poemimage

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

Category: Visual Art

In the Temple of the Cauldron of the Garden of the Sun

I did a new painting. With acrylic paint and water-soluble graphite. The size is 30″ X 30″. The day after it was finished I made three changes.

Working the woman’s body it became a tree body with a bird. To break up the vertical line of the cartouche I added a bird (looks like a blue jay) entering from the left. To delineate the ‘leaf-flower’ zapping the tadpole-comet-sperm sphere with its tongue I gave it a serpent’s eye, added a white line to the tongue and reworked the sphere.

A friend of mine from Romania refers to the accordion book above as a ‘cartouche.’ I feel like an archeologist discussing the cartouche in my painting. This cartouche contains a number of diagonals that lead the eye to her arm. The white of the cartouche jumps from her arm to the white of her face.

These photos are not professional quality but they do show decisions about content and composition.

In ‘real life’ the painting is not quite as turquoise but it’s also more vibrant with texture and depth. It shines brilliantly.

I will return to a regular posting schedule on this blog soon. My plan is to create linocut prints and small paintings on paper to go with poetry. My computer is slow now, older, and not syncing well with WordPress. I will put Photoshop files on a thumb drive to increase computing power.

 

JFK at Woodstock

Just before Jimi Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner
A wave went through the crowd.
He’s here.

Sleeping girls with feet caked in mud stirred.
Boys asleep with long wet hair awoke.
He’s here.

Potheads spinning up looked down.
Potheads coming down looked up.
He’s here.

Country Joe and Buffalo Springfield and Melanie
saw something moving like a river & coming into view.
He’s here.

He spoke without using a mic.
Ask not what your country can remember for you.
Ask what you can remember for your country.
The crowd applauded and gave him a standing ovation.

‘Inauguration Day man,’ the guy next to me said.
I looked at him closely.

The pottery in the next to last image is of Cucuteni-Trypillian neolithic heritage. I thought it played off the idea of ‘pothead’ as well as being a vessel the motorcade passed through. The images superimposed over JFK in the third image are the Sri Yantra diagram and a detail from the Book of Kells representing JFK’s ancestry. JFK loved poetry and read for pleasure so these are perhaps fitting images of tactile and spiritual deep time.

I do not claim copyright on original images. I have created new, non-commercial artworks for the purpose of parody or commentary.

 

HABITS by Majlinda Bashllari

Around here we measure everything

words, costs, speeds–

so nobody gets hurt

be sorry et cetera.

Define and predict: the span of germs,

the time of dinosaurs,

the era of humans.

Expiry dates on foods

favour short-lived romances

over the lifetime ones.

We’re being practical.

We measure tumours.

Sizes disturb us

same as their unyieldingness.

We keep notes. Calculate and file.

Out of stubbornness

we look for equals.


The whereabouts of clouds

we know precisely. Not so sure

about our thoughts,


we get near them,

they dodge

and wave –


young hands inside a steep creek.

Realm of flesh fingers that measure

the cruelty of flow.

Born in Albania, Majlinda Bashllari is the author of two poetry collections, Një udhë për në shtëpi (A road to home), published in Tirana, Albania (Morava, 2007) & Love is a very long word, published by Guernica Editions in 2016. Bashllari’s work has appeared in numerous Albanian art and literature magazines and in Albanian anthologies of essays and short stories. She lives in Toronto.

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

From Satire to Symbol to Where is the Poem in That?

4 in 1 two

Recently in Canada we had a minor brouhaha in Parliament.  A satirical magazine depicted the former Leader of the Opposition wearing a neck brace with his caucus in body casts, wheelchairs, etc…

circle 23

I cropped the photo in a circle & added text to make my own satirical statement. No. I decided. Something else. So I began to manipulate the images. Emerging psychedelic shapes with the politician becoming 19th century-like wearing a clerical or clown collar.

4 in one

Shapes emerged as I worked intuitively with Photoshop.

circle 7

A symbol began to emerge. Or something that looked like it wanted to be a symbol.

with bordersymbol of om

Recently my investigations have led me (in books & online) to India where the Celtic God Cernunnos is preceded by a similarly depicted figure revealed by artifacts from the Indus Valley.

cultural contrast

The similarities of the visual language are striking. Mythologies are a bit like dreams, arising from the same ‘bedrock’ of consciousness. Or from somewhere beneath the bedrock.

green man in India

Jokes also lead to interesting places. And who might be both psychedelic and from an earlier century while wearing a clerical – clown collar. The depictor. Or the depicted. Or someone else entirely. And where is the poem in that?

where is the poetrywhere is the poetrywhere is the poetry

Original photo credit: The Beaverton

Sun in the Palms: Thirteen Flashes for My Mother by Nancy Kline

z1

1.

Flash!  One minute to the next.

Short circuit in the brain, struck dumb.

When I get the call, I am eight hours away from her, by car.  It takes me six, foot to the floor.

x5

2.

In Intensive Care she lies still as a stone, but whiter than stone, on her tall bed.  The walls of her cubicle are curtains, pulled to, on a metal ceiling-track.   A small black crucifix hangs on the wall.  Mother the old Marxist overseen by Jesus.

“I’m here, mommy,” I say, and take her hand.

She opens her eyes.

Our look acknowledges the proximity of death, and of death’s silence.  Mommy, writer mother, has been stripped of speech.

x15

3.

Three days after the stroke, she has not said one word.  I’m singing songs to entertain us, my sneakers propped on the iron bar of her hospital bed.  She’s had her swallow test  (she can’t), she has been tested verbally  (zero).  I’ve already sung the lullabies, the folk songs.  I am into patriotic melodies.  I sing, “Allons enfants de la pa-tree-ee-uh–”

And suddenly I hear my mother’s voice.

“Le jour de gloire est a-ree-vay!”

Suddenly she’s singing “La Marseillaise.”  She’s warbling out the words, she knows them, she remembers every one of them, both of us burst out laughing, I am singing, she is singing, laughing, “Contre nous de la tee-ra-nee-uh!”

8

4.

When I run down the hall to tell the speech pathologist, she’s unimpressed.

“Your mother sang a song with you?” she says, so bored that she can hardly speak.  “Different part of the brain.  She’s not recovering.  No.”

xx

5.

I bring in the Hospice rep.  I’m filled with trepidation.  Mother knows that Hospice means the end, and mother can be rude.

Or could be, when she could still utter insults.

“Mom,” I say, “this nice lady is from Hospice.  She is going to help us.”

“How do you do?” the social worker says, bowing at the end of the bed, beneath the crucifix nailed to the wall.

My mother smiles at her.  And then abruptly says, “Hail Mary well-met!”

x104

6.

Scraps of language.

On the seventh day, when I tell mother we are leaving the hospital, she asks, “Where are you traveling?”

She is afraid, I know this (I have always known it, she has always been afraid), that I will put her away, as she was forced to put away her sad ill raving mother, in what mommy always called the insane asylum.  I was there; I was ten.  I saw my grandmother dragged, struggling, up the stairs by two male aides.

“We’re going home,” I say. “I’m taking you home.”

To die, the two of us know.

My mother leans forward and kisses me on the mouth.

z7

7.

The story of my father’s dying, in the very same house twelve years earlier, waits for us there.  His unintelligible bellowing in the middle of one night.  Then silence.  How pointedly the ambulance crew told me that mother and I needn’t rush to follow them to the hospital.  I didn’t get the message.  His was my first death.

Halfway there, my mother realized she was without her teeth.  We turned around, we roared back home, we turned around, we roared back down the highway.  Stopped by the cops.  Released.

But daddy was already dead before the EMTs arrived. The moment we glimpsed the sly tip of his tongue.  No need to rush.

We couldn’t know it, how to believe that he had stopped? 

ic35

8.

How to believe my mother is in diapers now, enormous basins, monstrous, rigid white papier-maché, like those we laughed about together, in some hospital, years earlier, when we did not believe them relevant.  Does she remember how we joked?

I change her.  I brush the six teeth in her mouth, and the others, in the water-glass.  I know this body as I knew my babies’.  This is my mother’s body, demystified.

x7

9.

Scraps of language, tender buttons.  “Skillet!  Skillet!” she says.  “She has gone to an extent to spread her trestle.”

I put a warm washcloth over her eyes.  “Oh,” she says.  “Very valuable.”

We send for the speech therapist.

He makes a house call.  He stands close up against her bed.  “C-can you say b-b-banana?” he asks.

“Banana,” mommy says.  She looks alarmed.

“G-good,” he says.  He leans in toward her face, as though to kiss her. “Now say muh-muh-muh—“

“–gician?” says my mother.  “Marauder?  Muckraker?”

“You’re d-doing very wuh-wuh-well!”

I catch the eye of mother’s healthcare aide, who looks at me and quickly leaves the room.

“C-call me, any t-time.”

The therapist hands me his card.

“You g-get t-two more sessions.  Although muh-muh-most people think wuh-one’s enough.  But p-please don’t heh-heh-heh—“

“I won’t heh-hesitate,” I say, with effort, and shake his hand.

x12

10.

Still as a breathing stone I sit each morning, on my cushion, while the Hospice nurse bathes mommy’s body in her bedroom.  I count my breaths.  I inhale, exhale my grieving.  We keep a dented dark-red iron tank of oxygen, as tall as mother standing, beside the hospital bed we’ve borrowed from the Rescue Squad.  Sometimes the racing of my small mind stills.  Then I am present, an instant.  For an instant I am not in pain.  A myriad of birds whose names I don’t know call to each other in the field.  Construction trucks roar past, down on the turnpike.

One day, after I’ve parked the car in our garage, I’m summoned by the waterfall.  I walk to the wall beside the brook and look down.  Below me, a great blue heron stands on a stone.  The stream is tumbling around him.  He looks up.  Then calmly opens his slow wings as wide as the water and flies low up the length of the creek bed, until he vanishes in the trees.

x14

11.

Thanksgiving night, I go to tuck my mother in and find her weeping.

“What’s wrong, mommy?”

“I had wished,” she says.  “I had hoped.  I would be dead.”

“But you didn’t die,” I say.

“I didn’t die.”  As lucid and articulate as if she weren’t aphasic, hadn’t ever been, she says, “I think I know myself.  I think I know what I can do.  I can’t do this.  I can’t do this anymore.”

I stroke her arm, her forehead.  Her birthday is two weeks away.  If she lives another  fourteen days, she’ll be one hundred and one.

“I think,” I say, “that when you really can’t,  do this, you won’t.  I don’t know even what that means.  But I believe it.”

Murray, her fat orange cat, jumps suddenly up, out of the dark, to plop down in a circle at the foot of her bed.  “Good kitty,” mommy says.

A calm transparency connects the two of us like a windowpane.

“Thank you,” she says.  “You have helped me.”

ic25

12.

The next day she insists on walking the length of her house, to the window in the living room.  On her aggressive metal walker, thump! to say goodbye to the view.  Although I can’t know that, not yet.

Snow lies along the branches of the pines at the border of her field.

“Look!” she says.  “How beautiful the sun in the palms.”

Any of us might have said as much, we’re sliding down the slope into forgetting language, all my friends and I.  But our slow glide is not the black hole where my mother disappeared.

idea-3

13.

One week later, in the middle of an afternoon, she dies.  It has been days since she last ate or drank.  We moisten her lips for her, now that she’s sunk into impenetrable sleep, immobile, white on white, against the sheets.  Could she be tinier?

She said to me once, years before, “Wouldn’t it be nice if all of us could just get littler and littler until we disappeared?”  She’s nearly done it.

I hold her hand, although she doesn’t hold mine back.  I sing to her about a bird, a looking glass.  I watch the tiny pulsing artery in her neck.  It is her only moving part.

At the hospital, I saw the moving pictures of her heart, how her aortic valve came fluttering open, fluttering closed, it dizzied me to think that tiny shred of flesh had kept on going for a century.

That afternoon, the faintest rhythmic pulsing in her neck throbs, throbs, throbs.

Doesn’t.

olo-31

Nancy Kline’s memoirs, short stories, essays, and translations have appeared widely. She contributes regularly to the New York Times Sunday Book Review and has received a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Grant. She has published eight books, including a novel, a critical study of René Char’s poetry, a biography of Elizabeth Blackwell, and four book-length translations of modern French writers, the most recent, Jules Supervielle’s Selected Prose and Poetry (with Patricia Terry and Kathleen Micklow).

z1

When Birds Were Fish

cave mist 3

One could write poetically concerning When Birds Were Fish.

transformation in a white mist 4

Or When Birds Were Suns. When Birds Were Moons.

are the beatles going to play

Soaring and skimming from here to there, across times, flying into the rivers of the underworld.

are they building a bridge to the mainland

Emerging silently into the forbidding underworld of Jean Cocteau’s 1949 film Orphee, situated within the relic of postwar France: A modern world as silently old order as mythology itself.

O1

 Orphee, played by Jean Marais, interrogated by an underworld tribunal.

O2

Stating his occupation as poet.

square

To write without being a writer. 

flight

The Princess of Death, played by Maria Casares, asking him for a pen (to sign her confession).

face

Her confession of love. He has no pen.

face

She laughs. She forgot he is not a writer.

face

The scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_o9l3OqPMk

flight

Film images courtesy The Criterion Collection.

flight

If Yeats Was a Bicycle

not duchamp final

Not Duchamp…

2 again

Not Gertrude Stein…

not duchamp 3

Not cave art…

not duchamp 4

Not Klee…

not duchamp 5

Not Mary Poppins…

1 again

Not Yeats.

not ducamp 6

Well…possibly. With one of his gyres. Formulating A Vision.

not duchamp 7

http://www.yeatsvision.com/yeats.html

not duchamp final

A Quote by Hermann Hesse & Spirals Rising Above the Street Once Laid Upon a Syrian City

above it all

“I have no right to call myself one who knows.

ghost wind 2

 I was one who seeks,

mossy

 and I still am,

position

 but I no longer seek in the stars or in books;

omena

 I’m beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me.

hello

My story isn’t pleasant,

magic domes

it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories;

zephyr 2

 it tastes of folly and bewilderment,

Syrian Spiral 1

of madness and dream,

sun 4

like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.”

overhangoverhang

― Hermann Hesse, Demian: Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend

finale 2

I digitally reconfigured Syrian street photos (from happier times) for non-commercial artistic purposes, photographed by Vatse: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?s=62af56d2f3036c7b81759a06c26b1f1d&t=993201

overhangoverhangfadeaway 2

One might intuitively connect seemingly disparate elements, only later discovering threads of DNA sound (or something) opening further into a parallel, related world. For example, Hesse & Syria:

position
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Gundert

position
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malayalam_literature

position

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Thomas_Christians

overhang

overhang

A Divining Rod of Ancient Silver Divining Twin Streams

blake jomon

A divining rod of ancient silver divining the outlines of the future

Chejesus

A divining rod of ancient silver divining channels between flowers

print

A divining rod of ancient silver divining the stone wheel of memory

film and granite

A divining rod of ancient silver divining the wind upon the fields

klee summer

A divining rod of ancient silver divining the moons beneath the city

giotto and russian pilot

A divining rod of ancient silver divining the roots of wisdom fruit

centre 2

A divining rod of ancient silver divining sea and Self, an ongoing dialogue between sea and Self

moon turin

A divining rod of ancient silver divining social collapse

fish street

A divining rod of ancient silver divining twin streams:

Pottery: the Jomon (縄文) Period (Japan, c. 12,000-300 BCE) and William Blake (1794) England.

Religious calendar art showing Jesus with children and the iconographic image of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevera.

Many years ago I did a printmaking project in an elementary school. One of the students made a print of (what I thought was) a Central or South American religious deity. I was intrigued with the clay pots or possibly drums. Then I realized I was looking at it upside down. How odd such a cartoon, reversed, depicts an altogether different creature. Nothing about the ‘accidental’ image reflected the student’s cultural heritage.

Photographic still from the B movie ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space.’ And the Pietà, Michelangelo’s great work, in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Angelus Novus by Swiss-German artist Paul Klee & the exquisite Donna Summer modelling a gown.

A painting by Giotto and a photograph of the parachuting Russian pilot whose jet was shot down by Turkey. Photographed before being shot, as he floated to earth, by terrorists allied with Turkey.

Digital configuration of Blake’s art + Jomon pottery.

Neil Armstrong Apollo 11 spacesuit & the Shroud of Turin.

Goldfish and residential street in Toronto.