Where I am could be where I am also not My boundless ignorance offers the negative space of my knowledge How I seem continues to vary even when I am still so much the same Off one platform while hanging onto another and another salt will dissolve in water until the sodiumnity of it takes over and the water becomes something else no longer potable How I consume becomes the feature and I let the bug consume me I am an animal, a creature not lost but amply surviving Instinct matters as much as genius especially when I have neither Creativity sparks interest but is actually an uneaten crust of who I might be You cannot trouble me If I flock I am open to flounder do I need wings or gills or legs when I come to my senses which ones will be denied access? Knowing that to fit magnifies the jest of our striving In the saltiest sea, one cannot swim only float.
You don’t say
Can't talk about exhaustion or talk about grief or talk about
being neither here nor there
you're an echo, a shadow, a shifting fog
a scattershot, detritus, an abandonment
Can't talk about what you miss, where it hurts, what the damage
you're a stalwart, an anchor, the guardrail
the glue, the elastic, the duct tape
You keep holding on, holding up, holding it
Can't talk about what's up, what's brewing, what's
You buck up, stand tall, fix your face
plant your feet, stand your ground, dig your heels
What is loss? What is grief? What is it? You don't say.
*Original draft, 11 Sept. 2021
Every Single Time
Every single time
laying claim proves fraught
Belonging can feel like battle
without a winner
Familiarity think it be knowing,
says go here, x marks the spot
Not home, not ours, not only
where arrival meets departure
every single time
guessing that here and mine go hand
Praying that here and mine stick
together like sisters
just passing fancies
strangers who stay that way
here, not mine
Not from here
comer and goer
I am strange and familiar
every single time
*Original draft, Jan 1, 2022
Tired is not the word
Tired is not the word you use when you really mean weary when you really mean tapped out when you really mean that you just don't have the words or the patience or the foresight or the wherewithal. Tired is not the word you use. When they ask how it's going you say that it is, going which is true because in fact there is no stop, no pause, no break in the action, it's going as you said, there are no lies, it's going and hardly matters how just that it's going and we see that's going and we ask how it's going as a courtesy not an investigation. It keeps going and I keep saying so. Tired is not a word you use when you really mean overextended when you really mean depleted when you really mean imbalanced when you really mean that you are no longer sure what counts as any of those things only that you expect to keep going until you can't because if you can't find the word, how can you possibly define the reality? When they ask you if this is the best you've got and if this is what it's going to be and if you're planning to send it out like that and if you're sure this is how you want it to look and you don't say, you just stare and stare and stare. Tired is not the word you use. Tired is not the word.
Women Writing Nature
Because I don't know where to start, I will. It occurs to me that among my readings I am listening to women in nature, women gardening, bird watching, describing flora, attending to clouds and winds. Women digging in dirt, discovering insects, rodents and snakes, these women. they tell me about their insides by capturing the complexity of their outsides I read and I listen, placing a hand over my heart, hearing my full laugh. Women outdoors and indoors seeing double seeing more because they must seeing twice because it's a habit seeing over and over because that's how you make yourself sure when you're not. These women in nature, talking of nature, defining nature making sense. Sense making women talking nature walking nature stalking nature. Naming flowers and weeds, breeds and seeds; clocking reasons and seasons and they tell me all about loss in ways I understand in ways that make sense in ways that tell me I'm not the one who's confused. These women in nature. Of feathers, fur, nests and burrows; mating, preying, hatching and losing. Of blue jays, red wings, yellow tails and cottonmouths Of chokecherries, gooseberries, honeysuckle, and rambling roses Of grasshoppers, crickets, spiders and monarch butterflies Of compost, fertilizer, peat and the true composition of dirt Of becoming, abandoning, returning, adapting These women writing on nature The nature of these women writing on nature because it's where we are because it's what we are yet so oblivious, it hurts.
Dedicated to Margaret Renkl, author of Late Migrations and Antonia Malchik, friend and author.
Sentences I’m thinking about as we crack open 2022:
Rather than link increasing velocity to liberated exuberance, Virilio, in Speed and Politics, suggests that “the more speed increases, the faster freedom decreases”: By the time an action is required in real time, the moment to act is already swiftly disappearing into the past. Freedom requires the time in which to deliberate and to act, and extreme speed deprives individuals of that time.Zachary Loeb, Inventing the Shipwreck, Real Life Mag, Jan 3, 2022 (emphasis mine)
“Freedom requires the time in which to deliberate and to act, and extreme speed deprives individuals of that time.”
Rather than anticipating what might happen out of the myriad and unknowable possibilities on which the very idea of a future depends, machine learning and other AI-based methods of statistical correlation “restrict the future to the past.” In other words, these systems prevent the future in order to “predict” it—they ensure that the future will be just the same as the past was.Chris Gilliard, Crime Prediction Keeps Society Stuck In The Past, Wired, Jan 2, 2022 (emphasis mine)
“In other words, these systems prevent the future in order to “predict” it—they ensure that the future will be just the same as the past was.“
Untitled anticipating what might happen, the moment to act is swiftly disappearing. the time in which to deliberate the very idea of a future depends on the past: ensure, predict; restrict, prevent. “the more speed increases, the faster freedom decreases” "the future will be just the same as the past was." Rather, rather.
Rather than helping us to manage social problems like racism as we move forward, as the McDaniel case shows in microcosm, these systems demand that society not change, that things that we should try to fix instead must stay exactly as they are.Chris Gilliard, Crime Prediction Keeps Society Stuck In The Past, Wired, Jan 2, 2022
It may seem obvious today that there had never been a car crash before the car was invented, but what future wrecks are being overlooked today amidst the excited chatter about AI, the metaverse, and all things crypto?
Virilio’s attention to accidents is a provocation to look at technology differently. To foreground the dangers instead of the benefits, and to see ourselves as the potential victims instead of as the smiling beneficiaries.Zachary Loeb, Inventing the Shipwreck, Real Life Mag, Jan 3, 2022
amidst the excited chatter
what future wrecks are being overlooked today? things that we should try to fix helping us to manage social problems like racism; To foreground the dangers instead of the benefits may seem obvious. as we move forward these systems demand that society not change; to look at technology, to see ourselves as the smiling beneficiaries instead of as the potential victims. things must stay exactly as they are.
Welcome 2022 and take this thought with you, too.
Protect your energy and help your friends and loved ones do the same.
A Piece of Scarf I've made you a piece of scarf. Yes, a piece of scarf. It's blue and bluish in a crisscross kind of pattern I've just learned called a basket weave. Except it's not a basket and I didn't weave it. It's a piece of scarf. Quite striking actually, interesting at the very least. And yes, I suppose it is only the very least a piece of scarf you can never wear, you can never wrap around your neck or drape over your shoulders. It's only a piece, mind you. A piece of scarf for you, though a token of my affection a hint of warmth and coziness that I can't quite deliver in full. A piece of scarf that is visible in its incompletion, whose potential shows up in thousands of missing stitches. (November 2017)
Es hilft nichts sagt sie Da ist nichts zu machen sagt er Das wird nichts mehr sagen sie Nichts. ist nichts wird nichts hilft nichts Eben. (Februar 2018)
|I am||I might be|
|a routine||a regret|
|a habit||a challenge|
|a duty||a mess|
|an appeasement||a hassle|
|a compromise||a detriment|
|a reality check||a deal breaker|
|a mismatch||an assignment|
|an American||a mistake|
|a risk||an exhaustion|
|a volatility||a strain|
|an accusation||an impossibility|
|a dismissal||a reminder|
|an exclusion||a dread|
|an expense||a warning|
|a loss||a vulnerability|
|a gain||a chore|
|an ambivalence||an anger|
|a reason||a resentment|
|an excuse||a departure|
|a disappointment||an absence|
|a drag||a damage|
|a mixed bag||a cost|
Black (and Outdoors) At A Time Like This
tree lawn, front lawn, home, backyard – in that order
One summer garden = zucchini abundance, asparagus dearth, too many tomatoes
I grew up seeing green from my window not realizing
how and when this would become a lifetime requirement.
trails, hills, woods, stony beaches
mountains, meadows, lakes, streams
Give me all of these
they belong to who I am.
feels like that’s always been me
but I’m not a hiker/ mountain biker/backpacker
I’m an attendee, if you will.
One who shows up in nature
I listen and look and pause
how I got here
AT A TIME LIKE THIS
There are not enough of the right words
why it matters and what it means to be Black and claim the outdoors, the great outdoors as one’s own, as part of one’s being, as central to one’s every breath and thought. Hanif Abdurraqib has 13 poems with the same title “How Can Black People Write Poems About Flowers At A Time Like This” and each one is so exquisitely distinct. Black people and flowers match up for funerals in the popular imagination maybe, or for Easter hats and brilliant attire. At A Time Like This which has become every time all the time, when, oh when, would Black folks ever have time for flowers? At A Time Like This when might we take pause to contemplate a flower’s beauty and complexity, meditate on flowers’ metaphorical bounty. Apparently that is not for us. There are not enough of the right words to explain. You wonder at this. Or you don’t. Maybe you’ve never seen Black folks striding out into the woods, along the river bank, up the mountain trail; sitting cross-legged around the campfire, as natural. Because our bodies in open, green and spectacularly floral spaces can so readily be misconstrued unless they are laboring on what you presume must be
someone else’s land.
What Outdoorsy Means & For Whom
Not everyone who spends time outdoors can be
Outdoorsy qualifies and codifies belonging:
read price tag
read middle class and up
No one calls the homeless outdoorsy
or migrant farm workers outdoorsy.
Outdoorsy is a fashion line,
Outdoorsy completes a dating profile;
Hot or not, it means what it means.
I love the outdoors and I am not outdoorsy.
Places I Have Seen With My Own Eyes That Have Also Seen Me (A Visual Poem)
A life that holds promise
like a delicate bouquet
requests the pleasure of your company
in a vision of nature
happening wherever you are/ I am/we be.
Claim it children,
chase it children,
be gentle children,
Let it be.
Let us be
This blog post is part of the #31DaysIBPOC Blog Challenge, a month-long movement to feature the voices of indigenous and teachers of color as writers and scholars. Parisa Mehran and Alison Collins have entries today as well. Please CLICK HERE to read yesterday’s blog post by Janelle W. Henderson (and be sure to check out the link at the end of each post to catch up on the rest of the blog circle).
All images belong to the author, Sherri Spelic, @edifiedlistener
No Good Mourning
It’s not a phantom sadness
because I know its name
and where it lives.
I know the mood that conjures it,
the temporal passages
No, this is a sadness
that inhabits me by now;
sometimes it stays small
in a pocket,
a piece of lint I needn’t notice.
Then other times it covers me
inside, then out
looms like a fog, like smog
that doesn’t lift
Not a phantom sadness
by any means
Rather, a steadfast messenger
always prone to remind me
this life is neither short nor long
Travelogue #3: Water Stories
falls, runs, rushes, gushes, gathers, laps, trickles, carves, digs, advances, retreats, holds, shapes, reflects, destroys, moves, wanders, travels, covers, reveals, smooths, softens, breaks, bursts, begins, ends.
*These photographs are part of a series, all taken in Iceland, June 2019. ©edifiedlistener