Abhishek Sengupta: 'You're Still Awake?'

You're Still Awake?

by Abhishek Sengupta

One morning, as I woke up, I found my palms were empty. The lines had detached themselves from my palms. They were floating around in the different corners of the mid-air in my bedroom. Like strings lighter than the air. Like destiny trapped in a helium filled balloon, covering the distance between the heaven and the hand.

That evening I told my father -

"Dad, you know what happened when I woke up this morning?"

My father smiled.

"Son, you're insomniac. You haven't woken up for centuries."


A young Indian man, I've come to know Abhishek's writing through Facebook. This piece struck me particularly for its tight construction. Not a word is wasted here.

A Borgesian, Surrealist, dreamtime philosophical poem. I especially like the lines of the hand detaching and floating... very painterly, I think Magritte or Dali would have been inspired. Then I like how he expands time. That transition in the piece is deft, sudden, from strings to destiny, from strange dream realities to a koan of impossibilities, an insomniac who hasn't woken up for centuries, and then we realize that the entire piece could be a dream. Oh Abhishek is a mind-bender!


A Videopoem: Tones of Noir

direct link: Tones of Noir
music: Alex Bailey, 'Piano Improvisation No 7.'

Do poems wait to be born? A poem whittled out of thundering mist at Niagara Falls. The roar of the Falls, music, voice.

I wanted the voice to be as light as the mist, and as strange as a dream with noir elements. (Don't worry if you can't hear all the words -it's meant to be a bit ghostly, and you can read the words here.)

Tones of Noir

washes the sky.

Poems rise
out of thundering mist.

I think it is a crime.

She rushes by.

The water,
the power in falling.

Begin when it's in motion
and stop before it ends.

Mystical crystal spikes
of sun.

He waits.

We walk quickly
covering ourselves against the watcher.

Video I shot in Niagara Falls, Canada, a few days ago, edited in Final Cut Express, Video I shot in Niagara Falls, Canada, a few days ago, edited in Final Cut Express, and layered a few recordings of the poem I wrote for this piece.

Niagara Falls is magnificent!

Still from video:

I'm entering this in Big Tent Poetry's prompt this week. I read the prompt Wednesday night (had only 6 hours sleep since then, video poetry does that to me, sigh) and thought, hmnnn, enough? ...maybe.

::Smiling:: Thanks!

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Parchment Figures: Doubles, Doppelgängers, Clones

direct link: Parchment Figures: Doubles, Doppelgängers, Clones

A painter on painting. Or, I'm painting again! Yay!

Wasn't a planned video, rather, thinking, many artists are showing themselves painting on-screen, let's put the camera on and get some footage, but I got talking, you know how it is, at night too though I managed to boost the light when I edited it, and now it's a bona fide video.

Enjoy. Hopefully you will find inspiration here for your own art, and might consider posting your own video.

Note: click on the base of the slideshow
to start the slideshow (or in the middle to
go to Picasa and see larger images).

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Midnight Sun: Wind Over Grass

From Midnight Sun: Wind Over Grass, 28" x 22", 71cm x 56cm, oil on canvas, 2010.

A painting depicting contact dance - which is... out of the dance studio, for sure, and into the dreamtime! And a solar eclipse, which reminds me of the black light, the midnight sun of the mystics.

When the river runs in bands, water ribbons her arm. Or she dances on rocks across. Those who support uphold everything in the underpainting. What is there to say of wheat fields or grass curling flames? Under the midnight sun strange dreams dance with intent.

This painting took 20 days to complete, from Jan 5th to 25th. Though I did initially work from an old sketch, I discarded it. The images developed, like in a dream, of their own volition organically. The figures and landscape are imaginal. It's finished, even if in 6 months when the oil paint is dry, I add a few details.

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Still working on Wind Over Grass...

From Wind Over Grass, a painting (click for larger)

Wind Over Grass, 28"x22", 71x56cm, oil paint on acrylic black base, 2010, blocking shape and colour - solar eclipse added. Photographed indoors in window light, no flash.

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Wind Over Grass - blocking shape and colour

It's not that I'm absent. I'm always here. There's so much I cannot speak of. Before it was different, I was able to weave things into prosepoetry that obscured while clarifying, you know how that is.

I am doing things I want to be doing, though. Today I had my second hour editing a manuscript. I have to go to a coffee shop, be trapped with nothing else to do; it works. On this mms I give myself until the end of June, that should be amble time.

At night I spend a minimum of an hour painting. To do that has its odd requirements too, but I am able to settle myself enough to enter the paint.

There is duress. Energy, focus, not easy. Yet I am doing it - with a few tricks. Since I know myself so well I know what'll motivate and what won't.

We are our last mysteries, aren't we. Though after many years of living as who we are, we become accustomed to ourselves, and our idiosyncracies. We learn how to negotiate our devious psychic terrains, how to point ourselves in a direction, how to stay on track.

Wind Over Grass, 28"x22", 71x56cm, 2010, blocking shape and  colour. Photographed at night with flash, two photos merged to make it appear as it is (so far - still far to go).

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The Lady and the Chimera

From The Lady and the Chimera
The Lady and the Chimera, 12" x 9", 30.5x23cm, oil on canvas, 2010.

fish live in a ribbon of river in the sky

nor do I sprinkle specks of strands of saffron stars

bouquets of red poppies bloom in paper ice

the soul, a chimera, who gave moments
never to erase
lived words, acts

seeing flying angels makes me laugh...
or you can delete what's in your heart

we are gifts waiting
to give


I am really wanting to move onto something else, so am going to consider this little painting done. I have painted it with a very small palette knife, really a dental instrument, and a sable brush with about 5 hairs. The paint is very thick. It has taken far longer than I could have imagined.

The chimera is half human and half lion, yes, but originally meant to be a cuddly stuffed animal chimera. His expression is a little more lusty though, isn't it. And that hat!

I think of this as a jazz composition, a riff in paint.

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Larry Carlson: The Garment of Al Shaddai

I can't decide if it's her naked joining Siamese twin doubling, no quadrupling, breasts, though we can't see the other two, that disturb or that she is lying on some very stiff grass or a miniature forest, while a river flows past her, with a forest in the background and fuzzed edges so that she, who cannot walk, who has no womb or legs and could only roll if both twins are synchronized, is the focus. She is a beautiful digitalized woman with headbands. She's been cut up and recomposed with her mirror image. She is the creation of an artist. She becomes representative of chubby, mammalian life-forms 'out there' -"in Nature." She's helpless, but looking at the viewer seductively. Does she know she's been digitally altered and that her green screen has dissolved into a scenic outdoor scene in which she is the only representative of human life? Is she mutated? Is she dreaming herself in a totally weird Surreal dream of the 'commercialized woman' life?

This is an image created by the wild, humorous, brilliant multi-media artist Larry Carlson.

His art sets the imagination aflame. Does it for you?

Here she is again, cloned in the strange world of mutated images that are the hallmark of Carlson's art. Carlson has been famously described as the 'Salvadore Dali' of this century.

He calls this one, "The Garment of Al Shaddai." I found this: "Shaddai is one of the ten divine names quoted in the rabbinical legend of the angelic hierarchies. The essence influences the sphere of the moon: it causes increase and decrease and rules the jinn and protecting spirits."

Let your imagination wander in the fractal nautilus, around the Moon Goddess of eyes, the 'jinns' of the cloned mutated woman, the golden Ram and what is possibly a Lammasu, an Assyrian Sphinx, molecules that look like the grapes of the wild Dionysus, a red parrot that rests on a blue arm flung illogically out back of the 'Moon Goddess of Eyes' (is she perhaps a Hindu goddess too), the ground a pastel kaleidoscopic 'light table.' It is a world of the inner imagination, dream imagery, arcane symbols and hallucinatory visions. Carlson's work is 'psychedelic': "an English term coined from the Greek words for "soul," ψυχή (psyche), and "manifest," δήλος (delos)."

The soul manifest,
this is the garment of Al Shaddai.

The Effects of the Recession

A restless night, too many of us in crisis. I feel myself falling into the flying apart.

My sleepless but drowsy concerns become like Surrealist images where components split apart, twisting in the distance.

A slow-motion spin of walls, wardrobes, kitchen drawers, bits of conversation, kalaidescope of images spanning years, remembered and loosened, geometric and organic, intersplicing in the distances between molecules.

It is a very tidy universe in magnified microcosm despite our messy realities.

Perhaps the holding together doesn't help; perhaps it's time to let go.

What is the mind if unfettered, uncomposed, freed of nervous culture?

No answers came, the warden was banished, the bars fell away.

In the tumbling of synapses firing randomly,

Was I freed?

Did I sleep? Fitfully, in relapses. When I woke the world was its illumined glossy enlightened place where warm sunlight spreads across bedspreads and there are hugs and warmth, French-press coffee and fresh bagels.

The world in its normal motion; everyone, fine.
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Pedro Páramo

Certain books change your life. While I can't say I fully understand the novel, Pedro Páramo, by the Mexican author, Juan Rulfo, having now finished it, yes, I am different. Literature has possibilities I didn't know of before reading this book. Published in 1955, it began a tradition of writing. Rulfo is called the father of the literature of magic realism in South America. In the novel, those who are living and those who have died interweave in haunting ways. Time moves backwards or forwards, you can hardly tell. Characters appear and disappear like wind; memories are everywhere in the air. Everyone's death is foretold again, and again. Put it on your list. A must read.
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The Red Flower

(I think this poem goes with what may be a "Vishnu" series, the first of which is Vishnu on Chinese New Year.)

The red flower spirals
or it's a fractal

His heart is a window
box with a red flower

Beating. Petals spiral in, or out,

A map in water, a warehouse, snowblue.
Lost pink dancing slippers,
a church in black and white,
a chorus singing carols.

Quarantine. Insolence. Defiance.
Burlap and cold steel.
Madness in prison.

I heard the message,
its jumbled sanity.

Fragments of patterns,
like this poem,
torn from the epic.

Worlds within worlds.

Bullets and blood, the heart floods.
Five billion dying in biological warfare.
What was that movie where he dreamed his death,
unable to save the world.

Saviour, the preserver.

We'll all be saved on a microchip,
says the prophetess.
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