Oh, the sideyard of San Diego!

Something that I miss about San Diego is the sideyard, that yard we had on the side of our house, where friends used to gather. So many great things happened there: poems under the streetlights, loud live music, deluxe beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), yoga mat washing by way of rare rain, hot pepper roasting (& peeling), yoga class by Britta, yard sales, the explorations of a young chicken named V’Nilla… That being said, we also experienced chair thievery with frequency. And people used to walk their dogs onto the lawn and let them shit and just leave it. Hummingbirds buzzed through there and friends visiting from the east came and sat in the sideyard with their faces facing the sun and said, “Aaaah.” People purchased Misha’s photos there and we parked our bikes there and we grilled fish out there and we sat with tea out there under the purple umbrella that Misha bought because he knows how much I love purple. We grew good mint out there and a kale plant that looked like a palm tree and a bush of African blue basil that the bees adored. And before we left, we invited everyone over to buy and take our stuff, and we made fancy popcorns, and we played bocci, and drank beer and lemonade from a cooler. It was our living room, carpeted with the spikiest grass I’d ever known, and Misha would turn off the sprinklers and then every week dudes would come and mow the grass and turn the sprinklers back on. And now that we’re not living there anymore I hope heartily that whoever is living there is loving that little square of green as much as we did, is using it as hard as we used it, and is calling it a sideyard.





(The sideyard was also where I discovered I could wear bocce balls as earrings, no big deal, just wearing these bocce balls as earrings next to my boyfriend. I’m assuming we lost that game of bocce based on the look on Misha’s face.) (Photo by Marilyn, a true friend who I met–you guessed it!–in the sideyard.)

Why not: a birthday collage.

Dear Scott,

I made you this internet collage comprised of (beautiful) images that remind me of you. I really hope you like it.




































coffee and whiskey













































Happiest of days to you, friend. I hope your weekend is full of even better things than Ellie giving the sneaky middle finger to you in a photo, though it’s hard to imagine what’s better than that.


A poem of farewell (mine).


Misha’s off to work in a shirt that’s too big

on him but he loves its colors. I bake the bread


when he leaves, mist it and cover it, cooling.

On my bike around town my clothes don’t


get caught in the pedals. At the café I edit

my poem, the one that’s now eight pages,


I drink my favorite coffee. The man to my left

says to his friend, “We’re here to share stories


and energy.” His beard is braided. I ride my bike

to the store, I see Christina who makes earrings


out of old records, John from Self-Heal, and Jeff

from the fruit stand is my cashier. I treat myself


to sushi at the high chair that overlooks the street

and see the Suzie’s truck roll past, the one I rode in


yesterday. I’ve lived here three years and the food

I eat is delicious and so much of it I’ve planted


with my own short thumbs. I’ve lived here three

years and I get across town on my feet, I’ve made


human mistakes and baked foods in summer, heat

overtaking the kitchen, the kitchen that leads


to the porch where tools are hung or lean, the porch

that steps out to the yard where we grilled and drank


and read our books, the yard we bought a table

and umbrella for, the yard where poems woke


the neighborhood, where sunburns sang and worms

were fed on foodscraps. Friends visited and friends


stopped by and friends brought food and friends

bought books or art and used up all the toilet


paper. We met them and we said come in and now

the nights are warm enough to let us go out


into them, the nights we hope will lead us

heavenward into a land we’ll plant ourselves.





Oatmeal & soda (small house things).



Growing up I ate instant oatmeal, the Apples and Cinnamon flavor. Growing upper, I learned about stirring the oatmeal on the stove, and adding milk, and adding raisins, and cinnamon, and bananas, and coconut, and walnuts, then a dash of maple syrup. My dad eats oatmeal now, but he doesn’t like his sweet, and when I made my fancified oatmeal at home in New York, he was appalled at how many ingredients I added.


I believe the soda above is orange-flavored, and I do like that flavor, though I don’t usually want a soda.


I acquired these two items at a yard sale in my own sideyard; they were donated by my younger cousin, Jonah. She doesn’t play with them any more, but I do. I also wear her hand-me-ups. She’s fourteen. I’m twenty-six.


Sideyard success. Serious joy.

The sideyard was so much fun. I was this happy:

Except I was wearing a blue crown with curled ribbons longer than my hair, a patterned poncho, and wings made out of leaves (made by Jen), and not a clown costume. As Frankie puts it,

best thing about the sideyard poetry readings:

the folks walking past on the other side of the hedge

on their way to friday-night-party

catching clips of outloud poetry

and the quick image of

a writer in the light

as they pass

What was also wonderful was how many people there were (estimates are in the high 90s), and the flower bouquets with artichokes in them (made by Ellie of course):

and how everyone got so drunk that no one bought books like these:

and perhaps the greatest miracle of the whole event is that not a single neighbor yelled at us. And people bought Misha’s photographs! And I didn’t even have a hangover the next morning! And the next morning was Saturday, and Ellie and I split a mushroom and bacon fritatta covered with blue cheese with whole wheat toast and raspberry jam. The end.

Springtime in the sideyard (EVENT)!


This Friday is the Spring Sideyard! All the info is on the gorgeous 70s poster below, designed by Misha. The only thing about this event is that you must now, right this minute, please I am asking you nicely, do a No Rain on Friday dance. Please just do a little shimmy for no rain on Friday. Normally I shimmy FOR rain, but this week my shoulders are aligned with the sunshine.


I hope to see you there! I will be thinking of all my friends and loved ones who live far away who I know would love to be there! I miss you all!




Damn it feels good to have a sideyard.


The sideyard was better than ever before

The sideyard, according  to a new neighbor-friend named Neil “felt like the 60s again.”

The sideyard had around 70 people attend which is record-breaking for the sideyard

The sideyard had a tiki torch

The sideyard had such good loud music that the police came

The sideyard thanks “Tendrils,” the new house band, who will perform acoustically from here on out so that we don’t get evicted

According to a girl I met, the sideyard was “the most fun event I’ve ever been to.” EVER!

Neighbor and friend Jed said about the sideyard, “Don’t ever let me miss this again.”

The sideyard offered free wine and decaffeinated coffee

The morning after the sideyard I had both a real hangover as well as a happiness hangover


Thank you to everyone who came to the sideyard

Thank you to everyone who let themselves enjoy something so analog

Thank you to everyone for coming out to hear poetry; we poets need you, we poets are you, we are all poets


(photos by misha marston johnson)

I sideyard, you sideyard, we all go to the SIDEYARD


featuring the debut of the house band!

featuring flowers by ellie!

featuring “friends of the sideyard,” a group of loosely or not-at-all affiliated people who always come over to the sideyard!

featuring beer and wine if you bring it!

featuring foods also if you bring them!

featuring handmade arts for sale!

featuring poems spoken out loud!

be there or be square or be one of those people I love who lives very far away and can’t be there!

Words to live by (Chris Kardambikis).

written at the summer sideyard & since then stationed on my refrigerator. & now you too can have this friendly reminder on your fridge, these words of wisdom, this clever counsel, to guide you through your future beverage selections, just save the pdf, click on print, and enjoy a future of smart hydration…

The poets and the farmers (poem) (mine).

The poets and the farmers


For a while now the poets have known

the farmers and now the farmers know

the poets and they say hello and hug them

and Elle says again, You were so wonderful

on Friday night and Frankie is smiling

because it is never too late or early for

a compliment meant genuinely and I give

Frankie free zinnias by Ellie not because

she is a poet but because she is a very good

human who has such strange handwriting

that it makes people want to tattoo it on their

bodies, and she tattooed it on hers but not

in a braggy way, in a columnar/cut-off way,

and I like to watch people ask her about it

and I think to myself that I’d never tattoo

myself because I hate repeating myself

but, to repeat myself, now the farmers know

the poets and they like them for their words

and savvy presentation (I think of Scott

in the front row of the sideyard smiling like

someone gave him the exact correct birthday

present) and the poets love the farmers

for their very good foods like Nardello

peppers which are sweet and the most

divine, they’re Ellie’s favorite and she’s

a painter and a farmer, too. And life, I think,

is not as simply roasted as a pepper is, but

it is sweet to watch a farmer hug a poet

hug a professor hug a trapezist hug

a graphic designer slash table maker

hug  a videographer hug me, I’m hugging

all of them one after another or two

at once at the farmstand on a Sunday,

and I think we’re all farmers inside somehow,

all artily growing or having newly grown.