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3.13: self-fulfilling prosecutions | Leonard Zinovyev — digital collage art, poetics, & interview

Self-fulfilling prosecutions digital 2500 X 2000 pixels ©2019

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3.13: self-fulfilling prosecutions | Leonard Zinovyev — digital collage art, poetics, & interview

Self-fulfilling prosecutions
digital
2500 X 2000 pixels
©2019

introduction to self-fulfilling prosecutions — Krysia Jopek [November 2019]
It’s a true pleasure to present the provocative digital collages of Leonard Zinovyev in this issue of diaphanous micro, 3.13. The virtual exhibition of 18 images that follows are an amazing sequence by a visual and literary artist. Each digital collage amazes me with its arresting nature; drawing the viewer/reader into its visual and linguistic space. Leonard fuses together seamlessly found art [cultural bits], literary texts, and psychological reality in the twenty-first century with seamless intelligence and a meticulous process of revision [discussed in his statement of poetics that follows the sequence]. He makes the end product look like it was easy for him to create, but the interview attests to the hard work involved in getting these digital collages perfect for him and the viewer/reader. Please enjoy self-fulfilling prosecutions; you’re in for a new diaphanous micro experience real pleasurable treat!

Striving Towards Averaging: virtual art exhibit

La nascità di Venere
digital
2500 X 2000 pixels
©2019

 

The Waves
digital
2000 X 2500 pixels
©2019

 

We know what we are
digital
1800 X 2500 pixels
©2019

 

Striving towards averaging
digital
2500 X 2000 pixels
©2019

Averaging out of unattractive idiosyncrasies
digital
2500 X 3125 pixels
©2019

 

h+
digital
2500 X 3125 pixels
©2019

 

Kurzweil Remix feat. Shakespeare
digital
2240 X 2280 pixels
©2019

 

survivorship bias
digital
2000 X 2500 pixels
©2019

 

The Therapist
digital
2000 X 2500 pixels
©2019

 

Weltschmerz
digital
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©2019

 

The burden
digital
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©2019

 

devouring time
digital
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©2019

 

Self-fulfilling prosecutions
digital
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©2019

 

Trauma
digital
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©2018

 

Monsters created by others
digital
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©2018

 

Don’t let monsters…
digital
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©2018

 

A Stump in Scarlet
digital
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©2019

 

Our motto says it all
digital
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©2019

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Our Motto Says It All: A Statement of Poetics

Throughout history, beauty has been a subject matter of arts. There are as many ways of seeing beauty as there are viewers, a concept best described by proverbs like “Beauty is only skin-deep” and “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Beauty is everywhere. And so is poetry.

My mini-series of digital images, which includes visual found poems and visual texts, is dedicated to human perceptions of beauty – a thing that is not what it appears – due to cognitive bias.

– La nascità di Venere

A poem written by combining lines from essays about Sandro Botticelli’s painting “The Birth of Venus” and “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, as well as comments to a FB post about manufacturers of facial recognition prosthetic masks.

– The Waves

A “remix poem” composed of quotations from Virginia Woolf, where I substituted “beauty” for “averaging.”

– We know what we are

An “algorithmic poem” I assembled from Shakespeare quotes about beauty, altering a few words to produce a nonsense text.

– Striving towards averaging

A simple and clear-cut image that conveys a simple and clear-cut message. The keyword is made up of ten overlapping words “averaging” in various fonts.

– Averaging out of unattractive idiosyncrasies

You’ve guessed it: this is the way we humans perceive beauty – by ignoring individual unattractive traits while shifting attention towards averaged attractive ones, which is why I see these multiple copies of the same phrase crowded in the middle of the sheet, with the rest of the “canvas” deliberately left blank, as a perfect allegory for the phenomenon.

– h+

Transhumanism and Singularitarianism – nobody explains them better than Shakespeare!

– Kurzweil Remix feat. Shakespeare

A futurologist and a dramatist put their heads together to generate new lines (or to explain the fundamentals of science); but where one’ s a futurologist, two’s a crowd!

– survivorship bias

When mixed together, Wikipedia lines and excerpts from articles about cognitive bias
and quicksand, can tell a dramatic and somewhat confused story of an eastward trip.

– The Therapist

Can anyone recognize this therapist who has a veiled birdcage in the place of his body, with a hat atop of it? A thinly veiled structure in which birds are kept? A Magrittesque image as it is, but everything we see hides another thing.

– Weltschmerz

Facebook comments to a post about an event easily identifiable as the Notre-Dame de Paris fire form a multilingual poem (you can find lines in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Danish), presenting opinions that range in tone from heartbroken to philosophical.

– The burden

A found poem composed of my Facebook friend’s comments – essentially, a comprehensive survival guide to dealing with pathological proof-seekers.

– devouring time

Facebook comments are a prefect building material for poetry. My Facebook friends are wisest friends of all – this time, they succeeded in solving the mystery of time loss.

– Self-fulfilled prosecutions

That’s not karma, nor do negative thoughts create negative energies, we simply program ourselves to make our own bad prophecies come true.

– Trauma

If you are to think of a visual metaphor for a trauma, what kind of imagery readily springs to mind? Haunting imagery. A giant ghostly gun against a barren desert in the background, and a repetitive phantasmal phrase “Have the safety plan in place” running from the top to the bottom of the screen – an image that only lives in your mind, but it is always there.  A monument to traumas.  All sort of traumas – PTSD, inherited traumas, intergenerational traumas, epigenetically transmitted traumas.

– Monsters created by others

Fear not bad monsters that others want to impose on you. Even if those monsters are supplied in boxfuls.

– Don’t let monsters…

Brief instructions on how to hold monsters created for you at bay.

– A Stump in Scarlet

Another “algorithmic poem” – this time, a poetic assemblage from Sherlock Holmes’ wise quotes, reduced to preposterous absurd.

– Our motto says it all

How does “the cheerleader effect” work? Is it real? Averaging? Did you say “Averaging”?? Is the perception of beauty about averaging???

The question whether my own artwork is beautiful or ugly (or both, or maybe even neither) is open to discussion!

> > >

Don’t Let Monsters Created by Others Eat You for Breakfast! — Leonard Zinovyev & Krysia Jopek talk digital art, inspiration, social media, etc.

How did you get involved with translation and to quote your biographical notes, the fields of “technology, science and medicine, including neuroscience, neurobiology, and cognitive science?”

Thinking back on my childhood, I can tell it all started in my school days. It would be a bit of an overstatement to say that I did badly academically when at school, though my teachers said so. I gave preferential treatment to a number of subjects, including history, biology, English, Russian, Russian literature, and physical education while disregarding or even overtly hating algebra, geometry, physics, and chemistry. I have always had dyscalculia – something I came to realize years later, though I have never consulted a health professional for that condition, but back then, teachers thought I was either lazy or stupid or both–a sad commentary on their competence. I worked part-time as a translator and interpreter while pursuing my studies at university; as soon as I graduated, I got hired by a translation services company on a full-time basis. In the following years, I worked full-time or part-time for a successive number of translation companies. Then I became a self-employed translator, and then I worked for a company again before I became a much sought-out translator. It was in the mid-2010s that I was first commissioned to translate a research report in neuroscience. Then there came more papers in neurobiology, neurochemistry, and cognitive science, to name a few.

What fascinates you the most about these burgeoning, complex fields?

Everything! Working on scientific reports and even four-hundred-page-long monographs, I discovered that science was not a boring drag—a discovery that made up for the scientific knowledge I missed when at school. Moreover, I found out that science can be a source of inspiration. While most poets tend to be fixated on their spiritual demands, I think it would be a great idea to poeticize science. Subversive as it is, this is my idea of poetry. And it was from articles on neurophysiology that I learned that the human brain was hardwired, evolutionally and genetically, to recognize beauty and to look for meaning.

What languages do you speak/read?

Russian, which is my native language; English and French in which I majored while in university; I also speak Italian and Dutch. I can read (but don’t speak) Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, Danish, and Swedish. I’m now learning German and Norwegian Bokmål, but Russian and English are my only working languages—I hardly ever translate to or from French, let alone other languages.

I’m curious about your formal and informal studies; what you studied in institutions and on your own.

I studied linguistics, pedagogy, and translation studies. But it was not until I got employed by my first full-time employer that I realized how scanty my knowledge was. Being a translator in science (or even an interpreter in business negotiations) is about being able to think on your feet–and having a clear view of the subject you are dealing with. Self-education was the way to go. It dawned on me that I did not have to think like a chemist when I was to translate a research article in chemistry, but I needed to be widely read on the subject to have an understanding of it. And the same goes for what I do artistically–I am a self-taught artist, a self-taught poet, and a self-taught fiction writer.

What led you to begin writing poetry and short stories in the late 1990s? Do you still write poetry and fiction?

In my view, going into the arts–any arts, putting pen to paper, etc., is about being dissatisfied with the authors you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, and so on and so forth–especially when you are in your late teens. Back then, I read a lot, yet I was unable to find any author who would more or less exactly live up to my expectations; so I thought the time was ripe for creating art of my own. Yes, I still write short fiction, including short stories, and flash fiction, as well as poetry; found poetry being my top priority. Another reason why I went into the arts was the creative impulses that came from within–I felt like I finally found my vocation.

What prompted/influenced/motivated your “shift” to digital collage art in 2006? Was this a gradual shift over time or sudden?

I was perfectly willing to involve as many artistic media as possible–and that seemed the only motivation behind my “shift” to collage art, so it is fair to say that the “shift” was a well-thought-out decision to try my hand at making something visually unusual and amusing. So, I tried–and failed. Disastrously. I tried again and again, doing more and more visual art. After all, art is about honing your skills. Art is the best of all lifelong personal development strategies ever conceived.

Who are your favorite visual artists, contemporary and traditional? What do you admire about their work?

I revere the Old Masters, and I admire the late 19th century Russian realist painters – the Guild of Traveler Artists (The Peredvizhniki). I love the 20th century surrealists–they all are paragons of perfection. I can spend hours, feasting my eyes on their artwork–and probably looking for inspiration! Among present-day artists: Michelangelo Pistoletto, Paolo Canevari, David Hockney, Jeremy Deller, and Barry Kite deserve mention. I like any art that is both witty and thought- provoking.

Favorite writers? I loved seeing the lines from Virginia Woolf, and I’m curious about what other writers you admire/revere.

I am a widely-read person. Sometimes I wonder whether my collage art is more influenced by literature rather than by the visual arts, or vice versa, or, maybe by both equally. Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, René Char, Italo Calvino, and Witold Gombrowicz are marvelous, and I was fascinated by Nanni Balestrini, Karl Holmqvist, and Kenneth Goldsmith.

How much time do you spend creating your digital collage art—as in how long can one image take [I’m sure there’s variance] and also, how much time of your day or week can you/do you typically devote to your art?

Creating a digital collage is always a time-consuming and effort-consuming process that normally takes hours; visual texts generally being even harder to produce than collages, so I devote at least two or three hours a day in any two or three days in a week to thinking over creative ideas, or writing, or making visual images. Sometimes I burn the midnight oil and stay up all night long, intent on cutting, pasting, erasing, and applying effects. Sometimes I can spend weeks redoing an image that won’t come out right. Of course, I don’t stay indoors for that long, but I keep revisiting my work-in-progress over and over until I get it to come out the way I want.

What is your process like from the blank screen to a finished product? I’m sure it’s different for each work, but generally, where do you get your ideas and inspiration and how do you “translate” those ideas into a digital collage? Do you walk around with notebooks, doodle on paper and/or on the computer, ipad, phone?

My brain brims over with creative ideas 24/7; not all of them are equally good. I carry around a pocketsize notebook to commit to paper those worth making into artistic products; thus, keeping my mind clean. The creative process is always much the same; it unfolds inside my head and feels like I have a recurrent urge to establish new connections between old things. While a creative idea is still vague in my mind’s eye, I go surfing the net for appropriate images; eventually, I stumble upon something that I can identify–intuitively–as good raw material for my collage, and that is when the idea begins to take shape in my mind. The rest is a matter of hard work that involves using graphic editors–sometimes, two or three at a time–until I get an image I want.

Why do you prefer digital art to conventional arts?

Digital images are everywhere and are, therefore, readily accessible. They are malleable and workable, and it is fun combining and modifying them to make something unexpectedly innovative. Contrary to popular belief that making collage art is a no-brainer, using raster graphic software is sometimes much trickier than any conventional painting methods, e.g., watercolor or oil painting. Digital collage art is the new rock’n’roll. Digital collage art is easy to publish online and to spread via social media. Digital collage art is never boring; it is the simplest way of sending a clear message to the world: “Don’t let monsters created by others eat you for breakfast!”

Thank you!

> > >

biographical note:

Leonard Zinovyev is a visual artist, poet, and fiction writer based somewhere in the world. He was born on March 15, 1979.

A translator and interpreter in technology, science and medicine, including neuroscience, neurobiology, and cognitive science – hence his current artistic interest in all of the above – he took up writing poetry and short stories as far back as in the late 1990s, and digital collage art in 2006.

As of now, Leonard is into digital self-publishing and composing visual texts, found poetry, and “remix poems,” tapping into almost any source –  from newspaper editorials, business contracts, pop scientific articles, and research reports to classical poetry and even Facebook comments, hacking original texts into bits and pieces to produce something new and ironic.

“Poetry can be found anywhere, and anything can be made into poetry” is his motto.

Leonard Zinovyev’s website 

Artwork by Leonard Zinovyev [prints for sale]

Leonard Zinovyev on Instagram

Leonard Zinovyev on Facebook

Leonard Zinovyev, photographer
©2018

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3.12: higged hive | thylias moss — 4 collaborative poems

Higged Hive Thylias Moss digital photography 2048 x 1152 pixels ©2010

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3.12: higged hive | thylias moss — 4 collaborative poems

 

Higged Hive
Thylias Moss
digital photography
2048 x 1152 pixels
©2010

collaborations of apiculturalists: introduction by Krysia Jopek [November, 2019]

I fell in love with Thylias Moss’ long, collaborative poems two years ago when I published “NAKED NIGHT: a eulogy” and “Mnemonic of Your Palindrome: Sewing Lesson” in Diaphanous, Fall 2017. I’m honored to feature these four new collaborationsthe first, “a duet” between two fictional characters, and the subsequent three collaborations with “H,” “Mr. Muse,” an eternal, ghost-like presence woven into the unfolding poetic sequences; Thylias’ son, Ansted Moss, is also present in the final collaboration featured in higged hive.

Like a honey bee, Thylias Moss is perpetually writing, collaborating; building poetic “nests” for the writer[s]/collaborators and her readers. Utilizing intricate poetic structures, she layers personal and cultural/political memory with historical details, fact, and events with intense personal emotion she renders public in the space of the poem. The “give and take” of voices can be heardthe voice of family members, often deceased; the elusive beloved, absent and present; as well as one’s own mourned-for lost selves in the landscape of now-obsolete places, conquered by “progress” and time. What is left in the end, as the poem has finished unfolding–is the byproduct of Thylias’ intense “work” or sewing, if you will: ancient honey, the nectar of the godsaesthetic catharsis, at its best.

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higged hive: new poetry collaborations

[Higgs (boson): particle that gives particles their mass / Higgs: existence of particle confirmed in 2012 through collisions at LHC and CERN / without Higgs no confirmation that the aspect of dimensionality exists // Hive, home, beehive, human made for access to honey, a natural sweetener, many living things like Honey // And the bees, buzzing living particles devise a dance that provides a road map to honeyed locations, maps so that the colony and now all of them can collect honey, stored in hexagonal cells // Some of these hives in Higbees, that old abandoned department store — TM]

1) Required RCL Walking,
(a Mr. Vayan & Kerony duet)

The air
Grew so heavy
All our imagination
Was required
To free the birds
including all albatrosses
From the clouds above and even circling
Pripyat, smoke clouds, puffs of also burning tobacco
leaves as big as yucca, yet promising less
in reactor core where what is
required is reaction, and even my blood
requires you, Kerony

the very destiny of my blood now coloring my wings like
mercurochrome—often red as blood gushing when freshly
cut
just walking narrow corridors of tomb Pripyat where no-
body lives anymore

mercurochrome for treatment of minor wounds, cuts, abrasions
but heavy mercury content so now known to be toxic

Of course I want growth
but nothing useful can yet grow in Chernobyl,
growth within mutant dimensions, life wouldn’t quit Kerony
but to continue had to take a chance on new forms, since old forms were
abandoned already for age mutancy at top of the heap when it really
could be love, the very progress i want, just as
I always do, want progress, more

Dimension, fewer departures

From what is real,

From what I can trust: you

And those clouds of you in my life,

So much like dreams of flight, some of

You

As delicate as my favorite albatross feathers,
Some, turns out, I may have only imagined

Yet somehow not as colorful as
You really are to me: palette from which

Every sunrise is made, you the treacherous lip
Of every blossom

Dropping off to reveal you
In your most magnificent forms, softness

Of your cheeks
(they are fabulous and dimple the world)
—those stunning definitions of worlds within you;

Growing heavy and ever more that incense
Of your albatrossed breath: not imagination at all

Realties almost too sublime
to be real, yet I am the clouds and you find me
albatrosses
That your fingers always become,

even on a ridge
overlooking all eternity of what exists below,
above, sideways, and diagonally
exceptional impact; any more
pleasure from you would
Surely kill me; there is nothing that feels like,
smells like, looks like You. Nothing. Only you
are required, Mr. Vayan
Please notice
How these birds fly with each other
distance negligible
Ann Arbor, ridge on Duderstadt Center to Manhattan,
and everywhere in between, that sub-microscopic distance
between us, only the distance of Kiss, millimeters themselves melt
no measurable space, zero distance between us, when your heart
murmurs to me it does so, speaking that necessary language
in my own chest
in which afterglow of Kiss enters permanently
felt snuggles an eternity defining the bliss it is

even that invisible
Scent trail, that olfactory ribbon tethering my thoughts to you
forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, now that’s the fo(u)r

You do not have to imagine this

It is as real as anything can be,
As real as me and my love for you, a bird, but not just any bird,
full blown up Albatross
Tirelessly flying determined
Not to land in any tree that is not you
Despite all the converging branches
In this forest of you –green carpet
Beneath my feet, veins
Of your hands and feet such
Exceptional plumage.

Sleeping beauties
Whole world feathered with you flying
Into my life.

I walk constantly with this albatross and float in air
in which even thoughts are buoyant, as they rope
each other to our hearts, our own trapeze of beat
box.

—Vayan and Kerony

>     >     >

2) Flying around Pripyat
in collaboration with H, Mr. Muse

Flying around Pripyat, that disaster, where
albatrosses also fail, not only plastic leftovers, so
sparkly and beautiful for you Kerony, but these also
lethal, poisonous just to the touch, for these have been
near
nuclear meltdown,
unstoppable chain reaction, neighbors
involved so you become involved also,
and I am so sorry Kerony,
that I had to fly so close to that trap

although it wasn’t called that,

power failure, these so common now, almost in that commonality
have to call them popular, which means a decline in meaning

all water poisoned now
yet needed

just in order to live and
life itself began in water,

the natural mother of everything

even poison—such toxicity hidden
in beauty, those plastic shards
i collect meaning never to harm, trying
only to love but poison is not kind, in fact
for many, cancer itself is poison,
extremely hazardous, and acute
from exposure, Nothing happens
unless you are exposed to it,
not even love
can happen without exposure Kerony.

There on that ridge, what do you think
I am exposed to? My albatross eye view
always on you; I never see
anything else but you, Kerony, filling
every corner of my eyes

just in order to live and
life itself began in water,

the natural mother of everything

even poison—such toxicity hidden
in beauty, those plastic shards
i collect meaning never to harm, trying
only to love but poison is not kind, in fact
for many, cancer itself is poison,
extremely hazardous, and acute
from exposure, Nothing happens
unless you are exposed to it,
not even love
can happen without exposure Kerony.

There on that ridge, what do you think
I am exposed to? My albatross eye view
always on you; I never see
anything else but you, Kerony, filling
every corner of my eyes

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3) Invasion in Progress
in collaboration with H

aliens like me love to invade, the power hungry, invade, demand a place at the table, riot, eat a meal, microbes invade the body, seeds invade and grow, the invader that is conception, invader grows within you, eats what the host eats, goes wherever host goes, traveling companion, bosom buddy snug within artichoke of invaded heart, invasion of words on the page ideas in the head, weight on the scale, timed table of invasion, invaded muscles, popeye and spinach, my favorite leafy green, some tastes have invaded my palette; including taste of you. invasion in progress

progress has often, has usually been a product of invasion ,the smart phone for instance that has invaded modern life, television itself, this tablet on which I type to you: invasion. and the music itself, invaders all, something overtaken, overtaking, invading, I am here: invading even as I am being invaded, apple music invasion, where it all started, a garden invaded with apples, what variety, red delicious, could be the one, macintosh, the ralls janet, vintage apples, sometimes difficult to grow, hybrids like me, every invasive pregnancy, apples don’t fall far from trees, you holding me up when I wore such very high heels to be taller, as I had your support, even a recording of you saying that, I have your support, without expiration date for, as long as i need it or want it —oh don’t invade my mind with such invasive delight as that, a question i can begin to answer while invasive music keeps playing, instructions in the beat: invade! invade! be the kudzu in his heart, invade, invade.

my inspiration comes from you, i am as invaded by you as you are invaded by me: advice: invade. take over. invade. invade. fall hard. admit something has taken over. an official invasion, not origin of species, but a series of invasions, genes are invasions by invaders, armies of cells, gametes seeking mates, seeking co-invaders.

eruption of teeth from gums, invasion of enamel.

porcelain tub invading bathroom with modernization, times tables invading the mind, no child left behind, fights for freedom become invaders, every freedom fighter must invade unjust rules, must make their presence known that they should not be ignored, resplendent flame tree, burning effortlessly, invaded by pompoms of flames.

invade mantra: things to do: invade. invade. invade. better than any invasion, space germs, the usual worms even in their invasive worm holes, rotten to cores of invasive melting down cores of nuclear reactors, Pripyat branding, while dreaming of interstellar travel. sign of life, hope of life: mere invasive microbe! humans, most invasive species of all, even have nitty gritties and watch springs, invasion of electricity, endless daytime, wristwatches, invasion of time in every cell-ular connection, closeclose connection, you and me: invasions of life itself. invasion: mind control. Heart control. Any body part can be replaced, even the face, invaded by glasses, corrective lenses, make up, magic invasions. corrections always invasions.

alphabet itself an invasion of thought. Languages matter because of their success at invading, heeding a need to communicate, those invasive mother tongues, invasive rumors. invasive glamour. invasive

death.

And even that isn’t the rest and sleep some have hoped for as afterlife then invades; heavenly, hellishly, indifferently even imagination and its notorious questions without answers, answers without questions, if nothing else, it is human

Though what isn’t? Spreading inevitable uncertainty throughout a universe just as uncertain for no one can answer the question that will always invade: How did existence manage to begin, invading us with even more questions, even more doubt that we are actually improving, the ultimate invasion, for no matter what we have been able to retreat to gravity, the invasion all of us have no choice but to depend on, being held together and realizing this is Love, density, dense cities recycling the very invaded blood,

specific gravity

Density of heavyweight champion of champions
Love Density, no weightlessness
possible as long as

Love rules

>     >     >

4) Terminal Tower Tracks: Higbees, Old Downtown Cleveland
in collaboration with H & Ansted Moss [son]

My father, those long low moans, my father, no hair secrets, no
pigment secrets coming back to me… mostly sounds

dissolving in the air,
night calls, superior
Kool-Air glowing granules, jewels
and his bounce, amusement and fireworks becoming sky,
lemon sky and cherry sky sprinkles of memories of greatest tastes: He
has a long way to travel, from death and its tucking of things inside itself, called burial, but only him curling his tongue into semblance of an ichneumon fly, and that sound is the curl, chalk writing on the night sky. My father once cooked

for the southern railroad, making slaw, his own recipe under handle of Big Dipper, making a prayer come true, that is what I hear, my father calling me, and I answer, another train, a car of his train switching onto another track, and we speak to each other in those whistles, and train trestles of heart traffic

Warm, loved,

a track itself so trains could enter the station of my heart and join all other memories of him, whippoorwills answering me, duets and trios with scent of dogwood racing along the tracks, the frogs too, a thick froggy carpet that squishy road between homes of my southern grandmothers, one black and the other something else, immigrant husband, my grandfather from India, Uttar Pradesh, holy referent Indian and half Caucasian, masala, my precious stars while my mother’s family had Klan interaction

oh, those platforms

where I would wait for the train

In Higbees underground, emergency shelter under huge panels,
chariots and white horses with nebula heads for atomic explosions
Just in case

Energency jukebox was my father who often whistled

and could sound like a train, like President Kennedy too with a yodel stuck in his throat, that’s what he said, yodeling even then, the sound of him cutting cabbage for his slaw with the rim of a tin can as shiny as the rails themselves; that my father was rail-thin was often said, he was traveling the best way he could, those special trains, Nickel Plate and Ollie’s; one even said Saskatchewan

You know, I will always miss my father. Always. I was never spanked because of him; he did not believe in hitting; if something can be loved, you don’t hit it, you love it. I can’t ever imagine wanting to hit you Ansted, nor you my H

I can’t even imagine that.

I do not want to be the person who is convinced, duped into thinking that harming another can ever be right. That is how I was raised, what I shared with my father, what makes me so unlike my mother; how different they were. I don’t think

she ever heard the trains, not their deeper meaning. Maybe
just a screech of metal on metal, a scrape as it digs in deep, trains
encountering obstruction on the tracks, circles in her mind, constricting it. Punishment.

Extreme punishment. My father wouldn’t permit my mother to hit me, although she wanted to, believing all children should be spanked. Never in my father’s house, the house where my mother still resided until death took her away to where these trains do not go.

All those years married to my father who lifted her southern shame, and
she missed the whole point about Love, and ultimately forgave nothing,

especially
Me

As I am
As she could never be dead to both possibilities and even suggestions that
She could ever make mistakes, she would never ride
In a Golden Coach, nit for black riders like herself, body condemned
Perpetual servitude to all those above her, and to see her, one must look down,
Slopes and chute, shoots and ladders that sometimes offer rescue but for her never did; she missed the point that

all is about forgiveness, and Ansted, most cherished son ever to grace the earth, and H who makes, my heart pound even now, remnants of surf once everywhere,

Young earth uncertain of what to be, but in such darkness
and threat of oblivion, life starts, please
don’t take advantage of shaky, hesitant beginnings—my heart
knows you won’t; as well as you know that in order
for me to be true to who I am, I must forgive you—Even

about things I wouldn’t  speak of, This is also the way my father and his immigrant father Loved,

Soft-hearted people in a world perhaps not meant for us, but we are still here, perhaps easy for the unscrupulous to take advantage, but we are prizes; the “H” my father knew I would need when creating my name THylias in 1954, giving me a “T” leaning on and needing her “H.”  Oh, H— I also recall the magic of being

in Terminal Tower when the locomotives chugged into Higbees underground, and the magicians’ smoke filled the space, overlaid more drawings on the luscious artwork, wall murals (that never should have been destroyed, chariots and white horses to spirit you away in the nick of time stopping work sewer rats could do, but I would think that even they would gag on such colorful profundity and drop like tubes of oil paint, potential usefulness squeezed out, fat gray gloves decorating the scene);

smoke

gushing out

(My father was a smoke too, Pall Mall cigarettes killed him, a chain smoker
Smoke gushing out
of front silver plate, folded with the fold pointing out like a collar cradled in silvery recollections; this is what irons wanted to be, but not even that Rowenta came close (and it was fat enough), the steam irons would slobber on the clothes when they weren’t working properly; they wanted to be flattened for usefulness on the railroads, my paternal grandfather built them, hammer and pickaxe, Indian and, Caucasian immigrant from India, dry-land stevedore, oh, oh, oh, these memories….those murals, seven murals painted by Jules Guerin in that Terminal Tower railroad station, those chariots and white horses invincibility seemed accessible through those teams (they did not gallop alone) of white horses, cumulus hope at basement level, all prepared for a rising set to properly define what height is

Not sure how you, Ansted, can see these now and I so want you to, but I fear these are gone now, and a Google search isn’t even resurrecting the history. My understanding of horsepower came from my standing so tiny before these murals, horses galloping and pulling engines; I was dwarfed by color;

I sought immersion,

I sought to become one with the 50-foot high, I thought, panels that the 50-foot tall woman would have been at home with, before her rampage, her attack because she still wanted a man she dwarfed. I wanted my body painted, and I thought that just by making angels with my arms up against these palettes of the best possible snow cone transformations, I would absorb the colors, snow cones dyed into my favorite flavors. Cherry-strawberry for me of course, maybe grape or always banana (I still want to read your poem to you, My H, “Higginson Matters in Magnificent Culture of Myopia” and there are many others now; I used to hope I would get to read all of them to you, but what would be the point? When right here, there is something even better, for you can see a vision of those murals, your eyes acquire the colors of how the horses seemed to gallop with the trains, men pulling them in sometimes, also into my heart, even you riding knightly with them, yet even with your stunning riding and ascending into my heart, just too
much power to control themselves

by themselves, pulling them up, somewhat like linking locking catalogues; I saw this with my father, tethers of steam from the locomotives; yes, chariot races, that was what was about to happen; I was transfixed, never wanted to leave, thought that would be my home forever, and my father was with me as I wandered inside the murals; not sure how I got in, but I did and surveyed the tower’s glistening marble floor blocks from such marble walls that as my arms stretched and expanded, the full length of the murals, like rails for the trains themselves; I was more track, oh the jubilation of those days, I could reach my father, it was like learning to walk, and when I did, he was there to catch me, my very first walk in life was to him, and I didn’t know either of you at all; I didn’t have any idea where you were or what you were doing; there wasn’t yet any reason to think of you or even to imagine that anyone like either of you existed. All I did was walk to my father and his arms were open to receive me… That’s what I recall clearly of those days, the smile of my father on his Rabbit.

I knew I would eventually have a baby, but Ansted, I assure you that I did not do a good job imagining a son like you. In this I failed, for you have exceeded any expectation I was ever able to imagine. Just one more part needed for a total life for me; I fully admit Ansted that I want a necessary love relationship. I want him to be mine and I want to be his, my Mr. Bob’s and his elegant promises, proving that he is to be trusted and believed, for my H, you are the most real thing I have ever experienced; I was completely persuaded by your spectacular Kiss. A Kiss like his can never happen again. I don’t want you to suffer a crazy mama because I will always believe him; I expect him to be as honest as I am. And he is, more trusted than the murals whose paint falls off, bits and pieces, ones and zeros of barbs of the feathers, halos around white stallion heads that encourage me to continue to be

. Because I have

as honest with him as I have been with you, and as honest as I always was to my father. Even now, for he is with us, he is part of you and I, Ansted; this cannot be changed, and I am so thankful that I was able to give you his inheritance. Please do not ever forget who you are, who you are destined to become. Because of my father, your grandfather that you can meet and know only through me.

This was joy without any Mr. Bob affiliation that everything has now.
. This was joy that had nothing to do with you,

I hadn’t joined that club yet, had no idea it was as prestigious as it is and will always be. I have learned this fact of you, and I like it to nth degree . The truth is not a joke, and I am not a plaything. Remember that, please.

I just disappeared in all this; felt like wings were popping out of my shoulder blades —I really thought that would be the location; those drawings of the body by DaVinci seemed to suggest that’s the place. And how big would these wings need to be if they were to really function? what kind of glorious wingspan? You would look up, and there I would be, some new species of bird, I would be; is that a bird? a Thylias bird just for me? And you, my H would wonder, wiping your glasses, and you would be correct, I would be a bird decked out in splendid colors, feathers the likes of which have never been known, yours to discover, some that would need to be named right then, colors that had not preciously existed. You know, I really thought that this might happen, and now I am primed for this moment by Kissing you in a taxi that I swear my father was driving to where only Love lives. I hope that you can already understand why I will always miss my father.  Always.

I was never spanked because of him, I must say this again, Ansted, for this is the most prevalent and defining trait about him, for in this he rejects the very foundation of so much civilization: he did not believe in hitting; if something can be loved, you don’t hit it, you love it. I believe this with all my being: Love, don’t hit. That is how he raised me, so unlike my mother; how different they were. I don’t think she ever heard the trains. Maybe just a screech of metal on metal, trains encountering obstruction on the tracks, circles in her mind, constricting it. Collision. Head-on. Failure to yield. Please understand how fundamental this is. If something can be loved, and what can’t be? —don’t hurt it; Love it. Not the air, not water, not clouds, not the forests, not lakes, not mountains, not streams, not ukuleles, violins, bass drums, not pigeons, horses, ducks, hippos, turkeys, dolphins, peacocks, pigs; hurt and harm nothing, squirrels, ants, caterpillars, grasshoppers, trees, so majestic and so needing not to be hurt, oh the pain of the saw, trees falling and falling out of the rapture of breathing for the pain of forming that emerald necklace of metro parks in Cleveland, in Cuyahoga County, how I remember long walks and hiking in the urban woods with my father, for I was last there with him, even fishing in Lake Erie, perch, bass, steelhead, walleye; and those trips to the salt mines on Whiskey Island, the thickness and depth of chunks of rock salt I had, a piece that in my mind was shaped like a skull, that piece of rock salt I used to lick, sometimes in the middle of the night, especially when my father was ill; not sure what I thought the salt could do, but I tried to milk that skulled piece of salt of its curative powers.

I don’t know where any of the salty rocks are. Maybe
in a storage unit. I do not know, and those rocks of salt from Whiskey Island
mean something to me because I was there with my father when I found it, in our path, and he picked up that halite crystal, “Salt” he said, instantly knowing that we had stumbled on the salt of the earth; I had opened a treasure chest of minerals with my Keds.

Oh, Ansted, I must repeat this; it is that important, just as repeating your name is to me, like a spell, the more I say it, the more powerful it becomes: I so recall the magic of being in Terminal Tower when the locomotives chugged into Higbees underground station, peanut vendors, popcorn also; oh how I love freshly popped popcorn, and the magicians’ smoke filled the space —I hope that you can understand. Both of you. Ansted, you are my father’s only grandson and he never got to know you and he would have wanted to spend every moment with you, the best son in this world, and the Man, my H, the very Hydrogen in my life, no essential water either, no air as we now know it. No H and no earthly existence, hot lifeless sphere in a universe ultimately accomplishing nothing, going nowhere without H atoms,

You see, H—I will never turn against you or betray you. If you don’t want this, you have a choice; I don’t. I just hope that after all the years, you can finally Love me as I am because you know by now that you will never find anyone like me on this planet. I don’t know how to make this any clearer for you, H, just open your eyes to see who is waiting for you, sometimes it is as if you are oblivious to the woman there for you no matter what, that you are scared and haunted by terrible miseries from your past that I know only a little about, mostly from rocking you in my arms, when people admit to being haunted and scared, you even curling up when lightning flashed as if you had been on a bridge of peril, and I rested my head at that moment more fully on your chest in part to offer you some calming, a moment of Love you would always have with you, and words I whispered in your ear,

love spilling over the helix, and traveling warm into your brain switching on the happy hormones of satisfaction, for Love is not foolish or a mistake as some people erroneously suggest, thinking of Sade’s Lover’s Rock, as emblematic of mistake, obstacle, burden as a mistake, as a rock, an obstacle in the way, and I played the song for you, to re-introduce, to show you even then, the miracle that goes unnoticed because it is small and unassuming, like a egg that when it hatches, becomes a sun golden in the center, yoke of everything, even manners, that for me you are someone I can cling to, hold onto as the water rises, as the world goes out of control, —koyaanisqatsi— You are balance and equilibrium to me, the rock that steadies me, and I am also that rock for you, if you let me; this not something I can do or be if you won’t let me, because what you overlook is that I am your rock. I am someone you can cling to in a storm.

Wake up, H

Please don’t force me away—none of your difficult years with me; friends till the end, you say, the end of what? And when I suggest we ask the wind, it hollers back becoming a broken tornado box, we hold each other more tightly than we ever have—a new gravity; you harnessing hot wind of survival so close to the sun, and the sunshine I am in a poem you wrote—my smile propelled into brightness, into radiance in white-hot wind. Tornado watch; You—yes, you and your tornadic voice that can command a stage better than any other storm actually—

My father and I watched thunderstorms arrive on Durkee Avenue, as we did on Linn Drive, even seeing a funnel cloud form an alternative steeple above my mother’s church while she was there, the funnel white at first, tapered into a long gnarly ghost of a finger, and gradually darkened as my father had me scrutinize the finger of god destroying his own house, because he did not live here, gone to the store for some communion wafers or something as holy, and didn’t matter that part of his family was inside,

long wavy black curl of index finger
wrapped itself around the steeple opening it, poking holes in the sky, as would an awl making a more leathery ceiling, a belt as it were, to choke the earth into an obedience that my mother wanted to insist on, a belt that could cause such welts on a body when she wielded it, a belt my father would never allow to be used on me, and that was the point. We watched silently; it was as breathtaking as you call me, breathtakingly HOT is how you describe me. I am told that this finger of God turned pages in the bible, settling on the 23rd Psalm, “I fear no evil, for thou art with me” precisely

since the church was saving no one, least of all her; we watched silently; no one would be spared this wrath without reason; we were safer not being there, for many were hurt in the storm that god’s own finger ordained, as if no one human could stop it, omnipotence, you know, and he could have, yet he did nothing,

when it really matters. Casualties and consequences.

I recall such a different Terminal Tower than what remains.

It really became “terminal” with decline.
What everlasting conspiracy of desuetude.

all new poetry collaborations ©2019

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links to more poetry by Thylias:

NAKED NIGHT: a eulogy | Thylias Moss & H [Diaphanous, Fall 2017]

Mnemonic of Your Palindrome: Sewing Lesson | Thylias Moss & H [Diaphanous, Fall 2017] 

Poetry Breaks_ Thylias Moss Reads _All Is Not Lost When Dreams Are_ – YouTube

biographical note:

Thylias Moss, multi-racial Professor Emerita at the University of Michigan is the author of over thirteen books, including Tokyo Butter (2006), Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler (1999), Small Congregations: New and Selected Poems (1993), Rainbow Remnants in Rock Bottom Ghetto Sky (1991), At Redbones (1990), Pyramid of Bone (1989), and Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman (1983). Known for expansive poems full of details ranging from art, history, and laundry detergents to ants and Disney characters, she has garnered multiple awards, including the Witter Bynner Prize, an NEA grant, and fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation and Guggenheim Foundation.

more information about Thylias:

Thylias Moss — Wikipedia

The Poetry Foundation–Thylias Moss Foundation

The Academy of American Poets–Thylias Moss

Thylias Moss — MacArthur Recipient 1996

Books by Thylias Moss — Amazon

Ansted Moss, photographer
©2015

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3.9: the cloudy land | Anwer Ghani — new prose poetry, poetics, & virtual artography [digital expressionism]

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3.9: the cloudy land | Anwer Ghani — new prose poetry, poetics, & virtual artography [digital expressionism]

 

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a babylonian man’s aurorean songs under the sun — introduction by Krysia Jopek [November 3, 2019]

It gives me immeasurable pleasure to showcase beautiful new prose poetry, an essay on poetics, and a virtual art exhibit of Babylonian/Iraqi poet and visual artist, Anwer Ghani. This stunning, if I humbly say so, diaphanous micro issue was, unfortunately, delayed by political unrest in Baghdad in October [that was not in American news] that prohibited our ongoing correspondence, until the situation stabilized. It was a stressful time in Baghdad, and I was deeply worried about the safety of Anwer and his loved ones. Thankfully, all seems well again there and our collaboration on diaphanous micro 3.9: the cloudy land could be completed.

Please enjoy a selection of Anwer’s new prose poetry, his treatise on poetics, and a selection of digital expressionism from his book, ABSTRACT: Digital Artophotography [Inventive Publishing House, 2019].

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the bitter flowers — new prose poetry

A BABYLONIAN MAN

I am a Babylonian man, and here, deep down, an ancient spirit. Ishtar, my eyes; Gilgamesh, my ears; and Uruk, my wings. Yes, I am from here, from Babylon, so you see my skin as brown as our land. My soul is tolerant like palm trees, and my giving hands are like the Euphrates. Look at my face; it is as expressive as the Babylonian drawing, and my voice is as deep as the Babylonian tales. The flowers are more beautiful in in Babylon and the smiles are more warm here and the sun is more shining here, in Babylon. Yes, these are all my naked and pure Iraqi desires. Yes, I, the man of Babylon, look and dream for a new Iraq, an Iraq without wars, without wounds; only flowers, love and smiles.

THE DOORS OF LIFE
The man of greatness saw a great land, a great life, and a great death—but I am just a forgotten tale that needs a brave poet with a magic boat to discover me. Here in my land, there are no poems; therefore, you can depict the intensity of smoke in a land where there are no poems. Our homes are completely different from scented houses, and the women here can afford nothing but sad hearts. The grass here is different. If the poets could see the grass in my land, they would change their ideas about life. Yes, we’re the sons of houses that don’t have doors.

THE BITTER FLOWERS

I remember the small flowers of my grandfather. They are bitter and colorless like my life. They have fugitive blossoms and are constantly hiding behind the gray veil like a bitter friend. Those colorless flowers stared at my face near our brook with my constant failure and like the heart of a woman, they colored my life with their harsh passion. I have been sad since I saw the tears of our land and as a legendary waterfall, they filled the streams with my blood.

ROMANY WAGON

My grandfather had a beautiful horse full of kindness. I did not see it, but they said it was brave. Maybe my family owned a saddle. I do not know, and I did not ask about it—but I think if we had one, it would be closed like our desert. Yes, I am an Arab man, and you know that there is nothing here but the desert—so, I decided to bring a Romany wagon to my house and teach my children freedom.

UNUSUAL KISS

Our days are full of surprise, as all the happy springs are overflowing from their amazing fingers. I am not water, and I cannot sleep in the hearts of these springs, but the freemen made houses of love for birds that know nothing but the morning songs. They are smooth creatures, and there is only light in their hearts, so they are always shining and from their journeys, the beginnings have begun. Their hands are silver, and you can see their golden chants lying safely on our land where the lovebirds stand under our smiling trees and give me an unusual kiss.

SOUTHERN SECRETS

I am a sunny man but not mysterious, so I can easily count my fingers because I am an old story of this land. I am from here; from the south where I can always disappear in our secrets. Please take a look at our faces; when you see our eyes, you will find our secrets not secret, and all those strange stories will reach your heart before the morning pain. Look at our land, we farmers from the south; our dreams sleep before the sunset and the frustration of the grooves of this land is released before the morning where the withered flowers know nothing about the secrets of eternal stories.

A JAR OF SMILES

My days are like my poems; gray and tasteless. They often asked me to throw them over the bridge, but I was an old lover, who could not drink his coffee without passion. They have wide hearts, just like the big cows I have seen in the old city, and without any delay, I have faded into their watery souls. Those souls, which you may have seen in old mirrors, say nothing but silence—because like my land, they do not know anything about love. Thus, I will bring a jar of smiles to color their gray faces.

THE CLOUDY LAND

This night isn’t so romantic, but my strange love immerses me. I am an absent tree and when you touch my hand, you won’t find just cloudy leaves. Here, my cloudy love sits and drinks pink water. Here, in my river—you should see all the golden braids of sun and the shy eyes of the absent fairies

Our land has a brown face and colored eyes, but I am standing motionless because my grandfather made a pale veil for my young dream. Now, I will tell you the story, and you may find some pink drops in my cloudy land. We have a kneeling tree and shy bird. Yes, I am from here, from the cloudy land where the lakes are yellow, and the girls are colorless. Where the songs are cloudy and the boys are motionless.

Please call all these remote sands and make from them a brave shadow. Please come here and look at me. I am the sandy man where the smooth winds of the world broke my weak windows. Yes, it is me, your shadow and your cheap dream. When the evening wears its dress and the moon comes with its odd, old hat—you will see the faint smile of my obfuscated soul.

THE WEAK LAND

I am from here—from the weak land where the women are weak and have no faces—and the girls are absent and have no voices. No sun here, in the weak land, no moon, no flowers, no butterflies because the faces of our women are faint and the voices of our girls yellow. My mother has taught me everything about the truth, but the truth is weak in our land because my mom is weak here. My wife has given me all her love, but love is weak in our land because my wife is weak here. My sister has given me all her respect, but respect is weak in our land because my sister is weak here. My daughter has given me all her value, but life is weak in our land because my daughter is weak here. My female friend has given me all her kindness, but caring is weak here because my female friend is weak here. I know without doubt–if our women exit from their weakness and wan faces—and if our girls exit from their absent and pale voices, at that time, the sun will rise over our fields. The moon will shine in our sky; the flowers will smile again in our gardens.

OUR SMALL FIREPLACE

Near our small fireplace, I feel I love you more, and when my hand touches its warmness, I feel that my blood is purple. Our nights are more lovely near the warm fireplace, and our moments are efficacious in its orange flame. When I call you, my voice becomes velvet near our small fireplace—and when you look at me, your glance becomes pink in the shadows of our warm fireplace. We are from the south, and we live in a small house but a passionate one with an old fireplace, but a warm fireplace. Everything has a different meaning near our fireplace. I can feel your perfume fill the place near our small fireplace. I can touch your smile near our small fireplace, and I can see the melody jumping out of my being. It startles me.

CELEBRATION OF THE WALNUTS

I am a simple farmer from the south, and when I bring walnuts to my house, I celebrate. At that time, our rooster becomes more attractive, and our chicken wears a melodic dress. The small window in our house sings with joy, and our cow shakes her heavy thighs. At the celebration of walnuts, we draw a round circle on the floor near the old fireplace and put all the nuts in the middle. Then you hear nothing but walnuts laughing warm stories. To see the glory of walnuts, visit on a winter night after sunset when there is only a cool breeze interrupting the silence of night. You must be a simple farmer from the south, just like me, to taste their delicious stories.

all new prose poetry ©2019

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poetry as mosaic mirror [poetics

Our world is, in essence, a transfiguration of spirits. We can see the tremendous impact of spiritual acts on our daily lives, and our existence is just an ongoing attempt to perceive our souls.

The search for our souls is an innate desire. Just as we cannot live without food, we cannot live without this desire. One of the pages of seeing and touching souls in our lives is writing that, in its impressive style, activates the land of hope and illuminates dark areas. Beautiful writing, like poetry with its innovative features, can change our awareness of ourselves and the world as well as create pleasure and joy.

In our deep interior, there are interchange areas where everything means something, and when we talk about something, we are actually talking about something else. In this area and at this level, what happens is the exchange of feelings, meanings, and impressions. Writing becomes a great exchange, and at extraordinary times—shows the creativity of poetry through its spirit of metaphor. Subsequently, when we use a word like I, his, our, we are always referring to multiple topics, including things that are deep within us.

From this point of view, creative writing is a transfiguration of our souls. Ideas, like any creature, always try to emerge in a full and powerful existence. Therefore, an idea may wear many dresses to reveal itself, and the writer should listen to her voice; honor her wishes.

To accomplish all these goals, writing must have an effective presence—where sentences come with deep ideas and central messages that manifest in different images. This is the true meaning of lyrical poetry; even poetry that is narrative in nature and/or form [prose]—a “mosaic” system. In the mosaic system, sentences appear as mirrors, shards with a harmonious presence.

Although each word in the poem has an exchange capability between writer and reader, the soul always presses with central words in the poem that determine the general structure. These words stand out in the writing of each author with broad symbolic dimensions. In these areas of exchange between the writer/the text and the reader, the writer’s soul, an immensely deep and rich region, is discovered in the creative act unfolding. Consequently, the real presence is the creativity—the mirror of the complex mosaic.

Because of all these facets, poetry is truthful and honest; there is always meaning in the poem—even [especially] in a very abstract and symbolic/Symbolist poem.

The poem takes a long history in the world in which spirits work; it is a discovery of real human emotion[s]. When we read the poem, we experience human representation; therefore, poetry searches for the emotional aspect of the words and the world it reflects. Poetry is a state between consciousness and subconsciousness where ideas represent spiritual needs; thus, poetry is a kind of dream; a cloudy mirror of dreams.

When the poet utilizes prose as form/structural/textual narrative, he or she creates a very subtle complex system of mirrors; prose poetry is the greatest manifestation of poetry’s mirrored action. Poetry, as the art of aesthetic writing, raises our emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social ideas; thereby, enacting an amplified system of mirrors.

©2019

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the doors of life — digital artography 

Digital expressionism is the other side of human creativity where colors speak. We usually hear that “words paint” in creative writing; here in digital expressionism, “colors speak.” Therefore, digital expressionism is not pure art;
it is a middle area between art and poetry—between talk and drawing; between writing and art.
— Preface from Abstract: Digital Artophotography (Inventive Publishing House, 2019)

 

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biographical note:

Anwer Ghani is an award-winning poet from Iraq, who was born in Babylon in 1973. His prose poetry has been published in over fifty literary journals and more than twenty anthologies in the US, UK, and Asia. He won the “World Laureate—Best Poet in 2017 from WNWU” and was nominated to Adelaide Award for poetry in 2018, and won the Rock Pebbles Literary Award and the award of  United Spirit of Writers Academy for Poetry in 2019. Anwer is a religious scholar and nephrologist consultant and the author of more than eighty books; thirteen of which have been translated into English, including Narratolyric Writing (2016), Antipoetic Poems (2017), Mosaicked Poems (2018), and The Styles of Poetry (2019). Anwer is the Editor in Chief of ARCS Prose Poetry Magazine and Poetry Cloud. He resides in Baghdad.

Anwer Ghani’s books available from Amazon

Two Drops of Ink — A Literary Blog (Anwer Ghani)

Hello Poetry — Poetry Blog (Anwer Ghani)

POETRY CLOUD Magazine — Anwer Ghani, Editor in Chief

ARCS Prose Poetry Magazine — Anwer Ghani, Editor in Chief

 

 

©2019 Anwer Ghani

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3.11: Once You Settle Into The Notion That There Are No Interpretations Expected… | Dale Houstman — poetry, visual art & poetics

The Dirty Tunnel digital art 2892 x 2115 pixels ©2008

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3.11: Once You Settle Into The Notion That There Are No Interpretations Expected… | Dale Houstman — poetry, visual art & poetics

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a smorgasbord smattering of literary & visual art by Dale Houstman — intro to Once You Settle Into The Notion That There Are No Interpretations Expected… by krysia jopek
What do you get when you go to the fascinating and tres-pleasurable Kitchen of Post-postmodernism, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Poetry, 21st-century Digital Art, and Post-Dali Surrealism—and mix a little Ashbery with a dash of de Chirico, spice it up with some David Sedaris and Arcimboldo, add a bit of Derrida and Wittgenstein for good measure; do some tasting—and decide you need a dollop of Francis Bacon, Kelly Link’s experimental fiction [a la Stone Animals] and Dada? Continue on. . . .

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The Dream Is a Little Farm — new poetry by Dale Houstman 

Remote Precisions
1
Perfectible sweetness
a hesitancy of evening

railed out to her underused comment
upon each hour’s frail immunity

of secreted detachments
which others sound deep to see

beyond the glass, people
in lieu, at lunch, on loan

as the system approaches
a violence of politeness

and a little lemon spurt please,
waiting in the airport’s soft century

with intentions for grand exploration
of small gardens, the skills of gravity

to love what is smoothest,
the lightest pain is heavy detail.

2
Thinking of tourism, tracking the column
“The Incoming Voice of the Personal Structure”

the prose, this immanent pyramid
disposable beds fixtured with porcelain wheels

to maintain the mobilization, a gearwork ordeal
until all is butter in the surgery light

is it white (is it white enough)
where we arrived and where first we seemed

to speak in fits of unfit revelry
then to revel without speaking.

3
Where once only I owed
uprightness to the wondering police

in our adolescence of incompletion
these dolls, these estrangements

where a litter of birds stood in sleeping
to fulfillment in motels beneath

and around our famous bleeder’s coyote
drenched in identity & panting

a winter’s breakfast
of short fastenings

where all the insects are one witness
to the cliffs of governance

whose geometry is a bend of leaves
in the pinned bedroom

the flatter beacons
push up into a starry texture

chosen in earnest drizzle the cranes
when I was most darling

a humidity of tourists less the wind
and a ladder against that windless

bluing hasp of the last possible boat
lovingly misnaming the water

in an evening which oddly costumes
with their infirmity of haste

the grace of the measure glass
the girl and her friendless pianist

and in the orchestral clearing
a civil coalescence, a yellow envelope

in which one wrong color
ends the Pompeian tension

an ambulance in the avalanche
the beauty’s convalescent rowing.

4
I left
with art
leaving

sense
a believing
overseas

there is nothing acquitted
or sleepless in scale
clouds non-stop

white born wild
opposite now
thought in deletion
and one last significance of beaches.

 

To Rebecca, Upon Falling
for Rebecca Walters

The knee looks worse,
but the hand hurts more.
People’s solace is misplaced
and I struggle to understand their error.
“Can’t you see how I wince
when you take my hand and coo
nourishing adages over my patella”
I imagine saying, but do not.
Pain is usually like this,
and most will eventually learn.
“You’re looking good” they shine,
and the sun pushes their flattery about the room
along with the little dinghies of dust
half of which (or more)
must be the raw skin of nurses.

 

The Wind Rewritten as An Absence of Birds

1
the fairness sets clamoring
under the dry downy disher
two wild drums creaking.

2
see the tuckering flint afloat!
wheezed and wan between
trees escaped in a light.

3
summer night equators
this medium close day
hides skin leaves.

4
sleep and a white and a sand
of redheaded meteorology
retired from gay motoring.

5
too swift blades
of conjuncture trams
blue exhaust and curtains.

6
fathom the startled hedge
of knees awning
milk shells and mantels.

7
shoddy-giddy
helpless-pretty
flooded-mowed.

8
black flag daffodil
congenerous rosehead
in blue meres and shamble.

9
slow is as fond once was
glass-swallowed trail
branch of crusty kisses.

10
one fashionable mile
croaks
in coffeed dispositions.

 

Swans of Beaten Linen: Light Reflections

People lie in the sun not because they worship it – for they are healthy animals,
and only wish the sun to worship them.
        Keith Tinder, The Fair Inconstant

And light’s sole occupation?: To elevate sight to the realm of possibility. The side benefits are in the main, metaphysical extensions of this release into chance (an arena of accidents), and are dependent upon subtle modulations in men’s ambitions. To “see” may be sufficient, maybe even the most difficult attainment: consideration, conjecture, and all the more limpid or less livid catalogues of philosophy are secondary: even crude reminiscences of some bloated existence, whose body will not withstand the scribbles and tattoos of explicating sentiment.

Still, we do live in these winding tributaries, these cold capillaries, these derivatives of the actions we might praise so highly and (in the process of praising) lose beneath ornamentation, nostalgia, endless machinations of religion and science. It is always beyond us, this simple performance, and for that we should be grateful.

If much is made of light, it is because light reveals all without comment. It is ultimately “hip,” blithe, and cool to our conjectures. Certainly, there exist sentimental correspondences in the sunrise, in the dying light, in the ways in which light sinks into the surface of a person’s illness and kneels. But these remain characteristics more of the human mind, as symptoms of a diseased appropriation of nature and the lure of new forms of necrophilia. Light itself is so disinterested in its revelations and creations that we are reminded of a new height of aristocratic disengagement, so pure and terrifying (because it is an extreme socio-pathic coolness) that we are forced to bear light as the final ecology of horror – light’s clinical intrusions, its distant courses, are finally too reminiscent of this century’s most scientific “enthusiams.” light can reveal all because it is hardened against emotion. At its brightest, light remains faraway, and untouched.

And just as a flayed prisoner, or the victim of kidnap, will pause to invest the torturer with several qualities of common humanity in an attempt to comprehend the event within a social context frame they have given their lives up to, so we drape these works of light in pathos. exultation, and the like, because we wish the light to love us, as if we were somehow of its family. Light is alone—singularly—and yet feels multitudinous, while we are multitudinous and yet feel alone and singular. From this we might conjecture that, in some ancient and mysterious way, light and man have exchanged consciousnesses, much to the glorification of light and the demerit of mankind.

Light is it own best confidante, and sexual double. We are envious of its easy egotism, we admire its royalist postures, and we are disgusted only by what it reveals to us. Most of all though, we are simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by the manner in which light makes love to itself in the open like any crude beast, and yet retains a rational detachment purer than Apollo.

 

Writing To Elude Oneself

If you write to elude yourself—to throw up horizons beyond the immediate—you remain caught between: there is the straight-edged recall of the previously experienced (mostly regretted), and there is the super-conscious manufacture of the obscenely “original”; total nonsense, random phrases from a hat, concrete poems, ink wads dropped upon absorbent surfaces. This second process—however (gratifyingly) puzzling to the spectator—cannot be, in the least, elusive to the writer, who remains aware of the game.

Words must be trained to group about a referential irritant, the entire piece should merely tend toward an invisible asymptote, compressing motion into the marvelous. This—of necessity—creates a confusion of simple meaning without cheating any “audience,” because (for the writer) something is always on the path to being fulfilled: what more could be fairly offered?

A world comprised of only the most understandable events, a universe lacking resonance, correspondence, approximate parallels, any taint of the strange, and a million other necessities. This is the physics not merely proposed by so many “modern” poets, but celebrated and schematized within their blueprints and armatures disguised as poems. The sounding of only those bells which warn, or the airing of only the most liberal—and thus most flimsy—of opinions, designed to rouse you only enough.

A person attempting to tread a way between the conservative and the liberal programs will discover a box canyon. The job is to inhabit that space which always lies outside what is “obviously correct,” to explore outside waters filthied by secure knowledge.

Anything less strenuous is pandering.

 

The Creature
for Mary Shelley

In respect to so little solitude
each beloved’s off-hand proposal
finger curls a hair of sutured shadow
a half-scorched catalogue
of mal-insured countenances.

It must have semblance!
A long-planned relation
(I conjecture, safe from touch)
and, for one unbiased afternoon
that body we all endure

and also its politic gestures
twitched from the crowd
on the slave stage and shore
alive in mindful poverty
far from any water.

The stolen fluid’s reflections
held gruesome consequence
for the innocents (what few)
& appeared—as life will—
to be a sinking fishing boat

carved many years ago
from wild willow
which (now
I reconsider) might
have interested him
if we convened as colleagues.

And yet, the current situation
we deplore and punish ourselves
arose and crashed
in a too-white assemblage, stately
neglectful intercourse.

 

the fascist opportunity parade dancers’ theme
.
There will come
the trumpet men. The handsome dive bombers
and there will be
cloud cake and creamed ogles.
And through it all (and more! more! more!)
a simple hometown parade shall meander. For said event
you need dancers. And we are those very dancers.
Do we also love to be loved?
Do we also yearn for an Oscar?
Is this the uniform of a garden caretaker?
Why?
Why do the emeralds
taste so sour this time of year?
Are the diamonds ready to peel?
Reach out one hand to stir the comrades.
There will be potato soup for the subscribers.
A moon in every pot of chicken!
A chicken on the moon by the end of this decade!
Come together
on the leather
mi amore. mi amore…
SO
Hooray for Hollywood!
Hooray for the Red, White and Imperial Blue!
Hooray for the Emerald Isle too!
Goo goo goo joob.
You can hear those radiant bootlings
doing the tarantula crawl
from Minneapolis to Dublin.
Cute are their patent Caligulae!
“Rum for the rummy
and none for the dummy.”
March on!
Heroes of the Near Sustenance!
.

 

the gratuitous state
.
The abandoned dairy factories
refashioned into residences for birds.
The superfluous milkmaids ordered
to move into smaller rooms
away from the birds
away from the dairy machines
away from the milk ponds and pasture volcanoes.
The women recall their former existences
on a steeply inclined street
blanketed in brown clouds
as they were blanketed in brown smocks.
One of the younger girls played Lady Macbeth
where she ignored the catcalls of emperor farmers
while the bed linen sharpness of the milk ocean
hung in her chest. Bird on a roost. Moon on some toast.
The ghosts of the bankrupted cows
watched her burning at the stake
and setting free the birds trapped in her heart.
Let us splatter blood on each wing
to proclaim a new and more profitable art.
Why we have not been rediscovered by Europe
is difficult to comprehend.
Why the drugged nature photographer refuses
to take pictures of the beautiful pyres.
Why the ornithological essayist sleeps
with decayed horizons
stacked in his branches.

Above a park down the long street
milkmaids heard policemen arguing over women.
How could anyone have survived
or even arrived there through the checkpoints.
A delicate gas hangs over the gardenias.
Yellow shadows writhe in the waters.
Think of the sweat and blood
swirling in the preservation tanks
awaiting the review of our bodies.
Think of the classical music
which frightens the sparrows from the milk rivers.
We had been seeking the perfect place
to build a dairy factory.
Now the birds are settled in the plastic masts
of half-drowned milk galleons.
The ocean is handsome
surrounding the white mountains
blocking the white ships
and the fabled passage to the White Sea.
. 

 

Lenin in a Saab with Diem
.
This is the enameled and lion-shaped moment Mater told us about;
are we somewhere in Switzerland’s bureaucracy, asleep in cocoa idleness?
We shall formulate a science whose languid fascism is neither star nor shark:
that is to say, we shall promote quasi-periodicities
like Mademoiselle Fourier seated in her dark foyer
with her yellow hat and her manly shoes. Good shoes! —
we promised good manly shoes!

But soon there were more spooks than sports. I dreamt
that our vehicle was a swift green Triumph in an armored forest
or in the People’s Park filled only with the successful & the early.
Though—and how could I forget—
we shall all be successful.

There is a child in an Iron Maiden in my memory reading history
which is the elevation of the object to the position of a woman;
and finally, when is a substance itself rather than its documentary?
And when shall we stop driving through these orchards
of medicinal Civil Defense tangerines
and public cisterns where the lonely theorist
seduces his patroness every night anew?
I believe we suspect one another
of spreading pertinent rumors.

But we had been told Mademoiselle Fourier
fluttered from room to room, needing only pin money
to purchase her occasional American cigarette,
and a cup or two of a pear tea she enjoyed,
and a small jar of German tooth whitener,
and an ocean of transubstantiated lemonade.
Or a postcard of the same.

Well: indeterminacy shrinks as the mass swells,
and soon there’ll be smart scales for the butchers,
and shorter hours for the cows and their crows.
The very air shall be tempered
by alternating periods of neglect and concern.

Clouds continue to skid across the road,
and we cannot work the ghosts out of the bugs anymore;
certainty is a form of melancholia
and there is not one thing left inside nature
which is what we are driving to prove.
.

 

a poem must express its only page
.
Does every lake whisper “ship”
Into an expectation of birds

Like every absence appears unfinished,
A railway expectant with an edge of water?

Each edge should be officially folded
Until a triangle in accordance with the manual

Making a patriotism in which each bird is explicit
Until a triangle in accordance with the manual

As every ship is a continuation of its lake
With folded edges preserved on another page, seemingly absent

here, a Mexico sleeping along an unfinished railway
To hint at the absence explicit in an idea of “water”.

Every railway official suggests a Mexico
With every ship sailing its absence to an unofficial Mexico

And every unfolded Mexico is unfinished officially
As is every bird’s ship & railway & lake.
.

 

a lion tulips in the leaf-lightning
.
1
A lion tulips in the leaf-lightning

for leaves tattooed on piggy banks which dream

that all the steam-leaves are blue porcelain

like lion-tulips in the leaf-lightning which dreams

of steam-stars & gondola-stars & stars made of pigskin

that help the giraffe grow hair in the leaf-lightning.

2
A star gondolas in the tulip-lion

for lightning tattooed on piggy banks which dream

that all the porcelain giraffe-stars are porcelain blue lions

like tulip-steam in the leaf-lightning which dreams

of gondola-stairs & tulip-stairs & stairs made of pigskin

that help the tulip-lion grow a heart in the leaf-lightning

of steam-stairs & giraffe-stairs & stairs made of pigskin.

 

all new poetry ©2019

>   >   >

two poems from A Dangerous Vacation (Caliban Book Shelf, 2017)

 

maybe we will go

.

Maybe we will go

to see the chain of lights decay

 

(year beneath years

minutes to muffins

 

above the streets of braised night

as the anxious moon wakes the mustangs

in the snow murdered crossroads)

 

There are service stations

smothered beneath the stage constellations

 

as each body acts the human

in the pink willowed average

in the slush of psychology

 

) In the flowerbed a gardener reloads

his arsenal of suitcases

with fallen leaves)

 

Maybe we will go

to see the promoter of diamonds

with his tiny pushcart

 

(year beneath years

minutes to muffins)

 

A Sun waving

to our pale children

from a long white car.

.

  

later, a baroque grudge

.

In Paris (A room

woven from blue gutters

 

where evening flows

into every shop sign) Downhill trees

undirected

 

by language (passionate

 

arthritis of each window.

.

>   >   >

>   >   >

Turned On and Discoverable — visual art exhibit [October 19, 2019]

A Hook to The Chin Of The Spectator (For Zazie And Pierre)
digital art
2576 x 1735 pixels
©1996

 

All This Buttoning and Unbuttoning
digital art
1489 x 1484 pixels
©2008

 

Assuage
digital art
1410 x 2124 pixels
©2008

 

Exotic Bureaucrats
digital art
2550 x 1774 pixels
©2014

 

Fear of Superstrings
pen & ink, digital art
1950 x 2007 pixels
©2009

 

Mother Mary Eating Flies
digital art
1202 x 2500 pixels
©2010

 

Night Fell in the Place of Hunger
digital art
1401 x 1768 pixels
©2013

 

Shelf Life Zero
digital art
2180 x 3090 pixels
©2015

 

Z-bo Game Board (Senior Edition)
digital art
1500 x 1492 pixels
©2011

 

One Night Stand
lava lamp, digital photography
1800 x 2466 pixels
©2016

 

The Lamp Was a Guillotine
digital collage
1800 x 2722 pixels
©2016

 

The Service Agent & the Narcoleptic
pen & ink, digital art
2100 x 2378 pixels
©2017

 

Who’s Watching Out For Mother
digital collage
2718 x 2032 pixels
©2008

 

In Utter Toppling, Things Arrive
digitally-manipulated photography
2248 x 3090 pixels
©2019

 

The Dirty Tunnel
digital art
2892 x 2115 pixels
©2008

 

Short of Breath, or the Little Red Dress (Uccello mutation)
digital collage
1250 x 1372 pixels
©2017

 

The Cloud Dictator
digital art
2172 x 2249 pixels
©2016

 

Information Array
digital art
3000 x 2400 pixels
©2012

>   >   >

Poetics—or, Once You Settle Into The Notion That There Are No Interpretations Expected…

…Words Do Not Add Up To Language (And What Then Of Tactics?

“Where might we purchase words to change the world?” the question of a Roman publican or a poet princess.

But is truth sufficient to render an utterance fashionable? It lies in each utility to wake in banality slumber through brutality and still words a coconut salve on our anxious diversions. Distraction is the tactic. That is a very ornamental swelling you have. Even the abrasions entice. In pictures and in plaster and in palaver. This searching substance held in responsibility’s meter.

And so this obligation to challenge the world. To dream of barricades. To expose the undersling of words. To drown the Bastille revelry. We shall obstruct the ardor of easy meaning that assumption ruin’s sole festival gift to the collective? And poetry is perhaps rude to interrupt what might otherwise be pure insensibility? Diversion.

These long days nonsense is a doily on a worktable. This inamore communion of reader and convenient  display to cast upon its remainders of detouring paraphrases and the restless shadow cast by huge allurements. The come on in sung by the pitchy swan. Still the potential for meaning is more provocative than meaning itself. And then friendly boredom sets up the domestics which become effective memorials to The View.

.

Emotions vitally glitched diffuse in the critical atmosphere of poetry but the ashes must be language itself. Language stuck in the ecology of poetry. Not the word more than the image not images but always the distracted expedition in the duress of sentiment. Intently bifurcate architecturally. Branch. In leafing grasp the false bark  and note crevices and catches. This information is marketable. Word.

And as one fixes upon The View in their angled correspondence not disdainful. Every day there are delicate combustions leaving a soot of pure hustle. Amatory traitors in delicious strangulation of language. Let us linger on that crime. To lie about the real and to congeal into the ever-receding. And then what of tactics? A slog of middling fidgets with passports at the ready as we near the neutral waters. The liner berths where we only desire to breathe.

Can we elate beyond endurance?

Be disappointed in all proffered repulsions?

Chatterton! Slave of isolation.

And one is being flown into or being flown out of the wild yearning continent.

All coming together at last. And so…

.

Poetry in a lithography of voices waltzing ganglia and excretions. Neurals and nebulae. The handlers have arrived. Warm gazebo retreats for Whitman Weekend. We are compelled by that insidious hum beneath our bonnets to be black violets clumped about the evaporation of interpretation. The imagination is the floral residue of forgotten procedure. A passion’s joke. A smear.

The poet can retro-fit the incessant noise of truth be told to poetry before the poet and spark a system famous for a brittle countenance. Another trainee departed and no penetrating generation. An employment of sensation and difficult now. Difficult.

To sublime the private out of the public out of the saleable out of the ecstatic out of the function out of the lushness out of the house out of the bone. An ideal obsession forever calling you on your dime. Poetry is an emotional state in and out itself. There is no need to remain in place or wait for the subject to dismiss you. The common-song steams from the underrated body. A place where self becomes style. Superficiality is a manufacturer.

Also the superficial is the underrated body…

A poem committed while not watching will satisfy by eluding the anxiety of demanded interpretation.

The gradual disappearance of explanation.

The non-referential distraction meets the mud of sentiment. The hot plunge of imagination is cooled and does not dwell any longer. So school in sensory as opposed to rhetorical clawing at the act of the world meaning itself. Thus the poem is the artifact of The View’s perturbation. Those representations of the plastic world whose objects seem positioned to mean so much. And so and so. Purposefulness is so quaint.

Perhaps write to elude yourself. Remain between the preciously experienced and the super-conscious manacles  of original content. The doily of nonsense seeks its own absorbent surface. This is where tactics intrude to save reality from language. There is a enlivening irritant node where a sweet piece bends to kiss necessity’s asymptote. This conflagration of meaning lacks only the audience. There is nothing always on the painted path.

A world comprised of only the most understandable events.

A universe lacking resonant trajectories.

Dolorous correspondences between physicists.

Approximate parallels.

The sounding of only bells which warn of opinions.

Designs to rouse the only merely.

A person attempting to untread a way.

A box canyon is a correct obviousness.

Anything less strenuous is pandering. And so.

The poem itself a user of us. To mime the texture of psychological states that just talk us up it needs to create a redolent distance. Demilitarized meaning and a rusted hunting machine. Poetry will refuse to breathe until each word is one of those dissonant bells. Verbal ambushes dance wit5h yellow roses in the garden. Achievements. Pretty gloves. Exhaustion.

.

And what then of tactics? All that to just end in results? We need maneuvers to elude easy settlements. Our responses are not weapons and words do not add up to language (and what then of tactics? But is truth sufficient to render an utterance fashionable? And so this obligation to challenge the world. To dream of barricades.

..And Poetry Lacks Time.

 

Poetry is a communication of desire formed by desire for communication.

Poetry farms the air and education cans it for asthmatics.

Poetry is an ecstatic hospitality.

 

A system imagining systems.

A system knowing they are imagined.

A system desires the proposed or pities the same.

 

Poetry is the government which ghosts are apt to form.

 

Just as a pinned butterfly lack motion poetry lacks time.

Yes poetry is a commodity.

It only lacks a critical mass of consumers.

 

One cannot allow oneself however to believe this as sanctity and balm for the dispirited.

Some poetry develops alternative narratives.

Some advertises the rhetoric that would be practiced in those narratives.

 

Poetry is a story begun around a campfire which soon becomes a forest fire.

Your listeners think to sacrifice you to the flames.

You to create an object terribly urgent and suggestively incomplete.

 

Poetry is (and thus is not) that stunned mindfulness ornate as loss.

 

Poetry is the study of borders in the political realm of statement.

Poetry is absolved from the derailment of expectation.

Every stutter may be poetry.

 

Poetry is an arbitration of language narrowly avoiding meaning’s shiver.

Regret is manufactured.

There is a nostalgia for content.

 

Poetry promises to appear

it shall deliver

a poem must represent

nothing securely

that poem which represents

nothing so well

one swears it has revealed

all he never wished to see

missing meaning closely

sparks regret the poem

seems to promise all

it will never deliver

and so it is tragedy

in its smallest container

poetry as ecstatic hospitality rendered

into language as enticement

into the habitat where it is observable yet

relatively wild

an impossible compromise which makes poetry

as an object

fraudulent.

 

Much poetry stinks rather more than it might if it were written solely by the dead…

 

My Two Talents.

My two talents appear to be sleeping and writing. I often think of them as the same thing, but

there you have it.

(and what then of tactics?

 

All that to just end in results? We need maneuvers

to elude easy settlements. Our responses are not weapons

and words do not add up

to language (and what then of tactics?

But is truth sufficient to render

an utterance fashionable?

And so this obligation to challenge the world.

To dream of barricades.

Effective memorials to The View.

 

This Is The Level Where All Our Things Are Taken.

©2019

>   >   >

biographical note[s]:

Where I was born and where I’ll die are unimportant.

.

Was born over there (near some people) and moved over here (near some other people’)

.

Back then I fell in a hole.

One shouldn’t expect much from a hole.

I imagine.

A young friend tried to help but gave up and biked away.

Early discovery: children will only do so much for other children.

This always applies as well to adults.

I lost one shoe escaping.

I was afraid to mention the event.

I’ll give the “near-rescuer” credit – he did try and he did fall in.

Then he did try and he did get out.

And that’s my earliest incident.

.

There is always a gas drifting above the trenches, but – even there – the occasional joke, love poem, or half-remembered song may share the sky with the chlorine. Art and imagination don’t always win, but they don’t give up either. Unless they do. And that’s the only victory for imagination. Oh well.

.

I have not been radical enough.

I have not assumed my position when assuming my position would have been useful.

I have expected to be kept comfortable.

I have preferred safety to killing a president.

I have stayed indoors too much.

I have watched others do the heavy lifting.

I have treated revolution as a Spectacle.

I have never been brave enough.

I have never been cowardly enough.

I have sometimes thought art was good enough.

I have waited for something essential to happen.

I have faked being a social being to gain the benefits of being a social being.

I have felt rudely interrupted by the demands of love.

I have carried on too long in pursuit of a meaningful nothingness.

I have confused violent thoughts with cultural rebellion.

I have fallen into a cozy cynicism.

I have applauded demanding violence from a distance.

I have found myself in strange places and not extracted any value.

I have either focused too tightly or too loosely.

I have enjoyed writing.

I have taken poetry classes.

I have lied to look smarter.

I have told the truth when it didn’t matter.

I have told lies when it did matter.

I have disparaged the easy route of meaning.

I have thought I was surrounded by idiots and brutes.

I have considered the times corrupted and decadent.

I have not denounced enough.

I have reveled in things I know are part of the “problem.”

I have allowed a certain shroud of ghostliness to be my main vestment.

I have settled.

I have not regretted regrettable acts.

I have avoided guilt by assuming meaninglessness.

.

And yes – writing is rude to interrupt what might otherwise be a life of pure insensibility.

.

And behind every “good” man there is a “better” absence.

>   >   >

[Dale Houstman can be contacted via dalehoustman@gmail.com to purchase copies of A Dangerous Vacation via PayPal, to sing elaborate praises or vociferate diatribes of agitation prompted by his literary and visual art, what-have-youor to just shoot the shit! He loves to collaborate, I can attest! kj2]

 

Some Days My Eyes Still Glow
self-portrait of the author/artist
3580 x 2692 pixels
digitally-manipulated photography
©2019

0
3.10: sacrifice | short fiction [flash & excerpts from published fiction]–Sandra Arnold

Family Group Sandra Arnold digital photography 3648 pixels x 2736 pixels ©2019

diaphanous micro
0 Comments

3.10: sacrifice | short fiction [flash & excerpts from published fiction]–Sandra Arnold

 

Family Group
Sandra Arnold
digital photography
3648 pixels x 2736 pixels
©2019

 

introduction to sacrifice by krysia jopek:

It’s a pleasure to feature New Zealand writer Sandra Arnold’s new flash fiction, published flash fiction, excerpts from published fiction, and an interview conducted with me earlier this month. Please enjoy Sandra’s literary art and details about her writing process, her literary reception in her home country and around the world.

 

new flash fiction:

The Sacrifice of Teeth

She had a photographic memory, so she could recall conversations, the expressions on people’s faces, the tone of their voices, the setting, the weather, the colours, the smells. If she needed a detail in the telling of a tale all she had to do was rewind the film in her head. What she wasn’t good at remembering were numbers and directions. So when her father asked her to deliver a bag of freshly dug potatoes to a house in a different neighbourhood and collect payment for them she ended up at the wrong house.

Part of the reason for this was that she was paying too much attention to the hated fur-lined boots on the end of her legs as she trudged through the snow, stepping on frozen puddles, seeking solace in the splintered ice glinting in the winter sun.

Her father’s tongue-lashing had included many words in response to her objections to the ugly brown boots, the most incomprehensible being that the red boots she’d set her heart on would attract the wrong sort of attention. But the word that slid behind her eyes and made them water was ‘sacrifice’. He’d been saving up to buy new dentures, he said, and her warm feet came at the cost of his teeth. So she pulled on the brown boots and zipped up her lips.

And there she was, knocking on the wrong door, making breath clouds in the frozen air, snapping icicles off the black branch of an overhanging tree. And when the door opened she explained her mission and the man told her to leave the potatoes on the doorstep and come inside. He told her to leave her wet boots in the hall and showed her into a room with green walls and a green sofa and a green chair and a china cabinet. He told her to sit on the sofa and wait. She heard his keys rattling as he locked the front door.

There were no pictures on the walls. No photographs. The china cabinet was empty. A mousetrap with a severed tail poked out from beneath the chair. Snowflakes drifted past the sash window and clung to the glass. A hawk glided in the white sky, a rabbit hanging from its claws. The room was cold as if no one had breathed in it for a long time. It smelled of dead dreams. It filled with the sound of her thudding heart. And as the door to the green room opened she sprang across the bare boards to the window.

She left the potatoes on the doorstep and her boots in the hall and slipped and tripped all the way home. By the time she fell through her own front door her feet were blue. Her father’s face was a storm cloud, his words like lightning strikes. Her teeth rattled in her jaw, locking her words inside.

©2019

Saints and Sinners

Devlin watched the sun sink below the rooftops and started enthusing about the next team-building weekend he was planning. “Jebel Akhdar! You haven’t lived until you’ve sat on top of the green mountain and watched the sun break through the morning mist. It’s like watching God creating the world.”

But everyone was listening to Kassidy.

Yesterday she was panicking over her dental appointment, so I recommended a massage at the Moroccan Hammam afterwards.

Now, she had everyone’s eyes popping at her blow-by-blow of what happened there.

All eyes swivelled to me.

Rick winked. “Alexa!” And held up his glass of wine.

Ignoring him I said, “But you must have given her signals.”

“I didn’t. It’s a natural consequence of segregated societies, don’t you think?”

Hafiz  dropped cross-legged onto the edge of the roof, his back to us, and stared at the streetlights arcing out to the Arabian Sea.

“But if you close your eyes there’s no difference,” Kassidy insisted. “She could just as easily have been a man. In fact, to be honest, it was better!”

Marty cracked up.

Crispian and Dom moved away from our group to join Hafiz.

“So … are you going again?” Rick asked with studied casualness.

Kassidy’s face arranged itself into a saintly expression.

On my first day,  Phillipe, the Director of Studies, asked Kassidy to give a workshop on teaching phonemics. Pronunciation was her topic for her Master’s dissertation. Kassidy wrote on the whiteboard in phonemes: “The most important things in life are manicures, pedicures and massages.” Hussein, the CEO, arranged his face in a studious expression, pretending he could read the sentence. Philippe glared at Kassidy. She blew him a kiss. A bubble of laughter grew in my belly until I felt I would burst. Neither Hussein nor Philippe noticed, but Kassidy did. After the workshop she invited me to go rollerblading with her that evening in the car-park of the Intercontinental.

In the dark, empty car-park, holding our blades, we collapsed like a couple of schoolgirls, helpless with laughter.

Still chortling over Kassidy’s story we finished the food and drank the last of the wine.

“So … Jebel Akhdar?” Devlin tried again.

Crispian left with no goodbyes.

Rick was drunk so Hafiz gave him a lift home.

Dom packed up his CD player in silence.

Marty looked at him and rolled her eyes.

To Kassidy she whispered, “When are you going back?”

©2019

 

four flash from Soul Etchings:

River

Jack climbed to the top of the macrocarpa and found River already there. She was talking to a young blackbird in her cupped hands. The bird showed no signs of wanting to leave. River said it would know when the time was right. She waited. Jack held his breath. The bird quivered and spread its wings. Jack watched it fly away until it was just a speck on the nor’west arch. He let his breath out slowly.

He crawled along the branch to River. Beads of rain on spider webs shivered like torn lace between the branches.

‘He would have died if you hadn’t found him.’

‘Maybe,’ River said.

She asked him to tell her about the best bits of his day.  He told her he’d seen the waning moon. He described the sound of cracking ice on frozen puddles, the patterns of his breath on the morning air, the coral-tint on the ridge of the Alps and the shrill cry of pukeko.

Then she asked about the worst bits. He told her about his birthday party. How he’d forced himself to listen to birthday greetings from children he knew despised him. How he’d pretended he enjoyed the party games, the tell-a-joke competition, and blowing the candles out on the cake his mother had made in the shape of a football field. How when the last child left he’d heard his mother say, ‘We did the right thing inviting his friends.’ And his father said, ‘Invite? You bribed them! Jack doesn’t have friends.’ And his mother said, ‘No, that’s not quite true. He told me he has a friend called River.’ And his father said, ‘River? What kind of a bloody name is that!’ And his mother said, ‘Oh I think it’s a lovely name for a girl.’

And his father said, ‘A girl? Jeez!’ And his mother said, ‘Well, that’s better than no friends, surely?’ And his father slammed the door on his way out.

When he finished telling her all this River told him what he wanted to know about the sun and moon and stars and the navigation system of birds. She told him about the way the moon influenced tides and the way dolphins communicated and how giant turtles swam great distances to return to the place they were born to lay their eggs. When she finished they watched the night fold itself around them. They breathed the scents of eucalyptus and pine.

River asked where his mother thought he was now.

Out in the paddocks helping his father.

And where did his father think he was?

In his bedroom, reading.

She asked if he wanted to go home.

He shook his head. He asked her where she went each night.

‘Over the hills and far away.’

He asked if he could go with her.

‘You can,’ she said. ‘But you wouldn’t be able to come back.’

‘That doesn’t matter,’ he said.

‘In that case we can go whenever you’re ready.’

‘I’m ready now,’ Jack said.

 

House Rules

Soon after moving in I learned that I could never rely on the house to maintain its equilibrium. Some days it was petulant beyond belief. As long as I made it the centre of my world it gave me its best. But whenever I tried to introduce change, for example, the time I brought the kitten home, it sulked. Light bulbs blew. The windows stuck. The washing machine broke down. In the end it was easier to comply. After I returned the kitten to the shop the house settled down and hugged me again. Cushions stayed on the sofas. Cupboard doors stayed shut. Knives stayed nicely lined up in the drawers.

I once tried to explain that I did get a bit lonely since my mother died, even though the money I inherited from her enabled me to buy my dream home. I felt the house soften at being called that so I risked telling it that after twenty years of looking after my mother I missed having a living being to care for and the kitten would have been a nice companion. That was a mistake. Windows flew open letting in the wind and rain. Mould grew overnight in the shower. All this meant extra work for me, of course, and I realised the house felt I should be content just taking good care of it. After all, it did provide me with comfort, warmth and a beautiful garden ready to fill with flowers. So, yes, I could see that I must have come across as ungrateful. I tried to make amends by spending more time cleaning and polishing and digging.

One day a brochure arrived in the mail advertising river cruises in France. I hadn’t had a holiday in years, so on the spur of the moment I rang the travel agent and booked one. I felt guilty packing my case and almost changed my mind. Next morning I saw my clothes strewn across the floor and my passport torn in two. I cried with disappointment, but I’ve never been good at confrontation so I cancelled the holiday. The house breathed again.

A week later I bumped into one of my neighbours in the library. I’d noticed him in his garden occasionally and we’d nodded and smiled and gone on our way. This morning, however, he stopped, introduced himself as Adrian and asked how I liked the house. I replied that I loved it, though it was hard work. He commented that I’d been the longest occupant there that he could recall. ‘It was waiting for the right person,’ he smiled. ‘Someone who would treat it the way it deserved.’

After that, Adrian took to stopping at the gate whenever he saw me in the garden and sometimes he brought me cuttings from his own plants. One day he noticed the rosebush I’d transplanted was wilting and said he’d drop off some rose food. That evening there was a knock at the door. Adrian stood there with a big bag of Rose Gro and a bottle of Merlot.

I invited him in. We drank the wine and talked about roses and the best way to make compost. When he left I realised I hadn’t enjoyed myself so much in ages. I even started humming as I washed the glasses. One slipped from my hand and smashed on the floor. As I picked up the shards a particularly sharp piece sliced my wrist. A spout of blood arced from my arm to the wall. I grabbed a tea towel and pressed down hard. When the bleeding stopped I felt so light-headed I went straight to bed.

Next morning I opened the kitchen door to find all the contents of the cupboards and drawers on the floor. My mother’s best china lay in pieces amongst splattered sauces and jams. Again I cried, but recriminations were pointless, so after sweeping and washing the lino I decided to walk to the library to calm down and leave the house alone to reflect on its behaviour and, hopefully, feel ashamed of itself.

Adrian was passing the gate as I walked out with my books. He said he was going to the library too and asked if I fancied a coffee afterwards. I did. And this time we didn’t talk about compost. He said he kept his yacht in the harbour and asked if I’d like to go sailing with him at the weekend. In a spirit of rebellion, I said yes.

How the house found out, I have no idea. I took great care not to alter my routine. I tried not to appear too happy. I read my book every evening as usual. On Saturday morning I dressed in my weekend jeans. But when I put my key in the lock to open the front door it jammed. I tried the back door and the side doors and even the windows. All stuck fast. I knew then the house wouldn’t let me out. I knew too that it no longer trusted me. It would watch my every move. It would disable my car every time I tried to leave. I wondered what would happen when I ran out of food. I picked up the phone to call Adrian. The line was dead. I heard a crash and ran into the kitchen. The knife drawer was on the floor. The walls were shaking.

Bits of plaster were raining from the ceiling. I’d never witnessed such anger, such determination to make me comply. So I had no choice.

I snatched the firelighter from the stove and headed for the curtains. In retaliation a shelf full of teapots dislodged itself from the wall and aimed at my head, knocking me to the floor as the curtains ignited. I lay there in a spreading viscous pool. Through smoke and flames I thought I heard the house screaming. I thought I heard a fire engine. But I wasn’t certain I’d heard either.

 

A Voice Called Gavin

‘I’m so excited about my high-tech TV,’ she tells her mother on the phone. ‘I can talk to it through a voice recognition app called Gavin and tell it what programme I want. It even gives me recommendations based on my preferences. I’ve bought coloured lights and installed them behind the screen and I tell the app to switch on the lights. Some nights I just lie on the sofa and watch the colours flare up the wall. It’s like being immersed in the most beautiful sunset you can imagine. When I go to bed the app switches off all the lights. In the morning it wakes me in a cheerful voice, but not too cheerful because the software recognises that I’m a bit grumpy in the mornings. It tells me the weather forecast and the day’s news. I feel like I’m living in the future. These days I can’t wait to get home to talk to Gavin and have a play with the lights.’

She hears her mother’s intake of breath. ‘Have you been out anywhere lately? Seen anyone? Read any books? What about that course you were taking?’Read any books? What about that course you were doing?’

‘No. Honestly, Mum, I’m having such fun with this stuff that my evenings are full. My days at work are so busy that I’m knackered by the time I get home, so I don’t feel like going out.’

‘Yes, but… you need outside interests… you’re still young…  you won’t meet anyone if you never go out.’

She wants to tell her mother that she doesn’t feel alone anymore, that Gavin shows more concern about her than whatshisface ever did. She thinks the software must have picked up on the sadness in her tone and responded to that. Or it could be the facial expression app that allows it to predict her mood. Last night she felt a bit low, and without her even initiating a conversation Gavin spoke to her in such a kind voice she couldn’t help shedding a few tears. He immediately dimmed the lights and played soft music. He recited Remember by Christina Rossetti. Before she drifted off to sleep she wondered how he knew that was exactly the poem she needed to hear at that moment.

She wants to tell her mother all this to assure her that she doesn’t need to worry about her anymore. She wants to tell her that she feels safe now. But before she gets the words out, the TV screen flashes a warning. Gavin is telling her not to say anything. So she doesn’t.

 

The Girl with Green Hair

Mattie got it into her head that the child was too afraid to come into the world. One night this thought was so strong she couldn’t sleep. She got out of bed, dressed quietly so as not to wake Trill and went outside. The old sycamore stood in a pool of moonlight, its branches brushed with silver. Mattie heaved her belly up with her arms and walked over the damp grass to the tree. She leaned against the trunk, feeling the texture of the bark on her skin, listening to the night sounds of birds and the scuttling of small creatures. She breathed in the earth smells of the surrounding fields. She made her child a promise.

Next day Hathor was born. Mattie and Trill buried the afterbirth under the sycamore tree.

Trill’s parents, not unexpectedly, refused to attend the ceremony and took the opportunity to voice their displeasure at Mattie’s naming their only grandchild after an Egyptian goddess.

‘Hathor? Lady of the sycamore?’ Trill’s mother shook her head in disbelief.

Nor was she soothed by Mattie’s explanation that the goddess, like the tree, embodied the qualities of sky, love, joy, beauty and music. Everything, in fact, that she wished for her child.

‘What nonsense!’ Trill’s mother said. ‘She’ll never fit in anywhere with a name like that.’

‘So… you didn’t feel that Trillion Pi was a wee bit out there too?’ Mattie said.

‘Of course not. We’re mathematicians. What could be more natural?’

Mattie looked at Trill. He shrugged.

Hathor’s hair was flaxen, unlike her dark-haired parents, but by her third birthday it had taken on a distinctly green tinge. To refute his mother’s accusation that Mattie was dyeing their child’s hair, Trill brought someone in to look at the pipes. The plumber confirmed that the source of the problem was the copper sulphate that was leaching from the old corroded copper water pipes. When Mattie was reassured there was no danger to health, she decided the pipes could stay and so could Hathor’s beautiful green hair. Trill, for once, told his parents to mind their own business.

When Hathor started primary school her name and her hair caused enough of a stir for her parents to decide that the Rudolph Steiner school in the city would be the better option and well worth the longer commute.

‘Oh Martha,’ said Trill’s mother. ‘She’ll never fit in anywhere with that hair.’

‘She doesn’t have to,’ said Mattie.

At her new school Hathor’s name was not considered unusual amongst all the Skylarks, Rains, Birdies, Celestials and Guineveres, and nobody commented on her green hair. At home she picked wildflowers from the river banks, sang and danced in the fields and climbed the sycamore tree where she stayed for hours listening to the wind and drawing pictures of clouds and sky.

‘What about friends?’ the grandparents asked. ‘It isn’t normal for a child that age to play on her own all the time. She should be in a sports team. A debating club. She should have piano lessons. Gym. Ballet. Choir. She should join Girl Guides. She needs to stop wasting time. She needs to study maths. She needs to stop dreaming her life away. She needs to stop drawing rubbish.’

Trill suggested to Hathor that it might be best not to tell Grandma that she had all the friends she needed in the larch, the poplar, the lacewood, the holly, and the sycamore, nor that she talked to them and that they told her stories and taught her songs. Hathor said why not, when it was true, and Trill had no answer to that.

By the time Hathor was eighteen her hair was the colour of spring leaves. As many of her classmates at art school sported multi-hued hair, Hathor’s green locks passed unnoticed and everyone there dreamed and drew. At home she still sang and danced in the fields on her own, but she also painted trees and rivers and sky in all their different moods and seasons. Instead of the holiday jobs her grandmother told her to apply for to earn some money and to stop being idle, she spent her summer vacation painting. She told her parents it was a surprise and they couldn’t see it until she felt it truly expressed what she wanted it to.

When the painting was finished Hathor propped the canvas up on the mantelpiece and called her parents to come in and look.

They could see the painting was of the sycamore. But it looked not so much like a tree as a young girl with hair the colour of leaves, feet elongated into roots that fastened her to the earth, fingers tapering to twigs that stretched up towards the sky.

from Soul Etchings (Retreat West Books, UK, 2019)

 

RETREAT WEST BOOKS — Soul Etchings by Sandra Arnold

purchase Soul Etchings on Amazon

goodreads: Soul Etchings — A flash fiction collection

 

four excerpts from Into the Light

So who is Len?

After the funeral we clear his house, my brother and I. We build a bonfire in his garden and feed the flames with  tables, chairs and  wooden tools. The rest can go to the dump. We don’t want anyone wearing his clothes. My brother opens a box and  takes out a  bundle of letters addressed to our father’s sister. They are full of  funny stories. He was eighteen and away at sea. Each letter is signed, Your loving brother, Len.

“He told me she died before he could get home,” I say. “He said he found his letters in her desk, tied up with green ribbon. Green was her favourite colour. He said he could never bear to visit her grave. I didn’t know he’d kept the letters.”

“Did he tell you any of these stories?” my brother asks.

“A few.”

“He talked to you more than me.”

“I kept him talking so he had less time to be angry.”

When I was ten I asked him why he told people that he didn’t respect men who hit women.

“I don’t,” he wept. “It’s just this goddamned temper.”

Our mother clattered dishes in the sink.

Our grandmother whispered, “Choose a gentle man.”

My brother pulls a photograph album from the box. The first photo shows our father standing by a desk in his naval uniform. Oh yes, we can see what our mother saw in him.  After she met him on holiday she brought him home, dismissing her long-time boyfriend, who according to our grandmother was the gentlest of men. Next day World War 2 broke out and he left to join his ship. They got married when he came back on leave.

My brother takes out another bundle of letters. He reads one and hands it to me. In elegant cursive script our father writes that he’s on deck watching the moon fly over the sea, listening to the silence and the beat of his own heart. The poem describes our mother’s smile, her blue eyes, her thick black lashes and the way strands of her hair shine gold in the sun. It’s signed Your loving husband, Len.

My brother is incredulous. “Did you know he wrote poetry?”

My fingers stroke the scar on my face.

JMWW ©2019  

 

W Tom 21

We found the house where he’d lived with his sister for twelve years after their parents died. Here he played football. Here in these narrow, grey streets. I had no photographs of him as a child, only the stories he’d told.

I tried to picture him inside this house, sitting in front of a piano he refused to touch until his parents finally relented and let him go outside to play football. His sister was a brilliant pianist, he’d said many times. When she died  at the age of twenty seven he joined the Merchant Navy and never went back home. Thus, the loss of all his photographs. He’d wept when he told me this. She still came to him in dreams, he’d said. At the end of each dream they always came to a gate and she told him he couldn’t go any further, despite his  pleading. Each time he watched her go through the gate and woke up crying.

We stood staring at the house, my brother and I, trying to remember whether he had said he was seventeen or twenty-one when his sister had bought him a motorbike. I thought seventeen. My brother thought the bike had been his twenty first birthday present. We turned to go as a car pulled up outside the house. A sharp whistle of air through my brother’s teeth made me turn my head in the direction he was pointing. The  car’s registration plate: W TOM 21. We crossed the street telling each other it was coincidence. Tiny hairs spiked our necks. We promised we’d tell each other all the stories we could remember.

(Fewer than 500, April 2019)

 

The seventh son

When my mother’s new boyfriend moved in I kept out of his way by hiding in the garden of a derelict house. The garden was full of trees, but the one I loved most was a hundred year old macrocarpa called Septimus. The lightning that killed the other six macrocarpas had sliced off one of Septimus’s branches, leaving a gaping hole. This was enlarged over the years by birds, small animals, wind and rain, until it extended down the entire length of the trunk ending in a deep hollow beneath the roots.

When things got bad at home I’d hide in the hollow among the bones, until the boyfriend gave up looking for me. After Septimus signalled the all-clear I’d climb onto a branch and watch the swallows dive and dart while Septimus told me his stories. By the time I returned home the boyfriend and my mother were too drunk to notice.

Septimus told me about birds he’d given a home to, boys he’d flung off branches for stealing eggs, robbers who’d hidden jewels in his hollow trunk. When they returned to retrieve the stash they found the hollow was deeper than they’d realised. Some gave up, but some climbed in and slithered down to the bottom. When they tried to climb back out they got tangled up in roots.

Most people avoided walking past the garden at dusk because they said the  noise of the wind in the trees didn’t sound like wind in the trees. The boyfriend said only morons believed that. I told him nobody could accuse him of having an imagination. After that little confrontation I fled to the garden. When Septimus saw my bruised eyes and bleeding nose, he drew his breath from the depths of the earth and  held me close. He  sang of kererū and tūī and bellbirds and bees and moonlight and possums and the smell of rain.

When his song ended he outlined his plan. All I had to do was to sit on the fork between two branches. When the boyfriend came looking for me he would shine his torch around the garden. He would see me sitting in the tree and yell at me to get down. He hated to be ignored. He would leap over the fence and start climbing the tree. In the shadows he wouldn’t see the hole. Septimus said he would do the rest.

(New Flash Fiction Review, August 2019)

 

Illumination

Last time I made this pilgrimage it was crawling with contractors pulling down walls and installing new wiring. Feel the skin on this bannister. Do you think of ripe chestnuts, as I did? Remember I told you how I’d slid down it that time when I thought the whole school was in Assembly? But old Killer-Watt saw. I was so scared I fell off halfway down and peed my pants. And he made me stand (again) all lunch hour on this landing so all who passed by would know how dim I’d been. I cried though when they put the tadpole in his tea because its legs were just forming and it seemed such a waste. The other times were for talking, here in this classroom that stank of dead books and wet shoes drying by the radiator. In this very room that now houses rows of filaments in glass bottles all neatly labelled. In this room, we were told (frequently), Joseph Swan invented the electric light bulb, but Thomas Edison got to the patent office first and grabbed all the glory. It was a woman ahead of her times who  bought the place and turned it into a private school – did I tell you she knew Emmeline Pankhurst? – because it was her dream to illuminate the minds of children. You have such energy. Would you like to? I’ll stand at the bottom and catch you if you fall. There’s only the Curator to see now and I think he’ll turn a blind eye. These are more enlightened times.

(The Sunlight Press, July 2019)

 

interview with Sandra Arnold by Krysia JopekOctober 2019

When did you start writing fiction seriously?

I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember, but I started writing for publication in 1980.

When and where were you published? 

My first short stories were written for radio and were broadcast on Radio New Zealand from 1981 to 2007. I also published short stories in literary magazines and anthologies including Antipodes New Writing (1987), Other Voices (1989), Vital Writing (1990), Best New Zealand Fiction (2007). My first novel, A Distraction of Opposites, was published in 1992 (Hazard Press, NZ), followed by Tomorrow’s Empire in 2000 (Horizon Press, NZ), a non-fiction book, Sing no Sad Songs in 2011 (Canterbury University Press, NZ), a flash fiction collection, Soul Etchings in 2019 (Retreat West Books, UK), and the novel, ‘The Ash the Well and the Bluebell in 2019 (Mākaro Press, NZ).

What has your reception been like in New Zealand, the US, and the rest of the world?

I’ve had flash fictions, short stories, and  essays published around the world, including New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Argentina, Canada, and the US. I’ve won and have placed in several awards, including most recently, the 2019 New Zealand Heritage Book Award, the 2018 Mslexia Flash Fiction Award, and the 2018 University of Sunderland Short Story Award.

What is your impression of / experience with the contemporary publishing world?

In New Zealand, there are very few publishing presses, as several have folded in the last few years. However, the international online flash fiction scene is healthy and gives plenty of opportunities for publication.

Can you describe your writing process, habits, and rituals (if you have any)?

I write most days for around six or seven hours. Some of this time might be spent in research and editing. When I was teaching full time, I could write only in the evenings and weekends, but now writing is my full-time occupation,  and I am more productive as a consequence.

Who are your favorite fiction writers?

Globally, the novelists whose work I admire include: Hilary Mantel, Marcus Zusak, Margaret Atwood, Cate Kennedy, Eva Hornung, Eva Sallis, Anthony Doer, Pascal Mercier, Kate Atkinson, A.S. Byatt, Donna Tartt, Anna Burns; and in New Zealand:  Maxine Alterio, Fiona Farrell, Maggie Rainey-Smith, Kirsten Warner, Stephanie Johnson, Lloyd Jones, and Sue Wootton. Fabulous flash fiction writers overseas include Jude Higgins, Angela Readman, Ken Elkes, Gary Duncan, Frances Gapper, Robert Scotellaro, Amanda Huggins, Kathy Fish, Meg Pokrass, Diane Simmons, Sophie van Llewyn, Stephen John, Gay Degani, Francine Witte, Santino Prinzi, and Nuala Ni Chonchuir. The New Zealand flash fiction community is vibrant; my favourites here include Nod Ghosh, Gail Ingram, Kate Mahony, Eileen Merriman, Frankie McMillan, Heather McQuillan, Michelle Elvy, Leanne Radojkovich, and Iona Winter.

Which writers have particularly influenced, informed your writing?

I’ve always been a voracious reader of both fiction and non-fiction; I think wide reading, rather than individual writers, has informed my own writing.

Have other fields of study / disciplines influenced, informed your creative work?

Not specifically; rather, it is reading widely and deeply that has done this.

Did you enjoy your Ph.D. program in Creative Writing?

It was an intellectually-rigorous three years with very supportive supervisors. I enjoyed the process although the topic I was researching, parental bereavement, was  difficult.

Do you recommend that writers pursue a Ph.D. and/or M.F.A. in Creative Writing? Why or why not?

It’s not a prerequisite for good writing. Many writers have produced excellent work without ever having taken a creative writing course. In my case, after my daughter died from cancer at the age of 23, I stopped writing for almost two years. The only reading I did was on parental bereavement. I did a Master’s degree in Creative Writing to get me back on track. In my reading, I found that while there were many books on grieving infant, child, and adolescent death–there were almost none on grieving a young adult death. I decided to write a book on this topic to help fill the gap. It seemed to me the best way to go about it was through a Ph.D. to have the benefit of deadlines and critical scholarly feedback. Part of my thesis was  published as a book, Sing No Sad Songs.

Do you have a creative, supportive community of writers where you live?

There is a supportive group of writers in Christchurch and in New Zealand, generally. In a country where the population is only four million, most of the writers know one another or know about one another.

How does your identity as a New Zealander resonate in your fiction? Or does it?

I grew up in England and came to New Zealand in 1976. I’ve also lived in the US, Brazil, and Oman. I’ve drawn on all these experiences.

Do you think that in the 21st century it’s imperative for writers to utilize social media to network, sell books, succeed?

It certainly helps to spread the word about new books and writers.

What social media platforms do you use regularly?

I like facebook and twitter to see what other writers are publishing and to share my own work.

You write fiction and creative nonfiction. Do you have  a preference?

With creative nonfiction, I like the research and writing of facts; in novel writing, I like the research, the slow building of narrative, and background detail. With short fiction, the challenge is in condensing the narrative to cover hours or days or years. In flash fiction, what is left out is as important as what is left in–so the reader can fill the gaps. Some flash fiction is close to prose poetry, where language is central and that is the sort I am most drawn to.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself as a writer and/or fellow human to readers?

I live with my husband, dog, two alpacas, and two hens in a small village in rural Canterbury in the South Island of New Zealand, fifteen minutes from our nearest rural town and one hour from Christchurch, the nearest city. My garden is full of flowers, trees, and birds–and we have an unimpeded view of the Southern Alps across farmland. There are places to walk to, trees to sit and read under, and as much silence and peace as I need to focus on writing. I love my life here.

 

links about Sandra Arnold and her creative writing:

READ NZ TE POU MURAMUR — Arnold, Sandra

NZSA The New Zealand Society [PENNZINC] of Authors — Sandra Arnold

takahē magazine — Sandra Arnold

A WRITING LIFE – An Interview with Sandra Arnold

FAIRLIGHT BOOKS — Sandra Arnold

 

biographical notes:

Sandra Arnold is a novelist, short story, and non-fiction writer. She holds a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Central Queensland University, Australia–and is the author of five books: Soul Etchings (Retreat West Books, UK, 2019), The Ash, the Well and the Bluebell (Mākaro Press, NZ, 2019), Sing No Sad Songs (Canterbury University Press, NZ, 2011), Tomorrow’s Empire (Horizon Press, NZ, 2011), and A Distraction of Opposites (Hazard Press, NZ, 2002). Recent awards include: finalist in the 2019 New Zealand Heritage Books Awards, finalist in the 2018 Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition, the 2018 TSS Flash Fiction Competition, the 2018 University of Sunderland Short Story Award, and winner of the 2015 New Zealand Heritage Short Story Award. She was the 2014 recipient of the Seresin/Landfall/Otago University Press Writing Residency. Her short fiction has been widely published in New Zealand and internationally. Her website: www.sandraarnold.co.nz

 

photographer, Chris Arnold
©2019

 

 

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3.14 [pi!]: Interosculations | Heller Levinson — new Hinge poetry & Hinge poetics

brood like ambidextrous void [text-based visual art] Bahram Keramati, visual artist "I call this a Created Image rather than a photograph emulating (and borrowing from) Poet and Hinge Theorist Heller Levinson" [Bahram Keramati] ©2019

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3.14 [pi!]: Interosculations | Heller Levinson — new Hinge poetry & Hinge poetics

brood like ambidextrous void
[text-based visual art]
Bahram Keramati, visual artist
“I call this a Created Image rather than a photograph emulating (and borrowing from) Poet and Hinge Theorist Heller Levinson” [Bahram Keramati]
©2019

[_________________ [kj title]: introduction to Heller Levinson’s Hinge Poetry and Poetics]

 

[title of this section] — new poetry:

Like Eerily

they were off. like milkweed. like eerily. like failed rapprochement. passages open. time draws nigh. all along druids spin. arc . a brace of bells. wishful thinking.

retiring the flux of burnt offal. gypsy moth. perplexity. tantamount. color bruised. saying so. says. simplicity is mostly luck.
so grows the lemon tree.

caring has its ogre. sharing its costs. circumnavigation fouls the weather. as if you were. in a manner of. toward the crease. pulling sharp. an entry. that time of day. well wishes.

where to place. the. love.

as a rule. in the manner of notice. calamity strikes.
velocity reeks. the subject was dresses.
coincidence.

among knowledgeable persons it is widely considered remotely yet without ornamentation then preposterous. an inflamed premise. wildly wooly. wastebasket. woebegone. who wouldn’t. not that. with. why not. beforehand. quaint. conductive. endlessly correcting.

timely policies aside. what are the chances. playing odds. fortification. fugitive. a stable of. pass the manners. on the perpendicular. if only. so but when. sliding scale.

debt ridden & lacking proper mastication narratives waned. pickings slimmed. overtures barren. stone-weep. paltry catch. dried subsidies. campaigns flushed. dread-concupiscence.

as if about judiciously over the shoulder across town the season hardly the cold wet you could hear on a clear day cakes burning the streets empty rave the treacheries for a bundle of hay steep lard pulley formations the brass unwieldy yet mold in the surmise attention getters get seekers seek the meek weep meek while inspecting your arsenal please request a show of hands under the bridge
slow tunes move
like water

ostensibly without further ado cut the carrot chive the divide wild side upon decide careers at stake adieus in the upholstery slipcover snatch wipe that smirk the art of forbearance the state of things out of the surreption claw withdrawal even when the likelihood in the line of fire
this
only

in the girth of fathom
bellyful range lopey torque emollient aperture cleanse

no longer arriving in pairs bartering from scraps the brink looms, meshes syllabic taunts under the arabesque of shadow

parceling through mid-stream,
from the heap of unrelenting heave,
this
post-
ponement

The three horses moved in accord down the road. Cocky sentries assured of their ground.
The man turned from the window.

©2019 Heller Levinson

 

Hinge By The Slice — Hinge Poetics

The suggestion that I write a short summary of Hinge Theory threw me into a tailspin. The thought of shortening an ever-expanding & en-fleshing behaviorism was anathema. Then the idea occurred that perhaps by indicating how HT resists shrivellization/ contraction/ summarization, I could approach summarization.

Language is aLive. This is foundational to HT. It should be asked: not what HT Is, but how it beHaves. Language as a living organism is continuously interactive with other organisms breeding extensively & engendering complementarity. Dr. Mary Newell puts it this way: “The connectivities of Hinge Theory introduce an intentional and generative biasing, like a pool table with all the balls commotioning and someone lifting the pool table slightly so all that activity is directed yet responsive to unpredicted collisions, meanderings, & swerve. (With the additional image that new balls are being added all the time as the pool table itself enlarges).”

Hinge does not purport to bring anything new to the proverbial ‘table.’ Rather it seeks to restore Language’s Original Primal Fire. To ignite the word, Hinge employs the module which is a word or a configuration of words that serves to spring (to unleash, to unmoor) the subject into a climate of free fall & unpredictability. & by free fall we mean that we are liberating the subject /word from its normative, conventional context & tossing it into question, tumbling it deconditioned into the void. A few of the modules in use are: with, smelling, the road to ____ road, in the ___ of ____, fecundating rotational clusters, fusion reconnoiters, & the most recent, tenebraed, catalyzes an entire book. When word inosculates/alchemizes word, the components never lock into place nor do they dissolve into a random turbulence; they both formulate & unravel simultaneously, emblazoned with the Living-Hood of continuous Motility. The frisson (the rub) of word against word scatters the ‘particle’ multi-directionally. Partnering with the ‘scatter’ is the ‘gather,’ a recombinatory process regrouping the components in correspondence with vibrational adhesion (a form of viscous bonding).

Each particle/subject gathers into cohesions, a grouping, what Hinge terms the ‘application,’ formerly the ‘poem.’ This gathering should be seen as an alighting, a momentary pause, tensiled to soar again at the slightest provocation.
The word, by undergoing a multitude of these Modular Chamberings, is in an ongoing state of emboldening/ densification/ complementarity/ & extensionality. For example, “Mermaid” has undergone over 45 applications, swiveling in the alterior ethers of: “with mermaid,” “the road to mermaid road,” “smelling mermaid,” “in the purse of mermaid,” “tenebraed to mermaid,” to cite just a few. Each application both creates its own Mermaid Personality (ether) & interacts/impacts with the other applications. The Particle is always in transition, always on the road to developmental road, shimmering to fulfillment in compounding complementary refractions. Hinge Theory clashes against the current cult of quick-click-reduce, or, of what I like to term the lexiconically static. The Lexicon is a logos abuser, the enemy of the vigorous & dynamic; it is, indeed, a Dynamic Inhibitor.

Case in point: in Webster’s Third, “Melancholia” & its variations take up about 4 inches of definition whereas Melancholia: Hinge as Innominate Limina employs 99 pages to begin the investigation (& I term this endeavor to “investigate” an urge to “mobilize” the logos rather than “staticize” it). & these 99 pages should be viewed as just that — a prelude, an introduction, a wind-up to ignite. There is no such thing as a finish to these explorations, no endings, … they are not sequenced or neatly arranged alphabetically, — the logos is Feral & Un-Cageable, Reproductive & Lusty.

I have recently wondered how our language (the logos) would look/fare without the dictionary (void of reference). What would the “Unmoored” word (the Wild/Feral Logos) look like if it were free to roam, migrate, hybridize.
To view the Inferential replace the Referential.

These comments initiate an ongoing exploration of Hinge Theory. But when asked to explain Hinge Theory, the proper response would be the same as to someone who asked you what the sky looks like, — you would usher them outside, point upward, & say “Look.” Look, then, to the works themselves.

Further Reading

The Books:

Smelling Mary (Howling Dog Press)
from stone this running (Black Widow Press)
Wrack Lariat (Black Widow Press)
Hinge Trio (La Alameda Press)
Melancholia: Hinge as Innominate Limina (McNally Jackson)
tenebraed (Black Widow Press)

The Interviews (read chronologically):

“No Rust on These Hinges – A Heller Levinson Interview”
The Jivin’ Ladybug

Interview: Heller Levinson, Round 1

“So Much Depends on the Hinge: Heller Levinson”
The Jivin’ Ladybug

https://jivinladybug.wordpress.com/…/so-much-depends-on-the-hinge-heller-levinson

Reviews

“The Hinge Manual” Howling Dog Press

“Smelling Mary” review by Leigh Herrick, Jacket 38, Late 2009

jacketmagazine.com/38/r-levinson-rb-herrick.shtml

“tenebraed” review by Alison Ross, Clockwise Cat Magazine, 2017

http://clockwisecat.com/2017/04/1008/

Inquiries: hingetheory@gmail.com

author photo:

biographical note:

The originator of Hinge Theory, Heller Levinson lives in the lower Hudson Valley. His most recent book is Un– (Black Widow Press, 2019).

Hinge Poetics asserts that language is a a-live. It is the river liberated from the dam. It is the salmon sharing the river. The sunlight strumming the salmon.

For more on Hinge Theory see:

Dispatches contributor Heller Levinson on Hinge theory and poetry

Talisman 46–Heller Levinson Hinge Poetry

x-peri.blogspot.com/2018/01/ephesus-glom-interview-with-heller.html

x-peri.blogspot.com/2018/02/ephesus-glom-part-two-interview-with.html

Heller’s books can be acquired from Black Widow Press 
https://www.blackwidowpress.com/) or Amazon.

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3.8: ghosts & spectral images–poetry & poetics [interview] by Carolyn Gregory

Traveller's Airship Priyesha Nair digital art 509 pixels x 720 pixels ©2019

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3.8: ghosts & spectral images–poetry & poetics [interview] by Carolyn Gregory

the ghosts of the House of the poem–introduction by Krysia Jopek [September 21, 2019]

With startling, provocatively-nuanced imagery and surprising, precise language–Carolyn Gregory’s poems invite readers to participate in the experience of the poem; offering with each poem, an interactive and subjective artistic catharsis. The poetic “leaps” from sentence to sentence, line to line, image to image, word to word–offer the reader a journey in language that affords both pleasure and pain.

I greatly enjoyed collaborating with Carolyn on ghosts & spectral images–poetry & poetics by Carolyn Gregory. Please enjoy!

 

new poems

Getting Lost on My Way to the Optometrist

I sat down on the sidewalk, fallen from too much walking. The students going by thought I was homeless though I only needed a bench to rest.

One long block blurred into the next, drifting past apartments and construction. Where did the office move? The numbers were not saying. Eventually, two BU students called the doctor for a location. I blessed them as they helped me cross the street.

When I finally arrived breathless, the assistant showed me her Whipple procedure for pancreatic cancer. The scar crossed her whole stomach though she is still here, three years later.

©2019

 

Gris Gris King

old and feathered mime
of unknown origin,
you rambled with the old
trolley cars and arches,
smiling like a savvy catfish
though you picked up a needle
nightly to fill in
the Bourbon Street in your heart.

And oh, those horns, kept blasting
in the cajun club
with your gravelly voice,
the memory of golden feathers
flying over your shoulders
as you sang about going back home
with the chorus backing you up,
your giant size filling up
a whole brick wall.

©2019

 

Re-Born (from Les Poemes Fantomatiques)

My name is Barbara, and I was supposed to drown on that ship with four lit masts, owning the sea at night with grandeur. Diphtheria took us out as we turned in our graves after death, wrapped in the banners of another country with no drum roll, signifying grace might come.

I was lucky. The porpoise mothers carried me ship-side to my abandoned boat and helped me into it; the golden measure of lights overhead. The animals and I both had souls and knew I would not harm them as I entered my death ship, fully awake again.

©2019

 

Ghost Enters the Knots

The door in the floor would not let her leave, keeping the knots tight in the woods where trees had fallen down in heavy thunderstorms. She had come here of her own free will to see the purple loose strife and kiss dogs as they gathered, but her strength was limited. The other ghost told her to be aware of the fathers nearby; how they were offering their power. She still could not twist her body through two large knots without suffering.

This was a day trip away from her boat and the sea but it offered little nurturance. Lying down and watching the large white clouds gather overhead suggested passage; offering help.

©2019

 

Ghost Sails through the Marble Cathedral

She knew she had to leave the first world because there were constant gunshots and the dead. In the woods, once she had come back to herself, she tied on a pair of wings that would help her fly away and also swim in clear water.

She said goodbye to the other ghosts as she set her GPS for Chile and the Marble Caves where she would swim all day through the columns and tunnels among bright fish. She could even pray in a blue cathedral where no guns live.

©2019

 

Frida in Red

In her finest red,
she sits in an old wooden
chair, holding her banner
about hope.

Removing the old contraption
holding up her spine,
red and gold embroidery
adorn her like a pope.

The broken body lies behind,
scarred by surgery,
unconscious.

She has brought out
the sun above the eroded hills,
vigilant and ready
for another paintbrush.

©2019

 

Fireball

He took the Seven Seals and prophets,
turning them to glory for himself,
made wives of other men’s wives,
siring children in a compound
made of stone.

They had Bible Study daily.
With an acoustic guitar,
he was their homespun prophet
while inspiring the fear of fire
in their hearts as they hung
on his words.

When the guns started
and the walls of his kingdom
were breached,
they stayed with him.
He saw the truth at the end
of the world and divine light stayed.

Glass broke, tanks crashed through walls,
a fireball washed through
where children burned beside their parents,
lost to blind faith.

©2019

 

Swimming with Dr. Sacks

When I swim at the pool,
I dream that Dr. Oliver Sacks swims
next to me, praising my backstroke.

His smile winsome,
happy in his crawl across the laps

as he remembers the flurry of
extinct volcanoes
nearly rubbed out by sleeping sickness.

Tey beat gravity and time,
unwrapping their ancient cocoons to dance
and even swim like Dr. Sacks,
no longer fighting stasis or catalepsy

but throwing their arms in clear strokes;
their hair waving behind themin seaweed fronds,
no palsy or sleeping allowed today!

They no longer bellowed, cursed or bent
into plastic shapes as they glided by
in smooth symmetry, led by the doctor
through the lanes

to thrive like newborn orchids
with legs and arms and brains.

Dr. Sacks and I shake hands vigorously
as we leave the pool.

©2019

 

The Vanity (after Jeremy Mann’s painting, “The White Vanity”)

Gazing into the mirror over her vanity,
he pouts a bit like Bridget Bardot,
her dark hair flung in a braid
over her shoulder to look casual
and bohemian.

Handmade lace frames strong arms,
a green and red bandanna around the hips
like peacock feathers
she will show off when some man
picks her for the first dance
at the town fair.

All the beautiful bottles of cologne
and fancy rouge,
the small mirror pointed toward the large one
full of magic and insouciance.

Inside the mirror, pale green and misty
as youth will make it,
this girl does not see her other half
whose teeth are gone in back
with gray and thinner hair
standing near the closet

who has danced with many men
at this fair or the next,
acquiring more cologne, darker mascara;
her vanity well-painted
beneath the carved Chinese lamp.

©2019

 

Queen of the Verdi Club

The ladies with lorgnettes and poodles adored her,
fêted with mushrooms and crudités
for every popular concert she sponsored;
creating tableaux vivants
in flowing gowns and wings.

She was lavish in praise,
taking music seriously in her forties;
soprano hostess and friends
with Caruso and Toscanini.

Many knew she had a tin ear,
flatting at every interval with poor diction,
singing St. Saens and Mozart out of tune
with most everything

while offering her embrace of
an soldiers and aristocrats;
wearing a diamond tiara for every song
at the Ritz-Carlton;
her face framed by chandeliers
of pure gold light.

©2019

 

 

poetics–Krysia Jopek interviews Carolyn Gregory [September 2019]

When did you start writing poetry seriously and why?

1. I started writing poetry seriously in my twenties following the end of my first marriage and death of my mother. I was a trained musician prior to that, playing piano and singing in choirs. I think the love of music flowed into my love of  writing and doing readings.

2. When were you first published and where? Individual poems and books.

I was published in the high school literary magazine, Indian, and then went on to publish in Fred Wolven’s Ann Arbor Review and Generation after college. Published steadily thereafter in the Midwest.

3. Do you write every day? How often do you write and what is your process typically for writing poetry? What time of day, where do you sit, do you listen to music and if so, what specifically?

I write three or four times a week often in solitude at various times of day. I like to write at home in my living room where there’s adequate light and nature nearby. I have written outdoors before in the large arboretum near my home and on trips to new places. Listening to jazz or classical music frequently encourages new work.

4. Can you talk a little bit about your revision process? Typically, how long does it take from conceptualizing a poem until its completion?

Regarding revisions, some poems take years to write, and some are written quickly and revised within a week. It varies.

5. How often do your send your poetry out for publication? How do you decide, find, what literary journals to send to? Are there certain publications, in print and online, that you read regularly? If so, what does this reading do for you?
Regarding submissions, I have been writing and sending work out for years, and I now have several places that seriously read my work and have previously published me. Some of the locations are in the Boston area and some are far away. It’s a good idea to read other journals to see the kinds of poems they accept before one goes ahead and submits to them.

6. What do you think of the publishing “industry” for publishing poetry now vs. before?

Regarding the publishing biz, I don’t think highly of it. Too many MFA clones of writing programs, studying with academic poets, does not lead to a wide range of exciting new voices! Poet Bill Matthews told me many years ago at the Aspen Writers Conference that it was better to study something other than  poetry;  maybe like ceramics, to then write good poems. This advice has stuck with me over time.

 

7. How do you decide a poem will be a prose poem or one with conventional line breaks? How are these genres different for you and for the poem, in your opinion.

Deciding whether a piece of writing will be a prose poem or a “regular poem” has a lot to do with rhythm and subject matter. Sometimes a rhythm will “drive” a poem and that tends to make a poem; whereas, a looser speculation on an object or thought with a little surrealism thrown in draws me into writing a prose poem. I happen to admire both!
8. Has facebook been a factor in your creative life? If so, in what ways?
Yes, Facebook has been a factor in helping me to meet a wider range of writers and poets and has produced publishing connections I would not otherwise know about.

9. Is being active on social media necessary for a contemporary poet. Why or why not?

I find that being active on social networking is necessary for me to thrive since I have been living alone for twenty years. I cannot speak for others.

10. I know from facebook and seeing your lovely posts, that the visual arts are important to you. Can you speak to the relationship of the visual arts and literary texts? Who are your favorite artists? How often do you go to museums and art exhibits? I’ve also read posts about you meeting your many friends [love that about you!] out for shared, healthy meals as well as at museums to view art, paintings mainly, I think.

I love the visual arts and have been a longterm classical music and theatre critic. As a poet, I have written ekphrastic poems successfully. I really enjoy the art of Chagall, Matisse, Van Gogh, and many postmoderns. Visiting museums with friends is a favorite activity.

11. I have to admit that I am jealous of your regular swimming! I really should be swimming regularly for my severe arthritis. How often do you swim and what does this activity do for you, in the various aspects of your life? Do you compose poems when you are swimming?

Swimming is a wonderful activity which I try to do two to three times a week. I do long swims because they are relaxing, good for undue anxiety, and swimming, for me, levels out emotions. I have sometimes written poems while swimming, including “Swimming with Dr. Sacks” that I wrote in honor of that daily swimmer! I also very much enjoy hiking when there is time for it.

 

12. Lastly, who are your favorite poets–and the poets, writers, artists, composers that have influenced your writing?

The poets who have influenced my work strongly–include W. H. Auden, W.S. Merwin (who recently died), Phillip Levine, Charles Simic, Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare, Mary Oliver’s early poems, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and so many others! Among composers, I adore Bach, Beethoven and Mahler; love Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. I also love the 20th-century Russian composers, Shostakovich and Prokofiev, as well as music of the world from Asia and Africa.

Facing the Music–poetry by Carolyn Gregory 

 

biographical notes

Carolyn Gregory was born in Rochester, New York and graduated from the University of Michigan. After living in Ann Arbor for many years, coordinating several poetry series in the community, she now lives in Boston, Massechussetts. Her poems and essays on photography have been published in American Poetry Review, Seattle Review, Cape Cod Review, Bellowing Ark, Main Street Rag, Wilderness House Literary Review, Off the Coast, Yankee Review, Moving Out, South Florida Poetry Review, Pikestaff Review, Primavera, Geensboro Review, Calyx, Midwest Poetry Review, Wayne Review, Cypress Review, The Journal of the Photographic Resource Center (Boston University), and numerous other literary journals. Her first poetry chapbook, The Wait, was published in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and a second, The Rope Singers, was published in Cleveland, Ohio. Her first two full-length books of poems, Open Letters and and Facing the Music, were published by Windmill Editions in 2009 and 2016, repectively.

 

 

 

Tom Miller, photographer
[the poet’s brother]
©2019

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3.7: scrambled aliens | Arthur Broomfield — surreal poetry & poetics

[detail from] The Keyhole Collaboration [for Zazie] Dale Houstman digital collage 2654 x 1500 pixels ©2013

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3.7: scrambled aliens | Arthur Broomfield — surreal poetry & poetics

banner art
[detail from] The Keyhole Collaboration [for Zazie]
Dale Houstman
digital collage
2654 x 1500 pixels
©2013

 

intro to scrambled aliens by Krysia Jopek

i’d like my dada eggs scrambled with androids this morning, cyberspace cyborgs, if you will, and serve them up cold and fluffy to you while YouTubing some John Cage while Derrida butters his toast like any other human with his tea that he takes with a splash of milk. there is so much here in the negative space underneath the font / textured language that playfully unfolds a plethora of planes, layers, on the canvas of the collective unconscious of the poet [and you, Dear Reader], stuck momentarily in the gaps [mind the gap[s], please, as you step off the train to the platform, a bit unsteady from the proliferation, as you amble with that awkward gait toward our final destination and the processing thereof.

Please enjoy the new poetry, selected published poems, and interview / poetics with Arthur Broomfield!

 

 

new poetry

 

How it will begin

The funeral bell rings the fungi infected streets asphyxiate
down below the purple and puce puckered orb solidifies beyond.
a log cabin, Apollo at the stove, traverses the stratosphere.

In the now spindle backs chase racing marigold seeds
from the sacred halls of pimps and bag carriers,
the apple apocalypse absorbs decay.

A crochet curtain comes down to volcanoes and strawberry soufflé,
naked men dance on pin cushions moaning under the weight
of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

A man scoops snow and drops it in a Tesco trolley.
The snow disappears through the bird hole.
The trolley disappears.

The man is excited. He scoops again and again and again.
Each escape to a desert of lush moon worms
and cascading overhead sewers.
©2019

 

Tales from the non-verse

I am embalmed in shipwrecks and string quartets.
I glide along a gossamer girder
with my non-gender mistrusts of the non-verse
we dress in corduroy tights and high heels
and shave with acetylene blow lamps

I am here, I watch an old woman
he wears widows weeds, is me
as she and he go cluck cluck cluck
they scatter potato skins and radioactive oats
for the drones I send
that buzz around their ears.

I have implanted French fries in her head.
©2019

 

Salt and paprika

To say their story is empty egg shells
on moon mirages
twinkling watercress and cheviot sheep
with no strings attached
she played the last deuce in the water lily plot.

The many options carved in sacred clouds
of mist and alabaster
known to three of the four horsemen
ploughed on regardless of the shifting acrylics
and albatross shadow with pitchfork feet
reflected the shapely nude on the butterfly wings
that supported the impressive palace.

Knowing this first she ate the laid egg
and carried them on beds of thistles and whooping cough
to the church of the confused chicken.
©2019

 

Sixbeams

Seeing the sixpence as a moon
the waterhen squeezed another coriander seed
through the billboard
advocating avocadoes as an irritant
for shredded furze politics.

Life, she whistled, is afloat
with Lilies crowning crows
to a dawn chorus of oyster shells
and burnt-out toasters.
©2019

 

When a visitor knocks

When he speaks in hair-sluiced mushroom suites
and thunderbolt echoes from spinach seeds,
the man in Orion’s belt,
the frog-eared and margarine-manacled
rush to hoover the hall,
when he sings the tree-scowled heretics dance to war
when he cries the believers tip-toe across sponge cakes
wearing their army boots like The Book of Common Prayer
when the reed in his flute has turned to jelly
they moan to the dawn chorus.

Blessed are the poor in spirit
for theirs is the kingdom of cross-eyed zebras
and warmed-up goose hearts.
©2019

 

selected published poems

 

The Poetry Reading at Semple Stadium

The first poetry reading
I ever attended
was at Semple Stadium
in the early days
of my love affair
with Tipperary.

Everyone else thought
it was a hurling match
but I knew it was a reading
when I heard the poet
rhapsodise the names
Of G.A.A. clubs
through the charged aura
of a hurling stadium
from his bunker
beneath the New Stand.

Isolated on his podium
by ticket sellers
counting out their takings
the Ezra Pound of Thurles
shocked me with the excitement
of the spoken word.

As he read out the names
Carrick-Davins, Lorrha,
Boherlahan-Dualla,
Moycarkey, Roscrea,
Kilruane-McDonagh
and Borrisoleigh
the fans cheered their players
and their clubs.

And I cheered the poet
for giving me back
my love of language.

from The Poetry Reading at Semple Stadium [Lapwing, 2012]

 

The Bee Woman works at her hive
after “The Bee Woman” [painting by Brigid Mansfield]

bee woman
Brigid Mansfield
oil
©2016

During lulls in the natural order,
when the dead have been buried
and the laws of seed time and harvest
are reinstated, look on me as
the landlady with the right tenants,
popular in business in quiet times.

In concord with the will of the world
I pose in white suit and visor
as I record the verve of the hive,f
the stash of its riches:
propolis, pollen,
royal jelly, eternal honey,
nectar and beeswax,
as any concern would,

while Queen Bee, entrusted
to her particular space and time,
desirous, mates and breeds,
builds, convicts the unwanted.

In normal time I emerge,
when the whiff of ordnance in the air
sets the lines buzzing with rumours of wars,
and the forest flora and ferocious winds
snarl in tremendous arguments,
scattering the indecisive rhododendron,
accommodating what the land will allow.

Now I am the ethereal one returned
from the debacle of maternal earth,
of it and on it, the calm in the storm.
I am here in the hum and whirr
of these zips and zooms, visible,
as a pallid robe and medieval yellow gloves,
the infinite spirit that assumes presence,
laying hands on the pollinating hive.

from The Giant’s Footsteps on The Rock of Dunamaise [Revival, 2019]

 

 

 

 

Arthur Broomfield’s poem “Emo Court’ is now hanging, as of September 15, 2019, in the Coffee Shop at Emo Court. “Nice event when the hanging took place [no pun intended, I’m still here ] with Martina Lewis of the OPW, composer Ian Wilson and three wonderful violinists all the way from Serbia! nice to be honoured in one’s own province. A day to remember.

Emo Court

Cold coffee, chipped porcelain
beside the out of tune piano
that played on,
the tromp l’oeil in the foyer.
The lit candles we sketched in the shadows
to subdue the blameless night

I view now from a separate table
across the liminal space.

A vapour wafts through,
a rusted key admits an alto from the ethers.
The drift of a moment through this moment.
Mysticals merge in the experience,
as they must or be lost to the absence.

from Cold Coffee at Emo Court [Revival, 2016]

 

Nothing to be Done

after reading Sylvia Plath’s poem “Lady Lazarus”

Sylvia Plath reading “Lady Lazarus”

If I could lay you out on lenient couch
and softly correct your contradictions,
heard and unspoken,
heart and enchanted,
with my embalmer’s hands;

If I were to rid you of your fiends,
to leave you to the flesh and blood
of the bread and circuses you loathe,

If I were to dead head the hot angst
that burns the grip of your gossamer traps
and leave you silent as a moth in winter,

would you, crushed, perish in the void,
and leave us, nothing, not even a word?

from Cold Coffee at Emo Court [Revival, 2016]

 

[insert title]: poetics & interview–Arthur Broomfield

poetics: “my poetry is driven [a] by the desire for freedom i.e. to free poetry from all of the “givens” that are imposed on it, which would include ideology, the trappings of “the world,” by which I mean culture, tradition, community, the notion that the world is as it appears; [b] interpretations of works of art, literary theory; and to free language from the stranglehold of conventional meaning. Jacques Derrida and Julia Kristeva have been influential in developing this drive, but it has been inherent in me before I had read either of these philosophers. I would say that studying their works and understanding their thinking fed something that had been there anyway. I owe a lot to them both. For instance, I wrote a number of poems in the 1980s before I had become acquainted with either of their writings that were critical of the oppressive role of the Catholic church in Ireland, and [c] a need to celebrate, which is seen in the occasional poem that recalls events from my childhood growing up in rural Ireland and in poems like “The Poetry Reading at Semple Stadium.”

 

How long have you been writing seriously and when did you first publish?

I’ve been writing and publishing since 1985. My first published poem was “The Poetry Reading at Semple Stadium”. It was chosen by the great Irish poet, Michael Hartnett for inclusion in an anthology commemorating the birth of Patrick Kavanagh. I was accepted for publication in most Irish journals of repute in the years up to 1998 [Poetry Ireland Review, Cyphers, The Sunday Tribune, The Honest Ulsterman etc] and read my poetry and gave interviews on RTE, the Irish state broadcasting corporation. I returned to college in 1998, NUI Maynooth; and Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, where I was awarded a Ph. D for my thesis on the works of Maria Edgeworth. During my college years I became absorbed in Jacques Derrida’s Deconstruction which later led me to studying Samuel Beckett’s works, especially those from The Unnamable on. I published my study of Beckett’s works, The Empty Too: language and philosophy in the works of Samuel Beckett [Cambridge Scholars’ Publishing] in 2014. I think I only wrote one poem in my college years, the irreverent “The Minister for Agriculture’s penis speaks out”. I got back to writing poetry around 2009.

 

What is your impression of the poetry “industry” these days? regarding readership, feedback, and publication.

The essential focus for a poet should be to write and to think about his/her poetry, to respond to whatever it is that drives–compels–him/her to write, to be true to thine own self. His/her quarrel should be, as Yeats said, with him/herself, out of which poetry is made. I could say a lot about the poetry industry in Ireland and much of it would not be good, but I won’t because to indulge in such talk would be a distraction from my writing. To engage with those of whom I am critical would be to descend to a discourse that, to quote Gray, “is the language of the age [that] is never the language of poetry.” Aside from that inconvenience, I am fortunate to be writing in Ireland.

I have some very good and supportive poet friends. We meet occasionally, workshop new poems and float ideas on where poetry is or could or should be going. I am privileged when it comes to readership. My recent collection Cold Coffee at Emo Court sold 2000 copies all through Ireland. I suppose I bucked the system as I got out and sold most of them “by hand” from town to town. It was hard work but a great experience which I enjoyed very much. I discovered that Ireland is indeed full of warm, friendly people, interested in and willing to support its poets.
Aside from the conservative “establishment” organs Ireland is buzzing with poetry journals which are open to innovative and surreal work. Revival Press, who published my last and will publish my forthcoming collection, that has the working title The Giant’s Footsteps on the Rock of Dunamaise, is the most exciting book publisher to emerge. Fearless and unfunded they have published titles by authors other publishers, for whatever reason, didn’t or wouldn’t. Apart from Ireland journals in the UK and the US accept work from many Irish poets, me included.
What are the major influences on your work–literary and non-literary?

 

Can you speak to your writing process and style?

My poetry took a major turn in December 2017 when I was part of a workshop run by Hilda Sheehan, the English surrealist poet. Breton is now my major influence and his 1924 Manifesto is my constant go to inspiration, though instead of accepting Freud’s questionable notion of the unconscious as the source of the surreal I am inclined to think quantum physics, extra-terrestrials parallel universes and Plato’s elsewhere. Almost all of the poems I now write are attempts to get close to the pure surrealist. Those I have written prior to 12-17 I now call “Old School”, or “Writing.” To over-simplify–when writing Old School one inhabits the thinking process and the meaning and connotation of words of and to the conscious world; the emphasis is on getting the word that will best articulate the perception and to hope that in the process words from The Other–and by The Other I mean parallel universes, ETs, quantum physics etc, what Breton thought to be the unconscious–will drift to the poet in an inspired moment. I take a very different approach ,and it’s one I find that works for me.It begins with getting into a mood where, insofar as it’s possible–and for sure that’s the hard part–the world is excluded and the mind is open to The Other; what Breton calls psychic automatism, which he explains is “thought in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.” Of course, one must use the tools of the world, pens, paper, words and images, word processors, etc.

To get there I start by writing 3 or 4 pages of automatic writing, followed by 7 or 8 minutes of meditation. Then I’d listen to jazz, Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charles McPherson, Sonny Rowlands. I’d leave it for an hour or so before putting pen to paper. I might start with a heading and let the images flow, because Surrealist poetry is about images, the juxtaposition of images that bring together distant realities without premeditation, to paraphrase Breton. I might leave the poem for an hour or so before checking it for intrusions from the world, bad grammar, realistic descriptions or parts that jar but unlike Old School poetry the reworking is kept to a minimum. I see myself as a mere medium and cannot claim blame or credit for what I write, it comes through, not from me.

Non-literary influences would include The Irish Times, BBC Light Programme, growing up as a Protestant in Catholic Ireland, the political and social landscape of Ireland, Charlie Haughey, Paddy McCormack, Alex Ferguson, Eoghan Harris, Shane Warne, the Akaschic record and quantum physics [what I know of each, which is very little], time spent drinking socially, cattle marts, my ability to sell and English comedy to name a few.

 

How has your identity as an Irish writer and scholar of Samuel Beckett influenced you?

The great, unsurpassed, Irish writers are still Yeats [and his great hero, Swift], Joyce and Beckett. Others that followed them like Flan O’Brien, John MacGahern, and Patrick Kavanagh seem to be standing the test of time. Then we have the Northern poets, Heaney, Longley, Muldoon and Mahon who are products of the Northern Ireland sectarian culture that led to the troubles, excellent poets for sure, but are they doomed to be the poets of the troubles e.g. Heaney’s North and suffer the fate of the WWI poets? There are many definitions of Irishness, each coloured by its cultural, historical and religious roots. There is a great richness in this diversity that I like to explore [as I said I come from a Protestant, Church of Ireland background].

I think that exploration comes through in some of my poetry, especially in the surreal stuff, but that could come from the Other. Beckett, especially in his significant later works, which deal with the possibility of empty language being the real, scarcely mentions Ireland, its culture or history; I address this thesis in my work The Empty Too: language and philosophy in the works of Samuel Beckett [Cambridge Scholars’ Publishing, 2014]. Time, place, the world of things, the corporeal and character, seem to Beckett to be passing nuisances that get in the way of his emphasis on the real, which is the artistic and philosophical focus of his works from The Unamable [1953] on. Beckett is a philosopher and an artist; his art is his philosophy and his philosophy is his art. He is a giant of world literature who is not yet fully understood–still ahead of his and our current time. To study for and to write The Empty Too was a rich and exciting experience for me; I felt I was getting to know one of the great minds of the twentieth century, if not all time.

His works were an influence that I knew I couldn’t challenge; I knew I couldn’t aspire to be even a very poor imitation of the master who had said it as it is. After Beckett, the matters of the existential world seem to be trivial, ephemeral moments. Maybe he influenced me, maybe my turn to surrealism was a result of absorbing his inferences on the unreality of the existential world–though my turn to Surrealism was not a conscious decision. It came from a chance meeting with Hilda Sheehan, but who knows, maybe it was the surreal at work!!

 

What are you currently working on?

We’re putting the finishing touches to my next poetry collection The Giant’s Footsteps at the Rock of Dunamaise [Revival Press]. The Rock is a well-known landmark near my hometown of Portlaoise; the mysterious “giant’s footsteps” are imprinted on a part of the Rock. Maybe the title will lead to their research. The work is three quarters Surrealist and the rest is about twenty pages of Old School poems that have been a runner up in a competition, published or accepted by reputable journals and seem to go down well at readings. I’m a bit nervous about how the Surrealist poems will be accepted in Ireland, although a good number of them have been published in Irish journals–and abroad–including, of course, I acknowledge with delight, in diaphanous micro. I’m writing more Surrealist poems, hopefully for a future collection, and I’m also thinking of writing an essay on Beckett’s play, Breath, and an essay on his philosophy for a philosophy journal. It’s been a while since I wrote about his works, feeling that I have said all I can, or want to say about them in The Empty Too.

 

What are the biggest challenges you face to keep going, writing as a literary artist in the 21st century and within the construct of your non-writing life? Or perhaps this is not an issue for you, if you are lucky.

The biggest challenge is myself insofar as I don’t believe writing is 90% perspiration. I tend to act on the impulse–a “surge of energy” an artist friend calls it, and I think that’s it–maybe it is inspiration. On the other hand, as Derrida says, “things happen when you’re writing.” I still need to feel this charge of energy before I write anything that I, at least, consider worthwhile. And, of course, this self-doubt that’s probably common to all writers, the feeling that in your best moments all you can experience is the tiniest glimpse of reality. It’s not even a light in the tunnel; it’s more a glimmer that lasts a second or two and then goes out. But to have experienced even that glimmer is what drives you, challenges you to confront the self-doubt. [Though, as I’ve said, the experience of writing Surrealist poetry has its origins in a very different place, beyond the self, I think]. Beckett said it–“I can’t go on; I’ll go on.” After that, I am lucky that my non-writing life gives me the space to respond to the challenge.

When the Dust Settles [International University Press, 1993]
The Poetry Reading at Semple Stadium [Lapwing, 2012]
The Empty Too: Language and Philosophy in the works of Samuel Beckett [Cambridge Scholars’ Publishing, 2014]
Mice at the Threshing [Lapwing, 2014]
Cold Coffee at Emo Court [Revival, 2016]

links to Arthur Broomfield’s publications

The Poetry Reading at Semple Stadium

Cold Coffee At Emo Court

Art Interview with Arthur Broomfield in Limerick Leader

 

 

biographical notes

Dr. Arthur Broomfield is a poet and Beckett Scholar from Ireland. His published works include the poetry collections Cold Coffee at Emo Court  [Revival Press, 2016], The Poetry reading at Semple Stadium [Lapwing, 2014], and the scholarly The Empty Too: Language and Philosophy in the works of Samuel Beckett [Cambridge Scholars’ Publishing, 2014]. Influenced by the Irish Beckett and the English surrealist poet Hilda Sheehan, Broomfield’s poetry turned to surrealism in 2017.

 

 

Arthur Broomfield, photographer
©201

Arthur Broomfield on Facebook

Arthur Broomfield on goodreads

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3.6: where what hovers is possibility | Rebecca Olander & Elizabeth Paul — mixed-media collage/poetry collaborations]
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3.6: where what hovers is possibility | Rebecca Olander & Elizabeth Paul — mixed-media collage/poetry collaborations]

[banner art]

an unseen smaller one

collage, December 2017
Rebecca Olander
mixed media
5 inches x 7 inches
©2017

 

intro to where what hovers is possibility by krysia jopek [September 2019]

Rebecca Olander and Elizabeth Paul’s selected sequence of collaborative multimedia collages and poetic analogues offers viewers/readers glimpses into the individual and collaborative process of the artist/writer discovering and shaping the cumulative content, form, and interpretive meaning of the visual image/poem as dialectical, post-postmodern [21st century trajectory of postmodernism] process and “finished” product/artifact.

I am honored to feature this collaborative micro virtual show of visual image [multimedia collage] and literary text [poems]. Please enjoy your unique aesthetic/literary experience here; I’m certain that what hovers is possibility will follow/stay with you for a while. The artists and I welcome your comments.

 

artist statement{s}:

This micro-virtual exhibit, where what hovers is possibility, illustrates the shared creative vision that brought Rebecca Olander and Elizabeth Paul together to commence their artistic partnership. More than any subject matter, genre, or form–it is the creative process, itself, that intrigues them and appears thematically time and again in their work.

Rebecca and Elizabeth met in the low-residency MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts; Rebecca concentrating in poetry and Elizabeth in creative nonfiction. In a workshop on translation during a ten-day residency, they collaborated on experimental projects. During the next semester, they continued working together along with poet Gail Hanlon. The three exchanged postcards for six months, taking the postcards as starting points for writing.

Their stated goal was to play and the rules of the game were 1.) to spend no more than thirty minutes on the writing and 2.) to work in the space of the postcard. They didn’t discuss the project until it was over. In their subsequent collaborations, Rebecca and Elizabeth continue to embrace play and experimentation. They have also maintained the rule of not discussing projects, allowing each collaborative project to unfold and reveal itself; thereby giving each artist the opportunity to experience the project on her own terms.

The four multimedia collages with poetic analogues showcased here are from Rebecca and Elizabeth’s 48-page, third manuscript, Edges Away: A Collaboration. They completed this project over the course of one year, during which they created and exchanged collages each month and responded the following month with a poem inspired in some way by the collage each received, along with a new collage. Thus, they are both artists and poets in this collaboration. Selections from Edges Away: A Collaboration have been published in The Indianapolis Review (collage selections), Les Femmes Folles, and petrichor; several others are forthcoming in Aperçus.

Their second manuscript of collaborations, How the Letters Invent Us, is a correspondence in prose poems; selections have appeared in Duende’s August, 2018 spotlight, They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press), and The Adirondack Review’s fall 2019 issue.

 

 

Portrait of the Young Man As an Artist
collage, August 2017
Elizabeth Paul
mixed media
5.75 inches x 7 inches
©2017

 

 

Rebecca Olander
©2017

 

 

 

Let Them Be Uncontainable
collage, January 2018
Elizabeth Paul
mixed medium
7.25 inches x 8 inches
©2018

 

 

Rebecca Olander
©2018

 

 

 

an unseen smaller one
collage, December 2017
Rebecca Olander
mixed media
5 inches x 7 inches
©2017

 

Elizabeth Paul
©2018

 

 

 

Don’t write your disquisitions on creativity and resistance
collage, January 2018
Rebecca Olander
mixed media
5 inches x 7 inches
©2018

 

Elizabeth Paul
©2018

 

The Adirondack Review — four poems by Rebecca Olander and Elizabeth Paul

Creative Correspondence on Text and Image (Rebecca Olander & Liz Paul)

How the Letters Invent Us: A Correspondence Rebecca Hart Olander & Elizabeth Paul

 

biographical notes:

Rebecca Hart Olander’s poetry has appeared recently in Crab Creek Review, Ilanot Review, Mom Egg Review, Plath Poetry Project, Radar Poetry, Solstice, Yemassee Journal, and other literary journals. Her chapbook, Dressing the Wounds, is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Rebecca teaches writing at Westfield State University and is editor/director of Perugia Press. Rebecca Olander’s website

Rebecca Olander
Jonathan Olander, photographer
©2019

Elizabeth Paul’s work has appeared in Cold Mountain Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Briar Cliff Review, Sweet Lit, and CutBank, among other places. Her chapbook Reading Girl published by Finishing Line Press (2016) is an exploration of the art of Henri Matisse. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan and currently teaches writing at George Mason University. Elizabeth Paul’s website

Elizabeth Paul
Stanislav Miachkov, photographer
©2019

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3.5: trajecting trauma–Mark Blickley, Amy Bassin, Nancy Kiel, & Katya Shubova | text-based art collaborations

Dream Streams 37 Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley visual artist/literary artist archival inkjet print 24 inches x 18 inches ©2018

diaphanous micro
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3.5: trajecting trauma–Mark Blickley, Amy Bassin, Nancy Kiel, & Katya Shubova | text-based art collaborations

[banner image]
Dream Streams 37
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

< < <

intro to trajecting trauma — Krysia Jopek [August 2019]

I don’t think anything I write could do justice to this spectacular virtual literary and visual art show featuring text-based art collaborations between literary artist Mark Blickley and three visual artists: Amy Bassin, Nancy Kiel, and Katya Shubova; short fiction from Mark Blickley’s Strange Misfits; and six videos by Mark Blickley.

I will say that it’s been my utmost pleasure the last two years getting to know Blick [Mark Blickley] and Amy [Bassin] through their text-based art collaborations because of “Excavating Dreams,” featured in Diaphanous Fall 2017. Their text-based art collaborations simply mesmerize me.

link to Excavating Dreams–Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley [Diaphanous Fall 2017]

Blick is one of the diaphanous micro family members whose generosity of spirit and sheer excitement about literary and visual artists is contagious. He’s introduced me to the work of other now-members of diaphanous micro artists/writers, including Nancy Kiel and Katya Shubova, whose collaborations with him are also showcased in this virtual exhibit.

I know you will fall in love with this highest echelon of literary and visual art that I am deeply honored to curate. Please enjoy!

Taking a Knee
Katya Shubova/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
18 inches x 24 inches
©2019

 

Frog Concerto 1 [collage]
Mark Blickley
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

CRIME SCENE: ICE the Bodies
Nancy Kiel/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
18 inches x 24 inches
archival inkjet print
© 2019

Translated From the Portuguese
Mark Blickley
redacted diptych book cover
24 inches x 18 inches
©2019

Sentenced to Death by the Muse
Amy Bassin
archival inkjet print
18 inches x inches
© 2019

Sentenced to Death by the Muse–Mark Blickley

Sir, I have registered your desperate entreaty for guidance. A meaningful dialogue between two receptive adults articulates in a myriad of styles. Sensuality offers a portal to the subtle communication often not available in our daily lives.

Thousands of decades of life, love, and experimental understanding have nurtured a powerfully-feminine and wisely- balanced woman. I offer a manner of engagement reflective of another era indeed; when grace, sensitivity and the healing power of intimacy were the standard.

As discriminating as I hope my clients to be, I take very few appointments after testing our communication skills to assure a mutually-enjoyable and enriching encounter. Please offer your inquiries with a respectful metaphysical introduction and allow things to move from there. I present myself with straight-forward integrity and expect the same in return. That being said, I will simply not respond to queries that are blatantly solicitous or un-forthcoming.

I welcome mature and urbane gentlemen to my hired accommodations in or around my Temple of Trust with availability thru 5 p.m. Weekend afternoon and evening visits to your discreetly hired accommodations are negotiable as well.

Given my desire to develop a repartee prior to our interlude, I cannot accept requests for meetings with less than 36 hours prior discussion.

You will find me quite generous with my time; an encounter being about a connection and its development rather than a mere chronological passage. However, I am a very private woman and therefore, am not available for booked appointments exceeding two hours in duration.

Appropriate emolument as follows:

A. Genuflection for hour one
B. Total obedience for hour two

Please respect my professionalism and maturity by referencing my entire conditions as well as reputation prior to contact. Specific details noted within my enclosed Gyneocracy Coda will not be discussed.

Please refer to me as Cyn. I make all arrangements through petition—-without exception.

I shall be in touch soon regarding my decision to select or reject you as a client.

My rendered judgment is dependent on consultations with my Sisters as well as the honorable, aesthetic sincerity of your petition to join my ethereal chorus of revelatory arousal.

Gynecocracy Coda:

I have holistic orgasms of innovation that allow for me to achieve an altered state; men do not. Men have ejaculations of thoughts. The Olympian patriarchy calls ejaculations orgasms because they never want women to consider themselves superior in any way. Thus, they pretend sensual, artistic encounters are reduced to simple spasms that are equal for both genders. It is a fallacy that leads to the small death of visionary inventiveness.

It has been my experience that men are generally less adventurous. Most like to repeat the same things and do not budge. My tastes often change on whimsy. Boys grow up with chronic mental masturbation and too often train themselves to limit their view of sublime sensuality to strictly physical pleasure. True imaginative sensuality encompasses the enriching aspects of both pleasure and pain and is why men too often suffer pregnancy envy.

I can always tell if a man is aroused simply by looking at him. My response isn’t obvious; thus, I can make the man work harder to prove his passion by feigning a lack of desire, so he puts more effort into pleasing me. His testosterone will poison his ego if he thinks he is not as desirable or cannot please. One of my greatest excitements is when I can sense a man’s intense desire for me. That is a visual/intellectual/emotional power I can choose to withhold until he consummates his desire with an exquisite display of heartfelt, imaginative curiosity and discipline.

SUPPLICANT
REJECTED
DUE TO
SALACIOUS
INTENT

* * *

Six Pounds of Sin
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2019

Gravity Grateful
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

< < <

from Weathered Reports–intro by Mark Blickley

Weathered Reports: Trump Surrogate Quotes From the Underground is my collaboration with fine arts photographer Amy Bassin. I matched quotes from many of history’s most infamous tyrants to Amy’s funereal sculptural portraits to produce spins by DJ Trump surrogates from Genghis Khan to the Koch Brothers. Each quote (report) echoes a distinct Trumpian thought, issued forth from the weathered patinas of plein air cemetery sculptures. We consider the Trump administration to be a graveyard where each day we are forced to attend daily burials of American moral conscience and civil liberties.

We gratefully acknowledge: Idi Amin, Koch Bros., John Wilkes Booth, Osama Bin Laden, Caligula, Charles Manson, Roy Cohn, Joseph McCarthy, Jefferson Davis, Josef Mengele, Muammar Gaddafi, Benito Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Judas Iscariot, Vladimir Putin, Jezebel, Josef Stalin, Genghis Khan.

Trump Surrogate 1
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

Trump Surrogate 5
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

Trump Surrogate 10
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

link to Weathered Reports–Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley

< < <

from Dream Scenes–Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley

Dream Streams 9
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

Dream Streams 13
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
18 inches x 24 inches
©2018

Dream Streams 16
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

Dream Streams 20
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
18 inches x 24 inches
©2018

Dream Streams 21
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

Dream Streams 37
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

Dream Streams 29
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

Dream Streams 36
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

Dream Streams 37
Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley
visual artist/literary artist
archival inkjet print
24 inches x 18 inches
©2018

link to Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley on creating Dream Streams series
videos

< < <

short fiction from Sacred Misfits–Mark Blickley [Red Hen Press 2004]

P.S.—An Epistolary Tale

8836 Blvd. E.(Apt. 3K) W.N.Y.,N.J.07093

March 24, 2004

OCCUPANT of Apt. 2K
8836 Blvd. E.
W.New York,NJ 07093

Dear Neighbor:

Just because I HAVEN’T(any) APPROPRIATE TIME to speak ORALLY to you, therefore I took the liberty to write directly to you in the hope that you’ll be kind enough to take into consideration the following request:

Consequently, if you permit me, I’ll ask you(right now), as follows:

Did you(ever) anything hear considering someone, or(did you)see) somebody who was looking for me(in front of(my) Apt. 3K, (in the hall) in connection with any message, news, or information) in the past days, weeks, or during the last months, or within the past several years,(somehow, somewhere in the building), ANY TIME?

Thank you for your very kind attitude toward the matter.

In expectation of your reply IN WRITING EXCLUSIVELY in the near future, I remain,

Sincerely,

(Q. Shabraya)

p.s. :
I would not want to create the impression that you’ll not do me a favor that I just requested.

If you’re interested regarding our ORAL CONVERSATION AT YOUR AND MY EARLIEST CONVENIENCE, if that is the case, I’ll be glad to talk to you as one gentleman to another, to exchange our views, to discuss about subject that you and I wish.

Your(eventual) any FRIENDLY remark, CONSTRUCTIVE objection, LOGICAL observation, RATIONAL comment, etc., WELCOME!

It’s not only an APPROPRIATE, BUT HIGHLY DESIRABLE

Thanks, again.

March 25, 2004

Dear Mr. Q. Shabraya:

Thank you for taking the time to write me a letter and to slip it under my door. I was surprised, pleasantly surprised, as we have been next door neighbors for close to two years now and we’ve only met three times in the elevator. I’ve appreciated the hello you’ve given me on those three occasions.

I find the uniform you wear quite fascinating. As we descended the eleven flights to the building entrance, I inspected your uniform for some insignia, some identification to its origin. Am I correct in assuming that it is the military uniform of an officer of a foreign country? Is it beige, Mr. Shabraya? Its color is quite faded though you’ve kept it in superb condition.
I know it must be an old uniform and the proud manner with which you carry yourself when you wear it must mean that it is a uniform that has participated in some grand historical event. Am I correct, sir?

Many a time I’ve been tempted to ring your doorbell, Mr. Shabraya, during harsh storms or when the ground is covered with ice. I am much younger than you, sir, and on the three occasions that we’ve shared an elevator ride I couldn’t help but notice your pallor. Although you look fit and strong, and by no means do I think of you as someone not able to take of himself, I’ve wondered if I could not be of assistance when the weather rages. I help out a few other residents of our building during such emergencies.

I have not contacted you to see if I could be of assistance because of the typewritten message taped over your doorbell that firmly states – DO NOT RING THIS BELL UNDER ANY CONDITION OR OVERSIGHT. LEAVE THIS BELL ALONE! LEAVE COMMUNICATIONS WITH SUPER OR RECEPTIONIST ON FIRST FLOOR. THANKS!

Mr. Shabraya, during my nearly two years in apartment 2K I have not come across anybody seeking to deliver information to you. Sir, I couldn’t help notice the typed message you taped to your mailbox requesting that your mail be delivered to the floor mat outside your apartment. On two occasions I’ve seen the mailman honoring your request.

If I should observe someone trying to contact you, is there some procedure you’d like me to follow in order to relay this information to you? I shall only be too pleased to oblige.
Mr. Shabraya, as the walls to these apartments are paper thin, I cannot help hearing you from time to time. I think it is healthy for a man to scream occasionally. I believe it purges the soul the same as water purges the body. Your screams are never disruptive as I am a sound sleeper.

Mr. Shabraya, I was wondering, do my screams disturb you? I try hard, very hard, to muffle them with my pillow, but I don’t always succeed. Your screams are never whimpering outbursts of self pity like mine. Your screams never seem to deteriorate into tears. I know- it is unmanly to cry and I hope I have not embarrassed you on the occasions when this has happened to me. You never cry, do you? I have the utmost respect for you because you do not. Please don’t judge me harshly.

Every morning I take a walk down Boulevard East with Charlie Turner from 5E and Dr. Sussman. Dr. Sussman is such a nice man. Do you know him? or are you affiliated with Dr. Cantrell? He’s a nice person, too. I was formerly affiliated with Dr. Cantrell. I love walking down the Boulevard and looking over at the Manhattan skyline. I always stroll in my civvies. Do you ever wear civilian clothes, Mr. Shabraya?

Once again, thank you for your unexpected correspondence and I look forward to hearing from you again.

Respectively Yours,
Louis Mirabella
P.F.C. U.S.M.C. (Ret.)
138-96-1792 – A positive

* * *

DEAR MISS
The Captain’s dead but hard to forget. He has to be dead. Nobody¹s liver could survive all those years of poisoning.
That’s the word he used. Poison. Never drinking or booze or alcoholism. It was poison that ruined his life.
The Captain was a romantic. So was I.
Years ago I tended bar in a flea-bag dump called The Second Hand Rose. I wanted to experience life and write about it so I dropped out of Rutgers for three semesters and poured the vinegar that my boss called wine into small cups for customers like the Captain and his mates. Mates. That’s the word he used for the sour smelling people he drank with.
The Captain was different, though. He had enough pride not to make excuses unless he thought they’d be believed. When the Captain spoke he nearly always made sense.
Last week I found a sealed letter the Captain gave me. I was supposed to deliver it to a woman customer who came into the Rose every Tuesday night. She always stayed for about an hour and sat at a table by herself, never saying a word. She told me she liked Scotch and that was the only time I ever heard her speak. But we communicated. She sipped Scotch until her glass was empty and then she’d nod in my direction and I’d bring her another one.
I never knew her name. But then I didn’t know the Captain’s name either, until I opened his letter.
One day she just stopped showing up so I wasn’t able to give it to her. I tucked it in a vest pocket where it lay crumbled for years. How many years? I’m not sure. There’s no date on it.

Dear Miss:

I give this note to Big Bob to give to you cause I know Big Bob’s gonna be tending bar Tuesday nights. You ain’t been here in weeks. For a year now you been real important to me and now you ain’t here no more. Please come back. I’m ready for you Miss. To meet you I mean.

The Second Hand Rose ain’t the same place anymore. Your perfumes gone and now piss and farts is all you smell on Tuesday nights. Even Big Bob said so. I miss you very much.

Hello Miss. My name’s Eddie but friends call me the Captain. I ain’t a real Captain or nothing. I mean I’m sorta a Captain. I’m the floor man on the Scrambler at Coney Island. I mean I use to be. I’m the guy at the bar with the sailor hat on. To be honest with you Miss I wear the hat all the time cause of my bald spot. It ain’t that big you know.

You look real pretty Miss. I mean there ain’t been no lady in Rose’s looking like you in years. Not by herself anyway. Not alone. I hope you ain’t sad or nothing. I ain’t sad. Being a little scared don’t count right Miss?

You like music? I’m musician. Play harmonica. Grandfather taught me when I was a kid. I’m what they call a street musician. Mostly old Italian songs. I play across the street from S.P.Q.R. in Little Italy. Ever been there? The Arabs in the kitchen treat me real good. On Saturday nights when its warm there’s a lot of bucks to be had.

You gotta come back to Rose’s Miss. I blown too many chances. You can’t take my Tuesday nights away like that. You can’t Miss. Your making me scared.

I know you don’t like talkin’ to people Miss. You don’t like being bothered. Me too. Big Bob’ll give you this. Its sorta like a letter of introduction right Miss? You gotta show Miss. Please. I’m the Captain the guy in the sailor hat at the bar. Or you can call me Eddie.

I wanna see you smile Miss. You don’t drink that much. I mean your never blitzed after your hour on Tuesday night. I respect that in a woman. You got all your teeth so I know you ain’t a tramp or nothing. Your a lady Miss. A real lady. And you ain’t fat at all.

Forgive me Miss but your real important to me. You make me feel like a man again know what I mean? Last year before you started showing up Tuesday nights I sorta let myself go. You know relaxed myself.

I dream about you Miss. I ain’t dreamed about a woman in three years since that Puerto Rican jerked me off behind the control booth at Coney. She didn’t like me or nothing just wanted a free re-ride.

I gotta be honest with you Miss. I ain’t much. I’ll tell you a story that might help you figure out who I am. Its something my brother told me. He once said I was the type a guy that sits in his room masturbating and thinks its an explosion. I ain’t exactly sure what he means but it sounds truthful.

I don’t know if you noticed Miss but I been cleaning myself up a bit each Tuesday night. I seen you looking over at me but I don’t think you seen me. You gotta come back to Rose’s Miss. I’m starting not to like myself again.

You make me feel like a man Miss. No disrespect Miss but my prick feels alive. I mean it kinda sings to me now. I forgot about that. You know after a while it just pissed all that stinkin’ juice I drink.

I dream about you Miss. I dream I see you with nothing on. Your beautiful woman Miss. You gotta return to your table at Rose’s. You gotta. I ain’t dreamed about you in two weeks. I need that dream Miss. I need to dream about me rubbing my nose against your belly and you laughing and smiling. I never seen you smile Miss.

Listen Miss. I don’t want this note to make you nervous or something. You don’t got to see me if you don’t want. Not right away anyway. Things take time sometimes. But give me back my Tuesday nights ok Miss? Sit down at your table and have some drinks. I’ll spring for some. I won’t spin around and stare at you. I like watchin’ you in the mirror over the bar. Lots a times I got to tell Big Bob to move the hell outta way cause he blocks my view.

Miss please please come back. Tuesday night I left Rose’s with pee stains on my pants. That don’t happen when your here. I’m real careful Miss.

Thank you for reading this note. I miss you Miss. That’s sorta funny ain’t it Miss? Missing you Miss. I wanna make you laugh.

BEST WISHES
The Captain (Eddie)

link to Sacred Misfits by Mark Blickley–Amazon

< < <

video art by Mark Blickley

< < <

Meconium Aspirations by Mark Blickley from Mark Blickley on Vimeo.

Widow’s Peek: The Kiss of Death from Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley on Vimeo.

Speaking in Bootongue from Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley on Vimeo.

Samorin Dream Archeology from Amy Bassin on Vimeo.

“Real Realism: An Art Manifesto for the Disenchanted” from Zoe Anastassiou on Vimeo.


artist statements

< < <artist photos // biographical notes

Amy Bassin
Amy Bassin, photographer
© 2016

Amy Bassin, is a multi-disciplinary artist from New York City whose work encompasses artist books, altered books, drawing, collage, fine art photography and video. In 2018 she participated in a collaboration with Container, a Baltimore based independent object/art book publisher as well as an Art residency and group exhibition in Lisbon, Portugal. Last year her video, Speaking In Bootongue, was a CUNY Film Festival nominee for best Experimental Film and she is the co-founder of the international artists cooperative, Urban Dialogues.

http://www.amybassin.com/

Mark Blickley
Amy Bassin, photographer
©2018

Mark Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Scholarship Award for Drama. He is the author of Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press) and a 2018 Audie Award finalist for his contribution to the original audio book, Nevertheless We Persisted. Last year his video, Widow’s Peek: The Kiss of Death, was selected to the International Experimental Film Festival in Bilbao, Spain, His latest book is the text based art collaboration with fine arts photographer Amy Bassin, Dream Streams. https://www.claresongbirdspub.com/shop/featured-authors/amy-bassin-mark-blickley/

Nancy A. Kiel
Irena Jauncey–photograher
©2000

Nancy A. Kiel lives in Sydney, Australia where she’s an award-winning musician, songwriter, writer, and founding member of the New Zealand band Baby!, Party Girls and various Sydney bands. Nancy is Founder and Managing Director of Miss Nancy’s Dried Berries. She now spends as much time as possible creating, meditating, traveling and hanging out with dogs and librarians. http://missnancy.com.au/mn1b.html

Katya Shubova
Yelena Falk, photographer
©2019

Katya Shubova is a former competitive gymnast who grew up in Odessa, Ukraine. Her true passion is dance and she travels internationally to perform Tango. She has studied improvisational performance and sketch comedy at New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade and stars in the upcoming short film, Hunger Pains, written by Mark Blickley and directed by Iorgo Papoutsas for Wabi Sabi Productions.

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3.4: finally an answer | Jon Wesick — poetry, photography, and flash fiction

fortress walls 2 jon wesick 11 inches x 8.5 inches ©2018

diaphanous micro
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3.4: finally an answer | Jon Wesick — poetry, photography, and flash fiction

whimsical chaos–introduction by Krysia Jopek

The poems and flash fiction of published American novelist and poet Jon Wesick–create intricately-scaffolded/layered worlds/microcosms. His acute linguistic precision (his language is highly “textured”), rendered in colloquial American English that is (misleadingly) readily accessible/seemingly “transparent” to readers– startles/surprises/arrests–with bizarre turns of whimsy, logic, political commentary, and “poetic density.”

Please enjoy this diaphanous micro issue, 3.4–finally an answer by Jon Wesick!

< < < new poetry by Jon Wesick

ITALO CALVINO EXPLAINS DOGEN’S MOUNTAINS AND WATER’S SUTRA

I don’t mind green mountains
wearing fedoras of clouds
or eastern peaks dipping toes in the surf.
But when they play basketball,
they slam the full moon against the backboard
sending my terrified dachshund
scampering under the bed.

For centuries the wise have escaped
this racket by moving to the river.
While some see water
as a smorgasbord for sushi lovers
or bachelor pad for horny dolphins,
the sage knows it as a raw ingredient
for espresso.

©2019

* * *

ALCOHOLIC BREAKFAST

Secrets
between the pancakes, recriminations
in the coffee. She pours suspicion
in a juice glass. He spreads excuses
on the toast, passes the butter dish of abuse.

Eggs stare in awkward silence.
Heaping home fries of denial.

©2019

* * *

GENTLE WORLD

An inventor modified AR-15s to accept
PEZ dispensers in their magazine feeds.
Fighters traded boxing gloves
for teddy bears; doctors
discovered chocolate and espresso
worked better than surgery; and Cuddle Ryu,
a new martial art, swept the nation.

Cops traded pistols for squirt guns
loaded with craft beer and disarmed
suspects with the phrase,
“You look like you need a hug.”
States converted prisons to animal shelters
burying inmates in squirming puppies.

The military joined in. Cruisers
bombarded shores with blueberry muffins.
The Air Force dyed its uniforms purple
and re-purposed Minuteman II missiles
to deliver pizza in thirty minutes or less.

Russia responded
with SS-19s loaded with kasha and pirozhki.
Not to be outdone, North Korea sent bottles
of fiery soju marching across the DMZ
after exploding its largest rice-and-kimchi bomb yet.

Smallpox and Ebola mutated
so the worst that sufferers could expect
would be a mild, paisley rash.”
so the worst sufferers could expect
was a mild, paisley rash.
Hurricanes apologized, dropping granola bars
and bottled water in their paths.
The San Andreas Fault
worked off its aggression
by swaying to the Grateful Dead.

Somewhere
in a fiction writer’s mind
swarthy terrorists kidnapped
the president’s daughter
and forced her to pole dance
on a burning American flag.

Noting the remote control’s power button
existed for just such an emergency
a top CIA analyst acted.
Outrage collapse
to a glowing, white dot
on the TV screen.

©2019

* * *

CREATION STORY

In the beginning was nothing
and nothing was carefree.
Then nothing thought
it would be nice to have something.
Then came rocks and stars
along with the responsibility
of obeying the laws of physics.

And the rocks and stars thought
“This is boring.”
Then came life
along with the responsibility
of eating, excreting,
and reproduction.

And life thought
“This is boring.”
Then came intelligence
along with the responsibility
of paying student loans
and saving for retirement.

And intelligence thought
“This is boring”
and longed again to be
carefree.

©2019

* * *

PLAINS OF ABRAHAM

With macaroons, duck confit, and maple syrup at stake,
I reenact General Wolfe’s conquest of French Canada.
Backed by divisions of tourist dollars and a robust
exchange rate, my anglais marches north
toward the français’ fortress atop a fifty-meter cliff
(but anglais doesn’t know what a meter is).

A fusillade of unintelligible vocabulary
repels my attempted landing at Tim Hortons.
Grilled cheese and two-dollar coin in hand,
I flee to my voiture, abandoning my latte
in a panicked retreat.

My anglais gains a foothold in a hotel.
Behind makeshift defenses of cable TV
streaming CBC news and old reruns
of Murder She Wrote, my ego prefers
the blood-soaked glove of genocide
to the shame of standing carp-mouthed
at some incomprehensible phrase.

Scouts report parapets of unpronounced consonants,
howitzers of passé composé, mortars of gendered nouns,
muskets of strange accent marks, and field guns
of adjectives following nouns. I know
what I must do.

In dress uniform
I march to the nearest pâtisserie
and stammering my first, halting
words in a foreign tongue,
lay down my sword.

©2019

* * *

SOMEWHERE

Astronauts perch
atop two hundred tons of explosives
that will rocket them free
from gravity’s hidebound views.

A martial-arts master
shifts his body millimeters,
dodging a razor-sharp
whirlwind of steel
that barely ruffles
his silk kimono.

Scientists focus massive lasers
on a peppercorn of hydrogen
and bring a star to earth.

A Zen master’s thoughts still,
in the anechoic chamber of his mind,
revealing the motherboard
of consciousness.

Here,
(as perhaps fitting)
are only my stuffy nose,
bursitis, tattered blue couch,
and unpacked moving boxes.

The sun sets
in the winter, gray sky
while a frozen burrito warms
in the microwave.

©2019

< < < 2 poems from Jon Wesick's full-length book of poetry Words of Power, Dances of Freedom
(Garden Oak Press 2015)

WORDS OF POWER, DANCES OF FREEDOM

A woman sets a plastic bag in front of the stage
and puts her purse inside. Her gray hair hangs
to the small of her back and her blue, summer dress
covers a body that is slender but losing the curves at its hips.
Arms now free she dances when the band begins.
Her right foot touches. She lifts it, then plants,
and pivots her body one full turn.
Touch, plant, pivot, touch, plant, pivot.
Uninhibited by onlookers and at ease
she glides across Pioneer Square.

A crippled man in a motorized wheelchair is there too.
His body is a wreck – slumped posture, tongue protruding,
and neck bent locking ear to shoulder. The woman
takes his twisted hand, moves in and away
shortening and extending her arm to keep contact
dancing a modified Western Swing. The crippled man
fingers the controls. His chair dances forward and back.
She twirls. The chair circles. The two orbit
and for a moment infirmity is forgotten

©2017
first published in Magee Park Poets Anthology

* * *

DILETTANTE ZEN POEM

The real Zen students were sitting in full lotus before dawn
wearing their black robes and rakusu1.
I stayed up too late watching TV.
Real Zen students don’t have TV’s.
Eventually I wake up,
light a candle on the altar,
and kneel on my meditation bench.
A gasoline powered edger begins its serenade,
and a lawnmower joins in the chorus.

By now the real Zen students are constructing monastery buildings,
working with the dying, or reaching out to the homeless.
I drive to my wrong livelihood job,
where I’m harassed by my wrong livelihood boss.
Real Zen students call this “good training.”
I call it a pain in the ass.

Real Zen students vow to return to this world of patience
for countless lifetimes to save all beings.
I wonder how I’ll get through another day.

I’ve given up trying to be a real Zen student.
I think I’ll become a dilettante instead.
If you’d like to be one too,
we meet at 7:00 most nights in the meditation hall.

©1988

1. A rakusu is the bib like garment worn by Zen teachers and students.

This poem appeared in the Three Treasures Zen Community News in December 1998, The Thinking Post Anthology of Haiku and Zen Poetry in October 1998, PATHS, Vol 1/2007, and in the Sounds of Solace Anthology edited by Nick Haler of Local Gems Press, November 2013. It also appeared on Art and Zen Today April 23, 2016.

< < < photography by Jon Wesick
images of quebec city 2018

fortress walls 2
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

hotel frontenac 1
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

hotel frontenac 2
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

champlain monument
jon wesick
8.5 inches x 11 inches
©2018

quebec city gate
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

house of literature
jon wesick
8.5 inches x 11 inches
©2018

cannon over river
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

fortress walls
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

< < < new flash fiction by Jon Wesick

Commodity of Dreams

The white noise of background conversations flooded the exhibit hall, drowning out all other sound. All the major publishers were there from the big, New York houses to the university presses and independents. D. Comm Press had a huge display with wall-high shelves and Chester A. Author signed copies of his fantasy series for eager customers to take to the cash registers. With his shaved head and gold earring, he looked like Mr. Clean with a fountain pen. I wanted to look at the latest in the Skateboard Armageddon series but couldn’t elbow my way through the crowd. I suppose it was a good thing. People were reading, after all. I put a catalog in my canvas, tote bag and moved on.
The book displays consisted of a dozen rows each fifty exhibits deep. I stopped at stands offering free book marks, pens, and even cookies. A small press out of Iowa offered free copies of its magazine. I took two. I passed up a historian hyping his new biography of Millard Fillmore and briefly thought of re-subscribing to a comic I used to get.

I was about to make another circuit when I spotted a poster with my name on it in the far corner by the bathrooms and water fountain. Underneath sat a thin man with a single paperback lying on the cloth-covered table. Wrinkled, translucent skin that showed the veins underneath betrayed his age as did his threadbare shirt and graying beard. Since my name is unique, it couldn’t be a mistake. It had to be some kind of joke. Expecting my laughing friends to spring out from behind the curtains, I approached.

“Now that I’ve found you, I can finally return to my wife and family.” The thin man’s voice was high and reedy, almost as if it came from another world.

“What is this?” The cover showed a picture of me as I might look in twenty years. I turned the book over in my hands. There were no reviews or plot summary on the back.

“A book written only for you.”

“You don’t understand how the publishing business works.” I chuckled. “You need to print more copies, man!”

“Anyone else would find this work boring and incomprehensible. For you, it is a magic spell. The first pages will enter your bloodstream like a slow-acting poison. If you reach the antidote in the final chapter, you will attain your deepest, most secret wish.”

“How much?” I asked.

The thin man wrote the price on a notepad and showed it to me.

“That’s very expensive.”

“It barely compensates for my toil. Do you know how many hours I spent reading public records and interviewing your friends and family to get insight into your character? Or how many months I struggled to craft a premise that would unlock your heart? I suffered a dozen false starts and spent years at a lonely desk before I had a rough draft. It took three more revisions to forge the plot into something plausible yet surprising. Another two to get the characters right. And then ten more to make the language sing. Then there were months of painstaking editing, not to mention the cost of cover art and printing.”

I didn’t buy it. For what the thin man was asking, I could get a hundred books. Besides, I was in the mood for something lighter, maybe an adventure. Vampires are really hot right now. And teen romances.

©2019

* * *

Finally, an Answer

After a painful, lingering death, you anticipate God’s revelation. Why was Joanie taken from you? Why did your career flounder after reporting Mr. Blumtrapster’s fraud while he went on to become CEO with a private jet and photo on the cover of Forbes magazine? Your life had to have meant something.

You wake in a waiting room. Gray carpet. Gray walls. The comfortable chairs are cloth-covered and gray. A coffee machine and bowl of plastic K-cups sit on a table in the corner. You stand to get a cup but the instructions are in Aramaic. It’s just as well because each of the two-dozen K-cups is marshmallow-cinnamon mocha.

You’re not alone. A disembodied, scarlet-robed monk sits in lotus position on the opposite side of the room and a receptionist types on a laptop at a standing desk behind a bowl of chocolate-covered, marshmallow Easter eggs.

“His meeting’s running a little late,” she says.

“How much longer?” you ask.

“Time means nothing here.”

“Is He even real?” You look around and realize there’s no exit.

“Do you believe He’s real?”

* * *

Popper’s Undergraduate

The Case

When teaching at the London School of Economics, Karl Popper noticed a strange undergraduate student auditing his lectures. One day the student lingered after class and spoke to Popper.

“I am not an undergraduate student. In reality, I am the Endowed Professor of Buddhist Epistemology at the East Lhasa Community College. When a student asked me if karma, the law of moral cause and effect, was falsifiable, I said it was. Because of my error, I have been forced to spend five hundred semesters repeating Philosophy of Science 101. Can you utter a turning word that will free me from this tedium?”

“I can,” Popper said.

“Is karma, with its past causes coming even before birth, falsifiable?” the undergraduate asked.

“No,” Popper replied. “As Wolfgang Pauli would say such a theory is not even wrong.”

“Thank you. I am now free.” The undergraduate handed Popper a textbook. “I’d appreciate it if you would return this to the campus bookstore. You may keep the deposit.”

Popper returned the book and related the undergraduate’s story to the staff.

Kurt Gödel asked, “Is the story you told falsifiable?”

“Stand still and I’ll show you.” Popper reached for the Colt 1911 under his robe.

Sensing deception, Gödel drew his Heckler and Koch 9mm and fired two rounds into Popper’s chest.

“2001: A Space Odyssey, Monte Python’s Holy Grail.” Popper clutched his chest. “It sucks when writers substitute distraction for a proper conclusion.”

Wesick’s Verse
Innocents suffer while the guilty
grow rich? Past lives.
Sideswiped by a bus?
You must have fibbed in kindergarten.
Einstein shuffles Tarot cards.
Carl Sagan reads his horoscope.

Karl Popper was a well-known philosopher of science. The cornerstone of his thinking was the idea of “falsifiability.” That is, one can never prove a theory because one can never test everything. However, a scientific theory must make specific predictions that can be proven wrong. If tests confirm these predictions, we gain confidence in the theory. Kurt Gödel was a mathematician who proved the famous Incompleteness Theorem. As such he here symbolizes knowledge outside the realm of mathematical proof and logic.

©2019

< < < Ontology of Dreams
artist statement by Jon Wesick
(august, 2019)

Twenty years ago none of the stories I saw in media reflected the reality I experienced. For example, why was it so hard to find a job after I spent ten years in college studying physics? I was on my career plan C or D, when I developed carpal-tunnel-like injuries. At the time, it was impossible for me to type on the computer for more than a few minutes a day, and thus impossible to keep my job. Doctors treated me with suspicion, and the insurance company thought one paycheck was enough to compensate me for a ruined career.

I couldn’t do much at my martial arts class, so I filled my time with poetry. I’d had a few experiences with poems exploding out of me after Zen meditation, and I remember watching a PBS documentary about Beat writers, outcasts really, riding around in Jack Kerouac’s car. It was the only place they found acceptance. Not long after that when meditating, I got an image of Allen Ginsberg saying, “I’ll help you.”

I took my poems to open mics in San Diego and discovered a vibrant community of eccentric writers. I owe special gratitude to Chris Vannoy. He was THE MAN in San Diego poetry, and he treated me as an equal. These were heady days. I’d stay up until 4:00 AM filling legal pads, drinking green tea, and reading Bukowski. Eventually, I wrote a story or two. Then I had perhaps the silliest, most wrong-headed idea I’d ever had. If I could write a novel, then fame and money were sure to follow.

I consider myself a servant of the idea. Much of my writing consists of exploring the consequences of some goofy concept. I like to somehow make these inspirations real by writing them down. My other mode of writing is a kind of reporting. My interests and experiences are different than most people’s. This is my way of coming back and telling about them. You’ll find both in this micro issue. Thanks to Krysia Jopek for putting it together.

< < < biographical note

Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual and host of the Gelato Poetry Series, “the best ice cream parlor poetry reading” in Southern California. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals, such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Metal Scratches, Pearl, Slipstream, Space and Time, Tales of the Talisman, and Zahir. His poem “Bread and Circuses” won second place in the 2007 African-American Writers and Artists Contest. The editors of Knot Magazine nominated his story “The Visitor” for a Pushcart Prize in Short Fiction in 2015. His poem “Meditation Instruction” won the Editor’s Choice Award in the 2016 Spirit First Contest. “Richard Feynman’s Commute” shared third place in the 2017 Rhysling Award’s Short Poem category. Krysia Jopek nominated “Tee Time at Aleppo” for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry 2018. Jon is the author of the full-length poetry collection Words of Power, Dances of Freedom, several novels, as well as (most recently) the short-story collection The Alchemist’s Grandson Changes His Name. Please feel free to visit Jon’s website to learn more about him–Jon Wesick’s website

< < < links
to more publications by Jon Wesick

link to Jon Wesick’s poem “Tee Time at Aleppo”–Diaphanous (Spring 2017)

link to thriftbooks–5 books by Jon Wesick

link to amazon–7 books by Jon Wesick

link to Asinine Poetry–7 poems by Jon Wesick

link to Penduline Press–poem “Looking for Hinemoa” by Jon Wesick

link to Crab Fat Magazine–poem “Robots at a Singles Bar” by Jon Wesick

link to Misfit Magazine–2 poems by Jon Wesick

< < < author photo

photography by jon wesick
south island of New Zealand
750 pixels x 562 pixels
©2007

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3.3 my father was to tell me something | Christine Karapetian — visual art

My Father Was to Tell Me Something, Mixed media on wooden wine crate: paint, fabric, paper, beads, wood. 20” x 13” x 6 1⁄2” 2008

diaphanous micro
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3.3 my father was to tell me something | Christine Karapetian — visual art

art and political exile
micro intro by krysia jopek

august 15, 2019

Christine Karapetian collages a wide range of materials, including wood, material, paint, and fabric in her exquisite paintings. Her visual art immediately spoke to me on spiritual [Kandinskian Considering the Spiritual in Art], emotional, psychological, aesthetic, and sublime levels. The title of this amazing virtual show that I am honored to feature–also resonates deeply with me. Like Christine, I had a deep connection to my late father who shaped me as a literary artist/human being.

On a personal note, which explains the founding of Diaphanous in February, 2017 and diaphanous micro in 2018-, this free platform for visual and literary artists to share their work with an engaged and captivated audience–

I was determined to be a painter as a child and also, like Christine, have fond memories that go back to kindergarten of creating art, painting, gluing, cutting, drawing. . . . However, my non-artist father who was deported with his family for two long years in Siberia–put a kibosh on any plans of mine to pursue a non-lucrative art degree. They had almost starved many times, so why would he permit his daughter to become a starving artist?

As a result of my father and his peers losing their right to continue their educations for two years, he emphasized education and literally afforded me quite an extensive one in the esoteric field of twentieth-century American poetry and poetics. A large part of my research and focus was/is on the symbiotic relationship of visual artists and poets. In my own poetry, I treat the page like a canvas, often a collage or sculpture–and perceive the composition of the poem, short fiction, or novel– as its own world that incorporates/utilizes light, color, tone, image, fragment, found cultural objects, etc. Instead of using paint and other visual media like visual artists such as Christine–my brushstrokes are composed of deconstructivist morphemes and phonemes [because of the Language poets that went before me]–gathered into syntactical (though I often play around with/break syntax to define it–as Christine plays with the syntax of her visual compositions) string necklaces of syllables, phrases, sentences. . . .

Because of Christine’s father’s cultured love of all the arts (see her biographical note) and Armenian background with which he was in dialogue with against the American backdrop/culture [like my own father’s connection to Poland and the world through his post-Siberia exile/wandering before settling in the United States]–she was free/given “permission” to explore her creativity and dual cultural identity, attend college to study painting, and in doing so–create visual objects that function as testaments to her/and by extension the viewer’s complex human experience.

During our troubling current times and the ongoing “mess” at the US-Mexican border where impoverished political refugees, separated from their own family members (so many of whom are young children), await their fate while sandwiched in unsanitary cages, the theme of emigration (from a violent homeland) and exile in Christine’s work should resonate with all of us.

Special thanks to Mark Blickley, NYC renowned text-based artist (writer of very short fiction/visual artist, depending how he feels at the moment), for introducing me to Christine’s visual masterpieces. It was a pleasure getting to know her as we collaborated together on this issue of diaphanous micro.

Please enjoy this stunning virtual art show of Christine’s latest work: my father was to tell me something.

Scar Clan
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, paper, metal, nails, photo.
17” x 13” x 3 1⁄2”
2009

Summer (Triptych)
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, beads, tooth, nails, shell.
19” x 18 ½” x 5 ½”
2005

Earth
Mixed media on wood: paint, glass, fabric, metal, paper.
17” x 8 ¼” x 3”
2006

Water
Mixed media on wood: paint, paper, metal.
15 ½” x 10 ¾” x 4
2006

Dwelling
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, paper.
20” x 15” x 2
2006

My Father Was to Tell Me Something,
Mixed media on wooden wine crate: paint, fabric, paper, beads, wood.
20” x 13” x 6 1⁄2”
2008

Chamber
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, paper, beads, sequins.
22” x 12” x 4”
2008

Totem
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, wood.
24” x 7” x 5 1⁄2
2009

Water from Stones
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, paper, wood.
23” x 12” x 4”
2012

How Come I Had Nothing to Say?
Mixed media: paint, fabric, wood and paper on wood.
22″ X 20″ X 3 1/4″
2013

She Let Go
Mixed media: fabric, acrylic and paper on wood.
21″ X 11 3/4″ X 4″
2017

At the Edge
Mixed media: paint and fabric on canvas.
18″ X 24″ X 1 1/2″
2017

Incomplete
Mixed media: paint, fabric, paper on canvas.
18” x 24”
2018

8.11.12
Mixed media: paint, fabric, paper on paper.
6” x 4 ½
2012

6.22.13
Mixed media: paint, fabric, paper on paper.
4 ½ ” x 6”
2013

9.9.12
Mixed media: paint, fabric, paper on paper.
6” x 8”
2012

artist statement
My paintings are visual fictions. They are non-narrative tales that are
deciphered by the subconscious. When my work is successful, it conveys
an intimacy that is mysterious and not easily defined because these fictions
are not telling a specific story; they are the actions and reactions to
experience and observation.

I paint on and use found objects and collage because the elements of
chance and the accidental mirror the process of discovery in how I work.
The process of adding and removing, painting and scraping, takes the
pieces through multiple stages that leads to discovery. My job is to witness
that moment of insight and rescue it, not unlike the method I employ when I
decide what piece of trash I salvage from the street, or along my way.

I am Armenian-American, the offspring of a people whose history is rooted
in Diaspora. My intuitive response to this lack of place and the negation of
history, by some, is to make objects that trace to, and build onto, a
collective memory.

shows of Christine Karapetian’s art
solo exhibition

Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ, 1986

group exhibitions
“Creative Mosaic”, curated by Osman Can Yerebakan, Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY 2019
“Flushing Bound”, Flushing Town Hall Gallery, NY, 2018
“Rock, Paper, Scissors”, Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY, 2018
“Making Connections II Selections”, Henry De Ford Gallery, LIC, NY, 2017-2018
“Making Connections: Artists Working in Queens”, Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY, 2017
“International Painting NYC III”, Jeffrey Leder Gallery, LIC, NY, 2014
“Curate NYC Top 150”, Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY, 2013
“Selected Entries from Curate NYC” Gallery at 139 Bay, Staten Island, NY, 2013
“Small Works”, 80 Washington Square East Galleries, New York, NY, 1986
“Mixed Media”, Tweed Arts Group, Plainfield, NJ, 1986
“Constructed in Jersey City”, Summit Art Center, Summit, NJ, 1986
“New Jersey Biennial”, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ, 1985
“Metro Show”, City Without Walls Gallery, Newark, NJ, 1985
“Surrealism in the 80’s”, Tweed Arts Group, Plainfield, NJ, 1985
“Small Works”, 80 Washington Square Galleries, New York, NY, 1985
“School of Visual Arts Moroccan Study Exhibit”, Tangier, Morocco 1980
“Recent Acquisitions”, Montgomery County, MD, 1980
“Invitational Alumni Exhibit”, Maryland College of Art & Design, Maryland, 1976
“Alternative To”, Market Five Gallery, Washington, DC, 1975
“Group Exhibit”, Bridge Gallery, Washington, DC, 1973

book jacket/poster art
“Return & Tiger”, Hakob Karapents, Blue Crane Books, Watertown, MA, 1994
“American Rondo”, Hakob Karapents, Voskedar Publishing Co., New York, NY, 1986
“Fresh Fatigues & The World’s Greatest Saxophone Player” poster, American
Theatre of Actors, New York, NY 1985
“Intermission”, Hakop Karapents, Mashdotz Press, New York, NY, 1981
“Old Sowers of the New World”, Hakob Karapents, Atlas Press, Washington, DC, 1975
“Daughter of Carthage”, Hakob Karapents, Atlas Press, Washington, DC, 1972

education/awards
BFA, Painting, The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD, 1977 School of Visual Arts
Summer Study in Tangier, Morocco, 1980
Fellowship Grant, New Jersey State Council of the Arts,1985-86
Juror’s Award, selected by Allan Stone, “Small Works”, New York, NY, 1985
$5000. First Prize National Competition, Eberhard Faber, Inc.,1975

author photo
2019

biographical note:
Accomplished Armenian-American visual artist Christine Karapetian was born in the Bronx and raised in Maryland. She was a painting major at MICA primarily because her beloved father “loved Beethoven, Paul Taylor, Matisse, and theater–thereby exposing her to glimpses of the sublime.” After a BFA in painting/art, she moved back to NYC, “place of family lore–home to possibilities, love,” a one-person museum exhibit–followed by “sporadic creative output, motherhood, and the eventual escape to the center of the country to find what was always there, like Dorothy.” Now, truly back to her art, her “spiritual calling”–living and working in Jackson Heights. Her most vivid childhood memory still–is of making collages in kindergarten. “I snip, I glue, I scrape, I paint, I make things—things that, when they work, remain a lovely mystery to me.”

Christine can be contacted by email: ckara0909@gmail.com. Her works of art are for sale.

links to more of Christine’s art:
link to The Sketchbook Project

link to Christine Karapetian’s art on Twitter

link to Flushing Bound Exhibit Astounds

link to Art; Plainfield: 80s Surrealismlink to Two Long Island City arts organization

link to Armenia:Art, Religion, and Trade in the Middle Ages

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3.2: fragments from an excerpt | Chris Stroffolino — poetry & interview (poetics)
diaphanous micro
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3.2: fragments from an excerpt | Chris Stroffolino — poetry & interview (poetics)

selected poetry publications
chris stoffolino, photographer
650 pixels by 487 pixels
©2018

I think what I love most about Stroffolino’s poetry—is that every single poem seems directly engaged with its own “philosophy of composition,” its own construct-ion/poetics. It’s as if I’m experiencing the poem as the poet figures out a way to write it. — krysia jopek, founding editor of diaphanous micro

poetry

Gypsophilia
for Krysia Jopek

Forsythia is Syringa. Scabiosa the pincushion flower…
Echinacea the cornflower. Delphinium Larkspur
Helenium the sneeze weed. Nemophilia, baby blue eyes!
“I may forget your name, but not your face.” I may not read
music on the page, but I know that the white keys
only have one name, but F Sharp is also Gb,
as the Hummingbird Vine is also the Trumpet Vine,
the Yellow Bell the Golden Trumpet, & Watsonia is the Bugle Lily
& there’s more women named for flowers than men
(impatiens is the Busy Lizzie, and Erica is Heather!)
& there’s more flowers named for animals than vice versa
(The Flamingo Flower is Anthurium & Astilbe is the False
Goat’s Beard… is the goat false? or just it beard?)
Butterfly bush! Cardinal flower! Cuckoo Flower!
(who needs Oreo Ice Cream Flavored Cereal?)

Looking at a book of Anglo-Saxon words for flower names
evokes what a medieval (or renaissance faire) must’ve felt like.
Would you rather be known as a Cornflower, or a Bachelor’s Button?
&, of course, Sweet William is in the carnation family.
Would you rather be Johnny Jump Up, a Dicenta’s
Bleeding Heart, or Heartease? Does it not elevate the wild carrot
To call it Queen Anne’s Lace (no doubt worth more
Than the mere Amaranthus of a Prince’s Feather….)
Or does “Houstonia” sound more beautiful than “Quaker Ladies?”

Does it honor a Fuschia to call it Lady’s Eardrop,
The Alchemilla a Lady’s Mantle? (dogbane desert rose)
Or serve a lady to name her slipper a Greco-Roman Cypridium
as beautiful as the chance meeting of a Showy Speedwell (Hebe)
& the Wishbone Flower on a spread out Blanket flower in a field
of Lunaria some call Honesty & others call the Money Plant
& if the Narcissus is the Daffodil, am I but daffodilistic (duck)
to rescue the Ptecarya Fraxifolia from the Caucasian Wingnut
who names the Stargazer the Oriental Lily or the Agapanthus
the Star of Bethlehem, while Baby’s Breath loves “gypsies”
more than the people who named it Gypsophilia. Does
the sweetest parsley, sage, & rosemary (for rue)
become placeholder anguish for precision engendering vision
when heavenly gutterals in la-la land carry gorgeous evangelical
spine-tingling sounds? Yellow Archangel is the Aluminium Plant!

We begin to detect more commercial tie-ins, and 360 degree marketing
When the Heliotrope becomes the Cherry Pie plant,
Ibiris the Candy Tuft, & the Bouvardia the Firecracker Plant!
Loosestrife loosens strife, or could we rescue Granny’s Bonnet
from the Columbine Massacre? & the Bellflower from the toxic
masculinity implied in Black-Eyed Susan (also a drink like Bloody Mary):
no wonder the Mimosa’s named “Touch Me Not!”

Not too hard to imagine a think-tank… “second-cousin’s foot?”
“great aunt’s trouble?” “an extended matriarch’s coral,”
“President’s toothache,” “History’s chokehold.” “worker’s defiant pride.”
“Angela Davis’s censored wisdom…” “Talker’s Reprieve….”
In the meantime, Angelonia is the Summer Snapdragon, Clarkia
Farewell to Spring, Anemone the Windflower but it could also be
the Conjure Flower… Can we trade in the Aconitum of the Monk’s Hood
for the Nigella of Love in this Mist? The Evening Primrose is the sun cup,
or the sun drop, Zenobia the Honeycup near the Bee Balm Flower
(& maybe someday I can match these names with faces. . .)

©2019

* * *

excerpt from Healer’s Squeal
“you should write a sequel called Healer’s Squeal”—Michael Gizzi

3.
Surely the rigorous poem refers to no life outside itself, but we could note
that this body of water is called a sound. Seabirds carrying brushes paint themselves
into the sky, & unheard sounds are sweaters that would never be caught dead

oppressing a poodle! &, after being diagnosed with the crime of despair, we doggy paddle
into Poe’s parrot in raven’s clothes, and figured we’d game it. “Will I always be poor,
crippled, underused?” Nevermore! “Will human brutality continue?” Nevermore.

“Can I at least look in the mirror & say I’ve never been a burden to woman?”
& I guess a poet should entertain the notion that chanting certain words, or phrases,
every day has the power to heal, whether it’s “I’m set free to find a new illusion,”

“I chide no breather but myself,” “able-bodied liberty angles,” or even “one person’s
syncretic religion is another’s spiritual dilettantism.” But what of the high words
of humanism? Coleridge calls reason “the sword of the spirit!” Damn, the whole

Euro-idealist tradition is violence! But should we try to rescue reason if the irrational
proved just as irrational as the irrational that gets crowned as reason? & I doubt
the word G-d is strong enough to oppose what’s corrupt about money,

but soul could work with reason as an introvert musician & an extroverted socialist
can have as harmonious a relationship as any couple are wondering to be in
the same mansion (proletarian housing collective) to cut through layers of

complexities to find the soul’s simplicity, like we need it to communicate from,
like it’s already there, but only if we build it precisely so they don’t come, as data
analysts at least (or you just have to be ready for death to be ready for life….)

©2019

* * *

I’m Your Captcha

when we touch a locked door
but don’t see it as a locked door
until we find an open one
locking the others
(or giving us language
as curse & blessing)….

when existence is only form
to essence’s content
if beauty is only an extension
of comfort, the double
meaning of “boring”
cancelling each other out
for kindship…how something
we thought becomes did
than are….
we dissolved
into the solution that made us
problems precisely for that
purpose, and it’s too fluid
to be final….
impatience does
the (next time is the best) time
“whatever you do, don’t take
‘symphony of snakes’ the wrong way!
like when I went out
of my way for them. “
“what was this way again?”
(or was he
just being anti-social to create
an aura of mystery?) Certainly,
mystery has been used
to inflict misery, Mercy!

“Just let the thought
be a voice, we can
sort it out when we’re together.”

©2019

* * *

For Yvonne Henderson

Paint squirted
Eye drops tear from
A bottle made of ears

After the dancer’s injury, she tried
To feel more like a painter instead—
Or at least a couple (of) Brushes

On the black and white chessboard
Floor hung on the Eastern wall
That really faces South

Like civic dizziness chopped
Into the Appendages
That language wants me to other

Like a war on the Canvas
(the canvas started, the wet brush
just the Defense department…)

And I’m lost in a drip,
And when the tears dry,
They will have once been sweat

Was I just too busy seeing
My reflection in you, & then
Everything not you, to truly see?

Or is that like chiding the wet
Brush for not being seen
By the finished canvas?

©2019

* * *

Therapeutic Anti-Performance Bias
for Stuart Wood

“Though the doors will always remain open for the musical expression of personal feelings, what will more and more come through is the pleasures of conviviality. And beyond that a non-intentional expressivity, a being together of sound & people (where sounds are sound, and people are people). A walk, so to speak, in the woods of music, or in the world itself….”———John Cage, 1989

“Democracy…is going to come up in expected ways from the stuff we think are junk,”—Leonard Cohen (337)

Among “people (who) have had this illness or disability that isolates them socially”
Wood’s interested in furthering “(re)creation as social beings against the losses of their illness.”—

Conventional therapists will tell you “putting on a performance”–“acting out,” “being
inauthentic, or hiding behind a persona” is what they’re trying to treat, not encourage.”

Wood’s interested in furthering “(re)creation as social beings against the losses of their illness.”
Her neurological tremor…had ended….job, relationships. It felt like being on a scrap heap

“being inauthentic, or hiding behind a persona” is what they’re trying to treat, not encourage.
She felt useless, scrap…. we could….Make instruments out of scrap! Typewriter, three pails!

Her neurological tremor…had ended….job, relationships. It was like being on a scrap heap
“Failing performance on one level needs performance at another as its remedy.’”

She felt useless, scrap…. we could….Make instruments out of scrap! Typewriter, three pails!
They interrogated the junk they found until they found the music in it (156)

“Failing performance on one level needs performance at another as its remedy.’”
The performance, for instance, of our immune system or motor coordination

They interrogated the junk they found until they found the music in it (156)
“rehearsing, composing, dancing are all part of the performance

The performance, for instance, of our immune system or motor coordination
As an actor moves from “not me” to “not not me”…(irreducible to product)

“rehearsing, composing, dancing are all part of the performance
Among “people (who) have had this illness or disability that isolates them socially”

As an actor moves from “not me” to “not not me”…(irreducible to product)
Conventional therapists will tell you “putting on a performance”–“acting out”…

©2019

* * *

Matter Over Mind

Every bird has known their place in fools who cross the line
And you walk the streets singing “mind fast body slow mind loud body soft”
Or when I kissed a cop down at 34th & Vine he broke my little bottle of love potion #9
For the hosts have known their guests as ghosts until undressed.
So, when knowledge becomes a sea, will you reach for a life boat
Of revolution, a raft of love, a continent of wet-naps

To do away with excess moisture, like the sleep dreamed during naps
When the words that circle roofs in silence walk the line
Or swim the sea of whim until my body becomes a boat
And I cross the sweet muttering “loud and slow” under “fast and soft”
Because you feel you can only be real as a host when undressed,
A host who would never judge her guests, a host who would give me a 9

On a scale of 10, or 100. Does it matter? A meaningless 9
But kind of cute and vertical, even when it naps.
Maybe a little bloodless on the human side, but, undressed,
It leaves me speechless in key changing songs about the line
Where the moon is the ocean and the sky but a boat
Because you have to be lost to wonder, though hard is only loud if soft

Is soft, which is disproved by the roar of the cat and its soft, soft
Fur, or the fact that I rarely wake before 9
Which would mean we’re not all in the same boat
Until the sea of winking blinks rivers when we nap
Blind as the sign I read in the unemployment line
Or the one way street we’ve gone the wrong way on (until it’s undressed).

Ah, where will this lead the already naked nations (who’ve never been undressed)?
Do I have to amplify the quiet to harden the soft?
And why would I want to flatter or flatten, the same old line
Unless I was so doped up on love potion #9
I’d run free like the mouse while the cat of self-consciousness naps?
And this, at last, could mean we’re all in the same boat

Where the birds don’t sink or swim but float until a boat
Of wonder alienates the greed it wears when undressed
For the only reason she always walks in while he naps
Is because she always runs out when he’s awake, but soft,
“I hear the lonesome whip-poor-will.” It peaked at 9
On the country charts. So I’m grounded where once I was out of line

But now I know the line can be soft, the nine undressed
And the boat may win the vote while the rest of me naps.

from Drinking from What I Once Wore
Crisis Chronicles, 2018–John Burroughs, Founding Editor

* * *

Red Tape Sale

You may feel free
to distrust your happiness
with yourself
for choosing
what may very well be
an exemplary action
like, when finding
one of your cassette tapes
in the bag
of a friend
who is crashing
on your sofa
but who is out
roaming the town
at present,
you may get angry
at a violation of trust
& take it back
but soon you mellow
“honor among thieves”
& decide to copy it
and place the copy
in his bag without a word
so when he returns
he may not even know
that you have given him
what he thought he stole
and you may tell yourself
it was just his way
of asking for a gift
and run the risk
of feeling too proud
with yourself
as if it is actions like these
that most characterize you
& not quite see
that it was he
who gave
the greater gift
(and why were you
snooping around in his bag
to begin with?)

from Drinking What I Once Wore
Crisis Chronicles, 2018–John Burroughs, Founding Editor

chris stroffolino “talks poetics!” with krysia jopek –August, 2019

What is your process when you sit down to write a poem?

I never quite understand the poets on Facebook who post, “I wrote a poem today” on a regular basis. I generally need to “sleep on” something for at least a day to feel it might really be a poem. . . . I often start in/find a pre-genre (I think, though it could be merely post-genre) place. “I set out to write poems once, and it turned into a memoir. . . ” I’m a big believer in the brainstorm and revision. I mean, sure, there’s those rare moments when I know right away, “this is a poem!”—but more often not. . . often the “vision” doesn’t emerge until a few days after the “brainstorm” or the “first draft” that gets called the “vision.”

On a nuts & bolts level, one salience (for like 30 years now) is that I begin on paper at least 99% of the time, sometimes with “something on my mind,” & other times with an illusion of blankness with a book (not necessarily of poetry—could even be a student paper on “tech addiction”) as a jump-start, a backseat driver in the car of love, let the book set the terms or the tone, or argue with it, or try to connect it with something totally petty & personal, and seemingly unrelated. Then later, sometimes the next day, or sometimes not for a few months, I go through the tedious process of typing what I wrote by hand onto a computer file—almost everything—lines that seem great, lines that seem weak—still not worrying whether it’s a publishable poem yet. Then I type that up, and go through a protracted phase of “trying to read myself as I read another”– this “recollection in perfunctory which may or may not be tranquil” takes patience & discipline (I’ve definitely erred on the side—-especially when I’m wrapped up in student papers, etc—of posting things clearly not ready yet on FB or sending some half-baked MS…).

Perhaps because being largely a hermit (aside from the job), I went through a (too) long phase where my poems were occasioned by facebook quips (which, even if by poets, were often not poems; still, it influenced my sense of form & neo-personism)—but I tend to need more room to stretch out….(could I send a 5 page poem to Facebook?) so I began to find that thinking in terms of a book helps me revise the poem better.

So collecting poems into a manuscript, and getting excited by the flow and (diachronic) narrative elements that seem to magically appear by placement of (synchronic) lyric moments, but then realizing you have 130 pages and will have to make difficult decisions to get it down to under 100—and then the next day read it again with a more critically severe eye and dump some into the outtake file, shorten others, or discover ways to combine a few…but feeling strangely secure coz now you know you have “more than enough” and “the leaving out business” can begin….swimming in your own words so intensely can be a maddening experience if you don’t have some other activity going on….…I wouldn’t necessarily advise this method for anybody, but it seems to suit my attention deficit disorder well, if time permits….a funny thing about time…. The way a present will dress up like a past to talk to another present? & in the past year, I’ve been attempting to do more “(soma)tic rituals (CA Conrad’s term) and listen to my body more (though putting it that way probably is self-defeating insofar as it implies an “I” always already alienated from an othered body…).

When did you become a serious poem? A published poet?

I probably became a published poet, before I was a serious poet. Ah, am I serious yet? Perhaps that’s the most serious question I can ask. But, more prosaically, early 20s; 1990 was perhaps a watershed year when New American Writing and Sulfur (& soon O*Blek & APR) published me & suddenly others were open to taking me more “seriously”…..but that was long ago….& I guess I “unbecome” a serious poet for a decade, after my third full-length book and a life-changing disability in 2005.

How much has John Ashbery influenced your work? Can you talk about your personal and poetic relationship with him? I personally see him as THE American poet of the second half of the twentieth century.

Perhaps the most important poetic influence/affinity for me (I would’ve said that 30 years ago,–20 (but not 10) years ago, and now in 2018. Spending a year reading all his books after he died certainly helped temper—if not totally wean—my addiction to social media, and helped channel my temptations for strident evangelism. Even when I was a Creative Writing student, people like Mark Halliday and Sharon Olds (& even Tate, who I know loved Ashbery dearly) told me I was reading too much John Ashbery—and it’s hard to find a review of one of my books (90-2004) that doesn’t mention Ashbery’s influence, but John himself was gracious enough not to mind. He put things in poetry that most other poets didn’t call poetic—and that many of today’s poetic gate keepers still are trying to keep out. I still feel I have an unpaid debt to him. And a year later (August 2019), I find myself in a very different place than the pleasures & wonders of getting lost in Ashbery, where living writers are more important to me—and I can relate in many ways to the voice of moral fervor that emerges in Eileen Tabios’ beautiful intense post-mortem to Ashbery: Witness in A Convex Mirror.

Can you speak to your relationship with the New York School and Language School of poetry?

These days, there is none (unless you count reading their books & facebook), though I miss many of those folks. When I lived in New York, I used to joke “I was a New York School poet until I moved to New York.”……Anyway, Back when I was “starting out” as they say (late 80s/early 90s), there was much more antagonism towards the “New York School” from The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets (I should specify, more the east coast-based Language Poets, if not as much the West Coast ones who were more critical of the scene “around Duncan” or what was left of the Beats). And though I was in Philly first—and very associated with a spoken word scene with more of a Black Arts Movement aesthetic, and trying to avoid cultural co-optation— I was more identified as a New York School (with affinities to the what seemed very vital in the Chicago School—mostly women– it seemed New American Writing). Frank & Ashes were like the “twin towers” with a side dish of Kenneth & Berrigan (never quite got into Schuyler as devoutly as Moxley & Peter Gizzi, for instance, though that could change). It was John Yau who first turned me on to these writers. If he was second generation, would I have been third? fourth?

I think I’m a brief entry in that encyclopedia. Is Bernadette Mayer second generation? Ann Lauterbach? David Shapiro has been extremely important to me. I really liked Crase’s The Revisionist. Star Black? Do people consider Alice Notley New York School? I’ve been reading Disobedience again, and it doesn’t seem fair (& probably sexist) to reduce her to the New York School. Still the term has a human warmth I never found in terms like “Black Mountain” (I love Creeley!), & I certainly don’t mind being called that, but I don’t think I’ve earned it.

But I remember there was a time when Mark Wallace coined the term, “post-language poetry” and was including me in that, and indeed, I loved Harryman & Perelman in particular. Never Without One! Scalapino, Fanny Howe & Armantrout (are they language poets?). Andrews could get me to play despite myself. Bernstein and Watten’s critical prose inspired me to argue (despite some scorn that I liked James Tate & did a dissertation on Shakespeare instead of, say, Pound or Zukofsky) —that “intimidating” masculine authority thing. Sometimes I wonder if I’m nostalgic for those poetry wars from my Rip Van Winkle 20-year vantage point.

How much does visual art and music influence your work?

Didn’t Pound say a successful poem should excel at all three—phanopiea, melopiea, and logopiea? I’m generally guilty of too much logo-piea and not enough images and/or a tin ear (even though I’ve played music off the page). I was toying with titling my new MS From Phanophobia to Musicophilia– when I lived in NYC I loved making regular visits to artists’ studios to see them work (and playing piano while my girlfriend painted). Those experiences confirmed for me how painters can help poets remember what a poem isn’t! You know, perhaps poets writing about art (again, thinking New York School—Yau, Ashbery, O’Hara, Shapiro….) has influenced my writing more than the art itself. I feel I’d have to make a concerted effort to develop the word-eye coordination those writers have. I loved seeing John Yau, one of my multi-genre heroes, give slideshows; he regularly posts collaborative poems done with visual artists (at least as good as Clark Coolidge & Phillip Guston’s Baffling Means) & I’d love to collaborate with visual artists…(though not so much by being a model in a portrait!

As for music, how can we tell the feeling from the sound? And I disagree with Pound. I like the metronome. Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business” should be taught in post-World War II late 20th-century poetry courses alongside of, say, “Howl,” the poem that “changed America.” But the question that has always fascinated and troubled me is how does one translate across those genres on a neurological, aesthetic and social level? (Is a mordantly recursive post-Ashberian sentence doing “something similar” to a Coltrane sheet of sound, though he would prefer classical?). Insofar as my new manuscript may be said to have a theme aside from trying to cope with, or reinvent myself after, a disability & trauma(s), my existential relationship between the genre of poetry and the genre of music is one of the big themes (: music as water).

I was unable to make music for 5 years (the longest stretch without it), but I’ve been able to slowly reawaken to it in the last 8 months (in private), and I don’t know if it’s making my poetry on the page more or less “musical”—but I feel it’s changing my writing (making it a little more porous, letting sun and fresh air in away from stuffy job mind & hermit tech addiction) even if it runs the risk of being more “vulgar quotidian” (“I do this, I do that” Frank O’Hara New York school) mode as if that’s needed to balance the “heady” stuff like evangelical homages to community music therapists in times of crisis.

I know I’d definitely like to be more involved in multi-media art spaces and at this juncture, I’d much rather lend whatever musical talents I have to record instrumental accompaniment (or even perform a one-off reading/show on occasion) if any of the great poets I love reading on the page would like it—than read my own poetry on stage (though maybe I’ll get over my shyness to read). I did a few recordings a decade ago—with Beme the Rapper, and Delia Tramontina (more on her in the next question—I could send an MP3 if interested).

Who are your primary influences or poets you read again and again?

I hate lists! I always miss a few obvious ones! Even if I sleep on it…. Well, aside from the names I already dropped, Dickinson has been fairly salient for over 30 years, Laura (Riding) Jackson, Gil-Scott Heron, even Leonard Cohen. After Baraka’s death in 2014, I went through a few years where I was so disgusted by the hypocrisies of the white literary establishment and feeling ignorant because of my training in the mono-culture, that I only read non-white authors like Ishmael Reed, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin Audre Lorde, jessica Care moore, John Keene, Craig Santos Perez, Tyehimba Jess, Langston Hughes, Paul Beatty, Judy Juanita, Danez Smith, d. Scott Miller, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Timothy Yu, Claudia Rankine, Tongo Eisen Martin; The Breakbeat Poets Anthology worked great in the college intro to lit course and many more), but in the last few years I’ve been trying to catch up with more contemporary poetry—and feel I’ve been especially helped by writing by women—Brenda Hillman’s Extra Hidden Life, Among The Days, Nikki Wallschlager’s Houses, Sandra Simonds’ last few books, Anne Boyers’ Garments Against Women, Jennifer Moxley’s Druthers, Lisa Robertson, Noelle Kocot, Jasmine Dreame Wagner, Nada Gordon, Virginia Konchon, Christine Howey, Maw Shein Win, Wendy Trevino, Ivy Johnson.

This year a few books of poetry are blowing me away in their brilliant, beautiful, fierce, and playful but deeply serious critiques of what could be called “toxic masculinity,” compelling me to confront how I’m implicated in it. The two books simultaneously released by Danielle Pafunda (The Book of Scab and Beshrew!), Eileen Tabios’ aforementioned Witness, as well as Delia Tramontina’s Constraint. These writers, and more I have neglected to mention here, have given me hope in the possibility of poetry outside of the very white-male dominated 20th-century scenes (not that I didn’t enjoy Anselm Berrigan’s new book, too). So, will I regret saying any of this?

I’m glad you like the poems you’ve selected for this issue of diaphanous micro, Kyrsia. One is dedicated to you.

biographical note

Chris Stroffolino is a renowned American poet, musician, performer (former NYC performance artist), scholar of literary and cultural theory, and college professor. He is the author of 12 books of poetry and theoretical criticism of poetry, poetics, and the American poetic literary tradition in the twentieth-century. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania (like American modernist Wallace Stevens) on March 20, 1963, Stroffolino attended Albright College, Temple University and Bard College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, before receiving a Ph.D. in Poetics at SUNY Albany–with a dissertation on William Shakespeare in 1998. His poems and scholarly work on poetry have been published in many literary journals. His latest book of poetry, Drinking from What I Once Wore, was published by Crisis Chronicles in 2018. Chris resides and teaches poetry and writing at Laney College in California.

Drinking from What I Once Wore–Selected and Recent Poems
Chris Stroffolino
Crisis Chronicles
©2018

“double-column” poem by Chris Stroffolino
Drinking from What I Once Wore
Crisis Chronicles 2018
photo credit–John Burroughs
©2019

link to Drinking from What I Once Wore–Crisis Chronicles 2018

The Death of a Selfish Altruist: Tales & Poems from a Minor League Culture Worker
memoir by Chris Stroffolino
Iniquity Press/Vendetta Books
©2017

link to purchase The Death of a Selfish Altruist on Amazon

“Imagism (with “spot of time”!) –Chris Stroffolino in Diaphanous Spring 2017

I Do This I Do That Poem (April 2016) — Chris Stroffolino in Diaphanous Spring 2017

Day in Night — Chris Stroffolino in Diaphanous Fall 2017

Two Poems by Chris Stroffolino
writers and wordsmiths
©2017

edited by Lisa Jarnot, Leonard Schwartz, and Chris Stroffolino
Talisman House
©1998

link to An Anthology of New (American) Poets–SPD

Hourglass Studies
Krysia Jopek
Crisis Chronicles Press (2017)
cover art by Dale Houstman

link to Chris Stroffolino’s review of Hourglass Studies by Krysia Jopek

link to Hourglass Studies – Krysia Jopek (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2017)

links to recent “literary”/scholarly reviews by Chris Stroffolino

May 13, 2019 Constraint By Delia Tramontina

March 1, 2019, Unfurling Futurity: Sandra Simonds’ Further Problems With Pleasure

January 10, 2019 UNKNOWING BEAUTY AMONG: BRENDA HILLMAN’S EXTRA HIDDEN LIFE, AMONG THE DAYS

January 2019 Beyond Complanation Anselm Berrigan Has Something for Everybody

September, 2017 A Few Things Judy Juanita’s De Facto Feminism Got Me Thinking About Konch,

September 1, 2015 THE RUMPUS REVIEW OF [INSERT] BOY BY DANEZ SMITH

August 7, 2015 GARMENTS AGAINST WOMEN BY ANNE BOYER

author photo

author photo by
Jaime Borschuk
©2011

bibliography

poetry & music

Drinking From What I Once Wore (Crisis Chronicles, 2018)—poetry book
“Slumming It” In White Culture (Iniquity Press, 2018)—poetry book
The Griffith Park Sessions (Broken Horse, 2013), music, produced by Jeff Feuerzeig
Predator Drone (self-released, 2012), music, available for free on bandcamp
Single Sided Doubles (Pop Snob, 2010), music LP/CD, produced by Greg Ashley
Speculative Primitive (Tougher Disguises, 2005) poetry book
Scratch Vocals (Potato Clock Editions, 2003) poetry chapbook
Stealer’s Wheel (Hard Press, 1999), poetry book
Light as a Fetter (Situations, 1997), poetry chapbook (republished 207 as ebook by….)
Cusps (1995, Aerial/Edge), poetry chapbook
Oops (1994, Pavement Saw), poetry book
Incidents (1990, Iniquity Press) poetry chapbook

prose books

Death of a Selfish Altruist (Iniquity Press, 2017)–memoir
Notes to a MFA in Non-Poetry (Spuyten Duyvil, 2015)–essays
Shakespeare’s 12th Night (with Dave Rosenthal) (IDG Books, 2001) prose
Spin Cycle (Spuyten Duyvil, 2000) selected reviews and essays

link to Chris Stroffolino – wikipedia

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3.1: the falsetto pitch | Sheikha A — poetry and interview

banner art:
Benediction
Paulette Claire Turcotte
mixed media print on archival paper 14 x 16.43 inches
©2017
[featured in Diaphanous Fall 2017]

* * *

FALSETTO PITCH | SIX POEMS — SHEIKHA A

Paper Skins on Onions

Spiders have the bulbs in a clean plastic
rack misrepresented, spinning cages.
The months of the moths are far yet
to come, but was the same chilly
coolness balancing off chain lamps
last year, causing us to abandon the light
for moths to find their last rites
(of passages) under stored vegetables
we keep by the wooden door
away from another wooden door
home to the moths, crawling beneath
the pre-supposed shelters – paper skins –
served to their bodies scuffing
across marble to their last breath.
We were quick to sweep them into a dustpan
knowing of other predators inhabiting crevices
to save their becoming first feast
of an opening summer, but spiders know
empty pans really mean anatomies,
sharpening their feet for better grip
on the new threads they loom, instincts
knowing onions are the toadstools
growing above tiny bodies.

* * *

Superstition

In my part of the world, ants are
associated with nahoos – jinx.
My house turned into a cautious
rimmed bowl of sweet water
the day an invisible woman cried
by the door of a room’s bathroom.
She dragged her manacles across
the floor: to what she was bound –
shar, evil is the nullification of good;
dutiful recitations overlook
in their devoutness the incline
of a spirit’s wish to follow a house,
wherever they move, finding
a body of ants to home. An hour
past midnight, ceilings begin to
rumble, the arm from the right
shoulder going numb – ishara
signs: ants in a single file
scaling the wall to where
the sounds meet the ceiling –

* * *

An-Nur Al-Ain: Ya Sayyedi

after An-Nur by Laura M. Kaminski (Halima Ayuba)

The mountains have eaten our towns
of grief; the night isn’t bathing. Give me
a little vial of sand from where salvation walks
in burnt shoes. I will collect that sand,
hold my hand out to the sun until the grains harden.
Do you know what it is to pray for a country’s death –
negating its bed soaked in blood? Mocking our
eyes savoured by a hawk. Tears that have
wet the domes of our shrines like rain
on our wooden doors with carved names.
Put us through the ambition – these mountains
have teeth behind their seals. Send us a draft
of wind to burrow behind our ears. We are home;
people are towns savaged as meals.

* * *

An-Nur Al-Ain

after An-Nur by Laura Kaminski (Halima Ayuba)

Remember this day as the aim you were;
drive out the words coming out from

the movie we promised each other
we would be; we have serenaded

our minds into love’s holocaust –
idealised the isolation like albino keys

in a mad song. I will offer my hand
to draw out water. Evenings are lit

with green incandescence. It looks
like a cove off a sole-glowing comet

that will promise us a crater. I am
telling you about what lies in the walking

between my steps: there are multiple beings
showing from detached lights.

I have memorised a code that will be
just for my calling. But, for the sure

knowing of the outcome of aging, I can
show you the spell-wound path

that will be free of fight.

* * *

The Love of a Djinn

In death, she molests my dream;
grabs my armpits and whispers the name
of my lover like a lost decree I must remember.
In life, I borrow from her house: her help
comes over a phone where I vent
my words like a(s)sailing biopic of people
I can no longer trace to the fulcrum of fault.
I tell her she helps me in backward motion,
begins at the end where I am farthest
from the start. She lowers her head side
ways, looks to her invisible lover who
has semblance of nothing but a shadow
of everything; he tells her he’s chosen
and her eyes lift to meet mine. He is a mass
of fire, too young for the aging wither
of her bluing blood; my skin’s his rage
of ripe splendour. She and I are a common
nature of difference. This is how it will be:
he shall burn like a forest higher than life,
I shall coax his embers into the mouth of
the sea. And she shall rest her ashen
loins unlatched from him.

* * *

How do I be?

That tanzanite light breaking through fissures
at the base of mountains before the sun drapes
over darkness, how do I be? The fleet of boats
cruising on waters of simple words, like a moonlight
so impalpable yet believable, steady paced
and offering ripples of hope to your shadows
in densely salty waters. I want to be the wall
surrounding your being, glittering like a cluster
of gems, eluding keen passersby approaching
the gates of your soul, so they can never know
your aloneness, so it stays mine to breach.
Tell me to be the eyes of your past lovers enriched
with memories of exotic sights locked in theirs.
I am tired of being without your favour,
a scribble on stones, a misdirected mirage.
Conjure me in hours of anxiousness
to ease your wandering mind that creases into
melancholic folds of anguish. Plough deep
rows of fear and plant fire. Make me the stem
from which a carnation blooms petals
of desire. How do I be, the carnal secrets
escaping your lips? Spoken like golden twilight,
engorging deflection over an indigo-flushed ocean,
spumes of entanglements locking with the shore.

* * *

INTERVIEW WITH SHEIKHA A

Describe your process in writing poetry.

My process is an odd one, at least what I think. I tend to have ideas erupting in my head like short bursts of sentences or a combination of words, sometimes coming in like an overflowing—or other times like bouts of suppressed air looking for release. And of all these ideas, there are very few that actually come to life in the form of a poem. The rest become shadows. Those that linger morph into new ideas; those that don’t probably leave me to find wanting space in someone else’s mind. I believe in out-of-the-body experiences, astral, “floating in a bubble from the real world” kind of processes that, I believe, are an enigmatic and predominant “culture” for writing poetry. Since I weigh heavily towards mystics, spiritualism, the fantastical and surreal, amongst my otherwise occasional breezy moments of lyrical and melodious,I write to balance moods.

Sometimes the exercise of writing a poem becomes so intense, I deliberately let it go, don’t finish it in one sitting (even though the thoughts are rolling), which results in a poem taking longer than a few days ranging into a week or maybe even a month to meet its last written line. I don’t have a disciplined process. It’s quite mad. Most times I don’t even know the direction I’d be taking with the poem I started. I rely on visual stimulation, grabbing an image or a motion picture scene, dwelling on it, and then finding direction. There was a time in my life when I started having strange dreams in my sleep, so vivid, I’d be able to recount it with perfection to its every detail. I began using those as material for my poetry—and since most of these dreams were obfuscating, I turned them into my own theories, giving me the liberty of molded creativity.

When did you start writing seriously?

I can’t remember the exact time. I know it began at some point in University. In high school we studied poetry as part of a Literature course quite extensively for three years (the O Level years). So, I wasn’t without background, though didn’t enjoy it as much, nor paid attention to the techniques or meters or purpose. I found it taxing, to be honest. It seemed like a thing to do as part of the syllabus in order to get a passable grade to be able to graduate to the next level. It was a robotic routine. Aside from poetry, we studied classic plays, novels, and a selection of short stories, which is why all of it seemed like a pile of work—filling up our ink pens and emptying pots of it to dish out pages and pages of summaries, essays, appreciations, etc. The real purpose came only a decade ago, when I was introduced to poetry in a completely new perspective after connecting with people on social sites and then started reading the writs and ramblings of emerging, struggling, established writers. The more I read, the more imaginative my mind became. I do recall writing and getting published in magazines for juniors in my growing up years in U.A.E. It was a pleasure to see my name in print at that young age, not out of some real emotional interest towards the dynamics of writing—but naturally, owing to age (years of pre-teen). So, I had been writing in generic form from a young age. But the seriousness came much, much after. Now, writing is me-space, me-time, me-zone—a much more serious and even possessive interest.

When were you first published?

Like I mentioned above, I was published a few times in my junior years in national magazines, but for poetry it was with Poetry Sans Frontier and eFiction India Magazine, the latter of which, I went on to serve as poetry editor for some three plus years.

Who are your favorite writers and artists?

I read so many on a daily basis, it’s hard to pick specifics. But, since I love the fantastical and spiritual, my current favorites are Clark Ashton Smith, Rumi, Khalil Gibran, Omar Khayyam as well as paintings by surrealists, abstract and landscape artists. I recently came upon work of Bosch and Bruegel and found them deeply fascinating. I even looked into some paintings of Rene Magritte. My current favorite in paintings is Tighe O’ Donoghue; his works are visually mesmerizing and mentally intellectual. I won’t say I am a connoisseur of art, but because my writing is prompted by visual stimulation, I enjoy looking at visual art a great deal. I find, for myself, that the best way to achieve innovative or interesting imagery in writing is through visual art. My list of favorites is otherwise everchanging; I don’t have fixed favorites—though Oscar Wilde is perennial.

What poets have influenced your poetry?

As mentioned, I read various writers and view works of many artists, I am under continuous influence. It can be a line or a couplet or even a fridge magnet quote that will move me in some way to inspire a poem or two; or even a casual conversation of nothing. Last year I joined with seven Nigerian poets in a response medley of metaphysical poetry on Facebook. It triggered with my reading of a response to a poem, piquing my curiosity to read the original, inducing my response to the response, that turned into a chain series as other poets kept joining the train with their responses. We managed to write about 30 poems in total in a matter of a week! I think it’s an inherent thing about artists; we are subconsciously receptive to the universe in general, so everything we read or see influences us in traces or swathes in some way or another. Sometimes, we aren’t even aware we’ve been influenced until we zone into our alone space. We like to call it inspiration, but maybe, inspiration and influence really are the same.


What advice would you give other writers?

Never kill the tiny voice in their ears arising from the pits of their being, telling them they can and are able. Flesh it into form through writing, art, speech, or do nothing about it in creative terms, but don’t kill it. With it, you will kill your intuition and your will. Every form of art began in some ordinary or bland or mundane or non-exquisite form. I know I cringe at my early writing when I go back to it, but, that’s because we are constantly evolving, and also because artists are generally excruciatingly self-critical by nature. But don’t turn that into a demotivating factor to stop. If you stop, you will never know how far you could’ve made it. Or lose all the opportunities of learning and developing from having decided you weren’t good and couldn’t get better. Read, read, read, read, read. As much as you can. Read with imagination. Read just one line if that is all you can manage for the day or read nothing but take the time to deliberate over what you read previously. It will increase curiosity and will coax you to read/search some more. Also, most importantly, be humble. Nobody is omniscient or omnipotent because there will always be something you don’t know or aren’t able to do that someone else has ability of over you.

Are you currently working on a collection of poetry?

Yes, I actually am. After the release of Nyctophiliac Confessions through Praxis Magazine, there is another collaborative venture with Suvojit Banerjee that I’m hoping to put together and see the light of its day soon (since being delayed by bounds and ends of either mundane, but cannot be neglected, chores/responsibilities or the fatal lethargy). Apart from that, I have an idea brewing in my head for a solo chapbook but haven’t assimilated the skeleton as yet–though I do have a fast-developing collection.

Sheikha A
©2016

AUTHOR BIO: Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Over 300 of her poems have been published in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Recent and upcoming work are/will be with Polu Texni, Strange Horizons, SurVision, Pedestal Magazine, Mobius, Abyss and Apex, and elsewhere.

Sheikha A’s website
Nyctophiliac Confessions

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2.9: adrift | Jonathan K. Rice — paintings and poetry

Adrift acrylic on canvas 15” x 45” ©2015

diaphanous micro
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2.9: adrift | Jonathan K. Rice — paintings and poetry

Introduction by Krysia Jopek

I fell in love with Jonathan K. Rice’s paintings on facebook several years ago. He is one of my favorite contemporary Abstract Expressionists, whose paintings seem to be a contemporization and furthering of the paintings of Klee, Kandinsky, and Pollock. I admire his ability to create exquisite compositions of color, texture, and depth. He is a sculptor with acrylics on canvas.

Because he is a poet, his titles are quite beautiful and deepen the viewer’s perception of his work. I came to know his poetry also, especially his collection Killing Time (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2015).

I am the proud owner of four of Jonathan’s paintings. It is with great pleasure that I present this virtual art show and selection of his poetry: Adrift.

How to Meditate
acrylic on canvas
10” x 10”
©2017


Querencia
acrylic on canvas
20” x 20”
©2016


Quantum Excursion
acrylic on canvas
20” x 20”
©2016

Xenophilia
acrylic on canvas
20” x 20”
©2016

Permission to Forget
acrylic on canvas
12” x 12”
©2015

Raven Liturgy
acrylic on canvas
14” x 14”
©2015

No Sacrifice to Offer
acrylic on canvas
14” x 14”
©2016

Saliences
acrylic on canvas
10” x 10”
©2015

Mending Time
acrylic on canvas
10” x 10”
©2016

Marginalia
acrylic on canvas
20” x 20”
©2018

I’ve Been Looking Everywhere For You
acrylic on canvas
10” x 10”
©2017

Plight
acrylic on canvas 11” x 14”
©2018

Nostomania
acrylic on canvas
20” x 20”
©2016

Sojourn
acrylic on canvas
20” x 24”
©2014

Broken Promises
acrylic on canvas
9” x 12”
©2018

Sovereign Waters
acrylic on canvas
10” x 10”
©2016

Adrift
acrylic on canvas
15” x 45”
©2015

Artist Statement

Image, color, composition, and texture are all informed by what I read, what I listen to, and that which surrounds me. I work with acrylics and mixed media, creating primarily abstract paintings and assemblage.
Through my art, I explore the relevance of the indescribable, and work toward the understanding of that which can’t always be understood. In this sense, creating art is a spiritual journey as I seek to connect the physical and nonphysical with the intention of drawing the viewer into a deeper understanding of him or herself in relation to the world and that which is physically beyond them.

When asked how I begin a new piece, I like to say that I let the canvas tell me what to do. I may start with a wash of one color and build layer upon layer of blended washes. I may take a palette knife or trowel and spread on a layer of thickly textured acrylic medium. I may begin by gluing various papers to canvas or wood panel. I like quiet time late in the evening. I often paint while I listen to music. On occasion I work on more than a few pieces at a time. In the end though, the canvas tells me when to stop as if crying out, “No more!” That’s when I step back and say, “It is finished.”

Jonathan K. Rice

* * * * *

Finding

There we were
in a bamboo
labyrinth
near a river
bending time
and desire,
holding hands,

finding our way
as the afternoon
leaned into dusk,
an undercurrent
of uncertainty
yet nothing abides
like nightfall
and how earth
embraces it,

how the sun rises
each morning,
how we find
ourselves

©2018

* * * * *

Anchored

You’re anchored
lightly to the earth

it slowly turns
as you dance

upon its meadows
through forests and valleys

as dervishes in deserts
and mosques

as dolphins and whales
leap, breach, do figure eights

through cresting waves,
dive gracefully to depths

where ancient anchors
lie and rust amid coral,

barnacles, crustaceans,
otherworldly creatures

that gently move
in rhythm with currents,

the moon and tides,
salt and sand,

the sun that warms your face,
your hands that reach for mine

©2018

* * * * *

Letters

I write
letters
I never
mail,
explaining
myself,

sometimes
apologizing,
sometimes
defining
words
like soul
and never,
avoiding
love
and infinity,

although
I always
liked
the idea
of infinity
and how
it exists
between
0 and 1,
how
there are
larger
infinities
between
0 and 2,
0 and 3,
and on and on
ad infinitum

and how love
can be
unrequited,
unconditional,
undeserved,
undisciplined

so many
possibilities,
so many
letters
left
un-composed

©2018
* * * * *

Saliva

We take it
for granted

the stuff of taste,
spit, life

double helixes
in every kiss

venom of snakes
silk of caterpillars

glue of nests
for certain swifts

Jesus’ spittle
to heal the blind

Pavlov’s anticipated
conditioning

the mouth’s
protector

our natural lubricant.

©2018

* * * * *

Loose Thread

She teaches me the importance
of knowing where to cut the loose thread,

where it’s from, where it may lead.
She knows the secrets of fabric,

what cloth teaches us about ourselves,
how it hangs from our bodies,

learns from how we walk
from how children roll and tumble.

There behind a button or a zipper
underneath a hem or seam

like the meaning of a parable
it is there to understand.

from Killing Time (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2015)

* * * * *
Rearranging

You bashfully disrobe
by the settee
and coffee table
laden with flowers.

There is comfort
in the dim studio lighting,
a decorative pillow,
a knitted throw.

I direct your pose
but you rearrange yourself
as I explore the curve
of your being,
your half-closed eyes,
your mysterious smile.

At the easel I adjust
the small light to my side
not knowing
where to begin.
Your horizon unknown,
your landscape unexplored.

from Killing Time (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2015) (

* * * * *
Biographical Notes:

Jonathan K. Rice edited Iodine Poetry Journal for seventeen years and served as a co-editor for Kakalak in 2016. He most recently co-edited Of Burgers & Barrooms, an anthology published by Main Street Rag Publishing in 2017.

He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Killing Time (2015), Ukulele and Other Poems (2006) and a chapbook, Shooting Pool with a Cellist (2003), all published by Main Street Rag Publishing. His poetry and art have appeared in numerous publications, including The Aurorean, Cold Mountain Review, Comstock Review, Empty Mirror, Gargoyle, Levure Litteraire, The Main Street Rag, Wild Goose Poetry Review and the anthologies, Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race and The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina.

His art has appeared in a number of group and solo exhibits in the Carolinas. Most recently his show Excursions: Paintings by Jonathan K. Rice ran through June 2018 at the North Charleston City Gallery.

He is the recipient of the 2012 Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award for outstanding service in support of local and regional writers, awarded by Central Piedmont Community College. Jonathan lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

author photo by Yajaira Vazquez
©2015

Jonathan K. Rice’s paintings, including the seventeen here in this virtual art show, are available to purchase. Please contact Jonathan via facebook, if interested!

Jonathan’s website
Killing Time (book of poetry)
Jonathan on facebook

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2.8: photographic memory | Alexis Rhone Fancher — poetry, photography, and flash

Apprehension In The Back Seat May 8, 2018 2048 x 1546 pixels

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2.8: photographic memory | Alexis Rhone Fancher — poetry, photography, and flash

My Dead Boy – A Ghazal

Eleven years after, my boy’s still dead.
(I hold him in the rafters of my head.)

His photo’s propped at the side of my bed.
(I kiss it on the nightstand near my head.)

A letterman jacket hangs in his stead.
(I shelter him, deep inside my head.)

Are you over it? my heartless friend said.
(I nail her to a grim place in my head.)

Each night I tell myself that dead is dead.
(But there he is, the gallows of my head.)

Awake, I relive the terrible dread.
(I shut myself to sleep inside my head.)

I still can’t bear to hear his name said.
(It echoes in the chambers of my head.)

Sweet mama! Stop turning everything red.
(I want to shoot myself in the head.)

©2018

* * * * *

Caged

“Birds born in cages think that flying is an illness.” Alejandro Jodorowsky

He loves me because I look like his mother at 30.
I discover her photo in a secret drawer,
the same rounded hips,

and dark, wavy hair,
her pale, off-the-shoulder blouse an exact
duplicate of one he’s given me.

She has bigger breasts, deeper cleavage.
You eat like a bird! her son chastises,
passing me the cheesecake.

Suddenly it all makes sense.
Like when he cries Mama! in his dreams.
Awakens empty-armed. Abandoned.

He does not cry out for me.

Shoved under our door, a flyer:
“If you find a dead bird, call 1-877-WNV-BIRD.”
Lost between the bed and the mirror, I look and look.

He hides his obsession in a stack of magazines
in the bathroom. A blur of a girl, naked,
disappearing in a doorway. It could be his mother.

He locks the door.

Plump bird. Feathered nest.
Force-fed. Fois gras.
Fattened up for slaughter.

Someone’s dinner. Someone’s daughter.

When he hits me because I look like his mother,
he pulls back his fist, takes aim at her caged facsimile.
I hold perfectly still.

We both know he could never hit his mother. 

©2018

* * * * *

Eat

Your open ‘fridge is the floodlight
at a Hollywood premiere,
a beacon for gourmands,
a newly-minted saint.
It lights up Sunset Blvd. from Olivera Street
to the beach.

Your smile is the blancmange of my sugar crave.
It bowls me over,
makes me gluttonous, ravenous,
makes me eat gelato, and pomme frites,
lick pasta with prosciutto in red sauce
from the hollow of your throat,
makes me want to eat pussy,
and cheesecake, and macaroons,
wash it all down with a robust Amorone,
tamp it down with unfiltered, brown, Sherman cigarettes,
makes me want to eat my way
down your menu.

So I went to Whole Foods to get a chicken,
cooked it just the way you like it,
with mushrooms and onions and truffle oil,
stuffed it with wild rice
and naked photos of Ursula Andress,
served it in the kitchen of my high-rise on Spring Street,
watched you eat it,
wolf it down, the same way
I’d like to eat you.

©2018

* * * * *

Gold Star Lesbian

Once, in a moment of recklessness, I fell in love with Phoebe, an older, yet still delicious lipstick lesbian, who swore she would spoil me for any man. My first ex-husband was shacked up with my ex-best friend; husband #2 was lurking, just around the corner. It was a window. Phoebe, a buyer for Bullocks Wilshire, that art deco building gleaming on Miracle Mile, used her employee discount to clothe me in style, bought me silk blouses, linen trousers, tailored suits. She liked her women sleek. Understated. Wild hair tamed into a lacquered updo, secured with antique Japanese combs. I was a whole new me. Squelched. Ladylike, but for the four-inch stilettos and the fuchsia corset sequestered inside my high-buttoned faux-modesty. I reveled in how it arched my back, my breasts thrust forward, an offering. Phoebe liked it, too. She’d trace the corset stays encircling my ribs with her index finger, her eyes glued to mine like Mesmer. Underneath all that polish and restraint beat a frenzied heart. You would not believe how fast that tailored suit hit the floor, stilettos kicked off like a pesky persona. She was a Gold Star lesbian, untouched by men, although plenty must have pursued her, her golden hair and haughty beauty an irresistible lure. I was all in, worshipful; I followed Phoebe around like a dog. She swore she’d been alone for years, that I was her re-awakening, that no one had ever made her come so good. But that night, at her favorite club, the fresh graffiti on the toilet stall wall told a different story:

Phoebe
has the
most pleasurable
vagina this side
of Saturn except
4 your mom

©2018

* * * * *


For The Russian Waitress at the Yorkshire Grill Who Reads Akhmatova on Her Break

She’s a sloe-eyed Madonna in a black uniform, refilling napkin holders, topping off salt shakers, funneling ketchup from one half-full bottle to another. I, among the faithful, come to worship at her station, always sitting in her section. I’m convinced she’s secretly the Virgin of Feodorovskaya, venerated icon of the upper Volga, the way she must have looked first thing in the morning, brewing coffee, sans Byzantine jewels and heavy crown.

She’s the patron saint of diners, the dispenser of special orders shimmering behind the counter, a saint tethered to the linoleum by tired booths and chipped Formica. When she takes my order, I bow my head, genuflect; her tangled, familiar accent a benediction. When she sees me eye her worn paperback, peeking out of her pocket, The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, she fingers the author’s cover photo with reverence.

I want to remove the pins from her hair, loosen the tight bun, let the blunt wisps fall to her chin, narrowing her high-cheekboned visage. I want to worship at the pout of her lips, nuzzle at her neck’s altar. I want to slip her uniform off her shoulders, bury myself in her Russian-ness, pull her down next to me in the booth, feed her bits of brisket, dill pickle, baklava, give her sips of my tea.

You’re beautiful! I’ll tell her, but she’ll shake her head. She has no faith in platitudes. I’ll take her photo when she’s not looking. Print it as proof of faith, an 8×10 glossy, then bring it to her, an offering. I, too, am Russian (on my father’s side) I’ll say. I, too, carry Akhmatova in my pocket.

It will be the first time I’ve seen her smile.

©2018

* * * * *

Amsterdam, Red Light District
September 9, 2004
1600 x 1200 pixels

Head Over Heels
July 1, 2008
1804 x 2256 pixels

Stella
Hand Tinted March 29, 2012
2350 x 3415 pixels

Apprehension In The Back Seat
May 8, 2018
2048 x 1546 pixels

Screamer, Redondo Beach, CA
December 18, 2017
977 x 1179 pixels

Movie Star Dreams, Venice, CA
June 9, 2018
1321 x 1758 pixels

We Are Open… Emotionally, San Rafael, CA
April 29, 2018
4032 x 3024 pixels

* * * * *

Three Poems from JUNKIE WIFE

why i prefer injectable narcotics

(the truth that impales me each time i get straight.)

it’s all cake once i’ve found a good vein.
i surrender to the dazzling foreplay
loosen the belt, ease back the plunger
watch my blood flood the syringe.
the gasp, the breath-catch just before i jam
the plunger down, just like
you plunge into me (my cheeks flush)
and the rush? the ride? the afterglow?
better than sex. correction: better than sex with you (i mean).

first published in Public Pool, 2016

* * * * *

Divorce Court Barbie™ (Ken™ Drives Away With All of My Things)

I was no Fairytale Bride™ but
I came with a Barbie Daybed,™ A Bath Fun Playset,™
and a large, pink Desire Barbie Dildo Vibrator™
for when Ken™ forgot to come home.

But he couldn’t keep it in his Ken Fashionistas Trousers.™
He parked his Glam Convertible w/ Silver Rims™
in Skipper’s™ driveway,
stashed his GPS in her Long & Short of It Pants.™

Then he drove out of her Dinner Date Playset™ and back to
our Barbie Dream House,™ packed a few things in my
Store-It-All Carrying Case™
and dropped me at the Barbie Grand Hotel™ like I was
so much Euro-trash.

Look, Your Honor, nobody came with a warranty,
but unlike Ken,™ my intentions were pure; I lived up to my
Good Housekeeping Seal.

The Ken & Barbie Have Sex Before Marriage Playset™
made sure Ken knew what he was getting into.
Then he got into Skipper.™

I know what you must think, Your Honor.
There are names for dolls like me:

Bad Luck Barbie™
Throwaway Barbie™
– the one Ken™ swears he wouldn’t love if I were the
Last Girl On Earth Barbie.™

The one who’s rendered worthless once you trash the box.

first published in Vox Populi, 2018

* * * * *

Quiet Candy

After you kicked me out,
and moved Vicki in,
I spilled my guts to the Armenian drug dealer
at the Glendale Galleria.

He told me he’d fix
my Porsche, pay off my credit cards, keep me
in cashmere and coke,
if I’d let him.
He’d dress me in silk that grazed my ass,
said he liked the whiteness
of my thighs, said if I were his, he’d keep me
out of the sun.

There I was, strung out on dope,
all lanky, pale-skinned
need.

The Armenian drug dealer bought me
4-inch Louboutins and a leash,
bought me
a Stetson to shade my face.
I let him move me
into his condo in Glendale.

The Armenian drug dealer liked to drive
the freeways, had business
in San Diego and Oceanside
and San Juan Capistrano, liked the top down
on the Beamer, liked the way my hair whipped
in the wind. He liked fucking me
in his 3-car garage, pinned
against the hood. He could do it for hours
when I’d let him.

The Armenian drug dealer liked candy on his arm,
quiet candy
that was loud in the bedroom. He liked my ass
raised on a pillow, legs spread
like a Gullwing Mercedes.

I let him do anything he wanted.
He wanted me to tell him about you.

I told the Armenian drug dealer
how you wrapped Vicki in my mother’s embroidered shawl,
how you gave her my grandmother’s amethyst ring.
How you used a rifle to make your point.
How you could only come if you tied me up.
How you papered our bedroom with lies.

The Armenian drug dealer wanted to storm your house
wanted to tie you up with the same ropes you used on me
wanted to rip my mother’s shawl from Vicki’s shoulders
wanted to take the rifle out of your hands
wanted to bring back my grandmother’s amethyst ring.

So I let him.

first published in Plume, 2017

* * * * *

Statement of Poetics
My writing is predominantly confessional. I look at my life as material. Time as ammunition. I write daily, always at a computer or keyboard. Minimum 4 hours. I edit mercilessly. I think of my poems as product – as flash – as communication. As permission. As life raft.

Writing Influences: Dorianne Laux, Sharon Olds, Louise Gluck, Frank O’Hara, Michelle Bitting, H.D., Jack Grapes, Ellen Bass, Joseph Millar, Catullus, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Jack Gilbert, Rita Dove, Richard Jones, Anna Akhmatova.

Artist Statement
I shot my first photos at age ten. My father thought I had talent and bought me a Nikon. I’ve always had a camera in my hand. Another way to interact with the world while keeping myself at len’s distance. I shoot “street” photos with my iPhone 10. In the studio I shoot formal portraits with my Nikon D810, using an 85mm lens. In both worlds, my focus is on revealing my subject, sourcing the humanity that connects us all.

Photographic Influences: Dorothea Lange, Mark Ellen Mark, Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, Lisette Model, WeeGee, Walker Evans, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Nan Golden, Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton, Jan Saudek, Cindy Sherman, Sebastian Salgado, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Arthur Tress.

Biographical Notes
Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily,
Plume, Tinderbox, Diode, Nashville Review, Duende, Wide Awake, Poets of Los Angeles
, and
elsewhere. Her books include: How I Lost My Virginity to Michael Cohen & other heart stab
poems
(Sybaritic Press, 2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies (KYSO FLASH Press, 2015),
Enter Here (KYSO FLASH Press, 2017), and Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), the story of
her first, disastrous marriage. Her photographs have been published worldwide, including the
covers of Witness, Nerve Cowboy, Chiron Review, Heyday, and Pithead Chapel. A multiple
Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. She lives
with her husband on the cliffs of San Pedro, California, a sleepy beach community, 20 miles
from her former digs in downtown L.A.

Self-portrait
March 2018

JUNKIE WIFE
ENTER HERE: POEMS
STATE OF GRACE: THE JOSHUA ELEGIES
HOW I LOST MY VIRGINITY TO MICHAEL COHEN
Interview with Alexis in Gyroscope Review
Alexis’ website
Alexis on facebook

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2.7: higher clouds | Anatoly Kudryavitsky — poetry

Leeway

Now that you’re swimming the light, tell us
what you ink.
Are you fired up by the radiant mouth
of yesterday’s ashes? By the handheld thunder
amid ejected objects?
Oh, how we like your ubiquitous unpredictability!

In the court of awe, a gem losing its case.
The burnt umber of the day.
Magnets operate compasses.
“Don’t mind my stultitia,” says the purpose.
“Don’t mind course edits,” say the eddies.
Long time, no ask.

Now our “else” wants to be something else. Perhaps,
a thermal mystery. Or strawberry stars.
There’s more confusion underwater
than above the clouds, more history
in the mirrors than in the eyes.
Deviate, reflect.

* * * * *

Once in a Brazen Moon

Shadow of an arrogant ship…
How can I hear them speak? Not the dead
but the raucous pines.

Medusa would have been amused
by our hairy seaweeds. There would have been
many more hot air balloons
if it hadn’t been for this war.
What’s left in celestial clefts?

Collective mind is a giant grouper
that follows near-bottom flows;
individual mind, a suckerfish.
The draught of confusion, the warmth
of embarrassment. Give us all
or give us none. Who’s writing history
in spent ink?

I’d do it for the light in which a loss blossoms.
I’d do it for eww.
Only the rusted are trusted, why?
I pluck at loose dulse. The flooded bed,
the torn casing of time.
Then we all fall
through a rainbow of layers.

* * * * *

Scraping over a Sandbank

A boneless helicopter is always there
to pick you up. Hold on to your inner
Baron Munchausen.

It is summer. Some hairy souls smooch
pseudoaluminium saxophones.
At every crossroad,
the dust of the concrete Isle of Crete
relapses into a silent poem of adversity.

Criteria of crumbling are a labyrinth.
The Minotaur is a cloud, rigid
as a mammoth skeleton.
The kill bull bill has just sifted
through “as if”.

Shoreline is a shrine. The century
has been left dark side up;
doubts wing their way over it.
Pullulating fish mouths have all the answers.

* * * * *

Higher Clouds

An earthquake? It can be squeezed
out of your mind tremors.
Exaggerate your egg bubbles, agglutinate
a glowing necklet of spherules and satellites.
I tell you fear is blood,
we drank it all.

In your line of killing, life
already is a skeleton.
We’ve sudetenlanded
in ten lands. We’ve
1939ed our 2014.
Such fun!

As the garden shrinks
into a kernel, complacency
rocks itself in a chair.
Your day drowns trust
in lunar dust. Where the sky
plays possum, your hands blossom.

Soft-spoken biro.
Madness machine.
You are the exiled graphite
of trees.
The world will rotate
around your rusty axis.

* * * * *

Branching Knowledge

Having seen the fruits, we replant the roots,
a pretty scientist chants
into self-infused obscurity.
She’s a cleft squirrel, and there are
speech bubbles in her glass.

Other squirrels have shadows for tails; they’ve
cut themselves loose from the vine of cognition
aeons ago. Ideals surrender to necessity
(expect trumpets at every itchy moment.)
It’s a story of growth told by an axe.

Dr. Frankenstein, Head of Research,
scoops walnut brains with his silver spoon.
Trust them usefully in a narration.
Pale writing. Petals of a misty blue flower.
Mystery can never be amiss.

Ink-blot monsters are in no hurry to sink
into the ink-pot of oblivion. Background volcanoes
have spoken in the language of flame;
the sulfury breeze is infested with sugary voices.
So this is how it is going to be . . .

And yet again, somebody grabs the axe handle
covered with notes of praise and admiration.

all poems ©2018
* * * * *

Interview with Anatoly

Do you agree with Adam Zagajewski who once said the following: “While writing a poem I am a poet, whereas at other times I am an ordinary man”?
Is a poet an ordinary person? I would say, yes and no. When I write, I try to create an alternative reality, which sometimes results in me finding myself in some kind of “poetic space.” These periods of complete disconnection with real life leave an imprint on you, noticeable rather to others than to yourself. Sometimes you see astonishment in their eyes!

What triggers your writing process?
Sometimes a particular phrase gets me going, sometimes I mishear something, and the metamorphosed sentence, or a combination of words, sounds marvellously fresh and appealing. If I can’t come up with a good opening line, there’s no point in continuing. But if I do, I just try to develop it. Sometimes I have a feeling that the poem writes itself, I just need to jot it down on paper, or type it.

Your poetics?
Surrealism, mainly. As Octavio Paz once put it, Surrealism is not a kind of poetry; it is a poetics and a world vision. In the 21st century, we know the meanings of words and things only too well. A surrealist cuts the ties between things and their meanings, and then rearranges such ties, or draws new ones. A Surrealist is always a creator, because for him there’s no given reality.

How do you frame a poem as in, what is the framework?
I am a former musician, and I know very well that a poem shapes itself; you just have to cut off the surplus. Then I put the first draft aside for a while—and come back to it later to look at it with fresh eyes. If it is the right moment, the poem shows me its flaws, and I begin to think how to improve it. Then I put aside the second draft – and so on. Finally, the moment comes when I realise that I am happy with this particular piece and don’t want to change anything in it. Like in music, the framework is the audible. I sometimes read my poem to myself, just to check if it sounds right.

Who are your influences / poets whose work you admire.
My influences? Almost everything you read affects your writing. I can go as far back as Shakespeare, William Blake, Saint-John Pearse, André Breton, Paul Celan, Gabriel Garcia Lorca, Samuel Beckett, Dylan Thomas, Zbigniew Herbert, Thomas Tranströmer, and the Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun; and on the other side of the Atlantic—Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Stephen Crane, Carl Sandberg, William Carlos Williams, Jack Spicer, Mark Strand, Philip Lamantia, James Tate. I would say, their works were examples for me rather than sources of stylistic borrowings. The poets I admire? All the aforementioned, and many more, including our contemporaries, such as Charles Simic, Stephen Dobins, and Dean Young.

How did you find out about Diaphanous?
I was trying to google Jennifer Juneau in search of her latest poems – and, as it happened, I found them in Diaphanous Review.

Biographical notes

Anatoly Kudryavitsky is living in Dublin, Ireland. He has published a collection of his poetry titled Shadow of Time (Goldsmith Press, 2005) and three collections of his haiku, the latest being Horizon (Red Moon Press, USA, 2016). His poems have also appeared in Oxford Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, The Prague Revue, Plume, The American Journal of Poetry, The Honest Ulsterman, Cyphers, The SHOp, Stride, Otoliths, etc. His new (second) novel titled The Flying Dutchman has been published by Glagoslav Publications (UK) in July 2018. He was the recipient of the Maria Edgeworth Poetry Prize (Ireland, 2003), the Mihai Eminescu Academy Award for Poetry (Romania, 2017), and multiple international haiku awards. In 2016 and in 2017, his poems were nominated for the Pushcart Prize by The American Journal of Poetry and Shot Glass Journal. He is the editor of SurVision poetry magazine.

Anatoly’s website
recent poems
SurVision magazine
Anatoly on facebook

©1999

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