Hard Won

It is a difference of degree.
Love or loneliness.
Once I would run to tell you.
But now is not like before,
but before that.

And I would share the air with you.
I still would.
And I am still leaning into it,
but the blade is dull now.
Still, it’s what we’ve got.
And it’s what we’ve got to do.

And what we’ve got to do is work at peeling back the layers:
how we have been defined
by something that comes from outside —
over and again —
some lightness or darkness that was never our own.

Here, alone,
it is getting easier to see.
Day after day with my hands in the dirt,
there is only the witness.

And you were never real.
And neither was I.

fieldnotes 4.18.17

In the Bone

…’When you wake up feeling old’…

In the vague waning of half a pink moon,
we lean into the cut of spring’s slow green blade,
to refine,
again,
the soft and hard edges,
and uncross those wires —
a Boundless connection —
its overwhelming sweet.

Make the best of it, you said.
But come on.

Commit your sorrowful researches to those dogeared pages in your pocket.
Pour something out.
Burn something up.
Meet us where we Live.
Make it real.



4.18.17

(76!/42)

redwings. REDWINGS! robins. golden crowned kinglet. swallows. tree sparrows. chorus frogs. song sparrow. cardinals. two red admirals. flowering things overwhelming with sweet today. bluejay. all kinds of things heard and not seen. meadowlark. goldfinches — lots! brown thrasher! chickadees. towhee. cowbird. cabbage white. a very curious white-tailed deer. purple and white violets and dandelions a blanket of yellow. flock of cowbirds. grackles. fat blue dragonfly. lots of trees flowering. even the oaks starting. mayapples opening their umbrellas. my cormorant. turkey vulture. bluebird. two coopers hawks. marsh marigold. ruby crowned kinglets. tree sparrow. yellow violets. bloodroot. twinleaf. spring azure. rue anemone. northern flicker. bellwort. downy woodpecker. mourning cloak. redbuds and crabapples.

Notes:
Quote 1: (feeling old): Wilco / ‘When you wake up feeling old’ from Summerteeth (1999)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 4.13.17

Eleventh

He brings me crocodile tears,
and her number is up.
It’s time to remember what it’s worth,
being here.
Go down to where the story is born,
down along the muddy bone
of the animal body,
before the cleansing and bleaching
of weather and sun.

It is a spring thing —
an ebbing contraction —
a receding darkness —
how we swim up from our shipwrecks —
how the wind is a gift of song —
a new shore,
a new language,
a new landscape,
with all the Living left to learn.



4.13.17

(59/44)

bluebirds. tree swallows. noisy redwings. circling vultures. chorus frogs. little flock of kinglets. lots of vultures. tree swallows. blue heron. cardinal. more kinglets. another heron. blue jay. peeper. I keep getting bad days for butterflies out here, but at home I’ve seen a mourning cloak and a bunch of red admirals. meadowlark. phoebe. song sparrow. flock of white throated sparrows. robins and redwings and robins and redwings. another meadowlark. downy woodpecker. hermit thrush. smell of wet dirt and green things. turkey vulture. song sparrow. mourning dove. pair of fox sparrows. bluebird. some kind of flycatcher. great horned owl. mallards. flicker. heron in the treetop. song sparrow. skunk cabbage and marsh marigold. coopers hawk. mayapples inching up. toadshade. nuthatches. big flock of coots. chorus frogs. dozens and dozens of swallows over the marsh. pied-billed grebe. tree sparrow. flock of yellow-rumped warblers. little purple violets. twinleaf in little patches.


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 4.4-6.17


4.4.17

(55/45)

robins. redwings. chorus frogs. swallows starting to get a little aggressive. tree and barn. turkey vulture circling. little flock of gregarious golden-crowned kinglets. ruby-crowned too! 4 piedbilled grebes. tons of swallows over the water. merganser. wood duck. coots. big flock. fox sparrow. pair of flickers. crow. song sparrow. bluebird battling a swallow. cardinals. 3 grackles. redbellied woodpecker. another fox sparrow. chipping sparrow. kestrel showing off. chorus frogs. more kinglets. little flock of song sparrows. flicker. cormorant on the pond. mallards. blue heron – the big guy. close. 2 vultures, low. Eastern wood peewee. wood duck. blue-winged teal.


Unknown

…’they told us our gods would outlive us’…

Deep in the core that minds the machinery,
am I myth or monster?
I sing the wind to bend the branch
that holds your scrap of sail —
an old, old story:
the siren’s tyrannical sympathy,
and how it bears the will and whim of dreamers.
How you mastered the tides but not the storm.
How they are greater gods than we.
How they brought you here to sit,
and breathe —
just where Ocean crashes into Other,
back to the waves,
settling in,
I sing the wind and know:
Anything could wait within the distant treeline.



4.6.17

(50/38)

sandhill cranes. redwings. song sparrow. chorus frogs. peeper. cardinals. canada geese on a nest. windy! tree swallows. nice to see the sun. chilly though. song sparrow. redbellied. meadowlark? some kind of woodpecker. bluebird. angry swallows. meadowlark! TOO-too-hee-Tee-too. chickadees. song sparrow. river high and fast. white throated sparrow. kestrel low in the old man’s branches. flicker. nuthatch. vernal pool. so many frogs! bluebird. carp in the creek.

Notes:
Quote 1: (gods): Nick Cave + Bad Seeds / ‘Distant Sky’ from Skeleton Tree (2016)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 3.28-29.17

Crash

Some were drawn by moon,
some by stars.
And maybe you followed the same path
of creative destruction,
the parasitic sort.

I lost half of my true name.
And you edged,
careful,
into that lost landscape and set up camp.

We push our fingers into the dirt and find them,
bone by bone,
diamond polished,
taut-stringed,
the dancer at the end.
And I danced ’til I could stand
and stumble on Alone.

Wind to lung,
rain to vein.

Meticulous and patient,
fingers dance to knotted words,
running them smooth again.
Old, well-built engines
sputter but start and settle,
an unheard hum.

And,
slipshod as we are,
renovated and repaired
with found or recovered objects,
the moon still pulls its salt through us —
a tightening circle of waves,
which must eventually crash us over
or pull us under.



3.28.17

(50/36)

coopers hawk. robins and redwings of course. chilly. feels like it should today. tree swallows on the boxes. chorus frogs. juncos. kingbirds. song sparrow. fox sparrow. cardinals. turkey vulture. song sparrows everywhere. tiniest patch of blue in gray sky. chickadees of course. flock of canada geese. redtailed hawk. pair of bluebirds on the sumac. kingbird again. flock of sparrows. golden crowned kinglet. mourning dove. kestrel! mallards. more kinglets. paid of redbellies.


3.29.17

(47/35)

no binos today because it is threatening rain. redwings and robins. earthworms everywhere. and the river looks high. fox sparrows. noisy noisy birds. oh! white egret! swallows in large numbers now. horned grebes again. cardinal. frustrating day to be without binos. lots of water birds. swallows. shovelers. someone left a bone here. a leg of something. bluebirds. geese. grebes. blue-winged teals. little flock of white-crowned sparrows. something new I can hear but can’t see. fox sparrow. blue heron. kestrel. song sparrow. robin. fox sparrow again. American pipit. cedar waxwings. bluebirds.
11:11 ‘set out for the distant sky’

Notes:
Quote 1: (set out): Nick Cave + Bad Seeds / ‘Distant Sky’ from Skeleton Tree (2016)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

Inner Distant

1.

What have we done?
And what will we do now,
in the face of its vast
indifference?

2.

For now,
we are unformed matter —
a million million chrysalides,
formless form.
We are in the in-between,
reduced to basic need.
Survive.

3.

Let something worthy emerge
from the seed,
the cocoon of this inward descent.
Each to each —
one day may we simply take flight,
and follow the sun’s tireless instruction.

Please, oh you gods.
Let it be so.

fieldnotes 3.16-23.17

A Crooked Wander

‘…I won’t bend but I will break under the weight…’

Hang on to a sense of purpose.
You have an abundance,
yes,
and a place to fall back to
in your own beautiful heart.

When will you learn to take to
(too)?

A surface barely frozen waits for sun,
that’s all.
A pair of bluebirds at a nesting box.

Right knee, left thigh
make for a crooked wander.

And no one’s out to get us.

Redwings and chickadees. Robins and bluebirds again —
how they fill their feathers to warm —
how they are not afraid of me today.



3.16.17

(19/42)

colder – much – overnight. but in the sun the redwings are noisier than tuesday. it challenges the sense of purpose a little. but my decisions are my own. the idea of dependence unpleasant. the weird push-pull of one’s own independence vs. others’ lack of. cardinals. the cold is good for the bluebirds. (holds off the swallows.) white-crowned sparrow. tree sparrow. song sparrow, living up to its name. like little waves of wind across the snow. and here, someone walked the word ‘good’ into it. and there are still coyote tracks that I wish I had time to follow. little flock of grebes flies off the river. redtailed hawk.


3.21.17

(53/33)

sticky red maple flowers. did I ever call such things subtle? robins and redwings. tree sparrows. coyotes freaking out! why? windy and from the north — a good chill. just canada geese on the marsh today. bluebird pair. common goldeneye. something’s making the geese complain. coyote? tree swallow. bluebird defending its nesting box. the battle begins. it was in the cards. a rite of passage. bluebirds super active. sun warming up. song sparrows. best vs worst? or best is worst? monkey trap. fear of letting go. but look. if it’s here and then gone, then isn’t the deepest pain still a kind of pleasure? look for the joy, beautiful heart. ‘the kingdom of heaven is within’ turkey vulture. cardinals. I might break. Why pretend otherwise? 3 crows. robins chickadees. redtailed hawk. redwings. redwings. redwings. song sparrow. a very chatty bluebird. another swallow. fox sparrow. waning moon just past half. clouds all feathers and vertebrae. how can i judge? and isn’t it right to step away? ‘you must try to fly’ do ir or don’t. ‘i’ve got my own hell to raise’ junco. song sparrow. tree sparrow. the understory. greening. nuthatches. even this joy, seemingly outside myself, requires presence and an open heart — requires cultivation and courtship. coopers hawk. a butterfly. anglewing of some sort. redtailed hawk. muskrat in the pond. mallards. bluebird. redbellied woodpecker.


3.23.17

(29/50)

robins and tree sparrows. redwings. song sparrow. little flock of grackles. redtailed hawk. tree swallows. canada geese. pied-billed grebe. 4 wood ducks. turkey vulture. redbellied woodpecker. juncos. bluejays. bluebird and his lady friend. cardinals. crisis of confidence. what do I even want? bluebirds! here’s one on top of last year’s mullein. song sparrow. white-throated sparrow. sandhill cranes at the edge of hearing. mourning dove. 2 shovelers. chickadees. nuthatch. brown creeper. downy woodpecker. northern harrier, pair.

Notes:
Quote 1: (bend, break): Jesca Hoop / ‘Pegasi’ from Memories Are Now (2017)
Quote 2: (heaven): Funkadelic / title track from Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow (1970)
Quote 3: (fly): Nick Cave / ‘The Ship Song’ from The Good Son (1990)
Quote 4: (hell): Fiona Apple / ‘Sleep to Dream’ from Tidal (1996)


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 3.14.17

Shivered

… finally, winter comes …

Don’t take our eyes.
Gravity, magnetism —
the weight and the wire —
thinly, in between
to draw us in and in.

You must carry the moon without claiming it.
Not fickle, but free-ranging —
the sirens when not singing,
in snow that’s never been stept on.

Don’t go underground.

If you shivered,
I’d bring a blanket.

Who can brave closer now?

There,
we are left to it,
and the crow comes.

Don’t take our eyes.



3.14.17

(28/20)

quieter. redwings and canada geese. tracks in the snow. a vole? then rabbit. harrier. a runner passes and now i can walk in his footsteps. better leverage. cardinals in the mixing bowl. chickadees. robins. pair of bluebirds. everyone’s all puffed up to stay warm. a third, very vivid bluebird. fox sparrow. flicker. fox sparrow. coyote. fearless. nuthatch. little flock of song sparrows. cardinal. coyote tracks, at least two, between the pond and the river. heron. eastern phoebe. mallards. and here are more coyote tracks. 3 or 4 this time.


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 3.7-9.17

Home

Despite red beads of buds on branches,
the wind asserts itself,
battling the morning warming sun,
redwings naming their boundaries.

Scouting deeper,
we are constantly surprised,
at whitecaps on the Marsh
and again from higher ground,
its rough play.

We step back two —
suspended energy that fills the between.
Does the refusal to make a beginning make unending?
Can you feel it now?



3.7.17

(65/44)

swallows over the water, two. killdeer. windy! from the northwest, so chilly. after last night’s storms out of the south. long thing black segmented caterpillar. hear a song sparrow. mourning dove. sandhill crane pair has maybe returned? circling and calling. robins. 3 goldfinches, looking a bit more golden. chickadees. canada geese. wind on the water. turkey vulture. chickadees. redbellied woodpecker. tree sparrows, i think. river is quiet today. no ducks. a pretty man who asks about birds. coopers hawk. merganser. 2 cormorants. blue-eyed boy.


3.9.17

(41/29)

keep this for yourself. the whole flock of robins and redwings and redwings and redwings. horned grebe. song sparrow. barest hint of greening on the trees. willows and undergrowth, mostly. 2 canada geese making a nest. cardinal treetop. singing. east wind, bit crisp. northern flicker. robins shifting into spring behavior. 2 mallards. pair of downy woodpeckers. bluejay. how we suppress too much and feel it longer than we ought. chickadees. cardinals. in the mixing bowl. nuthatch. trickle of water in the bottoms. smells like dirt. turkey vulture. coyote. redbellied woodpecker. lotta limbs down after yesterday’s big wind. redtailed hawk.


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

fieldnotes 2.28.17

Fat Tuesday

I am not here,
and I am not her.
Trickster —
valentines and deathwishes —
all out of season —

(Don’t you remember I take them seriously?)

I keep forgetting
how you did not mean sister
when you said sister

(and the rain is coming soon).

Must everything leave these bruises?
Watch hunger make a feast of the narrow.
And there are masks,
and there are masks.
We do not recognize the beast we feed until too late.

(Now what are you going to do with me?)

A soldier in a fool’s army,
a mutineer,
false face,
a walk through mud,
and there were masks,
and there were masks

(and we never could suffer the command).

But then that is how I do not fit.
There was nothing I could do.
And nothing ever changes.

So I will cover my face.
And I will cover my face.
Wait and march the thin parade
until I fall and shatter.



2.28.17

(60/47)

cardinals. canada geese. redwings. grackle. song sparrow. bluebird. little swarms of bugs. more birds sooner rather than later? is it enough to see the evidence of my influence? no. not really. but is there a choice? no. not really. coopers hawk. mallards. those little slugs again. little tree sparrow. bluebirds for goodbye.


about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)