shine bright

shine bright blk s

Is who we are first tribal, or is it nothing at all?—particles unjoined, the dust of eons.  How do we make sense of our place in the world as homo sapiens?  Do we even need to hold on to that identity?  Must we be labeled, categorized, forbidden, dismissed?

Embracing the isolation of our own self-definitions, we pretend to be the only ones allowed—better, exclusive, oppressed by difference.  All the while the net frays, the miracles of being turn into an infinity of voices drowning in egos with closed eyes, with closed hearts, with lost souls.

shine bright
you are everything and
like nothing else

shine bright wht s

Ammol at dVerse asks us to consider Pride Month.

that they are

secrets white

The stars answer each other, singing over and through the wind.  Coming and going follows patterns that signal a chorus of light from within chords I cannot name.

We are not on the same journey, the stars and I.  We go in different directions, down the imperturbable street that seeks both its ending and beginning in a place that can’t be found.  We pass each other on separate orbits, reflected in the pulses of moontides.  We circle and spiral, held by different arrangements of time and space.

Holding the sea, I lift it to the sky, trying to capture and distill the chiaroscuro into a garment of rainbow clouds.  Join me, I ask silently.  Dance with me, become with me a kaleidoscope that shifts the darkness of chaos into currents that gyre together, a collective river of song.

secrets
become visible–
exchange of self

each to the other

Merril’s prosery prompt at dVerse quotes from poet Gwendolyn Brooks:  “We go in different directions down the imperturbable street.”

Merril posted some wonderful photos of light in her Monday Morning Musings today, and several of them reminded me of collages I had done for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction prompts.  This one is from 2016 (you can see the original post here).

the lights went out

th lights went out s

Broadway is dark now, vacant.  The only lights to be seen shine out of hastily abandoned office windows, or from traffic lights that change for invisible crowds.

Makeshift stages shrink to fit into screens, the audience now virtual.  Dreams stand still, waiting between hope and grief.

dancing voices pause–
forever on the verge of
opening to spring

the lights went out close up s

Billy Joel wrote this song in 1976, inspired by the NY Daily News Headline “Ford to City:  Drop Dead”.  And in 2020 we have a parallel line:  “Trump to New York:  Drop Dead”.

But we’ll be back.

For dVerse Haibun Monday, hosted by Kim.  We’re thinking about Mondrian’s ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie‘.

Memorial Day

paul sayre s

My mother’s cousin Paul was a pilot who was shot down and killed in WWII. She often spoke of him with admiration and affection.

When my mother died, she left boxes of unidentified family photos; my aunt helped a bit with identifications, but she was much younger than her siblings, and had not known the southern Ohio cousins very well.  In my mother’s address book, I found her second cousin Mona, Paul’s niece, who patiently looked through many photo scans I emailed her.

Finally I had a face to put to my mother’s words.

silence speaks your name–
through distant shadows of trees
crow answers, calling

fog 1s

This is a revision of a post from 2015.  However we are spending this day, let’s take a moment to remember those who served their country and sacrificed their lives so that we could enjoy our own.

For Frank Tassone’s #Haikai Challenge #140, Memorial Day.

what it is

what it is s

I open my grandmother’s trunk and the smell of cedar recalls my father’s woolen army blankets, faded and frayed.  The inside of the chest had become their home, a refuge from the memories woven into fibers that had crossed the ocean twice.

My father would not talk about the war itself, but he brought home with him both blankets and cots.  We never used the blankets.

On hot summer nights my brothers and I opened the cots to sleep in the basement, unaware of the secrets they could tell us, the images seared into our father’s eyes and carried in his bones.

all those silences–
invisible ink written
on the wings of birds

what it is close up a

Day 28 NaPoWriMo–the prompt is to describe a significant space from your life.

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as you like it

moonlit shadows s

“All the world’s a stage…”

I was not even born then, and yet I remember it well.  In colorized black and white, that moment—where is it now?  It disappeared while we were somewhere over the rainbow.

Those were the days!—drowning in background music, we listened for cues, trying to follow the footlights through the portal.  We wanted to capture that perfect world, inhabit it, pretend it into now and forever.

How do we measure a time that never was?  We continue as dreams, a montage of cinematic stillness, myth disguised as memory.  A voice calls from behind the curtain—is that me?  Is that you?  We rehearse our scripts of storied pasts, fools exposed by darkness, shadows of artificial light.

searching for signs
we adjust our eyes–
crow in a cherry tree

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For NaPoWriMo Day 27, I’ve used the prompt from Frank at dVerse to write a haibun inspired by either Shakespeare or Basho.

Stephen Sondheim turned 90 this year.  Another master.

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ms faces s

I’ve taken the art from my archives.

the circle game part 2

circle game 2bs

Times Square is empty, like the weather—grey now, the colors drained like the empty subway cars, residing hidden in tenements, written in the isolation of morning coffee.  The Sunday newspaper remains undelivered (again) as even that thread of connection frays into feral cats in dark corners and the shadows of crows haunting the hometown I never knew.

All of this is imaginary, of course—flora and fauna are absent from this enclosed space, except as chimera, impoverished by the boredom of my own company, the same jeans and shirt waiting to be worn like the trackless days.  No Significant Other to keep me in, and an invisible barrier blocking me from leaving.  Outside my window a graffiti of exclamation points greets me each day behind the passing cars and on clear evenings I say “Goodnight Moon”, remembering bedtimes with small bodies close and sleepy and warm.

But the lines have been drawn, and as Joni reminds me, the seasons still go round and round.  We’re always captive on the carousel of time.

tomorrow
blue skies
growing new wings

circle game 2 close up s

The NaPoWriMo prompt today was “to fill out, in five minutes or less, the following “Almanac Questionnaire.” Then, use your responses as to basis for a poem.”  You can see the questionnaire here.

 

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Nature’s Way (Earth Day 2020)

what grows here collage s

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”—Cree Proverb

I attended the first Earth Day celebration in Washington DC in 1970.  I was 18 years old, full of hope and energy.  It seemed to me then that humans were listening to the Earth’s warnings.  We would clean up the air, the water, the soil, we would consume less, learn to live both sustainably and without the psychic and financial gaps of artificial hierarchy.

Fifty years later, and we lose more species every year.  The ice caps are melting, the violent weather increasing, the extremes of everything becoming the norm.  Seasons are disappearing.  Many of the world’s peoples have no place to call home.

All those things we “need”, all those conveniences we can’t live without, all those changes we are too busy or discouraged to fight for…

new characters but
the same stories—remembered
in the light of now

earth mandala comp

The NaPoWriMo Day 22 prompt is to take a proverb from a culture not your own and use it to inspire your writing.  Many cultures have proverbs that counsel us to be good caretakers of the earth, but the Cree words seemed especially appropriate.

I’ve done posts and earth-inspired art many times over the years, and the art here is taken from some of them.

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imagine close up s

 

Circle Game

circle game s

My first bike was a childhood gift, way too big for me, that my father lovingly assembled one Christmas Eve so it would be waiting by the tree the next morning.  No speeds, pedal brakes.  As I grew into them I turned the wheels faster and faster until I left them behind.

It took a few years before I began pedaling my way around the city, this time with 5 speeds and hand brakes.  My legs moved the wheels around and around once again, through the park, dodging traffic during transit strikes, climbing flights of stairs as the wheels bumped my body to my apartment door.

Finally I had an elevator!  And then a baby.  No space for cycles that were not attached to a carriage, a stroller, then tri and then bi accompanied by training wheels.  My legs walked beside them, watching my children turn them around and around until they too were flying on their own, faster and faster away from my slowing path.

Now all those wheels live only in remembered rotations.

These days my legs spin in a pattern that repeats itself, over and over, in the same location.  The world outside my window does the passing by.

circles
pivoting around
the still point

circle game close up s

The NaPoWriMo prompt for day 1 is “write a self-portrait poem in which you make a specific action a metaphor for your life”.  For all our lives these days…

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As I did two years ago for NaPoWriMo, I’ve been working on art to use in April for a number of months, this time inspired by the work of Matisse and Richard Diebenkorn.  The circles come via Matisse.

Self Portrait #14: More Man Ray (Revisited)

man ray head shot comp

I started with a question, as I so often do:  what kind of alive am I?  A black and white head resting on a mélange of pattern and color—my mask, the face I offered to the world, was meant to be unnoticed.  Fade to grey, merge with the background, don’t draw attention, don’t stand out.  Could I change?

Alas, my clothing choices have remained much the same since I questioned them in 2016.  Black, black and more black.  A brightly colored scarf, perhaps.  I still wish to remain unperceived as I make my way through the world.  But now I wonder:  is alive only visible on the surface of things?  Or can we gift the world with rainbows from the inside out?

unseen waves absorbed
reflected transformed singing
colors dancing light

head shot close up s

For Kim’s dVerse prompt:  Snapshots of our Lives.  You can see the original post with the complete self-portrait collage, as well as the Delmore Schwartz poem that inspired my original poem, here.

My 100 Self-Portrait Project is still stalled at #21.