poemimage

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

Tag: memory

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.

 

Duck and Cover!

Duck and cover!
Head down! Hands behind head!
Knees on floor!

You are Hieronymus Bosch! Imagine flame! Smoke!

As if they were saying,
‘You are now a fish or a block of wood.’
‘We’ve got you where we want you.’

Did no parents, even once, wonder?
Or had the anesthesia already
kicked in.

Remain motionless!

Photos found online of school building and schoolchildren participating in ‘Duck and Cover’ exercises. I do not claim ownership of these images. I have used them to create new works for non-commercial purposes of parody, education, and commentary.

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

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

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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? 

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

A Bridge Out of Limbo

a6common scene

& When you think of who you are,

a8

The deep waters rising about you, within you,

a19wild blue gash

& Within you, who you are, symbols embedded within & upon a book of code,

a13green ball 6green ball 6green ball 6

Like a stamp or seal upon a document, & you swim through the hollow and the false,

a4icy wind

Bearing metaphorical code,

a14

& When you think of who you are and what you have delivered, you realize

a12descent

The brave are still within us,

a2

& Your metaphor is reality, holding fast to your sense of balance, carrying out your mission,

a20common scene

& You never venture from your footing upon this precipice,

a8

& your children walk upon dry land.

a7wild blue gasha5

U.S. Naval Archives Photo # 80-G-238786: USS San Jacinto steaming with USS Lexington in the Mariana (Islands) area, 13 June 1944.

a1

My father was on active duty aboard the San Jacinto (foreground aircraft carrier) when this photo was taken. I remember him as a young man, remembering also transferred memories… physical and emotional, memories flowing like water. I was thinking about DNA as well as the memory within, and of, water. In the back of my mind I was thinking about Berta Cáceres. The work she did with water. Her radiant identification with Mother Earth, the Mothership, and the water running through Her veins.

Berta Caceres stands at the Gualcarque River in the Rio Blanco region of western Honduras where she, COPINH (the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) and the people of Rio Blanco have maintained a two year struggle to halt construction on the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric project, that poses grave threats to local environment, river and indigenous Lenca people from the region.green ball 6green ball 6green ball 6

How We Listened

after

Have you forgotten how we listened

spectral

to what was not being said.

colourful dream

The sun and the night both shining in Autumn.

sepia4

Shining upon what is concealed

after

& beneath the crossroads,

this is not d

a deeply buried wind

ruin 3

streaming through the empty house.

after

Dedicated to my (late) brother Larry, whose birthday is 2/22, who cried over his black fish floating belly up, who slipped climbing the crabapple tree & gashed his belly open with a nail. We passed through the cage of black & white TV broadcasting one Friday late into the night and throughout the weekend until a funeral on Monday.

sepia4

My video poem concerning this event: https://vimeo.com/11304739

colourful dreamspiral 2

I think I found the spiral Xray online a couple of years ago. Of course , neither am I claiming any copyright credit for the photographs of J.F.K.’s funeral. A detail from a still photo of a performer riding a horse in my video poem is also in the mix. I will take some credit for that.

spiral 2

A Bolt of Black Cloth

9

I imagined a colour the density of funeral bunting,

new 10

A bolt of black cloth,

a singed songflaring

A sudden black waterfall quickly dropping six stories,

dales 17 new

Unrolled from a balcony,

dense nights

The beginning of a voyage,

fire lotq

Negotiating darkness.

flaring

My father shopped at Dales for paper bags full of groceries,

parkinglot

I waited in the car listening to the radio,

people who knowwaiting in the car 1

I tried to describe a song called Eve of Destruction,

q

He looked at me in the rear-view mirror,

r

Columns of black smoke rose above the Pacific Ocean,

spark 2a ring

Like poisonous vines,

the projector shining

Morse code blinking through the darkness,

waiting in the car 1

At night he came home as late as possible,

xxp

Then looking again into the rear-view mirror,

new 10

He repeated the name of the song,

‘Eve of Destruction.’

dales 17 new

I pictured a wooden bowl in my chest,

parkinglotthe projector shining

Smoothed and worn by water,

p

& Climbing the stairs into this language,

a ring

Gazed, longingly, into a rear-view mirror.

new 10dales 17 newxxr

Autumn, late

and helmet
I remember when she said,

I’m sorry to interrupt your relationship

With Bob Dylan.

this now

 

An Asymmetrical Drawing Lightly & Beyond

spontaneous sketch

You might think the birds would fly three dimensionally

Into this their second body of branches and leaves,

Tuning a vibrational revelation at mechanisms

Attuned eons ago to invisible knowledge,

Whispering upon silent migration,

 Twigs and victorious feather,

Summery din of magic,

Sunlight swooping,

Midnight vine

Asleep in

Dreams

Made

Of

medium

I glean pathways, spiralling gyres, thin vivacious lines

Echoing in silvery twigs & prehistorical symbolism,

Glimmering beyond this garden of fallen souls,

 A volcanic woman nesting like a blue bird,

Her bed an ancient sea of knowledge,

Flowering & blooming oceanic sky

Harmonizing & hammering,

Hypnotizing shadows arc

Perceiving caravans,

Intuiting stone,

Entrancing

Watery

Eyes

Of

bookism

Those nights and days, mostly nights, shaded and cool,

Illuminated by the slow voyaging of distant starlight,

 Songs of star-birds meandering far from magnetic

Fields with soft grasses imprinted upon wings,

Upon all motion, this hand with pen, now

A decision as if Original Idea, golden

Original Thought, in purposeful

 Cascading winds, lighting

Archways & beyond,

Whose feathers

And twigs

Speak

Of

with circlenew tomorrowpsd

Today

today a

Today you forget again

You stay with forgetting

(again)

Today you forget again

You stay with forgetting

(again)

You taste forgetting

today e

Again

You taste

Forgetting

today b

You taste forgetting

(again)

You stay with forgetting

(again)

today c

You forget forgetting

You taste forgetting

(again)

(again)

today d

You taste forgetting

You forget forgetting

today e

You taste forgetting

(again)

today a

Today

today b

you

today c

forget

today d

(again)

today e