might be right. fortunately it’s a nearly illegible scrawl so who can tell

weird to lose that muscle memory though

(again with the muscle memory)

(i do keep a pocket notebook in my pack for when my phone poops out)


an email from Black Lawrence Press with the subject line 50% Off All Poetry Titles! got my attention pretty quick. i wish more publishers would put their money where their mouth is about poetry month. shared the good news on Twitter and ordered three books including two i’d been meaning to get for a while, Shanna Compton’s Creature Sounds Fade and Kristy Bowen’s sex & violence, plus [ G A T E S ] by Sahir Muradi


got a notice that a book i was really excited about had arrived at the post office box (no we don’t get delivery up here) so i thought i’d walk in town for it. it was sleeting but the forecast said snow. i can dress for snow i thought

don’t know why i don’t walk into town more often, it’s a little over two miles away and Tyrone is nothing if not photogenic. i don’t even mean that ironically

the I-99 overpasses are something of a feature. LIFE’S A BLUR says the graffiti. especially from the interstate, yes

i don’t have to go to the big city for a dose of urban bleakness

i was a bit shocked to see some graffiti promoting a website that preaches violent fascist revolution. a sign of the times?

i don’t know what they did to the surface of the sidewalk on the 10th Street bridge but i think i got a contact high

it started snowing pretty hard while i was in the post office

you might think given my usual snobbishness about cliched images that i would resist the temptation to take lots of photos of blossoming trees in the snow

you’d be wrong

snow on cherry blossoms beside Reliance Bank

but the snow wasn’t the only thing making the town seem a bit surreal…

as long as we have public librarians who do quietly subversive things like commission a painting of the Lorax on the sidewalk, i tend to think we’ll be OK as a society

the new country core shop at the end of the street has slightly terrifying window displays

then there’s the salvage yard…

honesty compels me to admit that i removed some racist graffiti from this image in processing — not to try to whitewash the town’s image but because if i left an n-word in, that’s all the photo would be about, inevitably, and i just wanted to focus on the aesthetic contrast here. that said i did keep a version of the photo with the hateful word intact for documentary purposes. like, this is America. Childish Gambino got it right

BUT a single (? let’s hope) hate-filled individual not only doesn’t represent Tyrone, s/he doesn’t even represent local street artists as the adjacent overpass demonstrates. shout out to these kids whoever they are

one appears to be a fan of Gardner’s ice cream parlor

a freight came along

the advice to be sic [sic] is certainly intriguing. are there pro-Covid radicals or is this just an old-school Satanist i wonder

the fun thing about walking up the mountain while it’s snowing hard is that it gets prettier as you climb. which does kind of seem like what should happen when you climb a mountain doesn’t it

i do worry about all the wildflowers and especially the flowering fruit trees of course. above is part of our trillium patch

these are not supposed to be white trilliums, they’re wake-robins. who probably wish they could go back to sleep

i never get tired of looking at snow on hemlocks though

there was one hepatica blossom still just visible, one exposed purple petal like an outstretched tongue

some black cohosh sprouts weren’t looking too happy

but damn the hollow was purty

the witch hazels are probably feeling pretty smug about their whole blooming-in-November deal

i tried drinking my tea on the one bench along the hollow road but my umbrella wasn’t really up to the task and my primary mission was to get the mail home dry and in one piece

as long a winter as we had, there weren’t more than half a dozen snows this pretty

so i’m not entirely crazy to celebrate the beauty of it, destructive as it is

a hen turkey trotted across the road in front of me and all i got was this lousy photo

i tend to forget this forsythia is here even though it’s right across from my house—when not in bloom it just kind of blends into the woods’ edge

a photo so obligatory i sighed as i took it. poor downcast daffodils

all in all a classic onion snow. and not a surprise because the poetry bloggers i follow who live out west got it last week. looks as if we’ve gotten about five inches now

if i’d brought a larger umbrella and worn my snow boots i could’ve stayed out longer but i was happy to get home and start the book i’d hiked in town for

Italian poet Elisa Biagini’s first collection translated in full

it’s a trip


at around four in the afternoon i sometimes feel a rush of happiness and i think that’s because four o’clock was when we got home from school after walking up the mountain

today i was happy like that so i made some decaf coffee and processed all these photos because why waste a good mood on just feeling good and i admit i’m not as free of the American obsession with productivity as i might like to think


after supper i finished the erasure poem i’d been working on. the second stanza is distinctly Simic-esque. wasn’t quite sure what tied the three stanzas together until i hit on the post title: Unseasonable


my Moving Poems co-blogger Marie Craven just reminded me of this video featuring the wonderful Australian spoken-word poet Caroline Reid

Reid calls it

A playful fusion of poetry, visual art and film in which a reflective middle-aged poet discovers that life’s interruptions to writing poetry are the very substance from which poems emerge.

exactly.

(Marie is planning to share more of Reid’s work on Moving Poems so keep an eye out for that)

April Diary 14: cardinal, coyote, owl

This entry is part 13 of 31 in the series April Diary

 

Dear April there’s a cardinal nesting beneath my bedroom window

she’s sitting on three speckled eggs


our first hot day. sitting on a bench in the woods where i swear the same two or three bluebottle flies keep landing on me no matter how many i kill. no wonder people used to believe in spontaneous generation

the Zang Di book has already proved its utility as a flyswatter. well done Zephyr Press


Stir-fried pork and asparagus is a starting point for poetry.

Zang Di (tr. Eleanor Goodman)

i like this guy. his mind moves in interesting ways


this too in the middle of a well-used trail is language

coyote calling cards

hypothesis (clears throat): the invention of symbolic language by humans was essential to make up for the lost richness of meaning our more distant ancestors accessed through their noses

there’s a profusion of trailing arbutus blooms this year like nothing we’ve seen here in 52 years. not sure why. though i do have some hypotheses…


it’s maybe a bit unusual in the modern world to know exactly where you’ll someday be buried. i noticed today a porcupine has been littering the ground all around with spruce twigs (they’re messy eaters)

my future gravesite
old puffball
blowing smoke


barred owl calling up in the woods, just one disapproving-sounding who! at a time

for years, my ex heard me talking about bard owls and wondered what made them so poetic


sitting just inside the edge of the woods is a completely different experience from sitting on my front porch less than 100 feet away. a more vulnerable experience, especially after dark. a humbler experience

(when did humility stop being a virtue asks the old crank)

the porch offers the remove of civilization. a roof blocks most of the sky—it’s no wonder suburbanites long ago ditched porches for back decks