Will you gift me with shadow wings that uncontain my soul? Will you scatter me like stars, wonder me, constellate me? Will you expand me soaring, wind me in spiraled orbits, weave me whole, astral, bewinged?
A pleiades poem for Laura at dVerse. This is a distilled revision of a poem I wrote in 2016 and the artwork I did to accompany it.
be bop shout– rhythm–blues– eight to the bar– oompah oompah groove– boogie-woogie back beat jingle jangle jive talkin double time front line howl growl whine– interlude solitude riff raff boom– whistle whomp wah wah zoomba zoomba zoom
The Kick-About’s challenge #14 was a short film by Norman Maclaren called “Boogie Doodle”. It really reminded me of Matisse’s Jazz collages, and I used his abstracted figures as inspiration to create my own dancers based on photos of jazz dancers I found on the internet. I also wanted to recreate the shadow effect for both the dancers and the dots. Primary colors seemed a natural fit for both dots and ground, and I cut out the figures in black and white as contrast, inspired by the film.
For the poem I wanted to use music and musical sound words. It was much harder than I anticipated, but I like the idea of a poem composed mostly of sounds, and may visit it again. I found a great onomatopoeia dictionary online too.
salutes spaced between vehicles– ghostboots march silently in formation—echos caught in mind’s eye–the tears
As with seemingly every celebration in 2020, the Veteran’s Day parade today here in NYC was largely symbolic–“a caravan of 100 vehicles with no spectators”–a shadow of the usual ceremony of 20-30,000 participants.
The Voice kept trying to turn him back—“there is nothing behind the wall except a space where the wind whistles”—but he refused to believe its repeated lies.
And yet he could not find the source, hidden somewhere within the dimensionless shadows of the vertical, the angled, the edge.
He himself was scrabbled, suspended out of sight, waiting underneath many meaningless layers of illusion. The indifference did not bother him; neither did the newsprint words strewn carelessly about.
He considered himself abandoned, lost inside an unwritten story. Curious strings embedded his thoughts in articles torn from the back page.
But what had happened to his body? It was a puzzle he could not figure out. He could see, listen, think. But his position never changed.
Was his mind an orphan, birthed incompletely, accidentally, a false start left unfinished?
Was he himself the Voice?
I did this collage a few months ago, and I’ve been waiting for the right words to pair with it. Merril’s prosery prompt at dVerse, “there is nothing behind the wall except a space where the wind whistles” from “Drawings By Children” by Lisel Mueller found its way into an old freewrite page in my notebook that contained the phrase newsprint words strewn carelessly about and gave it some shape.
in the deep darkness I follow and am pushed through sequences that turn me inside out
hours pass as they bypass me– we seem to be in different stories
the pages open to places I have seen before while the landscape becomes a backdrop to somewhere else
crow flies over the fields between worlds carrying the ears of wheat to be planted in both places at once
tolling in concert with the continuous chaos I wonder at the expanse of tangled entrances and exits in the mouth of the threshold
which side am I on? my voice carries nowhere as I reach out to catch the wings of the wind
This was done for a dVerse prompt from August, where Rosemarie Gonzales offered wheat as a poetic inspiration. I took 2 lines from one of the Neruda poems she provided, Ah Vastness of Pines, and incorporated it in pieces to make my own verse: Thus in the deep hours I have seen, over the fields, the ears of wheat tolling in the mouth of the wind.
skulls of saints– the bones of the dead dismantled– spiritual songs
the bones of the dead seeking a form– spiritual songs, grey life
seeking a form– labyrinth, grey life– they are nothing
labyrinth, consumed moon– they are nothing– times chant
consumed moon, intricate relationships– times chant blood
intricate relationships dismantled– blood, skulls of saints
A pantoum mash up of phrases from Samuel Greenberg’s “The Pale Impromptu” for Laura at dVerse, and The Kick-About prompt #13 “Ersilia” from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.
The Kick-About prompt immediately made me want to take actual thread and do something three-dimensional to represent the abandoned city of Ersilia. Cardboard boxes were my starting point. Weaving my embroidery floss with a needle between the supports I cut and folded up, it became obvious how the city inhabitants became tangled in a state of impasse, forcing them to move on.
I decided to do a landscape background–the text spoke of viewing the deserted city from the mountains–and I spent a lot of time laying out possible landscapes on my floor from the collage references I had. I then dismantled and retaped a box to make a sort of diorama and glued the landscape pieces down.
Then I had fun rearranging the threaded bones of the city and photographing it from different viewpoints against the background.
Laura’s prompt, to incorporate phrases from Greenberg’s poem into our own verse, made me think of combining those words with phrases taken from the Calvino excerpt. There seemed to be an affinity between the two.
I read “Invisible Cities” in 2016 and posted a review on Goodreads. At the end I wrote: “Certainly it inspires visions that could be transferred to paper…and perhaps some of them will come to form for me at a future time.” And so they have.