poemimage

Where text meets image. Where the visual intersects the literary.

Category: Ekphrasis

Rice Pudding and Rumi

All I wanted was a can of rice pudding. After a long day I wanted a reward. Not a drink. Not dope. Just some rice pudding.


In other stores I’ve seen cans of rice pudding beside the Devon cream near the condensed milk or in the baking goods section.


I thought of her, who I lost, and how she would heat pudding and serve it topped with Devon cream. I wondered who she was serving now.


The staff had no clue. One said aisle 13 with a blank stare.
‘Isn’t it with the pudding?’ said the one with centipede eyebrows.
I was determined to find the rice pudding section.

A woman without a shopping cart or purse or umbrella studied a jar in aisle 13 and then a bag in the organic section freezer. I figured she was the store detective or an immigrant figuring things out or maybe somebody lonely looking to get picked up.


I checked every possible location. No luck.


I walked away half an hour later in the rain wondering what sort of loser looks for rice pudding at ten o’clock on a Saturday night.


I thought of Rumi saying sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
But I didn’t have any cleverness to sell.

Ruminations on Discarding a Drafting Table

Was it a mistake to throw out the old drafting table during my decluttering blitzkreig with its thousands of hours of receptivity to mark making, creating & colouring upon a flat screen opening to the unknown through seasons of catastrophe, celebration, and hope

Only to discover new ones at the same price, half the size, rickety, like stacking plastic toy soldiers until they fall to the floor beside the laundry and a coupon expired

Standing half as tall – is this how people live today – cramped / like ceilings pressing at odd angles, like too much irony or TV news or variety shows with varieties of one crop farming

In the city I discarded what I could squeeze into a hole, after it made itself known, who could fail to notice this hole, brazenly tapping at the doorway like trance drumming & insisting on action

As loud as a hole can be without attracting the attention of other shapes competing for psychic food although that might be a personification best for allegory or proverb

& Even vibrations (especially vibrations!) passing into wood or metal created in the right spirit, I’m sure it was the right spirit, know they are the right size for the hole, the circle, the absence, the sun

Though saying goodbye to memories vanishing into & beyond the hole might be a mistake, if there are mistakes in the ecology of memory and in the shadow of labour – no I am sure there cannot be, and a goodbye is never a forever, yes it often is

In this new world, either squatting, or hiding from the enemy, or working within form shrinking from moisture or heat or time, one realizes a newer price will have to be paid for a full size, it’s no longer one size fits all, it’s no longer all at all

One might reclaim discarded memories in the hole though they float away forever, but the idea of agreeing, I think, is to create another hole, a flourishing courier system arriving in the future at the other doorway, or now, and how can any mistake be made while awaiting couriered delivery

Of it all & with a great sadness, goodbye

How I (unexpectedly) Spent My Summer Vacation

An idea for a novel came upon / me.

Whoosh.

Two words.

The next night I dreamed the title.

Five words.

I didn’t see any connection

between the title

and the idea.

I wrote on paper with 3 holes / long-hand / daily, and typed those pages.

No matter the words – I simply transcribed.

If I heard it in my head I wrote it.

No argument.

72 days later I had a first draft. And editorial notes for each segment.

I stapled each batch and stacked them on top of a cold radiator.

The typed pages are in the computer.

I emailed them to myself daily.

I didn’t edit the material

or refashion it.

I treated it like poetry

with a germination period,

alone in the dark.

 Just allow it / to arrive

from surprise destinations.

It’s in the dark now.

Whoosh.

Out of nowhere / it never failed

to arrive.

Like arriving from darkness.

A novelist told me the first draft

is the most difficult part

of the process.

This didn’t feel difficult.

Perhaps laborious.

I hope this is a good sign.

A sign in the dark.

Follow darkness

until the sign

arrives.

Whoosh.

 

 

Later he pretended the moon was a mystical source of enchantment

He fell in love with a visionary


who cared for a tree.

Her visions became commonplace,
although beautiful,
as she cared for the tree.

The knight sometimes

aimed
his telescope

at a leaf dangling in the wind,
or a branch bent low, or bark,
or beds of moss
on the edges,
warming.


Invincible
sunlight
streaming.

 

Reposed in Flight by Ned Baeck

Basement bright with skin

shows dark, rapt faces.

They hold him

in their hearts and brains.

Someone whispered the world

is not worth becoming evil for –

On the ceiling, which is the maiden mother’s floor,

they pound, and pause, and pound again.

Blood pulsing in their fists,

the pierce of loathing under their ribs.

In a shadowed mezzanine

below the conscious mind,

they gnaw on river fish,

direct you to the wrong people,

put glitter in their eyes,

control the atmosphere,

arrange stillborn thoughts in old places.

Later they will say you brought down

the old, dull, rusted sword

with your own hands – and you did –

on the samovar that hid her hand

and the bed where she bared herself.

Motionless,

bird reposed in flight,

love for whose sake everything, murderous

and merciful, is done –

It’s so quiet now,

vouchsafed to a world of sullen depravity,

a few crumbs of dust for the broom.

The true operation of your mind – follow it –

 

Ned Baeck lives in Vancouver.

His poems have recently appeared in untethered, The Continuist and Sewer Lid.

His first full-length collection of poems is forthcoming from Guernica.

would you rather wake up or have an egg

My mother told me theatre is like a rooster
but film is like a hen.
She said would you rather wake up
or have an egg?

Ingmar Bergman, The Seventh Seal

Ark

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Both on the material and the spiritual planes the ark symbolizes the power to preserve all things and to ensure their rebirth.

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Biologically speaking, it can be regarded as a symbol of the womb or of the heart, there being an obvious connection between these two organs.

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The basic symbolism of the ark is the belief that the essences of the physical and spiritual life can be extracted and contained within a minute seed…

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until such time as a rebirth creates the conditions necessary for the re-emergence of these essences into external life.

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The ark, during the cosmic parlay, floats on the waters of the lower ocean.

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The rainbow, in the realm of the ‘upper waters,’ is a sign of the restoration of the order which is preserved below in the ark.

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Both figures together, being complementary, complete the circle of Oneness.

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They therefore correspond to the two halves of the ancient symbol of the ‘world egg.’

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As a symbol of the heart (or of the mind, or of thought) the image of the ark is similar to that of the drinking-vessel, so frequent in medieval mysticism.

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from A Dictionary of Symbols by J.E. Cirlot

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Images: Photographs of political hip-hop artist Keny Arkana in montage with a page from The Lindisfarne Gospels, an illuminated manuscript created around the year 700.

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Letters From Attica [an excerpt] by Sam Melville (1934 – 1971) & the Frederic Rzewski Composition ‘Coming Together’

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I think the combination of age and the greater coming together is responsible for the speed of the passing time.

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it’s six months now and i can tell you truthfully few periods in my life have passed so quickly.

19. city

i am in excellent physical and emotional health.

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there are doubtless subtle surprises ahead but i feel secure and ready.

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As lovers will contrast their emotions in times of crisis, so am i dealing with my environment.

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in the indifferent brutality, incessant noise, the experimental chemistry of food, the ravings of lost hysterical men, i can act with clarity and meaning.

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i am deliberate–sometimes even calculating–seldom employing histrionics except as a test of the reactions of others.

15. Taken Aback

i read much, exercise, talk to guards and inmates, feeling for the inevitable direction of my life.

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Sam Melville (Letters From Attica)

Above is how the spelling appears on more than one site.

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I narrated this text four years ago or so with professional musicians performing Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together & Attica.

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Sounding this text to the music was one of the most emotional things I’ve experienced: hypnotic, exhausting and exhilarating.

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Frederic Rzewski selected this body of text for his composition.

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A performance featuring narration by stage actor Steve Ben Israel with Frederic Rzewski on piano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSuuwJFw4wU  The video opens in a new window so you can follow the text here if you wish.

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Credits and information about this recording: http://incessantnoise.blogspot.ca/2009/08/frederic-rzewski-coming-together.html

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Rays of an Ancient Light Driving You Home

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Did you possibly imagine (you couldn’t have)

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On that youthful, sun-dappled afternoon,

p

The rays of an ancient light caressing your skin & inspiration, when you were

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A skipping stone striking at the perfect angles & gaining your balance,

o

Amusedly & perfectly crossing a warm stream at the edge of town,

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The water fresh and the fences down,

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Driving home after closing time…

h

The years marking your skin in ways the Great Depression & the

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Enemy marked your psyche, past an abandoned brewery,

ff

Seeing the quiet streets coming up fast like a flood, silent as a submarine,

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Balancing on wet stones, laughing as you splashed & driving home

s

After closing time, to a lonely house, impervious to depth charges,

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Past the dislodged bricks of the abandoned brewery,

mm

Imagining that sun-splashed afternoon & shallow, sparkling water,

truly

Your children crossing streams within darkened rooms,

g

Finding their balance, in ways the enemy

faintly

Marked your psyche & warm afternoons caressed your inspiration,

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An ancient star illuminating quiet streets, starlight splashing,

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Streaming into and beyond abandoned spaces,

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Rays of an ancient light driving you home.

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I Know The Way You Can Get by Hafiz

coffee face on lid

I know the way you can get

When you have not had a drink of Love:

Evidence Bcoffee stain 1

Your face hardens,

Your sweet muscles cramp.

Children become concerned

About a strange look that appears in your eyes

Which even begins to worry your own mirror

And nose.

origcoffee stain 3

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness

And call an important conference in a tall tree.

They decide which secret code to chant

To help your mind and soul.

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Even angels fear that brand of madness

That arrays itself against the world

And throws sharp stones and spears into

The innocent

And into one’s self.

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O I know the way you can get

If you have not been drinking Love:

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You might rip apart

Every sentence your friends and teachers say,

Looking for hidden clauses.

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You might weigh every word on a scale

Like a dead fish.

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You might pull out a ruler to measure

From every angle in your darkness

The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once

Trusted.

2 coffee

I know the way you can get

If you have not had a drink from Love’s

Hands.

3 coffee

That is why all the Great Ones speak of

The vital need

To keep remembering God,

So you will come to know and see Him

As being so Playful

And Wanting,

Just Wanting to help.

blimp and lid in the desertmorphed

That is why Hafiz says:

Bring your cup near me.

For all I care about

Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

cinematic shadowthe tomorrow

All a Sane man can ever care about

Is giving Love!

origcoffee face on lid

From: I Heard God Laughing – Renderings of Hafiz

Translated by Daniel Ladinsky