Bearings

What exactly do we mean when we say the heart is heavy?  Is it our jumbled emotions that are enlarged into enormity, too complicated to lift, to bear?  How do we understand the shape, the density, of sorrow?

And what about the light heart?  How do we measure the change?–a heart that is nearly full enough to overflow—what space does it occupy, what is its texture?

It’s the heavy heart that is hollow.  Brimming with emptiness.  Weighed down by absence.  The light heart grows gardens, wings.

the heart cleaves, wanders,
signifies inverse desires–
spring arrives, snowbound

I’ve accumulated quite a bit of Kick-About artwork that I haven’t given a proper post to. This heart drawing was my response to the drumming of Sandy Nelson. I also wanted to use Jane’s Oracle 2 words for the week, and the combination resulted in the accompanying haibun.

The drumming of Sandy Nelson reminded me of heartbeats which can careen wildly under different circumstances.  When I looked online for images of hearts, I was attracted to the somewhat psychedelic MRI images.  I wanted to work large, but even with 18 x 24 paper, I was unable to do justice to all the different elements of the heart.  I made no layout, but just started drawing in the upper center with my colored pencils, a small section each day.  So both the line quality and the proportions changed as I went on.  Whole sections were expanded, compressed, and left out.  Just like the trajectory of the drumming in my mind.

And just like our perceptions as filtered through our hearts.

River Man

She did not remember the way, but she remembered the times, the place.  She wanted to connect present to past.  She did not know how or where to begin, and yet she needed to try to construct that bridge.  Words were all she had now.

Two ways, really, even though she always pretended they were the same.  Or maybe it was only her longing that failed to understand that they were two, not one.

She had been dreaming of a river.  A man, a boat.  Trees, weeping, or was that her own voice, crying on the wind?  It had been summer once.  Flowered.  Sweet.

But here was the river again, littered with fallen leaves.  What magic word would turn back the seasons, dispel the haze, repair a lifetime that had already disintegrated into dust?

Was she coming or going?  In her dreams a voice kept repeating you have to choose.  But between what?  Who?  Did she get to choose who would be waiting on the other side of the river?  Or was she to be the one left waiting?

to begin,
become the current–
sing its song

Brendan at earthweal has more to say about rivers this week and poses the question: What voyages are found there, which deities are vast in its depths? It made me think of my response to the Kick-About #61 prompt, which was Molly Drake’s haunting song, “I Remember”.

I wasn’t aware of Molly’s connection to Nick Drake, but when I learned that she was his mother, Molly’s song immediately made me think of Nick’s song “River Man”. I took the feeling I got from both songs–a kind of remembering intertwined with uncertainty, loss, and the passing of time–and wrote the above prose poem, adding a haiku coda for earthweal, and some water art from my archives.

the past is a ghost that never forgets

The Oracle gave me the enigmatic title first and then two seemingly disparate messages. The messages reminded me of these word collages I did for the Kick About challenge which used the posters of Saul Bass as inspiration.

we long to become wild starsailors–
embraced by oceans of healing night–
opened inside out and flying

words bleed into air
voices die surrounded by need

hard to breathe

who listens to our dark and broken hearts?

when the hidden clue
is fluctuating between
sinister truth and the vestiges
of myth

haunted by an inferno of blood
shattered by grief–
why this needless danse macabre?

if you follow fate far away to the return of time
understand
that the passage into prophecy and myth
is final

Art in “The Time Issue” of Feral

Four of my word collages are featured in The Time Issue of the Journal Feral. You can see them here.

My thanks to editor Beth Gordon, and her team Narmadhaa and Amanda McLeod, for featuring my work.

The above collage is from my response to the Kick-About prompt of the work of Saul Bass.
If you follow fate far away to the return of time, understand that the passage into prophecy and myth is final

Threads and Circles

1
to be a thread held
on the wings of birds soaring
through vast light-filled air

2
layers merge
separate become
something else

3
stilness waits
to expand beyond
what is here

4
particles of light
that remain uncaught—a song
you can almost hear

5
tethered to itself
or maybe nothing at all–
just an idea

The last Kick-About prompt was Naum Gabo’s sculpture, linear construction #2, above. It brought to mind some small shibori swatches I had that I wanted to embroider on. I meant to do a few of them, but only had time for one. But the others are waiting.

NaPoWriMo begins tomorrow, and I also wanted to post the 5 Japanese-style poems I wrote to accompany my stitching in anticipation of a month of poeming–I have not been writing many new things lately.

The first year I participated was 2016, so this will be my seventh year. As in recent past years, I’ve tried to accumulate a month’s worth of new art to use with the writing. This year, a lot of my inspiration has come from the art of Redon.

Night Bridge

World spinning dark in trembled night–
morning returns and still no light
except in fiery landscape, stark.
An emptied people, desperate flight
from history’s repeated arc–
in trembled night, world spinning, dark.

This collage was done for the Kick-About prompt inspired by the work of artist John Stezaker. I took Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, cut it up, and inserted it into works by Monet, Gauguin, Matisse and Homer. This pairing is with one of Monet’s water lilies paintings.

The poem is, like many of the responses to the dverse prompt of the sparrowlet form (introduced to us by Grace), inspired by world events.

And in a bit of serendipity, one of my poems is included in The Ekphrastic Review ebook of responses to Van Gogh’s Starry Night, which you can download here. My thanks to editor Lorette C. Luzajic for her continued support of my work and of Ekphrastic writing.

The Alchemist

Below my feet the path waits
for the earth to open me–
the layers of brown and green
remember the moon, its circles
orbiting continuously
through both dark and light.

The chill of morning warms
to birdsong. The seasons
endure.  In spring the autumn
seems far away, but life is
always preparing to die
and start all over again.

What is the secret of transformation?–
ancestors embedded in every root,
in every branch rich with leaves
that will blaze in a sudden last glory–
nourishing what follows
with what has come before.

We know so little, after all,
of the workings of nature,
of its consciousness.  Does it
even have yesterdays or tomorrows?
Does it acknowledge return, or is all
but a single endless moment in time?

We mirror our own inner maps
as stars–the dust of elements
contained in our bones–
merely vessels, seeking
the essence of who we are
inside the question itself.

The Kick About challenge this week was the alchemy book “Splendor Solis”. Out of the 22 images, I chose to work with Plate 2, The Alchemist: “Seek the Nature of the Four Elements”. 

The Splendor Solis of Salomon Trismosin - 2

First I did a collage based on the painting alone (above), then, after reading a bit about its symbolism, I made my own, looser interpretation.  I was especially drawn to the Alchemist’s connection to the natural world, in particular flowers and birds, and his alternate identity as the Deity of Celestial Light.

what to my wondering eyes

the night lengthens
into hours that refuse to pass

the stars grow larger,
constellations singing

suddenly a bridge,
a ladder made of light

silence becomes a dance,
its ancient steps retraced

the circle keeps its promise–
a child will lead the way

The latest Kick-About prompt is the above illustration by Arthur Rackham for A Visit From Saint Nicholas.

The night sky needs no man in a red suit, sleigh, or reindeer to inspire wonder.

After visiting the Oracle tomorrow, I’ll be taking a break until 2022. Happy New Year!

Fireworks

you dreamed without beginning–
breath, stars, flowers
of light

you were happy to hold
hands with what was
not there

you closed your eyes and sang
from the inside, way down,
like flying,

listening to your heart beating,
rearranging the pattern
into constellations

you released what you had not
seen—you gave it away
without thinking

you dreamed with your arms open
and became entirely unafraid–
spilled over

The Kick About prompt this week referenced Flowers of Fire, late 1800s Japanese fireworks catalogues. There were pages and pages of not only beautiful abstract images, but plants, animals, people, and objects. It made me think that the artists who created these light shows were trying to project their dreams into the sky.

Visions of wishes and magical things.

As usual, the collage turned out very differently than I imagined it, but I think it captures the spirit of what I intended to do.

For dVerse, OLN, hosted by Sanaa.

(Re)creation

The mask is mute—it does not
tell what lies beneath–
layers falling backward, a
way from the present–
unglued, it rearranges,
becomes paper becomes
scissors cutting through the air–
thought stilled before form

Continuing my mask theme, three collage masks inspired by Matisse cut-outs that I did for the Kick About a few weeks ago. In my poem I was thinking about a film I saw of Matisse at work.

I’ve been working with masks for a long time in many different media. These are inspired by Mexican Devil masks as well as by Matisse.

Austin Kleon has a great post about masking with some excellent quotes that you can read here. It’s a mode of expression I’m sure I’ll always continue to explore.

Here’s another devil mask and a shovel poem I did for a Sue Vincent photo prompt in 2017. Thanks again, Sue, for all your inspiration.

the door is always open s

“…that what you fear the most/could meet you halfway…” –Victoria Williams, “Crazy Mary”

The horns that
make you.  Tell me what
endures:  you,
masked with fear,
burning life to ashes, the
ender?  Or the most
wild transformation that could
be?  We meet
face to face.  But you
pause.  Halfway.

Also linking up with dVerse OLN, hosted by Linda.