Tag Archives: poetry

Inspiration from a Post Card – Yes

If you follow my poetry blog you know I use all kinds of things for an idea-sparking moment. Including this postcard I made in February. It was a failed painting that I drew on. Then I wrote about it. Oh my goodness, this little piece of paper has had some influence way beyond its wildest hopes, that’s for sure.

Here is the postcard:

Postcard 2-19 Rooftop1

Here’s the post where I wrote about the poem-writing experience (look at the second half of the post where I set out some poems from the day’s writing).

And here is the poem:

A Simple Repair

Hesitant but
carrying out a necessary confrontation
on the roof of the house
in a nice suburb
a skinny lady in black pants
asks the workman
when the job will be finished
He gives her a blank look
calculating some increased hourly charges
to recompense him for this aggravation
while the skinny lady’s ancient mom
stares stony-faced out the window
and she thinks:
Ruthie is never firm enough
if only I could still climb a ladder
I’d get a grip on that man’s collar
you bet that roof repair
would be done tomorrow
superior quality of work
at a discount price. Yes it would.

In the living room Sneekle
a mammal of unknown style
consenting to live in this house
classified as a pet by the other inhabitants
though in reality nothing of the kind
stares with longing
at the non-gregarious houseplant
with whom
he would like to
strike up an acquaintance and
if things don’t work out
eat it.

There you have it
at
one minute after ten o’clock
on a weekday morning
Look at those rain clouds roll in.

2/21/19

People Cram Themselves Into a Car

Here are some more people hopping in the car for a road trip.

I based the composition on the photos I have been taking at the intersection of Butler Avenue and Spring Garden Street in Ambler, PA, on my way to Poetry Marathon sessions at Montgomery County Community College. I’ve sort of gotten a tradition going of photographing this intersection as I wait at the light there.

Here’s the intersection:

And here is the tile.

Storm Circle

Here is an artist book done in October 2017. Using acrylics, I painted the pages on ad cards I received in the mail. Then I assembled it into a book by folding and stapling the cards. They are not all the same size, so some pages peek over other ones.

Then I wrote words to go with the pages as poetry/text. I didn’t want to cover any parts of the paintings – interrupting their full expression seemed to interrupt their meanings, or at least the enjoyment of a person examining all the details. So I typed up the words and put book and pages into a clear plastic envelope to keep them together.

I will show you the pages with their associated words. Then – the whole poem at the bottom of the post.

But first: Front Cover and Back Cover:

Storm Circle

Thunderclouds
spun up out of a blue bad temper.

The house. The green field
beyond the fence.
Unsuspecting.

The sky

The sky
sliced open in clean-edged cuts.
Lightning
strikes the field.
Again.
Again.
Again.

Thunder
splits

the air
a wedge of
unfallen rain

the signal given
lets loose
a blue fury

all-out breakneck rain
slowing its blows
becoming
frail
uncertain
dissipating into gray
old age

ending.
A streak of sunlight
across the green field
brilliant orange

fading into
pink illumination
showing the way into evening
the storm
a memory
The field vibrates
electric green

10/10/17

Here is the whole poem.

Storm Circle

Thunderclouds
spun up out of a blue bad temper.

The house. The green field
beyond the fence.
Unsuspecting.

The sky

The sky
sliced open in clean-edged cuts.
Lightning
strikes the field.
Again.
Again.
Again.

Thunder
splits

the air
a wedge of
unfallen rain

the signal given
lets loose
a blue fury

all-out breakneck rain
slowing its blows
becoming
frail
uncertain
dissipating into gray
old age

ending.
A streak of sunlight
across the green field
brilliant orange

fading into
pink illumination
showing the way into evening
the storm
a memory
The field vibrates
electric green

10/10/17
artist book

Creation of the World

Here is an artist book I made in October, 2017. I painted in acrylics on top of the pages of a pamphlet from the paint store – it was already stapled for me, and I used the images on the pages as guides for my painting (in a loose way). The booklet was composed of sturdy shiny paper, like the ad cards I get in the mail and have used as the basis for many mail art items.

After I finished the book, I wrote text for it based on the images. I did not want to paste it in the book or write it out as I thought it would interfere with the paintings. Usually I do include the text, but this time, it just didn’t seem right for the project. Instead, I typed it out, referenced the page numbers, and put the book and the text page in a clear envelope. That way they can stay together and be enjoyed together.

I’ll show you the pages with their text and then set the text out all alone at the end.

Creation of the World

i.
Tough-eyed
the thin black trees
it’s hard to get hold of their thoughts
they cast restless shadows
eye the green silence
across the divide

ii.
Eggs asleep in a cold-water nest
The gray river flows
over and around
the black stones

Red-hot to ashes
stones cool on the orange beach.

iii.
Draw up the cover of night

iv.
Calligraphy on the moon.
The signs scratched on the rock
by vagabond travelers
run out of momentum
inform later
arrivals.

Impulsive escape.
The pretext of pursuit.
Compromise and balance
the refuge.

v.
Stars hang from the grid
set across the sky
named and a map drawn
by wayfarers
who cannot leave home.

Here is the text, alone.

Creation of the World

i.
Tough-eyed
the thin black trees
it’s hard to get hold of their thoughts
they cast restless shadows
eye the green silence
across the divide

ii.
Eggs asleep in a cold-water nest
The gray river flows
over and around
the black stones

Red-hot to ashes
stones cool on the orange beach.

iii.
Draw up the cover of night

iv.
Calligraphy on the moon.
The signs scratched on the rock
by vagabond travelers
run out of momentum
inform later
arrivals.

Impulsive escape.
The pretext of pursuit.
Compromise and balance
the refuge.

v.
Stars hang from the grid
set across the sky
named and a map drawn
by wayfarers
who cannot leave home.

Crossing in the Mail

This post is the story of a collaboration between me and Kerfe at Method Two Madness. We are posting the wrap-up today. Take a look at her blog post to see her side of the story.

A while back I wrote a post that showed some mail art postcards that incorporated handwriting. I’ve been on a plan to improve my handwriting for some time and the topic keeps spilling into my artwork, too.

In the comments to the post I mentioned the technique of crossing lines of handwritten text, used in the past to save paper. You would write a letter, send it, and the recipient would cross the paper with their own words and send it back. I did various items in this style – I love the curly intertwined look.

Anyway, in the comments, Kerfe at Method Two Madness and I got to talking. The upshot of things is that we decided to try this crossing thing ourselves.

Long and short, we sent each other handwritten pages in the US Mail. Then, we crossed the received pages with our own words and sent them back. We ended up with our original letters and much more. Here’s my side of the experience. I’ll go in chronological order as it happened to me.


First, I wrote to Kerfe. I had no idea what to write. I kept putting it off. Finally I got hold of myself, took me and my pen and notebook over to the Dixon Meadow Preserve about 15 minutes from home (I wrote a post about this trip with some nice photos – look here). I walked out into the preserve and sat on a bench on the boardwalk in a beautiful sunny day.

I wrote a couple of pages about how it felt to be sitting in this place at this particular time – one day, unique. I felt at peace. Here are my handwritten results:

Mailing the letter was the next step. When I sent these pages off to Kerfe in the mail, I also sent her some photos, so she could see the place I was writing from.


Then, Kerfe’s letter to me arrived. I realize now I did not keep a copy of it as it appeared originally, but I know she has this image for you to see at her site. But I can tell you, she wrote an amusing narrative about handwriting itself as it has appeared in her life.

Once again, I was confused as to what I might write (Kerfe set a high standard). I settled for another stream of consciousness handwriting explosion, relating what was happening to me that very day.

Looking at this beautiful tangle of words, I wondered if she could read any of it. To help out, I typed out my words in the line formation they took on the page.

1.
Well, the rain falls all morning and the sound
of it on the roof can make a drum corps sit
up and take notice and drive the thoughts
right out of your mind and send the cat
to hide down in the basement and I’d follow
him too but I’m a lot busier than the cat is
or so I’d like to think but maybe it’s all
just filling the hours every day all day
with the cooking (what do you think of a spinach
quiche for dinner?) and washing clothes
or at least taking the clothes to the washer
so the patient machine can do the work while
I watch and stand ready to assist with the
folding and so on all of the while considering
the idea of ironing, maybe later in the week
and washing the shelves where I store my clay
work in progress which I did manage to get a
load of tiles in the kiln, in fact they are in
there right how and I don’t know if you’ve
ever considered what it would be like to be a
clay tile in an 1800-degree kiln and is it worse
than a piece of bread in a toaster which of
course is a silly thing to imagine but more
interesting than counting ingredients for dinner?

Then things went a little off-center in my head. Somehow I got the idea to re-write the “poem” but in another voice (I did not handwrite it, I just typed.)

2.
Well, it precipitates throughout the pre-noon hours and the noise
of it on the rolls of asphalt sheeting that form a covering on the house can make a percussion ensemble
pay attention and whip the cogitations
out of your head into the ether and compel the resident feline
to take cover in the lower levels of the house and I’d accompany him
but my obligations to the smooth running of my home occupy me fully, more so than any feline,
or that is my impression though perhaps the entirety of it is
mindless activities repeated over and over until I am dead
including food preparation (give me your opinion of a tasty spinach
egg pie for tonight’s meal) and laundering our garment collection
or at the minimum supplying the washing machine with a steady diet
so the ever-willing appliance can do the heavy lifting while
I observe and maintain my readiness to handle
making the garments drawer or hanger-ready and the like all while reflecting upon
the topic of pressing the clothes with a hot-plated instrument at a later time in this seven-day period
and cleaning the storage area where I maintain my supply of pre-ceramic material
work in progress my current backlog of which I have just today
fired up in the kiln, the assortment being located there at the moment and I wonder if you
might at some time have given thought to the experience of being
a clay tile in a hellish inferno of 1800 degrees F and comparing it to
that of a slice of bread enduring the electric coils of a toaster being admittedly
an asinine and senseless time-wasting thought path but of greater fascination
than enumerating the components of tonight’s dinner?

Then I did it again, one last time.

3.
Whole lot of rain all blessed morning the racket
on the roof drown out a drummer standing on your head
deafen him you too if you could think that long
blow your last nerve and that cat knowing what was good for him
cowering in the basement me too
but I’m a whole lot more important than the blessed cat
I don’t think it I know it but sometimes I get the idea maybe it’s all just a whole lot of back and forth
spiced up with cooking things like spinach quiche (hoity-toity dinner night
once in a while, what is the matter with that?) and laundry blessed laundry
though thank the heavens I’m just putting it in the machine
not beating the clothes on a rock let the washer do that I say
It’s hard enough standing around
doing that folding until I lose patience just throw it in the basket thinking of
the blessed ironing sometime next century if I can put it off that long
and scrubbing down those filthy dusty shelves where I store the clay
masterpieces I make no it’s not a hobby I make MONEY at it and I did
get a load of those blessed tiles in the kiln
that’s blasting away at them right now and here’s a thought
imagine yourself
a piece of dried mud stuck in an oven hot enough to melt metal and then
compared to an English muffin say in the toaster I laugh at you
bothering to listen to me and think about this it’s so dumb but it’s better than
figuring out how to make a spinach quiche for dinner, right?


I sent Kerfe a couple of photos of my basement to round out the package.

And some mail-art postcards composed of lists (I make a lot of lists) with some extra handwriting on them. I wanted to commemorate her theme of handwriting history.


The last part of this experience was receiving my letter, crossed by Kerfe. She did each page separately and in a different way. They are beautiful.

Here is my original page 1 now crossed by Kerfe,  with her typed words below.

Here is my original page 2 now crossed by Kerfe, and with her words typed out below.

 

A friendship strengthened by the power of words, that’s where we end up. I am grateful. 

Thanks for reading, and I hope for many good words to come your way today.

Words on Postcards and What They Are (If Much of Anything)

Do you ever just do something and you don’t know why at the time, nor do you know why, even when you think about it later? And does it ever come to make any sense?

Very big questions. These little postcards are carrying that burden right now. Let me share that load and explain.

I was using a dip pen to do some drawings. Different sessions. In each one, I needed to get the pen going. I used these cards to scrawl out whatever words occurred to me.

The pen was warmed up and so I started drawing, these cards put to the side. I realized I had three of them, eventually, and to me, three is the number of something that makes it a presence. And then there was another one, making four. Definitely a trend.

So I kept them and now here they are. Make of them what you will! I will tell you it is very therapeutic to write and not worry about making sense.

I Am an Onlooker

Yesterday I made a trip over to Chestnut Hill College for a reason other than writing poetry – I wanted to attend the Senior Seminar presentations in art.

If you follow my poetry blog, you know that I go to the library here every week to write. A few weeks ago I noticed posters for these presentations taped on the library doors. I decided I’d check it out. I was interested to see what the students would have to say and I was curious about the art studio facilities, too.

So I arrived at the campus and climbed the hill to St. Joseph’s Hall.

St. Joseph’s Hall, Chestnut Hill College, April, 2017.

This building is formed in a T shape – the front façade being the top of the T with the Rotunda in the middle. The main part of the building extends out the back. The art studio is located on the top floor in the left side of the T top, as you look at the building. What a fantastic location! Windows on three sides of the room and huge skylights.

The building was constructed in 1903 and I believe this room was always meant to house an art studio. And – we are really high up in the air. We can look down on the top of the flagpole from the window.

One of the professors told me that when the students want to do landscape paintings, but the weather is bad, they have a panoramic view from inside the room to use instead. And it is true.

We settled in to listen to the presentations. The art department is small at this school – there were only three seniors. It was obvious from their work that they were given a great deal of attention and support and they had thrived in it. The senior project involved not only creating artworks, but doing so as to carry out a theme, and using more than one medium; the project also included a written paper. Each student’s work was well-thought out and went into some depth. I went away having learned something from each one.

After the presentations we went out into the art gallery to view the works themselves. This space is located on the mezzanine of the fifth floor outside the studio.

As you can see, we are really high up in the building! I have a fear of heights and I stayed away from the (substantial) railing, but there was plenty of room and I did not feel afraid. I had a chance to talk to each student, ask questions, and see the work up close. I really enjoyed this part of the experience because I enjoy comparing what I see in the work with what the artist intended.

Finishing up, I took a few pictures looking over the railing. This took some courage for me!

I had not really understood the scope of the day’s events. It turned out that all seniors were presenting their major projects – either making an oral or a poster presentation. (The tables below were being prepared for some of the posters/students). I made my way downstairs (slowly, taking some time to wander around the building – it was a good time to do it, as the place was full of visitors and so I was not the only one craning my neck at the views…).

By that time the rest of the event was in full swing. There were several rooms of posters and students standing in front of them, ready to answer questions.

I also learned that students in other academic disciplines were giving oral presentations.

Next year I’ll be better prepared and I’ll stop in on some of these as well. As it was, I walked around the room and talked to several students – topics including Hemingway, abnormal psychology, art therapy…any interest you might have had, I believe you could have found a student ready to talk about it.

I came away very impressed with the students and with the college for providing them with the chance to shine like this. I had a great time and I’ll be looking for another trip back here this time next year. Look where art takes you!

Drawing a Place I Visit Every Week

Once a week I set aside time for poetry-writing. Of course I write at other times, but this appointment ensures that I refocus each week on poetry. Originally it was meant to be just a couple of hours, but I’ve gradually increased the time I spend and I’ve found I spend almost the whole day on it.

Sessions of the Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, as I call it, take place at Logue Library at Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, PA. They are kind enough to welcome me, a person with no affiliation with the college, to use their space. I’ve written a lot of work in the library before this year, but now I visit each week. I love it.

If you’d like to read more about the Marathon or my poetry, I welcome you, and you could start with this week’s update here. But what I want to show you here is a scene from my life at the library. I usually write and/or show something about the library itself, and this week I drew my workspace. Take a look.

My desk (I sit here every week, so I say it’s mine) on the 3rd floor of Logur Library.

 

Filling in Some Time While I Waited for the Library to Open

I was at Chestnut Hill College on March 9, yesterday, to do a session of poetry writing. (Look here to read about the Installment Plan Poetry Marathon I am doing, and why I was at this location).

Long story short, I hadn’t realized the school was on spring break and I got there before the library opened, being on holiday hours. So I sat outside with my sketchbook in a pleasant sunny morning and here is what I came up with.

This sketchbook travels with me in my red and black plaid bag (on that day sharing it with a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary. Sitting and drawing like this is a refuge for me – a way to create my own space in crowded or disorienting circumstances. The peaceful college campus certainly was not pressing in on me, but the disruption in my schedule could have gotten to me. I am glad I have learned to turn to art or poetry-writing in these situations. Amazing what a difference a pen and paper make.

Chestnut Hill College, Logue Library, pen and ink, 8″ x 8″. March 2017.

This sketchbook endures a lot. I noticed that once again I’ve spilled something on it – the bottom right corner area, this time. I think it’s one of those protein drinks I carry around. Must remember to be more careful!