'Ink Ocean' performed live at HOWL@QSpace

Ink Ocean:

On Nov 25, 2012, I performed my prose poem 'Ink Ocean,' on the Gulf Oil Spill, as one of the featured poets at Nik Beat's HOWL@QSpace in Toronto. I had memorized the prose poem. The image of the ink drawing, from which the poem emerged, only appears in the still for the video (I've included an image at the end of this post for you). I'm actually quite happy with the performance itself - passionate, intense, and yet clear enunciation.

Ink Ocean is about the oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 when nearly 5 million barrels, or 210 million gallons, of crude oil were spilled into the sea due to an explosion of an off-shore drilling rig. It remains the largest marine spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

Over 5 months, hydro-carbon eating bacteria devoured 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas in the Gulf, and then stopped. Despite the massive cleaning efforts by the oil industry and governments, and the efforts of the bacteria, as of 2012, 40% of the spill remains in the waters.

This prose poem began as writing in an ink drawing. It took 6 - 8 months to finish, and was revised in preparation for this reading.  It is an experimental poem structually. A poem of utterance, of cross-currents and paradoxes. It is composed of many voices, and perspective shifts.

There are two parts. The first is on the oil spill, and the second is about love in a world bordering on oblivion, a world that's half spirit. We are in the 6th Mass Extinction on the earth. This is the backdrop.

The poem starts out in the Gulf and moves with the Gulf Stream to the Atlantic Ocean where it becomes a love poem. Can we love in a world inviting extinction? Yes, of course we can, and must.

With thanks to Nik Beat, Q Space and Luciano Iacobelli. It was a great evening.

Ink Ocean, 2010, 13" x 16", India ink on archival paper. My prose poem on the Gulf Oil Spill, Ink Ocean, emerged from this drawing. The poem was revised in 2012.


Ink Ocean

I don't expect anyone to actually like this, but it should read interestingly. My last cut on my upcoming poetry album. In process, still to be finished, recorded, and so on.

[When I write, I am a wreck. Wonder if this long piece written thru interspersed months will pull together? I read aloud; crawl into a ball; write with my shaking bones.]

Ink Ocean

In the burning ocean. Where plumes drag through the world's gloom. Swoop of feathers, 
tarred. Or metal wings of dispersants. Gloss the rocks. You can't know where we go at 
night. Or why the morning shines. Or the glimmer of gold before sunset. Relentless tidal 
cycles. Let me tear at the crests and troughs. Go in. GO IN. Shiver. Sin. Dark water, grey 
clouds. A rain of black in falls from the sky. Drips. Rips, slashes the wet heaving page. 
Heat of sandpaper on fire. Burn the slick, salt water on fire. Coral crevices to hide. 
Grottos like vowels. That invite. Come in, why don't you. Open. Open. Open. Arms 
reach up. Seeds rain down. Wash the foam. Pray forests. Burning despair of illusion. 
Fruit of veils to burn in. Salt washes open eyes. Deltas fog. They said GO IN.

In the night, I covered the words. Ink sheets. Sheets of the net of ink. Even I couldn't 
read them anymore. I forgot the words, or they forgot me. Or I had to make them up 
when you asked. They washed up from the black ocean, those words. Spun out of black 
thread with black foam on a wave darkly. Ocean of words lapping on the beach,

Love isn't a silky bliss mist, more like the suture we sew our wounds with. The bloodied 
scapula-feathers of angels.

Language summons us to speak.

Speaking cascades from depths
like wells of water overflowing.

Water eats away at order, rivers
erode their banks, deltas silt.

Our words silt in the paddies
of time, flooded with being.

...the ocean
tempests, salt
waves seep
from the rug
under my feet...
This strange sea birdsong on love.
Coded words. Words that conceal what they reveal, that hide their message in plain sight. 
Invisible essence of the world. We are seeing what is invisible. The falling butterflies. 
Our hands full of snow. Or white feathers in the heat. What do we hide behind? What 
can we not forget? The way we perceive the lives we live are our realities.
Don't make it up.

When I lift the lip, water drops of me, my desk, the paper.

                                    The salt burns.

We could be stars burning through the night
     or phosphorescent fish glowing without starlight in the deep.

I am a fisherman of words, dragging my nets through your oceans, trawling your schools 
of lexicons.

Love is the twine that binds our bones together.

Let the cold water fill our eyes until we swim in vision every night.

Oil swirls, coating.

Under sheets of sea in the frozen Atlantic we found each other.

     You came in me like a wave of love.

          My heart dances crill.

Whalesong of life.

     Salt falls from feathers under this pen writing its words on the dark side of the moon 
in the abandoned ocean beds.

Wet, heaving page.

     Ink sheets.

Love is an aorta. A pounding surf of consonants like blood cells in the syrum falling from
rising wings.

It's a clash of shell, bone, hunger, physics, troughs and crests, blinding moments, the 
sight of psychics.

     Into. The explosion of who we are.
               Our oily words. Crashing waters.
          Choking the river streams. Fish bulging, dying.
     We eat the world.

We go out each night and net the catch. Clean up the mess. Retain memories. Under
our gold skin, arms flap like wings of waves.

Let me flow over you while you drown me. your love. in your love. in your love...

The dream of us opens.

I fold the ocean over my head. Spy on our dreams. Within dreams we liquify. We are gone 
at night. Wings of sand on fire. The lovers' grotto, held together with crab claws, filament 
of gold feather shafts. Gilded ink. Love wakes
you every day. Into
   body, body
      of words. 

Seeping, lines of tar on the sands. 
Crumple the paper of wind.

Find darkness; bring it in. IN.

          An opencast poem, working from the exposed surface.

          Taking images from what appears.

we anchor in the swells.

we are sky, sun, moon, stars, wet kisses of wind, sailing birds, flying fish, glittering ocean

                    we are nothing

we will wash away
drops in the ocean
without memory

nets of words

this strange song of 
love loves
through us...

love loves
through us...

love loves
through us...

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A Lascivious Tray

For my housewarming you arrive with a cooler on whose ice a bottle of Moet and Chandon Brut Imperial champagne waits, and a power drill to hang my curtains.

While you hang, I toss organic baby spinach, fat green leaves, sliced large white button mushrooms, raw and thick, thin wheels of hot red onion, peeled sliced sweet mango, a handful of ground walnuts, slivered almonds, flax and sunflower seeds in a raspberry vinaigrette.

On the sectioned tray I lay ripe strawberries sweet as jam, green grapes, sinful fresh figs.

From its wooden case, I lift fresh smoked wild Sockeye salmon and lay it down.

Large green olives stuffed with garlic nestle beside the focaccia embedded with olive slices, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped onion and herbs.

Around balls of sweet honey dew melon I wrap ribbons of proscuito.

Peeling the papers from the cheeses, I uncover Isigny Sainte Mère, a creamy Normandy Camembert, Pont-l'Evêque, a soft cheese, pungent white Cheddar, tangerine-coloured rich Mimolette, and from sweet sheep's milk a soft Italian Percorino Toscan Fresco.

It is a steamy June day.

We take each other's clothes off in the enrapt way way lovers do. We feed each other with our mouths, teeth, fingers. We hold strawberries between both our lips and bite them.

We sip long crystal flutes and drizzle champagne into each other.

I'm sure I lap-dance, it's becoming a blur. Leonard Cohen's woman, that beautiful Anjani, sings soft, sultry songs of his poems.

Lust breathes us.

Later, drunk, I dance in the living room, a naked middle-aged woman.

The curtains are drawn tight.

This morning I videod my exercising, dancing, and then layered so many filters on the footage Final Cut Express says it'll take 4 days to render a 12 minute section! I'm currently trying to circumnavigate that by saving to QuickTime, but that's a 20 hour process! Oy ya. These stills may be all that there is to show of my afternoon's work. Let's just say, three years later, not naked.

It was a memorable night, perhaps our best, but our last. I’ve kept the empty bottle of champagne on my shelf since then, knowing I had to write about it. In the Winter I received a letter from his other lover and then we discovered each other, though I had ended my relationship with him not long after the evening I write of here. This is a section from a much longer prosepoem.

This prosepoem piece was written for Big Tent Poetry's May 28th poetry prompt: aphrodisiac.

You can read the response of some Big Tent contributers and readers here: Rubies In Crystal at WordPress.

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Thelonious Monk ...rhapsodic Jazz

Hours of Thelonious Monk, on earphones, close, intimate, syncopated piano, no-one plays piano like him, trombone, the eroticism of jazz, drums, beat of skins, hours and hours, immersed, deeply, his discography, and I find him unlocking my heart and taking me through the labyrinth of my feelings.

And I remember you. You are there in every note. You are the sensual rhythm. You are at the centre of my heart.


Thelonious, and wonder why I only came to him now, but realize I have been arriving all my life.

His idiosyncratic complexity particularly appeals to me.

sensuous complicated smooth syncopated improvised rhythms he plays as I like to dance without prediction knots and whorls flow and collapse sweeps passions trills the sweet edge of sex lush dark entering each other over and over passages long lingering ecstasies and sorrows

Monk plays with sensitivity, feels every pulse, nuance of the music of his band, the rhythm of the piece being played, his pianistic response always changing, the room, the audience, the air, the touch of the keys under his fingerprints, the pedal under his toes, his whole body an instrument for the piano, notes, even when in a collection it seems to me notes rather than chords, responding, resonating moment by moment, an inner music singing inside the outer tune, sometimes stopping and standing while the other musicians continue to play, then resuming, but not where he left off, we are at another eddy, another turn, trill, witnessing our journey through his journey of the music of the song.

Monk's extraordinary piano playing has brought me back to the clarity of my heart, exploring the labyrinth of my feelings through many hours of his Riverview recordings.

Monk's syncopated improvisational style is well-known, yet listening to his earlier discography, in the range of 184 songs or so, on a Nano iPod and great earphones, Bang & Olufson, is never boring, it's like traveling a long river to the ocean, the journey through his life of music remains exciting, vital, near.

I cannot say how this music speaks to me - it doesn't speak to me, it speaks with me.

It lets me sing my song even as I rhapsodize through the delicate and complex notes Monk plays.


Thelonious Sphere Monk, Monk's Blues (1968)

YouTube URL: Thelonious Monk, 'Round About Midnight.'
Comments (1)

Starfire in the Night

A little painting, still wet, that I quickly painted
to accompany the poem...
(posted with the 'accented edges' photoshop filter)

sliding around the world
through many crowds
Mumbai, New York, Rio
like an image from a billboard
flat like film
a projection of light
these burning neurons
their shadow prism shifts

no separation

a market in Madrid
harsh sleet of Himalaya
blade of grass in the prairies

I could be dying

or in a spacesuit on the moon

no separation between me
and the world,
which is my dreaming paradise

nothing was lost

release the inner hold
there is no tight control
write by cell-light

dark hours of running
on this side of living
in the bright world
of the lion's mouth

flying into outer space

where the universe
contains such combustion

stars burn for billions of years
keeping galaxies alive

I searched for you
and found you

if you could set all your dissolves
to a fifth of a second
the mathematical regularity
would be bliss
Comments (1)

Bullion of Hearts

Imagine a love that cannot be tarnished,
not even by us.

We messed the beauty we had,
with our switchbacks.

I demonize you; you decry me as a crazed woman.
We wouldn't speak to each other; my fury unabated

You were a sleazy cheat; I was self-righteous, indignant.

What is this love that continues despite our resistance?

Surely not modern love, with its questionings, choices.

But some ancient love, as old as the gold sun itself,
primal, spiritual, enfolding its mystery.

What is a love that cannot fail itself?

And how can we trust it?

It is strange not to be fighting you
like a bad obsession, like an addiction to street drugs.

To accept your irrefutable, irrevocable
presence in my life.

The forever clause,
it's caught us
Comments (1)

In the middle of August in the Summer of 2008

Perhaps there were different ways of understanding, parallel paths of interpretation and it was impossible to pick which was more real.
Or you could let your feelings emerge in meditation, the sadness, sorrow, rage, lust, tenderness, love.
First one, and then the other seemed likely.
But, no, it was more like a kaleidoscope of turbulent thoughts and chaotic feelings.
Perhaps they were lassos you were flinging from each hand, sometimes they swung wildly divergently, sometimes they entangled.
The problem was there was no strategy, or even a map of where we were.
Or probably you didn't swing anything and the parallel ways of understanding were the metaphor I was most comfortable with.

I couldn't decide, on the long walk grocery shopping that day which path more accurately represented your feelings, or mine, or what happened.
Or when I lay at the beach on the hot day imagining Ferris wheels of kaleidoscopes where everything impinged on everything else.

It was an embarrassing situation from which you fled. Discovery of the truth was the last thing you wanted.
Nothing made sense.
But what was the truth?
What is truth?
Parallel paths; I can't decide which.
Rather, multiple lines like tangled tackle.
One interpretation, the cavalier one, you'd prefer; the other a deeper more vulnerable one you'd prefer hidden.

I can't live in your heart to know definitively. I imagine you yourself don't fully know either. We're hanging somewhere between spiritual truth and illusion. The illusion you'd rather cast hides what?

Probably it was the more hidden truth and it held a power over you that disturbed you greatly because to follow that path would change your perception of freedom irrevocably.
Comments (2)

Clustering the Night Sky

A star system that spins around its black holes. Twinkling nexus of neurons. Why do I breathe or lie here wondering why I am. Or you.

No, I don't wish to explain mystery. I like the strangeness of life, knowing we are real even as we part from our bodily images in our imagination of being.

I follow the lines of your body with my fingers of light. Lines that limn memories of you, you haven't lain with me for a long time.

In the masses of stars how did we find and then lose each other?

Do I carry a simulation of you, you are so real beside me? Mirrors of the past reflecting in the present. Neurons traveling the gaps in time.

Or are you here, thrown into my arms by the electricity of what is conscious, our connection beyond time and space.

In the strangeness, clarity.

Night after night I roll into your warmth imagined beside me.
Comments (2)

finding the moon

round light that is the moon
gliding, a psychic eye in the sky
before lightning drowns it
with falling water

water of the moon floats over me

water of the moon is a dry seabed
on the spin of rock in the sky
that swings round
and around us
pulling the

as I am pulled to you

envisioning what always was
but can never be

and then becomes
when the shroud of purple cloud
drifts clearing our hearts
luminescent crystal ball

moon is round

spiritual truth and illusion
one vision

tonight we find
we are found

Liquid Metal


falling through space without landing, or flying

into an eclipse, deliberate blotting out
the darkening of the sky
denials of our feelings
for each


writing kept us from recognizing

the fissures


how we hurt each other


fiery strands of interrelated passions
memories, motives, what happened
what didn't, the suspicions
times of deep connections
pulsing at varying speeds
in varying directions
hooking up here
& there exploding


like the heart


the moon glides
releasing the sun


we chip away anger
a brittle ceramic mold
on the gold

of love

forged in our fire of desperation
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