poemimage

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

Category: Ink drawings

No Wonder My Hand Looks Old

I took photos this summer of flowers. They looked like flying bees. Or bee-like entities.

Sitting outside in a cafe patio this past weekend with my Hypnogogia Book 1 & Book 2 drawing collective buddies Charles and Marc I touched a tickle on my knuckle. Then a yellow jacket bit me. I think he bit me and stung me. Didn’t feel bad at first. At three in the morning I woke up with a swollen hand filled with pulsing needle-like pain.

Made a paste with baking soda. Soothing. The paste was dried in the morning on the plastic lid like terrain on a fragile planet. The powdery planet or maybe the paste planet.

My hand puffed-up like a blow fish. From one little bite! Or sting! Or both. What shocked me the most was how old my hand looked. How both hands looked old. The bigger and the lesser. In other news Bob Dylan is 80.

Last night I watched one of those ‘reaction’ videos. Younger people react to older songs. One guy loved Dylan singing One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) in Rolling Thunder Revue.

Dylan brought his Rolling Thunder Revue to Toronto Dec. 1 & 2, 1975. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) is on the playlist both nights. I don’t remember which of the two nights I went. It was a long time ago. No wonder my hand looks old.

Watch here

When I was a boy in the Missouri Ozarks I disturbed a yellow jackets’ mansion down some secret hole in the dirt. They attacked. At that moment the mailman walked up and said, ‘You’re not going to let those little things bother you are you?’

Well, yes.

I remember amber-coloured sorghum syrup in a tin gallon can. Maybe aluminum. I remember tapping down the lid. We spread sorghum on bread and poured it over pancakes. Sorghum likes to grow in thin clay soil. Missouri has a lot of thin clay soil. When they boil down the grain for syrup it’s called ‘the long sweetening.’

I said this to myself right now in the cadence of the voices I heard as a boy. The long sweetening. Sounds like a phrase from long, long ago. No wonder my hand looks old.

A Memory from July 10, 2013

I am working on a new GIF to accompany 5 lines from Lyon by Pierre L’Abbe. The stanza he sent me is so evocative I keep creating new images. So a few more days until I post that.

In the meantime, in a file folder, I found a poem & drawing from July 10, 2013. Close to eight years ago. My dryer was broken, though not the washing machine, so I went to the laundromat with bags of wet clothing. I brought a pen and paper.

The memory of writing a poem in the laundromat impacts me more than re-reading the poem. The poem touches on loss. It was a big deal at the time. As big as the universe. The drawing seems to be about the future. And loss as well.

He examines something, a memory, maybe it belonged to somebody, while his body transforms. He’s growing wings made of fossils or maybe a spiked spinal column has departed. Disappearing. His tears fall channeled into ancient patterns. Or maybe those channels teach him new patterns. Giving him fuel. Leaves, or flames, grow from his eyes. A drawing about vision.

A quickly sketched ink drawing might express many secrets. Something unknown always at work.

GIF Experiments: 24 (The Ronettes… although)

I’m glad I was able to post a GIF today. I was working with a large volume of images interpreting five lines from Lyon by Pierre L’Abbe and need more time. I will (knock on wood) assemble that GIF this coming week. In the meantime I offer this ‘slow-moving river of a GIF’ featuring (ostensibly) The Ronettes, although they too were code for something else I suspect, considering when I drew them.

GIF Experiments: 22 (The Charge of the Light Brigade)

Although the title in the GIF looks like a book and the GIF looks like a book trailer it’s not. However I created poetic text after the fact.

*

The Light Brigade

As in

Let There Be Light.

Witness

The mechanics of charging light.

Witness traction activate

Clouds of unknowing known

As muscled determination.

The mechanical opposite to A sucker born every minute.

Touch your tongue to the tent of your mouth. Announce

Charge

Pronounce light

As in

Let There Be Light.

*

Notes on the GIF: Intimations of Runic script transform into curvilinear vegetal design indicating a charging beast. It happened visually by itself (so to speak) during the design process.

Finding ‘his’ footing. Gaining traction. The irony of a ‘massive’ beast doing double-duty as charging light. Charging like flashlight beams in a force field? Surely he is not disembodied.

This GIF ponders our pressing situation, universal as it is, and the question of something, anything, out of the blue in reply.

*

GIF Experiments: 17 (Line Drawings + a Song Title by Van Morrison)

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Developing Images

I scanned an ink drawing done in 2010. I did hundreds of smaller and larger drawings for an exhibition in 2011 of 66 works. This one didn’t make the final cut although I don’t know why.

For much of Monday and half of Tuesday this week I created digital manipulations in Photoshop of the original drawing.

Much of my knowledge of Photoshop comes from exploring but I was fortunate to take a digital design class with an expert.

He was preparing the class for careers in advertising or editorial design. I was the oldest person in the class. The others were all whizzes with software and keyboard shortcuts, etc… I was like a farmer with a mule.

The original drawing has now given birth to 122 images. I scanned the original at 1200 dpi so the images are sharp and succinct. Take them down to 300 dpi to print a book, maybe add text – or leave them as digital collages. Somehow around #80 or so this figure emerged, imagined as the young woman from a poem (written this week) named Mary.

One, of course, should let the work sit and later evaluate it but for now I am feeling none-too-precious about words and ideas. I just might leave it raw and imperfect.

The image of the cross to accompany the Vosnesensky poem I am Goya came from rearranging the comics or graphic novel-type panels. A lot of those in the final 25/122.

I realized after posting I am Goya that I had also posted this poem in poemimage on the last day of November in 2012. Around that time my great journey into loss was underway. I survived. Relating this work by Vosnesensky (& knowing its monumental & historical subject matter) to personal psyche is perhaps not trivial. The word ‘bookends’ comes to mind.

You Told Me You’d Be Home By Ten

Original

Neolithic

Watching you in the shadows rip your poems into pieces, tossing them like blossoms cascading into a bucket of glowing coals.

The shadows of your hands flutter perfectly against the wall, the shadow of your fingers tearing shapes into pieces, tossed up & falling down, the sun at two o’clock highlighting shadows like birds sliding down the wall.

Nobody imagined your face streaked or the palms of your hands covered in coal dust.

One torn fragment flies through smoke and sticks to your streaked face in the shadow of a cherry tree, the bucket heavy as an anchor, the last of your words going up in smoke.

I fell in love with the maps of distant time, unexplained distant time & the Neolithic, I fell in love with the Neolithic – your dark hair,

Dark as some mystery strain of ancient wheat shimmering in the coolness of twilight, pressing your toes and fingers into the clay floor, stretching your body from horizon to horizon

Balancing a voluminous golden disc upon your delicate, curving spine. I’ve learned the language of discs and cherry blossoms, your fingers and smoke. I bury my animal cry.

Your shadows are hunger.

The eye blinks once in the gloomy shadow of the soul’s laboratory. A shattered disc showers fragments. Clay – no, not clay – gold. Hollow doors open and close, concealing this world. You seize the universal remote. Your fingertips press TV channels bright as a sun. The Clay Channel. The Gold Channel.

You gave me an indelible precision I mistook for esoteric ambiguity. Shadows conceal and reveal. I gave you tools for repairing machinery. You asked where this machinery might be found.

In the Legion parking lot snakes fall from the sky. You sing them down into the branches, how you sang! They wound themselves down, sliding and wet, their hearts tinted with gold, zigzagging into liquid angles and spitting hieroglyphics, falling upon your shoulders like rain loosening your hair.

Cauldrons along your spine bubbled over spilling gold. I was drawn as if by a magnet to your magical hysteria on the night you promised you would never shatter again.

You raved about a coastline where we might find ourselves half-buried.

You ridiculed mannerism in cinema but never did you ridicule Suprematism. In the shadow of a tower you open a drawer filled with soft gloves and the sounds of night. You pull charcoal up to your elbow. The Suprematism of your eyes lined with kohl.

A movement crosses the palm of your hand dividing stone from water. Your breath fills your spine with heat, a motionless reflection shimmers, spreading to the edge of a stone radius.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Your blood has not forgotten this stone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I read Neolithic in full in February and it took me ten minutes to read with a fairly brisk delivery. I have edited it substantially (and spontaneously) for this posting. I hope I have conveyed the essence of the poem even knowing how much is missing…

 

I sent five ink drawings to a poet.

For the cover of her book with a theme – dreams, running throughout the powerful, prophetic poems.

I selected the drawings from two sketchbooks filling simultaneously, slowly, sometimes on the subway, sometimes in a cafe.

I work in these sketchbooks, as well as accordion sketchbooks, on and off, sometimes obsessively & intricately,  sometimes less so.

I love ink drawing and the history of ink drawings – the contrast of line, design. To be honest I don’t want to do ink drawings, it’s inescapable & too pleasurable. An addiction of sorts.

My early heroes were Aubrey Beardsley and later Jan Toorop.

Today I find myself mesmerized by the line of Pict or Runic art and the heavier B&W contrasts in lino & woodcuts.

I have a book from the early 1900s & the author is railing against modernity in ink drawings.

He’s right about traditional, technical skill but quite misses the point.

The quest to return to what was lost in our origins is not determined by accuracy in depiction.

But rather seeing the spirit of the thing.

Or what we imagine is the spirit of the thing.

 

 

Drawing 14 assumes new form

After I broke (shattered!) my ankle I began drawing for long periods in bed.

I used a Sharpie marker on lined paper and numbered the drawings.

Sometimes I titled the drawings and indicated how I might use them, a linocut or a painting.

Drawing 14 broke free of its mooring and reappeared after traveling through several rooms.

I recreated Drawing 14 using digital tools.

1 + 4 = 5. Some people say 5 is a dynamic number of change. An indicator of flux, of positive movement,

& some things never reappear & you realize there might be something else, down in the roots, you need to want more.

And you experience both mystery and loss

while wearing wings and antlers.

Wherever those came from.