Notes on My Mother's Death (from my Moleskine)
[I have not posted poetry here in ages because of some problems with some of my 'hidden' readers. To them: Do *not steal away my images *or their intent without crediting me or else I will stop posting poetry publicly on this site for good - those of you who do this likely think I don't know but you are wrong - even if it's 6 months later, I know exactly what you are doing, so stop it]
Postscript: Sorry, I am not able to post my poetry here anymore due to [these] people who think Oscar Wilde himself stole, when he merely made a joke
Passing the Cemetery in a Train 28 Years Later
throw yellow roses
on your coffin, long, smooth, polished sheen
of the country we have come to
throw yellow roses
on your coffin
you, dead inside
roses, fresh, soft perfect petals, sun bright
on your coffin
as it slides
into the fires
as if death
were a passion
of the flame
In memory of my father,
Dr. D. Richard Clews, 1922-1984
Written in Toronto, May 25, 2012
image thanks to Corrie Barklimore on Flickr
and lightning flicker
in bleary, bloodshot eyes.
The black flood of night.
Remember the never-healing wound
of the fisher king,
I know it well.
Clots like rocks in the flowing black river
of the volcano within.
I want my words to rise like incantations.
On the fumes rising above the tripod
where the Oracle of Delphi sits knowing,
knowing she knows...
I almost don't care about you who are reading this.
It's a life and death struggle within myself.
It's very private.
Pulling the curtain back slightly, I hear
no birdsong at this dark hour,
no glimmering dawn.
In the void, I throw the antidote in.
that would undo the spell if it were a spell.
Probably it isn't a spell,
Words to split the earth apart,
change the dismal landscape,
re-orient the black
pieced together from words spoken into a voice memo during a sleepless night,
final draft written July 8, 2012 in Toronto
In case of misunderstanding, I need to say that this poem is not bleak but very positive.
Can You Be Fired or Laid Off Without Notice?
of stars grazing your hair;
starlight shines vacant
in your eyes.
On this globe revolving in mad
in our dreams
where spiders feed us silk
from their mandibles;
and the strawberries are sour
studded with green eyes
watching from red lanterns.
What light to see by is this?
Scattered unripe fruit, the world
overtaken by insects.
Push the shopping cart through
the storm of shredded light.
Let breaking branches scratch
your face. The wind is your voice.
Night spins hallucinating
a starry nest.
We are broken illuminations
Dust of starlight.
Caught in a web
spun in silk fire fibres.
Pull your hair
from your dirty face.
Wipe off stardust, like grime.
Magic is a spider eye
in a world of compound debt.
Survival, man, woman,
is the song
to spin singing
Retreat to Beautiful Objects
direct link: Retreat to Beautiful Objects
When I retreated to my world of beautiful objects.
She was a dream, not the mask but how I composed her in Tangled Garden.
A vegetative force, Nature, birth, life, death, decay, mulch, compost. Beautiful and frightening. Strange dreams, the unknowable body itself. Life consuming life to live, plant or animal. Cells fuse to make new life, new connections, new hybrids. Wood/trees; metal/circuitry; bone/grafts; skin/love. Teeming presence.
I come from a jungle, the nature I write of is not pastoral, pretty. A fibrous network of vast connections. Natural processes. We are Nature looking at herself through her own eyes. This slip of consciousness viewing the universe for a knowing moment, soon to be lost. How can we forget the hungry ghosts, the floral opera singing in us?
An ecology of consciousness. An understanding of the parasitical and angelic. Leave the savageries. Our worlds of beautiful objects call us to retreat.
What I wrote at YouTube:
...to celebrate the unexpected popularity of my long videopoem, Tangled Garden, http://youtu.be/OG37qWh4rTM, a slow art film of a triptych of earth poems, Surreal, mythopoetic, a rhizoma of images, metaphors, explorations, philosophies (with English subtitles). I had originally thought to paint a Tangled Garden painting to give away when the video reached 1500 views (my daughter's claimed the painting, so some other celebratory gift), and began making a video of the process of the painting.
There's lots of aspects here - from the drawing and painting itself to photos of the making of the papier-mache mask, to a dance in the woods which inspired the figures in the painting. The fishnet gloves - don't you adore them! - will now be featured in any future art videos. I just love them!
The writing came out of a dream I was having during a nap when I was considering what to say in the video. It's more of a piece about the poetic process in the poems in Tangled Garden, what sort of consciousness is holding sway. I woke up laughing. I felt a bit strange laughing all by myself in a dark room late at night for the recording for sure!
Prefer the video without the subtitles, but they're there for the hearing impaired, those who like to read along, and for YouTube automatic translation into one of 25 languages if the viewer is not fully conversant in English.
Music is Pierre-Marie Cœdès' 'Whirling Thoughts,' from his album, "Insomnia": http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a94667/insomnia (with his permission). It is a great album, do go and listen.
Videopoem: 'Tangled Garden, a triptych of nature poems'
direct link: Tangled Garden, a triptych of nature poems by Brenda Clews, 2012.
Tangled Garden: a triptych of nature poems, a video/filmpoem by Brenda Clews
-A Floral Opera (2011)
-In the Hands of the Garden Gods (1979)
-Slipstream, the Tangled Garden (2006)
(with impromtu speaking between the poems, which each end with ~~~ in the subtitle track.)
Beautiful singing by the musician, Catherine Corelli mixed from her album, Seraphic Tears (2010) on Jamendo (with her permission).
Note: This video is subtitled. Click on the CC on the play bar to activate or de-activate the subtitles. YouTube will also automatically translate the subtitles into 25 languages if English is not your main language and you would like to get the gist of the poetry.
In contrast to the zippy, fast cuts and commercial-like flavours of many video/filmpoems, Tangled Garden is a slow virtually single-shot video. It is an 'art film.' It is 22 minutes of slowed-down footage. It does move through a process that is Surreal and dream-like. Not much happens, but a lot passes by, if you know what I mean. Tangled Garden is the opposite of an action film.
It has taken 9 months to produce this video. I used some of the footage - you might recognize it - for two 'Solstice' videopoems, non-religious celebrations, one commemorating the beginning of my favourite season, Summer, 'Green Goddess' Masque and one celebrating finding the light in the darkness of Winter, Shadow Cave, because I liked the dance clips, but they were always intended for this videopoem. Tangled Garden is a major piece for me.
Tangled Garden unfolds in a spatial and painterly way; it is not narratorial or linear. I often work with doubles, dopplegängers and reflections, with subjectivities, the selves that compose us, and there is little of that here, but minimally. Rather, the focus is the poetry itself. Three nature poems are spoken as a voiceover, poems that span 30 years. I made a subtitle track (that took 3 days with lots of subsequent corrections), so you can read along if you like.
Three clips form the visual tracks of the video poem. The initial background was shot in early May 2011 in Niagara Falls and the two dance clips on different days in High Park in Toronto (accompanied by my daughter who read while the tripod held the camera videoing me dancing) in June 2011. Both of the dance clips have been worked extensively in Final Cut to arrive at the visual patterns that you see here. As an artist, my video work is very painterly, and I find I compose video canvases based on the static, pictorial vision of a painting. Perhaps they are paintings in motion.
After I shot the initial footage of the plant foliage on May 9, 2011, during a sleepless night on that trip I watched the clip over and over on the small viewfinder of my video camera, wondering what I would do with it. Without seeing earth or sky, a breeze blowing through the tangle of leaves and stalks, light breaking through when the wind was stronger, I found it very rhizome-like, and it reminded me of my memories of my life in that I could enter or exit anywhere and still arrive at an understanding of who I am.
I wrote 'A Floral Opera' (2011) for that initial footage, and for Catherine Corelli's voice in her incredible neoclassical metal album, Seraphic Tears, which I had listened to enroute to Niagara Falls.
Tangled Garden is composed of three earth poems. 'A Floral Opera' is, I feel, one of my most successful poems. Later in the year, having collected 20 years worth of my journals in a large basket, I began going through them, and found a poem written in 1979 based on a dream I had had. 'In the Hands of the Garden Gods' (1979) describes that dream, and it seemed to match the footage and was another approach to the themes 'A Floral Opera' alluded to. I decided to include the older poem. Currently I live near the rooming house where I had rented a small ground floor apartment as a graduate student and where I wrote 'Garden Gods,' and one night, quite far along in the editing of the filmpoem, I had a 'Eureka moment' on the street corner near the house where I once lived: the strange central figure that I have created in the video, the one who moves slowly through the 22 minutes, almost exactly duplicates the transforming earth muse figure, the "lady, lady, lady" who appeared in the dream I had in 1979! Our lives are a strange unity. The final poem that I included was another earth poem, 'Slipstream, the Tangled Garden,' (2006) about hungry ghosts, time, death and the resurrection of life that continues through us even if when we shall no longer exist.
In between the three poems is some ad-libbed talking that I initially did while watching the footage and which my daughter encouraged me to include in the final version. The impromptu speaking is a bit repetitive, but perhaps that's a welcome refrain from the densely packed imagery of each of the poems. After each of the 'official' poems I have put '~~~' in the subtitle track to note their ending and that what follows is a speaking between poems.
The themes in the poems are quite complex, but also they are rich with imagery that I hope holds your attention. They are strange, Surreal, dream-like, body-based, earth-centred, full of reflection, passion, living. The three poems together cover the span of a lifetime of rumination on Nature, the meaning of being alive, having a woman body, birth, life, death, amidst the heritage of our intellectual culture and the extraordinary creativity of our planet which I call the "green fire." A planet we are busy overrunning with our extreme fertility as a species and our polluted ways. I don't, however, push the 6th mass extinction that we are in, though the outlook for our species is gloomy. Emphatically, the "green fire" is far stronger than us. We are merely representations, minuscule embodiments of the earth's creative energy. I embrace the earth's deep and fecund creativity. In the tangled garden of our lives on our natal earth there is beauty, grace, love, compassion, sorrow, fear, caring, and sweetness, sweetness.
Nik Beat at Free Times Cafe - live & uncut
An evening of Nik Beat and Friends at the Free Times Cafe in Toronto, Canada on September 16, 2011. An uncut set playing in real time, we see Nik at his disarmingly charming best between beautiful songs and poems. This is as close as it gets to being there. We adore you Nik! Enjoy the show!
Nik sings some of his new recorded songs and poetry from his book, "The Tyranny of Love." Joining him are Michael Ratt, Pat Kelly, Michael Marian, Joani Paige, and Willie Anicic .
From Seraphim Editions, the publisher of his book of poetry, "The Tyranny of Love": "Born in 1956, Nik Beat (née Michael Barry) toiled in the rock and roll field for a number of years until he quit and took the moniker Nik Beat. This native Torontonian has for the past 20 years been a writer/poet published in numerous anthologies. He has been profiled on Much Music and TVO's Imprint as well as in an upcoming CBC radio appearance. He currently hosts the HOWL spoken word radio show on CIUT 89.5 FM. He lives in the quiet doldrums of the famous Beaches area, where he not only commandeers a Words and Music show at the Renaissance Café but is also an accomplished collage artist."
The Free Times Cafe performance videoed and edited by me, Brenda Clews.
Nik Beat's voice, to my ear, is softer, richer, more modulated than ever. Perhaps mellowed is the word. Like the heart beats in the vocal chords, irradiating songs with feelings, feelings that connect us all. In the clip, he's singing emotional textures -that move us the way birdsong in the trees moves us. My video is a set of his atand is uncut, only a filter of strong contrasts added....I love the sound track. He's in top form. Really fine set, so glad I taped it. It's open in another browser window as I listen for the 20th time to the track!
William Leighton wrote: "Very well done. Loved the simplicity of it and the refrain from constant motion. Nik definitely is a pilgrim on a journey and he invites people to hear from those travels. What we believe is paramount to who we become and where we end up and the heart is the compass of that journey. Truth does lie at the end of the journey for us all though. Travel safely and wisely."
Good Night Girl was awesome, as Willie Anicic said, and many of us mentioned how that song played in our minds for days afterwards. A beautiful paean to his beloved Linda Mercer, who passed away this year.
I wanted Nik to see the set uncut before I did anything (well, except the filter I added), but he liked it and said to go ahead and make it public, which I did. Watch like you're sitting at a table with a drink listening. It's dark and your friends are with you. Enjoy!
ps I linked Nik to a Google search on his name since he's all over the place. :)
Variations on a Ghost Theme
from the window
around the ghost
envelops it in a milky aura
folds into its body as it glides
in a cowl of ghosts, I would
twirl in slow motion around
their twirling pirouettes
hands and feet
dangling from bodies
that radiate a white gauze of light, the
fingernails of silver scratches
that graze the furniture
hovering in the air
of our mutual dreams
Dave wrote a ghost poem, and then it became a prompt for a gang of ghost poems in the comments: If there were such things as ghosts
I'm joining the Ganga line with this ghostly poem. [thinking of the Hindu Goddess Gaṅgā who reincarnated as the Ganges River.]
A woman with an old Olivetti
on the street corner. Brunswick and Bloor, across from
Future Bakery. She wore a floral dress of orange and
pink flowers on black. I wasn't sure she was real,
her sign read, "Prose Services." A man had
paid, and she was typing.
Surely a prose poem with the heat of the city's
pavement coiling in tendrils of green ivy, sweat
dampening the pulse points under her dress. Her
hair, red and swept back like Lucille Ball's, her lips full
and dark as an espionage spy.
What can a writer offer passersby for a few
coins in the cap?
I almost asked to take a picture of her clacking
away on the old typewriter keys, but thought she'd
charge me, demand toll from the faint
woman disappearing into the moon
hanging in half
over the alley.
In the Hands of the Garden Gods
You'll have to email me for the password.
Still from my video poem, Tangled Garden, which I'm currently working on.
(click on image for larger size)
A draft form of the video is up at YouTube (update Thurs June 16th).
direct link: Garden Gods
This video is not finished. It has no title or credits and is 'Unlisted' at YouTube. The final version will be much higher resolution. I've posted it for critique purposes only.
It is a clip from a long video poem, Tangled Garden, that is 22 minutes. The footage is mostly all like this cut. There are three poems: 'A Floral Opera,' which I recently wrote; 'In the Hands of the Garden Gods,' which I wrote when I was 27; and 'Tangled Garden,' which I wrote in 2006. This clip is the 'Garden Gods' one. It's still quite raw. I am seeking feedback, critique.
From my perspective - the dance in the background needs to be re-done. I need to get my costume and myself back to High Park for another round, perhaps without my daughter. Though can I go and dance alone? I'm hesitating. There are very few people I'd feel comfortable with doing this. If I manage it, it'll be like the one here, only perhaps a little better (I hope).
The voiceover poem was done one night, reading straight from the journal I wrote the poem in so many years ago. It probably needs to be re-done too. I'm not sure about the saturation of the voice and whether it distorts. The reading itself, though, is just about right in emotional tone, so I'm not sure I should do another.
Since this is an 'art' video I am not worrying about catering to any kind of popular taste. Um, I guess I move to my own drumbeat, or something like that.
What I am looking for are responses, and ideas that I may incorporate into the final version.
Music, 'First Night (Lilith's Seduction)' from Catherine Corelli's album, 'Seraphic Tears': http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/79547
I realized it's better full screen, also 720p. Tonight I walked by the house where I rented a small bachelor's back when I had the dream that became this poem. And as the dream itself comes back, I realize that the way I've done the footage of the Garden God (or goddess) is incredibly close to the dream I had so many years ago. That was a wow moment, on the street corner tonight.
'dance/ ...indigo folio leaves'
direct link: dance/ ...indigo folio leaves (with poem)
A dance that is creative movement, a moving meditation. Brenda Clews: prose poetry, dance, video. Music: José Travieso's track, 'Monster,' on his album, "No More Faith."
...enters your backbone, joints, plucks the
cartilage holding you together. Music is the
moon of the red tides of your bloodstream.
Drift to and fro, a willow tree, or sway, bend,
a flamenco, stretch, purple morning glories
on the vine, jump. Sway your hips, delta of
fiery flow. Express yourself, woman. No-one
is watching. Say it all. The lyric travels tenderly
through your wrist, a memory of the wind on the
hill. You are an instrument of the musician who
is absent, gone. Whose music plays on; who
does not know you exist. Orphean muse. Twirl
on the floor, the beat in your ankles, room
spinning, see the canvas walls, luminous see
the sun, moon, stars that are always there.
Spin on the clock turning. Give everything.
Wanton woman. Harlot of the night. Mother of
angels. Insufferable radiance. Black hole of
emptiness. Sweet moan nectar.
Mystery dangles like your silver bracelets,
the ghosts are present. Approach yourself by
disappearing. Undulate your liquid bones.
Beautiful sensuality. Seek invisible illumination
in your writhing steps. Leave time, transform in
your multiplicity, a seer searching the spheres.
Manifest your dreams. Shake them out of the air
to materialize before you like light forms. Shimmy,
wet sweat, a flag in a wind storm. Thunder the
floor. Witch, werewolf, Goth beauty, fragile
starchild, cyberpunk, pull the sky down. Sway
those hips, woman. Sway them until you ignite.
Dance with your ineffable muse. Just, dance.
I pull purple veils over my vision, indigo
blue silk lights and shadows.
Listen: dance on the stage of your
© by Brenda Clews, 2011
Contemplating the Muse
Green Fire: a photopoem
Torn in Black
dance/ ...indigo folio leaves
direct link: dance/ ...indigo folio leaves
Folio: a sheet of paper folded once to make two leaves of a book or manuscript.
Late afternoon, when the spring sun was pouring in, I videotaped some dancing to José Travieso's track, 'Monster,' on his album, "No More Faith": Besides being technically beautiful, quite goth baroque in its composition, there is an undercurrent of feeling in this music. Music like this can awaken the inner self in its dance, or this is how it calls to me.
And I layered two different dances to the same music: first I separated the figures, but it didn't look quite right, so I superimposed them, allowing the dance of the two to occur in the same space, an intertexuality of subjectivities, like folio leaves.
I see the woman of the dance transformed into figures that are, but are not me.
I wrote to the Spanish musician, José, on his track, 'Monster': 'This piece is so beautiful, like the passion of angels, pain and transcendance in the music that you play, what is the monster? Is beauty the monster?
How can beauty be a monster?'
He teaches all day, and at night, the music. Stressful, hard. He rarely has time to read, walk, visit friends, relax. "Everyday I work on it with passion... or maybe just obsession. So, everyday, when I'm recording an album, I feel more and more tired, it consumes me... Music is my own monster, my search for the perfection and the beautiful thing is my own monster. This is my explanation."
'I understand. A consuming passion. A beauty that devours its creator in consummation.
I, too, prefer art that is vulnerable, without pretence.'
[still working on this prose poem]
...enters your backbone, joints, plucks the
cartilage holding you together. Music is the
moon of the red tides of your bloodstream.
Drift to and fro, a willow tree, or sway, bend,
a flamenco, stretch, purple morning glories
on the vine, jump. Centre in your hips, your
delta of fiery flow. Feel your pain, power, joy.
Express yourself, woman. No-one is watching.
Say it all. The lyric travels tenderly through your
wrist, a memory of the wind on the hill. Be the
hands that play you. You are an instrument of the
instruments of the musician who is blind, absent,
gone. Whose music plays on; who does not know
you exist. Orphean muse. Twirl on the floor, the
beat in your ankles, room spinning, see through
the canvas walls, stars, sun, moon luminous
on the clock turning. Give everything.
Wanton woman. Harlot of the night. Mother of
angels. Insufferable radiance. Black hole of
emptiness. Sweet moan nectar.
Be loose as a cigarette on the lip in Rio de Janeiro.
The ruffle on a lacy skirt in Dusseldorf. Like the
ruins of the Colosseum in Rome. Glide as
diamonds on the Aegean Sea. Icy tundra of the
Arctic. Emerge and submerge a dorsal fin in the
Caribbean. Become a stone age myth, a magic
amulet hewn from rock. Goddess of the Oroborus
serpent, undulate your liquid bones. Mystery dangles
like your silver bracelets, the ghosts are present.
Approach yourself by disappearing. Rhumba to
this moment; tango to the other side. Primavera of
being. Beautiful in your sensuality. Seek invisible
illumination in your writhing steps. Flee time,
transform in your multiplicity, a seer searching
the spheres. Manifest your wishes - your dreams.
Shake them out of the air to materialize like light forms.
Shimmy, wet sweat, a flag in a wind storm. Thunder
the floor. Cross mid-section through a Pythagorean
theorem and come out the other end of Leibniz's prisms.
Play on Goethe's colour wheel. Trip like a stream
dashing over rocks as smoothly as a Shakespearean
sonnet's sexual ambiguity. Witch, werewolf, Goth
beauty, fragile starchild, cyberpunk, pull the sky
down. Sway those hips, woman. Sway them until you
ignite. Be you while you dance; don't let them
touch you. Dance with your ineffable
muse. Just, dance.
I pull purple veils over my eyes, in love with
indigo blue silk lights and shadows.
I dance the white and black keys of a harpsichord
while it dances me.
Listen: dance on the stage of your
© by Brenda Clews, 2011 (a sort of inspirational poem for women, but there's a lot going on in it, too)
If you're fascinated by the way videos evolve through versions, there are two earlier versions at a Picasa album: The Canvas Backdrop
I've entered this poem in the Big Tent Poetry's Ring of weekly poems. 'dance, ...indigo folio leaves' is a performance piece that includes video and poetry. One, a poetry of motion; the other a written poem. They are on the subject of dancing, and the poem is still being drafted.
On the Street at Night
I cannot know
your eyes, milky
A Day, any day
morning smolders with cold
mist. White shadow glides
around trees, cars, buildings;
figures emerge and disappear
as they walk to moments
The sun roves white
as the moon, then
becomes a thin rind
In the afternoon, lit by
its brilliance through
windows we eat
cheesecake and fresh
NaPoWriMo Day 6: When day and night merge
dry coffee grounds lie in the cold mug. The
thump when the car hit your body remains, as if
the echo effect is broken and repeats, thump,
thump. Metal, soft tissue, bone splinter.
Concussion of my heart.
When antelope dance over rock, smudges of
charcoal. In the cave day and night, and I
wouldn’t come out.
You were alright. You walked away, a bit
I bled internally in my dreams, the pillow, the
sheets, under the car tire grown large as a
ferris wheel. My blood sometime ran like
Van Gogh’s wheat fields, the residue of burnt
souls. The ferris wheel ran day and night,
even in deathly winter when everyone
Each day the sun comes later; no, earlier.
The green fury of spring is nearing like a
virescent bush fire. The sumacs are pregnant
with multiple birth buds.
Who is reading me on this day that is later than
all the other days slipping under the wheel
as the tire drags on.
This woven bone, these smudges
of burnt wood,
these buds of spring.
Wear White Paint for the Moon
it is not easy but there is no other way.
White fire spills from the cauldron of the night.
A pregnant belly of illumination where spirits gather before they arrive and after they return.
Moths against the lantern, our scorching hearts. Clouds skein like silver wool. Earth and stars spin falling into the vortex of whitening and darkening.
The moon is a rock that flew from our oceans and seeks to return to her womb within us.
Stark, startling, as I round the corner of a busy street. A spotlight in the charred sky. In the moisture of my eyes, squinting, a gleaming halo moon.
A barren rock of mountains and dried seabeds up there, dragging the oceans with her, her dress of tides. A queen of debauchery, a mythos of dark permissions. Or the purity of a white goddess worshipped by the skyclad among the trees dancing in naked circles drawing her power.
She is a pearl like a grain of sand in the oyster of the night that opens, a mystical lamp for the mutterings of poets and visionaries and the crazed in a world of forgotten harrowings. In the perigee moon what is untamed reigns.
Wear white paint, my love, so we may dance savage across the stage lit by the moon in the night sky.
Wear white paint, my love, so we may dance before the dawn draws us away.
A crystal ball for seers, the beginning of time crumbles into the end.
And as we sleep, faint and far apart,
we guard the moon in our dreams.
Music background, a slight re-arrangement of Jose Travieso's, "Shinigami's Dream, No. 7."
If you'd like to read about the process of this poem, I wrote a long post in the next entry. Go here.
If you'd like to download this recording, try here, though I think the link expires after 90 days: WearWhitePaintForTheMoon-320.mp3 (6.64 MB)[/url]
in the motion forward. Points
of condensed age in the meridians.
I look to seeThis is not a poem neat as intact
a dissolving mirror
bones, skin, neurons
fishbones, mysterious as dinosaur
fossils. The poem writes through
me. Rises from ruminations, dried
flowers on my spine
Are memories nomads wandering
our minds? Seeds of recollections
reflecting whole scenes from our past,
or partial images in the distorted ways we
compose and re-compose our lives?
Is memory how we narrate the stories
of our lives? Where we describe
our experiences to ourselves...
Do some experiences burrow like
bulbs in the network of capillaries,
memories memorizing themselves,
knots in the ganglia?
Replays of moments we've lived
that change as the story changes.
We are forever changing our stories,
Is that the river? Our blood
Our collections of images,
recalled, recollected, replayed.
Memories are slowed time,
knots in the Chi of
In the forever now, memories
where time recoils and coils slow eddying
resisting the rush.
Who I am is my memory of myself.
I remember you remembering yourself in me.
Wandering Nomads Bone Image, 2011, 19cm x 16.5cm, 7.5"x6.5", mostly archival inks, sepia, black, red, orange, and oil pastels, Moleskine sketchbook. Fishbones, dinosaur bones, ivory piano keys of the mind playing its strange music, I don't know. When I sat to draw an image for this poem, a vertebrae emerged. Click for actual size.
Big Tent's poetry prompt this week was to use the "stories or ideas" of science "as a metaphor for something in your own life or a made-up life. The odd mix of fact and fiction is poetry in the making." I've kind of combined a physics of time - suggesting that, like time slows down in black holes, perhaps it also does in the creation and maintenance of longterm memory in the onrush of the present - with a neuroscience of non-localized (nomadic) cerebral processes where memories might be compared to pockets of stillness in the constant flow of cerebro-spinal fluid, the sparking of chemical pulses. And then I did a drawing where a vertebrae emerged. It was all as strange as any Science Fiction. Ultimately, my piece becomes a philosophical poem about the nature of memory, of subjectivity, of the self. For other responses, see here.
services like Facebook to read feed readers)
(Readings of the poem didn't, um, didn't, and need more tries, but the afterward, which is more like a pre-amble, was kind of fun.)
Writings of 'Who'
direct link: Writings of 'Who'
A videopoem performance piece.
For a backdrop, I slung a rich, red Chinese satin cloth over a room divider, pulled my iMac up close, and recorded a recitation of the poem ten times in PhotoBooth, each time adding more jewelry, a swath of orange beads across the neck and shoulder, a rhinestone dangly tiara. The excesses of perhaps too much expression decreased as I became tired and the speaking of the poem emerged more clearly as it rendered through me.
Besides preparing for a performance piece, I used a number of techniques and filters in the editing of the videopoem. In PhotoBooth, Apple's fun camera still and video program, I used a spotlight plugin, which was cool; unfortunately Photobooth's resolution is low. The video was imported into Final Cut Express where I layered it in curious and idiosyncratic ways, adding a vignette to the base layer, and color emboss to the other one. Both those layers also received a maximum de-interlace flicker filter. The lens flare title and credits were done in iMovie and added as tiny clips to the timeline. I used FCEs scrolling text option for the poem, adding a light rays video filter to it. Finally I added a caustics render video generator track to the whole piece.
For textual influences, in comments on the original poem post I wrote:
Kristeva did a lecture at the University of Toronto in the late 1990s on the question of 'Who' that I attended, but didn't connect then to the 'who' of the muse. Blanchot's 'The One Who Was Standing Apart From Me?'... is my particular inspiration here.
On the 'coded' "unconscious" of the Freudian/Lacanian school: I, too, incline towards a phenomenology of consciousness, whatever that may be. How often do I access my own personal symbols to write? References that might be opague to others. From Célan I learnt much on interweaving the personal myths in such a way that my symbol stream is only hinted at and whose full meaning remains just out of reach.
Kristeva is where I first learnt of the 'speaking subject,' the 'speaking voice.' Can we take it further to the 'writing subject,' the 'writing voice'? Though I don't want to get trapped in semiotics either.
John Walter wrote, in response to the poem, and it is worth quoting: "You ask the hard problem that Beckett asked throughout his entire oeuvre, especially the trilogy of novels Malone, Malloy Dies, and The UnNameable as well as his classic one man play, Krapp's Last Tape: "Who is the voice speaking within me, if it is not me, and it speaks when I don't, all my life, up until my last breath."
You pose it in a variety of fascinating ways here."
Poem, written in 2006; videopoetry performace, 2011.
Working on 'Green Fire'
Have to hunker down for a few days to pull together and finish a draft of my 'Green Fire' poem that I've been working on for a few months. I need about 50 minutes worth. Ha. That's a lot. Of poem.
You can see I am writing, or at least, playing with Photobooth on my iMac. ::smiles::
Or is this - the proof-is-in-the-picture, which is a bunch of self-portraits taken by the computer - properly known as navel gazing.
I turn 59 on Monday. Very happy to be the age I am, and no way I'd want to be younger.
Ink Ocean: Brenda Clews, poetry, reading, mix;
music (mixed by me), Alphacore, 'side_project,' from "Side Project": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/33504, and Extra's, 'The Quickest Vessel to a Distant Future,' from "Water Every Full Moon": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/45140 (with permissions)
This is my second, and preferred, reading of my poem, Ink Ocean.
The poem began to arise in two drawings, one of which I have included in the album cover, and the writing from the other drawing (which I took a photograph of before covering it in ink and paint).
If you'd like to read the poem, it is included in a 26 page pdf of the text of the poems in a collector's edition of Starfire, where this poem forms the final piece.
click to see a larger image
Starlings on a Winter Tree
arrayed black musical notes on the rhythms of wind in bare trees.
Then they dart, bullets from a Beethoven symphony,
speeding without collision through the wind-waving branches.
A little Solstice gift ... of Starfire
It last happened 372 years ago - a rare confluence: a lunar eclipse and winter solstice. In the night (at 3:18am EST), a total lunar eclipse, the full moon passing through the darkest shadow of the earth (and at 6:40am EST), winter solstice, when the northern hemisphere's axial tilt is furthest from the sun, the longest night and darkest day of the year.
The astronomy of the day is worth pondering on.
For the last two years, I have released a poetry album at solstice.
This is so I can offer a little Solstice gift to you (free to download, or listen, as you wish).
To commemorate light in the beautiful loving darkness.
Wishing you joy, love, health, success, wealth.
This album began with the first track, 'Disappearing,' which I wrote in a hammock in the hot, sultry summer. I recorded it a few times, just for fun. Then layered the readings, added music and became intrigued.
Thus began an odyssey of readings, recordings. All tracks, except one, are with music of Jamendo musicians, to whom I am so grateful.
If you wish, you can download any tracks or the whole album.
Mostly I'd like you to enjoy, and to be inspired.
An album of love poetry.
Disappearing: Brenda Clews, poetry, voice and mix; Matt Samolis, music, a section from: "Trio for Flute, Cymbals, and Glass": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/49419 (with permission)
What Would I Write If I Could Write: for J.P. Brenda Clews, poetry, voice, mix; music, Roger Stephane, 'Lointain,' from his album, "Picasso": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/62258 (with permission)
Drumbeat: Brenda Clews, poetry, voice, mix; music, Chriss Onac, track "TRANSE" from his album, TRIBAL: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/23954 (with permission)
Glint: Soundtrack for my videopoem, Glint, which is also a videopoem at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D3vTpxfFuU Backgound music is "Madrox, in my head," by Arena of Electronic Music, a Creative Commons license: http://www.jamendo.com/track/477297 (with permission from his band administrator)
Hieroglyphic of Purple Lotuses: Brenda Clews, poetry, voice, mix; music, Ka eN, "Oriental Dreams": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/42617 (with permission)
Starfire in the Night: Brenda Clews, poetry, voice, mix; music, Frank Harper's 'Moon's Eve,' from "Fingerstyle - Set 1": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/62508 (with permission)
What Is Underground Is What Holds Us: Brenda Clews, poetry, voice, mix; music, LaiYouttitham's song, "Alone," from his site: http://www.laizmusic.com/mp3-download.php (with permission)
Salt of the Sea: Brenda Clews, poetry, voice, mix; music, Livio Amato's, 'Dream Opening,' from his album, "Sensitivity": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/62537 (with permission)
My Body Is A Word: for I.B. Brenda Clews, poetry, voice, mix; music, Lena Selyanina's piano solo, 'Summer Morning,' from "Snowstorm Romance": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/73627 (with permission)
Veils To Clothe Venus: Brenda Clews, poetry, reading, mix; music, Buz Hendricks, music: http://www.somewhereoffjazzstreet.com/ (with permission - a section of a track he created for the Venus Suite of Poems - a track at Jamendo).
Ink Ocean: Brenda Clews, poetry, reading, mix; music (mixed by me), Alphacore, 'side_project,' from "Side Project": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/33504, and Extra's, 'The Quickest Vessel to a Distant Future,' from "Water Every Full Moon": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/45140 (with permissions)
With special thanks to Robert A. for his invaluable advice on recording.
layer flowing of
ocean in Whale-God
with pearls, jazz
cat* in belly
salt blood a
political flow-body of
siphoning ocean water
mollusk, crill, sand
singing whale songs
in matter-energy flow
the red sand
black co-agulated ink
a linguistic continuity
politic of ecobeing
folding fish bone into brine
(c) 2010 Brenda Clews
Beached Heart, 2010, 8" x 11", 20cm x 27cm, India ink, Faber-Castelli watercolour pencils on archival paper.
Beached Heart, a poem painting, though the words in the drawing are a poeming different to the poem, about a harpooned whale.
What Is Underground Is What Holds Us
You rise out of flat stone
of your heart.
The moon crosses the sun.
when we dream?
The folds of your corduroy
like ridges and hollows
furrows where the Spring runoff
sculpts a geology
in a landscape of tundra.
"passageways and connections thatIn our Klondike, cross and beams
happen deep within us when in relation
to another..." Nancy Otto
hold the tunnels we dig through
to find the gold in each other,
rich veins tracing through the rock
Spring is a tendril
the leaves a papery mass of veins unfolding.
Cliffs of grass by the old mine ripple
in the wind.
We are like those two trees
ancient, weathered, yet
our roots thoroughly
is what holds us.
The deeper passageways
I wear the crescent moon in my hair,
the cold northern air;
you are the sun buried in the land,
illumined from within.
The sharp edges
in each moment
My Adoni, my Aholi,
even in this harsh typography
you are a landscape of love,
a cartography of desire.
©Brenda Clews 2006
Photographs were taken by me.
Poem and commentary written in April, 2006:
The title that I had thought of is a line from a poem by Hafiz, the 14th c Sufi master:
Our Destiny Is To Turn Into Light.
Here's the poem:
The moon came to me last night
With a sweet question.
"The sun has been my faithful lover
For millions of years.
Whenever I offer my body to him
Brilliant light pours from his heart.
Thousands then notice my happiness
And delight in pointing
Towards my beauty.
Is it true that our destiny
Is to turn into Light
Hafiz, The Gift, trans. Daniel Ladinsky (Toronto: Penguin, 1999), p.159.
While my poem is about light, it's really about roots, and works off Nancy Otto's lines (she's an artist who creates small, stunning glass sculptures where she explores our inner consciousnesses, our inner lives, the deep channels and underground ways that we connect).
Adoni and Aholi are both gods of nature: one ancient Phoenician; the other, ruler of the Pikya clan of Native Americans. Nature is usually imaged as a woman, but sometimes as a man - the dying & resurrected god.
Also I'm currently not just crazy about Hafiz, but also Pablo Neruda, his love poems, and Juan O'Neill's translation of Macchu Picchu.
Sand Is On Fire, a stenographic poem
Sand Is On Fire: a poem ball
a steganographic, hidden poem, wrapped up in disguise
(you'd need PS to unfold, a layered version)
Sand Is On Fire, 15"x13", 38cmx33cm, india inks, soluble
pastels on archival paper, 2010 (actually just now, crazy
inking away on my bed, lucky the open bottle of permanent
ink didn't spill!)
The original -ok, I shouldn't give it away so soon, right?!
In the burning ocean. Where oil spills plumes drag through the world's gloom. Swoop of your feathers. 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 ink falls from the sky. Drips. Rips, slashes the wet heaving page. Heat of sand on fire. Burn the slick, ocean on fire. Coral crevices. Grottos. 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. They said GO IN.
Response to Big Tent Poetry’s prompt (where other entries are linked in the comments).
An Ecology of Earth
direct link: An Ecology of Earth. Watch in HD if you can.
A visual poem. The central part, the mandala section, the core. A visual metaphor for earth, the energy of earth. Shot in natural colour.
An Ecology of Earth_
what we pretend
what we promote
how do we evolve
in patterns that connect
perhaps the earth is
a fertilized egg
I used clips from the last song in "The Dreamer's Paradox," by JT Bruce: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/3317
The mandala sequence and the music matched with little editing, a synchronicity that amazed me. As I worked on expanding the piece, I added more clips from the same song.
This is the second video I have made from the same 20sec of original camera footage. It's of the tree outside my window and that is rooted in the urban clip of land that accompanies my apartment. I feel connected to that tree. The first video using the original 20sec footage, One Hand Clapping, a collaboration with AlphaCore, is so different to this one that you won't believe they're from the same clip.
(Soon I'll upload the original tiny clip of unadulterated, raw, unmanipulated footage, too. And post all three together.)
The poem, an edit of Relevant Knots, posted a week ago, is influenced by a reappraisal of the ideas of Gregory Bateson, particularly in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, and Mind and Nature: a necessary unity.
(I think I will use the tiny clip at the end as a 'signature' ending on my future videopoems - have to work on it a bit, see, if maybe, or maybe not, I do like it, though, and edited in the feel of a blinking earth eye.)
of earth and stone.
In my dull stare
I watch you.
You seek a
comfort of stars
I can only imagine.
Do not praise me, fool.
The maze in which you are lost
is my lair.
Words from a wordle, Big Tent Poetry's prompt (where other entries are linked in the comments):
view comments on this post here
"I hope you are all creating every day according to the inner map you were born with. I know it sometimes seems that map is written in invisible ink... but you know to read invisible ink, you have to hold it over heat. Same with creative life, 'Fire, give me more fire!'"Clarissa Pinkola Estes, from "The Creative Fire" mansuscript, this quote posted at her public site at Facebook.
where potential poems
lay like unfertilized ova
a thousand rise
on the landscape of the future
I have no chromosone
starmap to offer
or helixes of lunar pearls
I wasn't born with a vision
mapless, without signs
my fire is your fire
what bursts from this undifferentiated mass, a singular
moment, astral blossom of solarity, prism of
colour, strange sapient gloss
is a response,
the lighting of our blazing
I like Dr. Estes quote very much, and am inspired by her words. I've written a poem - the creative fire like an Olympic torch alighting us. Her philosophy, though, has given me pause for thought. For me there isn't an 'inner map' that I was 'born with.' While there is inner pressure to produce, my creativity is a response. It's not about my 'feelings' or particularly 'confessional,' but sparked by something I want to address. Sometimes it can be a way to work out a puzzle. What I write or paint or produce occurs in relation to my world, the people in it, a sense of spirit, a need to discover truth, a way to connect, reflect, deflect, untangle, give, discover the depths of.
Through the glass; through the invisible world.
It didn't last; edges returned,
and I continued on.
Leaves once, crack in November.
Shellac the face with stones,
I saw this:
a model whose head
pasted with small grey stones,
like you find
on any rocky pebble beach.
Sheets perhaps of rain,
or the ones you wash because
you sleep in them,
or what we write or draw on.
Slipstream, the Tangled Garden (Painting, 2009)
Slipstream, the Tangled Garden, 11"x14½", 28x37cm; mixed media (oils, acrylic varnish, markers, parchment) on canvas tablette
Today I pasted poetry printed on parchment paper onto an oil painting. The poetry pasted into the painting from the first lines of a prosepoem I wrote in 2006:
this womb of roots.
Listen to a slightly earlier version of this prose poem (5min 4sec) at SoundClick. Or by pop-up window: highspeed; dial-up.
A Poetic of Light/Une poétique de la lumière
Video: 'Venus Enroute' from "The Botticelli Venus Suite of Poems"
Venus Enroute uploaded by Brenda Clews to YouTube.
The poetry is an excerpt from my "Botticelli Suite of Venus Poems":
Without hovering, or insecurity.
It was an image of being in the vast field of life.
Without knowing. In a position of unknowing, positionless, I suppose. Existing without location or momentum. Vibrating with possibility. It wasn't exciting or fearful, just what is.
Nothing is fixed or certain, though there are always solutions to problems.
Then she continued on.
She didn't doubt her certainties.
The music clip is from Lena Selyanina's 'Sarah's Dance,' from her album, "Piano Poetry," which carries a Creative Commons license and may be found here: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/45056.
The chair sequence and the poem added to it had no original connection. I cut the clip from two hours of footage as perhaps 'workable.' Then I searched for a poem. It's amazing how the poem 'fits' the movement, huh? Creatively perhaps we are a gesture, a gesture where here poetry and dance are an aligned fusion.
Albeit, the resulting video is a bit comic. The tag on the back of my dress? As soon as I saw the footage I grabbed the dress and cut it off. The other camera? Ahh, I'm still just learning how to make videos and don't have a clone plugin to remove these elements. Enjoy the humor!
(Or perhaps, in context of the poem, since Venus has swung her scallop shell around to enter the world of experience, we could say the tag on her dress reads: 'If this Vintage Venus is found wandering, send her back to "Mount Olympus"!)
Meridians of Culture
Direct URL: Meridians of Culture
(I have added experimental avanteguard music in the background: 'Lambkins Black,' by Alphacore, which carries a Creative Commons License. It may be found at Jamendo.)
It's my daughter's favourite of all my recordings, and I think it is mine too. More like a Joycean inner dramatic monologue. I am hoping it moves in the direction of a deeper, richer writing that hints at vast underlying energies the way stream-of-consciousness, surrealist and dream-time writing does...
Hope you enjoy this recording! I am hoping, somehow, to add video to it, though the thought is daunting, just daunting. Any ideas or suggestions for video would be muchly appreciated.
Wrote this poem in the intensity of the afternoon on that day and I wouldn’t describe it only as stream-of-consciousness or surreal or dream-time but as an inter-splicing, like synapses crossing the brain to create strange formations and patterns, of different meridians from the world in which I am embedded. From the sonic to metaphors of natural substances, processes and systems that express thoughts about life and death and consciousness to cultural events, such as the recent tragic death of Michael Jackson and the paradoxes he represents, or personal ones, like my 86 year old mother’s recently broken hip, to historical revolution. The way it is in the deeper speaking, behind which. Life enters. Renovation going on outside my window, which you may be able to hear, became the renovation in the poem. The poem spans many meridians. I’ve decided to call it,
Meridians of Culture
In the deepest speaking. Clone the element. Tarry the fishnet. Slice swordfish swording slices. Cut the knuckles. Chuck the jade. Be verbs to your object. Sledge hammer the screwdriver through the wood grain fibres until the wood splits into columbines. Spin with the wind machine. Pan is wandering the forest like a komodo dragon. Whiteness of the clouds pushes in on vision. Tinsley sound, boot scratches soil. Dirt, rocks. Fecund upper being outflowing volcanic rubble. Don’t laugh. You’re next.
Line up; fall out of place. Jump off turning ferris wheels. Neverland never was. Don’t turn a black-eyed cheek on me.
Roth your socks. Mildew doesn’t grow between our toes.
They floated by the Great Wall of China, and then fell. Mao had thick fat lips and I never trusted him. He killed millions in the name of revolution, a tyrant like any other.
Go green. Like everyone. Green, keep greening. I don’t mind my status. Neither should you. Hips are beautiful; why do they crack & crumble? We will all have metal hips in the new utopia. Where we clone with steel. Pins. Motherboards. Chips. Design element.
I don’t want to make this easy for you but it should be fun. Today I’m a bit of vibrating anti-matter; tomorrow I could be a gold statue by the pond of orange fish. Fish float freely through Freon.
Rainbow my world.
The world is sweet. Layers of sweetness. I get caught in the honeyed loving of it all. Birds sing my heart. Happiness.
‘Let me in,’ the man renovating says to his bud. Clatter of sheet metal.
It’s a cool summer of bliss.
But there I go. Not undercutting myself enough. People live different realities.
When you’ve been tortured, wounded and set free every day is a gift.
In this speaking, no I don’t. You do wind, wood, fire; I, metal, bone, water. If you can sustain the listening. Where the flames roar.
Punctuated sentences. Punctured.
Eyes of meridians cool the water you pull the sword out of.
Acupuncture of the soul, which can’t be pinned.
Our souls are wind, fire wind.
Burning through life.
The birds in the trees never tire of their singing. Speaking to sing.
Hush rush of cars sleekly sliding by.
Clouds of gold
fall on me.
The ear is a nautilus shell out which the ocean pours. Roar of seawater. My spine is brine. Mollusk, exoskeletal dancing on the flashing rock-star studded stage. Sliding into Motown. Ho-town. Show town.
The deep speaking is song. The burning bush sings of nautilus souls sweeping the burning deserts of ruin.
Dust is the most creative substance on the planet. Ground rock. Galvanized gallantry. Silica strands. Igneous dreams. Encrusted crystals. Embedded dreams. We are miners of the ore.
We come from what we go to. Everything that takes form dissolves.
What is the intuition of the cloud-bank? It’s so white it brights my vision.
Most days I am dissolved and barely resolved.
Hailing baby cries. Rush of thunderbird. Ignition. Trains rocking. Laughter. Baby glee. Sun. Wind. Tree. Out of the dust storm of life. How can a life be fragmented? It can’t unless it cuts into death from life, like a zipper. Maybe we do, death-teeth, life-teeth, hailing our baby screams. Flesh cuts both ways.
It’s irresolvable. Nothing to hold onto.
This ragged bone-edge of the world.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be scattered. I want to be collected.
Frosted tip of emeralds shining in the raw rock that slips like soapstone.
He is black, with green cat eyes. Fur over bone.
Hiding in the rocks. Under your toes. Ground bits of the ground world. Greening its grounding. A planet greening its grounding. Magma slips. Seawater steams.
I don’t think I’m living in a forest fire but I could be.
Forest fire of flaming souls.
How can the liquid light of being be honey glossing the fires? Sweetness, beauty.
Videopoem (1:56min): Solstician Rain
Direct link to YouTube video: Solstician Rain
The light was beautiful, but ripe, fruity, dense, as if walking through a film in technicolour. Light swimming to us through veils of vapour high up, some particles clear, others refracted. Colour magnified. Air, rich. The streets a vision under a distant roar of stratospheric surf. Then it poured.
The woman I passed saw the light, its ominous hush, picked up an umbrella on her way out. I didn't.
We, my dog and I, stood under a tree cover while thunder broke its drums.
We weren't slicked and soaked by the time we reached home, only dampened with large drops: she, smelling of happy wet dog; me with my khaki green long soft Indian cotton skirt, spotted, juiced.
'Solstician Rain' is a description of my walk yesterday evening. An hour or so after getting caught in the rain, I went out and recorded the video. It was dark by then but with various filters I was able to achieve something resembling the feel of the atmosphere earlier. Holding a microphone out of the window, I recorded the rain and thunder. Working in Final Cut Express, I layered video and audio tracks to form this videopoem. I love the rich fertility of this time of year.
The music under the thunder is by AlFa. It's approximately the first two minutes of an eighteen minute piece, 'Poème de la forêt,' from their album, Nuance Khaki, Fiber Lily, which carries a Creative Commons license and may be found here: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/10688.
Here is a screen capture of this video in Final Cut Express.
Click for a larger size.
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
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
"Mujeres," by Juan Gelman
"Debía tener unas 12397 mujeres en su mujer"
"Mujeres", un hermoso poema de Juan Gelman, recitado en su voz.
"Mujeres en verano". (Brenda Clews)
decir que esa mujer era dos mujeres es decir poquito
debía tener unas 12397 mujeres en su mujer
era difícil saber con quién trataba uno
en ese pueblo de mujeres
yacíamos en un lecho de amor
ella era un alba de algas fosforescentes
cuando la fui a abrazar
se convirtió en singapur llena de perros que aullaban
cuando se apareció envuelta en rosas de agadir
parecía una constelación en la tierra
parecía que la cruz del sur había bajado a la tierra
esa mujer brillaba como la luna de su voz derecha
como el sol que se ponía en su voz
en las rosas estaban escritos todos los nombres de esa mujer menos uno
y cuando se dio vuelta
su nuca era el plan económico
tenía miles de cifras y la balanza de muertes favorables a la dictadura militar
nunca sabía uno adónde iba a parar esa mujer
yo estaba ligeramente desconcertado
una noche le golpeé el hombro para ver con quién era
y vi en sus ojos desiertos un camello
esa mujer era la banda municipal de mi pueblo
tocaba dulces valses hasta que el trombón empezaba a desafinar
y los demás desafinaban con él
esa mujer tenía la memoria desafinada
usté podía amarla hasta el delirio
hacerle crecer días del sexo tembloroso
hacerla volar como pajarito de sábana
al día siguiente se despertaba hablando de malevich
la memoria le andaba como un reloj con rabia
a las tres de la tarde se acordaba del mulo
que le pateó la infancia una noche del ser
ellaba mucho esa mujer y era una banda municipal
una noche como ésta que
nos empapan los rostros que a lo mejor morimos
monté en el camellito que esperaba en sus ojos
y me fui de las costas tibias de esa mujer
callado como un niño bajo los gordos buitres
que me comen de todo
menos el pensamiento
de cuando ella se unía como un ramo
de dulzura y lo tiraba en la tarde
crawls over the lamp
of the restriction
of vulnerability, sensitivity,
walking in the warm,
before the seasonal cold
I look out through slats
hiding or revealing myself
or you do
rocks become water
that float away
Tired of protecting my knees when I dance, I didn't. For a number of weeks. Bending low, I used my knees, experienced the freedom of a fuller movement, bliss. My knees are now so sore I'm on Ibuprofen, which helps reduce the swelling, constantly and a prescription anti-inflammatory, as well as icing them fairly frequently. So this poem, the first I've attempted in what seems like a long time, was triggered by that, tired of the iron ivy on the lamp, not wanting to protect one's sensitivity, and whatever the emotional corollaries are, the rocks are water that float away.
ps I think I have a 'stretched' tendon, that it's just a regular sort of minor injury anyone who participates in sports or dance gets. Not serious and with a bit of pampering it'll heal fine.
But an interesting process in terms of our emotional proclivity for protection of our sensitivities.
[Okay, okay... last night I danced with my jingly silver belly dance belt over a black danskin at Tam Tam like a dervish. Shhhh...]
[No, no. I arrived late, 10:30pm or so, to a dark hot dance studio of drummers after seeing the Tibetan Lhapa documentary, changed into black sweats, danced, realized that there were only a few dancers, some as old as me, and so I put on the belly dance belt and let go, it was fun, I left around 12:30pm, some people thanked me for dancing, said it was beautiful, and walked home by myself, arriving home at maybe 1:30am; this pattern is normal, I go, dance, rarely join the group for food after. Arrive alone, leave alone. Now what that had to do with emotional corollaries, who knows.
It's all connected though, isn't it. :)]
it hasn't stopped raining all Summer
the wet sky is
stained with rain
I rewrite and wash
the pitter patter of mantra, or tears
sheets of rain
then I saw fashion colours for this Fall
are amythyst and burnt orange
like the fresh clean billows blowing in the sky
suddenly at sunset
falling through space without landing, or flying
into an eclipse, deliberate blotting out
the darkening of the sky
denials of our feelings
writing kept us from recognizing
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
forged in our fire of desperation
Where has poetry gone?
Where has poetry gone?
Oh, fads and fashions. Poetry was once a dominant art form and ordinary people memorized long stretches of Tennyson... or Keats... It wasn't Pound's fault, forgodssake, there'd always been 'difficult' poetry, but a change most likely brought about by the expansion of the media through radio, silent movies, records... and so on.
Whereas once people were brought to their feelings - ok, ok, interjection - I do believe that we watch movies, read books, etc. to feel, that we want to feel our feelings strongly in safe ways and we do this through our art- the best art calling out the best in us -
And of course our art teaches us about our history and our culture -
Whereas once people were brought to their feelings by the graceful language of poets, they are now brought to the currents moving within by the heart awakening blinding lyrics of a music of so many strains and varieties and so rich across the globe it makes you want to weep.
That's where poetry went, into song -
The poetry that stayed on the page became for an in-focus group of mainly other writers and students/academics, which is fine, we live in a complex society made up of many, many groups all carrying and exploring different facets of the rich world we live in.
If poets want to be heard by the great and massive public again, really & truly turn to the old forms of the troubadour: let the music of language sing.
If most poets are quiet and solitary by nature, then let their beautiful words of pain and ecstasy be sung by those who can.
What I'm saying is that the art form evolved into something more expansive and larger, and many musicians really need the half decent lyrics that on-page poets could provide if they would share.
Perhaps it's like the miser holding on to the goldmine sitting in the corner commiserating on the dearth of poetry! Rich gold veins of poetry in our world are of inestimable worth but they need to be shared, given, offered, allowed to go out freely into the world, circulated, this currency of the heart, used.
Dawn, the momentary effect
encroaching the dark
birds singing dawn, chirping
or finally knowing what to do,
after such a long time
spreading a caul of light over
until the sky is clear, safe, free,
and you may continue on
Women In Spring, process of a painting
Sketch of Sketches
It's really pale, I apologize. A pencil sketch of sketches from a lifedrawing session in, oh, Nov 06, that's how long it's been! Feeling like painting again...
(25.5" x 19"; 64.7cm x 48.2cm on textured ivory Strathmore Artist Paper)
Women In Spring, first wash of paint
Women In Spring, 2008, 24.5"x18", 62.2cmx45.7cm, oil wash on paper (click to enlarge)
In process... who knows. Not what I'd thought I'd do. Painting, like life, is like that.
Colours dart at me. Touch, and pull their washes back.
Can I shroud you in the colours of the background, so you'll fit your pattern, so you're not cut-out from it.
I'm not different from the scenery I surround myself with.
Look closely, there I am.
With my addiction
Dreaming Truth, detail
dreams are infallible, accurate, true for that situation, that relationship, things change, dreams reflect the changes; nothing expresses the truth of life like the dream; the dream is a clear representation of our reality;
the dream is a clear representation of our reality.
dreams never lie, the dream doesn't lie: it foresees and predicts, even forewarns
encapsulates; explains; never our enemy - nightmares are our fears, turn and face them
the dream conveys its messages in metaphorical language, images that shock, or bewilder, or uplift, that astound, are vivid, direct
dreams guide, our helpers: offering insight, mystical information, a panoramic perspective
ancient wisdom calls to us through our dreams, where our intuition is powerful
How little space for painting! This is the corner. You can see the original sketches from which I composed the composite image of The Women in Spring. What's nice is that if I don't like the way the painting turns out, I can create another one. The painting on the board is influenced by the one on the wall, isn't it. I did that one in Vancouver and it's quite large: Celestial Dancers, 2004, oil on canvas, 4' x 5' based on late Medieval relief figures of the temple art of Cambodia when it was in the midst of a shift from Hinduism to Buddhism. The smaller one on the wall to the left is Celestial Dancer II (31"x35", acrylic on canvas, 2003) based on an image of the Hindu God, Krishna. This nook is about to become all desk as I move the futon couch out and create a workspace for painting and writing...
Women In Spring - finished!
Women In Spring, 2008, 24.5"x18", 62.2cmx45.7cm, oil wash on paper
It's relatively easy to swoosh paint, Zen-like, and let the image emerge however it does. Only now I sought to include detail, painted lines, to put effort into the composition. I wanted the women, who are one woman, drawings from one lifedrawing session placed on the same page, to be colourful like tulips in the garden. The figures appear in varying stages between perhaps more painterly and a reliance on drawing, and I don't seem able to move away from that, not yet anyway. I outlined boldly in paint tonight, resisting the urge to use coloured pencil, then wasn't sure, then knew that from across the room there would be more definition. The final criteria - can I live with them? Who knows?
The grouping; the way they create the space around them; their relation to each other; the view they allow the viewer; some emerging out of the washes of colour, or disappearing into...
The fecund forces of Spring, who can define it?
'portrait' & 'in the café'
colour scores your skin
like massage oil,
almonds & apricots,
I paint you with strokes
of my heart.
in the café
bushel of gold apples,
........some darkly bruised;
bushel of dark purple plums,
gourd of stone vegetables
........fired in kilim
polished granite tabletop
woven rattan chairs.
custard tart glazed
the late hour
our intense bond.
The Red Flower
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.
Eostre, Or Cross of Sheer Light
Eostre, Or Cross of Sheer Light
I found myself ebbing
away, and so I fasted.
When my commitment to
life renewed itself, I broke
If you've ever been dead and come back to life,
been hopeless and found a way to continue,
thrown yourself into nothingness to find meaning.
An elusive tune,
slender wash of light,
bare opening in the wall,
a sliver, crescent through which.
Or what's a moment but a casting through.
If you've been too tired to get up and then you get up.
Filled with silent despair and then the will to.
Nothing's even, that's the problem. Many impermanent states.
All taking turns or colliding. Interpenetrating or scattering.
Flowing or stuck. Constraining or freeing.
I like to have clean thoughts because then I can live in my mind.
Sometimes the dust, anger, grime.
Throw what's scathing out.
I feel your bright and beautiful presence
even if you feel like you've disappeared into nothing.
The edges of the sky hang like an aurora borealis of silk.
The trompe l'oeil of the moment. Discreet packets of time.
If you didn't tell me I was going to die, I wouldn't believe it.
And then the scaffolding crashed, blocks fell apart,
what resisted melted, and it was time to resurrect.
Passing beyond memory into. Or the rising.
Good Friday, 2006 ( A repost of a poem and image I wrote and created for Easter on Friday, April 14, 2006, but recorded today, two years later.)
photographic path: a photo I took of sheer fabric over light, cropped, layered on itself, rotated, made somewhat transparent; then I may have used a marque tool to crop the uppermost layer to better reveal the brocade ribbon below, or was that one of the trajectories I didn't use; various marque tools to crop the right & left edges of the uppermost layer on right angles; the stamp tool to fill in a line that was left over from who knows what process; the burn tool to darken the upper and bottom right corners for visual balance. A collage I composed after writing the poem...
This is a photopoem: I've digitally embedded the poem in the image along with copyright information.
Vishnu on Chinese New Year
a whole room jumping, jabbing
kicking, cutting air
falling gold bands
then the red
......vision, blood, shirts on the backs of
floating discs, cut, fresh green
.....eyes that see
horizontal lines raised
red banners, orange tigers
blue bricks, pink band, luminous
control your destiny
labyrinth, blue-black hair
smoke, the floor disappears
a dragon of virtue
immensity of primordial waters
jump from stone to stone
on the ying-yang, muscles flying
opening of the passage
incense, the moon
the hooded men
striped tigers, white satin
entryway to the past
......create the future
Vishnu Visvarupa, Preserver of the Universe, Represented as the Whole World | Unknown
19th century | watercolor on paper | 15 1/4x 11 in/38.7 x 28cm |Victoria & Albert Museum, London UK
the red and golden yellow leaves;
when it melts,
bare limbs climb into the sky.
I want to lie on those whorls of wood,
like mastheads of stately Nordic goddesses
or my tender frozen ancestral grandmothers,
dreaming of Daphne, firey gowns
stripped by solar winds to stark
nude greys of Winter.
Thick ridges of weather
in the bark.
Visit Riverside Rambles for the 18th edition of the Festival of the Trees, where this little poem is included among many great entries.
wet, each pore
fire suffused, open,
bones like wind
sunlight of the Summer, free
asking where the words went
when they rained, drenching the heart
the beat of the circle, writing on drums
words flashing in air, lightning.
that connects us.
Blue paints the tops of the clouds,
Waves across the world.
August 26, 2007
Written at the 5Rhythms workshop Taeji and Shara held at Dovercourt House - towards the end of the 2-day event, we were each given paper and pen and asked to write something that would be sent to us a few months later: received in the mail from Taeji today.
reds and oranges
the fallen sun
a street carpet
of fragmented light
sodden endless rain
paper garden bags,
of collected leaves,
raked and packed
my heart, enfolded
an economy of words
no fixing it, either - if it's
not there in the first sweep
it'll never be
I was on a pathway
before I arrived
the large wood-wet oak
a shiny canopy of leaves
held by powerful branches
bright yellow lanterns
slivers of sun
On November 8th, browsing radio stations I came across Don Jackson in his nightly spot, "Lovers and Other Strangers," and found him presenting a marvelous Autumn show composed of November-inspired poetry and music, that, hmnn, has obviously been inspiring...
1While I couldn't work it into the poem, I was also playing with an origin of the universe metaphor with a reference to the point of the "last scattering" when, in the diffuse plasma of ionized atoms, particles and anti-particles annihilated each other for the last time, leaving about a billion photons for every particle of matter, thus making the universe transparent. I wanted this reference to echo the emotional underlayer of the poem where fragmented light leads to a naked transparency of the heart, a clarity.
Neon Blue Calligraphy / of Love
The concern of the French genre of récit is retrospective - it does not follow the unfolding of events like the novel, but looks back musingly upon them, allowing what has occurred to return in various ways, to the extent they can never be said to be completed at all. It names, thereby, a genre characterised by reflection rather than action, bearing on a single episode, or group of episodes as they present themselves as an occasion for meditation.1 Lars Iyer
enfolded in the heart
lines beating like blood vessels
this book of words
Do I resist the pull into the past? The way it swirls in me. How much of my heart remains in that vortex of love?
Decades pass silently.
I didn't know where,
or even if
you were alive.
Looking but not searching,
for an essence of what we shared.
but words, like billions of capillaries,
Flow of the aorta.
Writing renews itself for you.
From beyond, risen, returned.
Kaddish to The Rite of Spring,
a funerary dirge becomes a blossoming landscape of love.
Which I barely recognize, our aged selves.
Where did you go?
And where are you now?
The neon blue calligraphy of the skies, where the plane was swallowed, where you went.
When he came out of the past, I wasn't sure it was him. The elegance of his language, that lexicon, I knew it had to be. Always I had difficulty putting him to his words, the latter an outflow of the former but the clarity of his intelligence, how it definitively appeared, neatly without difficulty, on the page.
The elegant calligraphy of a mind borne through the heart.
Only from where it is deep, searing,
vulnerability of the self.
Only if my writing pours out,
the blue blood of veins.
I am your lover;
I write as a woman who loves you.
Who speaks to you in writing.
I surrender to you in the flow of the text.
a dusting of bleach powder like clouds.
Is it possible to unravel
a counter-current of imagery?
The tightly-coiled poem,
bound and ready to spring.
Or perhaps excesses where
not everything matches?
It's harder to clean a busy sky
sunrises, sunsets, auroras, varying
storm clouds, tornadoes and hurricanes.
Poets do their best
what with the wild weather,
the scarf that wrapped their hair
lost and flying loose.
Then it clears.
One spectral colour,
polished around the shining sun,
still and fat as a blue porcelain basin.
Fragments of Images
Friday March 2, 2007
Portal of the New Year
In the steam, you disappear. Monsieur, I feel your presence only by knowing. You sit before me until you vanish; hot clouds dissolve us into vapour. Your strong sensuality, like Zeus, yet you become a phantom. Until I am alone. When the hot breath of air presses in on me your hands rest on mine, our knees touch. Two figures of naked skin streaming as the steam subsides. It was in the room you built, this womb of steam from which we emerge wet and hot into the cold air of the welcoming night.
through the water
of the blessings of
our bodies of rapture.
We are clothed in the streaming truth of
the night sky, its melting snow.
to fire and transparency.
In the hot springs as the clouds uncover
the full moon of the New Year
you plunge into me
while I dance in the water,
Waves of heat
Into an immensity that has no name.
In the creative presence of sensuality
our union effaces the conditions of union.
The essence of passionate love
is mystical union.
a writing of love.
Do we imagine the depths of each other
Were we Shiva and Shakti dancing?
Our own Lucía Y El Sexo
under the moon in the water?
You kiss my breasts as I float
before you, I massage your floating
and how many times do we
do we hum ecstasy
in the silence of the Winter's night?
Your final surge
rising, fertile, flowing
light, filling the lucid
We offer each other such
Afterwards, the next day,
driving me home, you said
you wanted to be clear,
that you love me
but weren't in love
the magic of transformation
You want your life to change,
that's what love does.
Your New Age
and a year later
I received a letter
from your other lover
about your nights with her
filling the hours
around ours, as well as
the others you had
slipped into bed with.
It was never
a question of love.
Portal of Breath
There are words I must speak, though surely never will. You call me across the expanse. I kiss your closed eyelids. I lie over you softly, breathing with you. With each wave of breath, like sea foam, I cover you with a silent resounding mantra, I love you. Even while you call me to you, you do not hear the rippling of my heart. It is when you are asleep and I lie with you that I hear the fullness of the silence between your breaths. You are the full intoxicating sea-garden in repose and I am calmly delirious in the scent of the night. In the morning you have forgotten everything; even the savouring. How do we "translate the silence of the real encounter between the two of us?"1
Monsieur, you can't be possessed.
One can only come into a relation of openess with you.
You leave, and yet always return. What you dismiss, you affirm.
Yesterday was no; today is yes. The horizon floods like continuous
1Clarice Lispector, The Stream of Life, trans. by Elizabeth Lowe and Earl Fitz (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), p.43.
for Kaj Devai, from the manuscript, EnTrapped WOR|l|DS, 2006, in which he is listed as a reader of this book in my Google Docs, and in 2007 he accessed and printed on his printer and read apparently a few times, and then had me read this poem to him over the phone in 2008, and agreed that in this writing I should tell the truth.