Elegant instruments, arrayed in bowls

A sculpture in Florence
A sculpture in Florence

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.

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(~2005; recently edited)

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The shapes created by the spaces between things

watercolor painting of poppies in sunlight
Poppies in sunlight (watercolor)

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 much more 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.

watercolor painting: fraternal twins
Fraternal twins (watercolor)

Things bound with waxed sail thread and resin

drawing of mountains, riversMy 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;

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To visitors who’ve recently discovered this place

self-portrait in EdinburghWordPress Discover did me the honor of sharing one of my recent posts yesterday, for which I’m grateful. I’m happy to say Hi! and thanks for reading my work. It means a lot when my words or images connect with people. So, thank you again.

As a number of you’ve just arrived via the portal of a recent Thunderstorm*, I searched through the archives to find other posts that have a similar tone, timbre, or general feeling. Below— a few bits n bobs that may also resonate.

Enjoy! Also, if you like drawings, urban / rural photography, explore the rest of this site.

The bird in my kitchen, and other prophecies

Some thoughts from April in Baltimore

Returning from Riis Beach after a light rain warned of a coming storm

From here I can see the curve of of the earth

A quiet wander through a green wood (part the first)

A Spring rain, soon forgotten

A telegraph from Elysium

Like smoke suspended in the calm

Scaffolding for memory

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*It is odd timing that a post I wrote about a thunderstorm gained a wide new audience so shortly after the dreadful Hurricane that has done and continues to do so much damage in Houston. I’m sure the last thing anyone there cares to think about is rain, or storms, for a very long time— my heart and sympathies go to all who’ve been affected there.

Leave(s)

portion of a Calder sculpture

People disappear

Sometimes all of a sudden
without warning.
Sometimes gradually

like sunset on the longest day of the year,
or how long it takes some trees
to become naked
in the face
of
oncoming winter.

One way is like hitting a brick wall.
The other is more torturous.

An ongoing awareness
tracing the slow serpentines
through the empty air
and then the gentle, condescending
landing
on the dry sidewalk

of
each
brittle

leaf.

Then you
Brace for winter, and dream

of springtime.

 

Prima Vera

magnolia blooms
A photo from last March; blossoms on the magnolias of Brooklyn

Here’s something that I apparently saved as a draft last spring. I found it a week or so ago, and I don’t think I’ll spend any more time on it, but as it was just recently Imbolc, and we had a 60º day Wednesday (despite the blizzard since) I thought I’d post it as a welcome to nascent Spring.

Rain replenishes groundwater,
refills the well
for creation after a fallow.

When looking results in seeing
and metaphor puts pretense aside—
you can pull focus,
delineate the shapes of things.

Eventually, the miles catch up with you;
in some way you needed them to.
Some things realign and make a sense that’s
recognizable.
Sleep refreshes; the coffee works; neurons fire.
The sun; the rain—
it could be molecular, or down to a change
in the weather.

So long as the waltz repeats.

The mythical rituals in Autumn, in Winter— for Spring,
for Summer. Everything is rooted
in something ancient.
Repetitions are inherent, genetic.

With or without a destination,
walking is never wasted—
You always arrive
somewhere.

Looking out upon falling snow in a fierce wind

snowy fire escapeLooking out upon falling snow in a fierce wind,
having read the latest news
(that has spoiled my coffee, again—)
Gone cold, with my views or once-belief
regarding some inherent goodness—

A bleak feeling that renders even this
brutal, unkind weather beautiful
Gentle, by comparison.

Each day, what counts as News
defiles sense. Escalation,
unsustainable (please)
Noah’s mythical flood
Now upon us, manmade
(Man-made, man-mad)

I feel hatred, and fear
Twin emotions, unaccustomed—
whose visages remind:
How lucky I’ve been (so far)

Each morning one awakes
with some hope,
or threads from a dream.
This morning, this blanket of new fallen snow
a metaphor:

Darkness, sold as Light.