Along windswept edges of town
amid stern midcentury angles,
a bright unsunny light filters and glances;
limns the geometric emptinesses between things
on a weekend in shoulder season
on a slip of land off the coast of Long Island.
The color of the wood sea-silvered— salt boxes
beheaded, re-envisioned by exacting minds,
rise out of a low wild landscape to divide,
bisect, and generally make sensible for city dwellers
the unfathomed abundance of sky above the breakers.
No quaint adornments, no flower boxes, finials,
no lacy curtains dance on ocean breezes, flutter out open windows.
Floating panes refract the vast surround until at dusk velvet dark
the reflected scrims inverse— reveal interior scenes of we-scale dramas;
unveil views on strict styled stages beneath linear precise prosceniums.
In the deeper hours, silhouettes of deer move among the low pines
grazing, and foxes chase along the sanded strand beneath a
dull-bright moon, unfettered by the intrusion of angles in the
wild grasses, unheeding of stories not their own.
After the crash, we float like ghosts, moving about the old main street unnoticed and silently marveling at the high pitched roofs and tall windows of these old houses, taking in the glow of warm light of the interiors. The long incandescent puddles projecting out through the panes onto the thick blanket of silencing snow create such contrast, we half expect them to melt it. But they don’t.
We don’t feel cold but assume we must be, knowing that we can’t cross the thresholds of these sanctuaries against the night.
There is a room full of young women lounging in or at the edges of inviting pools of water. The room has an otherworldly atmosphere, with dim, colored lighting and biomorphic curves in the walls and ceilings. It feels, looks like a grotto; like some ethereal rendering of a subterranean brothel. On low ledges all around there are sleek bowls containing delicate and beautiful shapes that look at first inspection as if they are made of glass, but they feel gelatinous. There’s liquid or water in the bowls. The shapes float like jellyfish.
They are ornamented in impossibly-detailed patterns. I ask one of the women what they are, pointing to one near her; bell-shaped, and small. She informs me that this particular model is for cutting off one’s arm. I ask “Why on earth would anyone want to do that?” She doesn’t answer, but nearby I suddenly notice a bowl of fingers, small and red; transforming the liquid like ink blooming in water.
Insistent with my inquiry, I ask her how such a thing could possibly cut through an arm, or anything at all, as I lift one of the instruments out of a bowl and display its gelatinous quality, how soft and malleable. It has only enough density to hold its intended shape. This seems to interest her, and she looks at the object as I hold it, but doesn’t answer this either. I wonder if there’s some quality about the material of which I’m unaware— if sudden pressure is applied, perhaps it becomes more rigid, like quicksand, but maybe fine or sharp.
It remained a mystery, as did the nature or reason for the room itself, the girls, and the the other instruments. It struck me that some of the glass tools looked vaguely like those long-ago diminutive shoes for the footbound.
One of the reasons I enjoy poetry is because it comprises all of my favorite ways of making. It’s creating images with words, yes; a kind of storytelling. But it’s about so muchmore than just the correct or precise words —more than denotation or connotation— it’s also about design.
It’s about how the words interact with the space around them; make a composition, make aural and visual rhythms; remainders as important as omissions.
As in any kind of composition, the negative space is crucial.
He was long ago sealed into to the wall— made part of the wall— with a spell. All the years since, visitors and passersby have presumed he’s just another sculptural embellishment of the palazzo. His consciousness remains, though— eyes, frozen, he still sees; his ears still hear.
Being a mute and immovable witness is a torture for obvious reasons, yet his tenure has shown him the full breadth of human existence in miniature— from the most touching moments of affection between two people, to vivid misdeeds perpetrated against one another.
He’s bone weary. Part of him wishes for an end to this helpless consciousness, but he remains ever alert for the next tender moment. It’s his undying hope that the tally of deeds v. misdeeds will always remain well out of balance.
My subconscious has been working on a thesis for me lately; broadcasting things which on the surface (flattened and simplified by my waking mind) appear disparate, but on closer inspection are stitched together by a continuous thread.
Its thesis is about crafting sensible (or at least legible, recognizable) solutions, guides,codes to amorphous and unformed problems. Striving to find concrete solutions to riddles or puzzles only hinted at. Trying to map a place whose geography and even location is ever-shifting.
A reminder that, sometimes, the answers one wants or needs are unattainable because one is asking the wrong questions. It’s telegraphing this to me visually; that’s how I best understand the world. And the message coming through: I must widen my frame of reference, my view, in order to ask the right questions.
‘Maps for cephalopods’ is perhaps the most obvious— my subconscious’ version of hitting me over the head; a wry attempt at a movie-montage or voice-over exposition— and its point at least two-fold;
We were making aquariums out of materials that, while they looked appropriate, were perhaps not sturdy enough. There were three or four parts comprising each coffin-sized plexiglas case, but occasionally the filtration system was sending surges of too much water upwards at times, and we were concerned about leaving them in a room, filter on, alone. About malfunctions, accidental flooding.
Then there was one in which I was somehow creating maps or sets of directions for sea creatures; jellyfishes, crustaceans, cephalopods. There was something like a computer through which they could request help finding one another in the ocean, and my job was to fashion a map or drawing or set of instructions for each. My waking mind cannot conceive how this would be done, nor recall how I did it in that place.