THE POARTRY PROJECT

THE
POETRY
PORTFOLIO

THE POETRY PORTFOLIO FOCUSES ON THE POWER AND SUBSTANCE OF WORDS

Wordsmiths, poets and bards have always been magicians – building and revealing worlds with words, sparking the common ground of shared experience and serving as the archivists of our collective memories.

At The Poartry Project, we use the senses beyond our eyes, ears and touch to perceive and bring to life the wondrous world of the unseen beyond the physical form that more and more lives are already seeking and recognizing as “the something more” they sense. This world can be found by following the trail of “golden threads of good” that weave together throughout the history of our human existence to provide a lighted path of good in the world. The Poartry Project perceives this world as what breathes life and wonder into our lives, and we have experienced profound changes over the years in how we create and share poetry and art as we have come to know this world. Mapping and sharing the territory of it is our contribution to the ongoing weaving of the golden threads of good. 

Our creative process and intention for each poem is unique and contemplative: With our faculties beyond the physical senses, we tune in with and perceive what we consider to be the substance, form, structure and essence beyond the physical form of each piece of artwork and its creator, space/place or experience that we are revealing and mapping through the creation of our poem. As we share this new territory of the “world beyond the form” through applying our deep training, experience and natural talent, new golden threads of good are woven in the consciousness of the reader or listener, creating opportunities to connect with and understand deeper aspects and wider dimensions of themselves and the world in new ways.

“VOICING ART”

These original poems are all created through the Voicing Art Reading Series hosted by The Poartry Project. Through Voicing Art, a community-wide call is sounded every two months to poets and writers of all ages and experience (including none) to write original poetry and prose inspired by the exhibit on display at South End Station’s Flynndog Gallery in Burlington, Vermont and share it at a Saturday afternoon public reading at the wonderful Nomad Coffee, also at South End Station. 

Some of the poems shared in this portfolio were submitted in advance. Others were written during the event through the inspiration of the readers by people who happened upon the reading when they came to get food and eats at Nomad Coffee – which is actually what we hoped would happen!

EXHIBIT | ‘JOY AND OTHER ACTS OF RESISTANCE’
ARTIST | MERCEDES BAUTISTA

BRONZE | JIMMY TEE (october 2019)

by Jimmy Tee

 

“The symbol is the enemy of the reality, and the reality is ever one’s true guide, true friend, true companion, and true self.”

– Irving Fiske

Its tough to smear reality
but we do it every day when what we happen to see becomes
what does that happen to say ?  

For I have never truly heard
any statue or flag communicate
a single phrase or a single
word that was not born innate 

Symbols are false they overreach
administration is divine see them as
they are — sans speech
stop searching for the rhyme 

 

ABOUT JIMMY TEE

Jimmy Tee is a poet from Milton, Vermont
jmmytee300@yahoo.com
jimmyteeblog.wordpress.com

A BROKEN HEART HAS NO HOME | MARY L. COLLINS (october 2019)

by Mary L. Collins
[for June]

 

No one saw her fly out of her body
Fire lit the sky, a torrent of sparks rippled out from her
like raindrops falling. 

In them, did I detect regret? I don’t know –
All one could see was an explosion of grief and anger
and the false god of pride, making a claim for her sorrow.
That small self-absorption built a feverish lie
from a small indiscretion and made it all powerful.
Consuming. Unforgiving.
So much so that she could not escape its hold.
She tried to find a stoop, a step, a place to land.
Did not see the cool water of the moving stream, so near her,
forgiveness and redemption lying there.
The fire of a thousand heartbreaks claimed her instead. 

A broken heart has no home.
She left by the back door and was gone.

 

ABOUT MARY L. COLLINS

Mary L. Collins is a writer/activist.  A Burlington native, Mary lives in Elmore, VT and works for the State of Vermont where she manages communications for Vermont’s Foster Care Services. Prior to that, Mary worked in marketing and communications for various non profit organizations, owned a production company, and spent many years in broadcasting. She is the founder of Lakota Tiny House Nation, a building project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD where she has been involved for over 15 years as an advocate for indigenous rights and cultural understanding. She is a recipient of recognition from the national organization, “Giving Tuesday” as a “Woman Who Cares”, and a published poet. She has one son, Will.

SOFT SHOULDER | MARY L. COLLINS (october 2019)

by Mary L. Collins

 

So this is where it ends
in the waning days of summer,
crickets whirring,
sun smoldering,
moths and whippoorwills
skittering in the fractious light
of passing traffic.
Headlights momentarily freeze-frame
the raucous ballet
that is this highway,
where drivers,
full of itch and impatience,
cell phones
and radios at the ready,
try to hold dominion over all
behind the wheels of cars
and their ever distracted, imperfect minds.
Nature intervenes,
and serves up a porcupine,
raccoon, or skunk
sent to wander
onto the carpet
of this reckless road
where it most assuredly
meets its end.
This day, a young deer is the casualty,
Fresh kill. Warm to the touch.
Its carcass lies aslant,
head lolling to one side,
body bloated and broken,
glazed with flies already.
and for this animal I feel sadness.
It has somehow managed to
straddle the steel guardrail,
and is pinioned to the metal
like a christian sacrifice.
The wind kicks up the animal’s
soft fur, still billowing
like dandelion seed on a breeze,
falling back into stillness
only when the cars
have gone by.
No one passes
without noticing.
Perhaps it is the way
the deer delicately fingers the easement
with its front left hoof
seeming to reach forward
to what would have lay ahead
in the hollow
of the darkened hill.
This deer would not settle
for the slight ravine,
a deep cradle
at the side of the road.
But, here the animal dropped
like a busted open feather pillow,
hind quarters across the guardrail,
head and legs splayed out beneath it
at an awkward angle.
I mark the land and holy sky,
here, the deer
laid its body down,
on the most coveted spot
on the road,
the soft shoulder —
good enough for any creature’s
final resting place,
with a name that sounds
too good to be true.
I drive past,
and wonder how it knew.

 

ABOUT MARY L. COLLINS

Mary L. Collins is a writer/activist.  A Burlington native, Mary lives in Elmore, VT and works for the State of Vermont where she manages communications for Vermont’s Foster Care Services. Prior to that, Mary worked in marketing and communications for various non profit organizations, owned a production company, and spent many years in broadcasting. She is the founder of Lakota Tiny House Nation, a building project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD where she has been involved for over 15 years as an advocate for indigenous rights and cultural understanding. She is a recipient of recognition from the national organization, “Giving Tuesday” as a “Woman Who Cares”, and a published poet. She has one son, Will.

CLAM'S MARCH | JENN TRAVERS (october 2019)

by Jenn Travers

Clams are not born with shells
The clam herself is a soft,
Fleshy mound that secretes 
A sticky liquid
That reacts with the environment 
And forms a hard, distinct shell

The clams march,
Moving forward
Clapping hands together in solidarity 
The clams march on

Clams are soft
When they are young,
Exposed to the elements
They form a pearl inside them
Round, hard coveted spheres 

Yet men take rough hands
Against the clam’s outer cover
And pull with fingers deep in tender pink
Until she is pried open 
Pearl exposed 

They take pearl to teeth,
Testing her worth
And if she is not just right,
Throw her back into the sea
Broken; without a shell 

And yet the moon 
Moves the waves 
Just as the clams continue,
Marching on

 

ABOUT JENN TRAVERS

Jenn Travers is currently a senior at the University of Vermont, where she studies English and theatre. She started writing poetry last spring. Her work has been exhibited in UVM’s Ekphrastic Poetry Reading at the Fleming Museum in April 2018, Wild Burlington for Art Hop at Artsriot in September 2018, and will be featured in Laurel Moon’s upcoming publication. She has recently returned from studying abroad at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.  

TIPS FOR LOCAL ARTISTS | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK (october 2019)

by McClain Jeffrey Moredock

  BLUE AND GREEN MOVE FAST
     RED YELLOW AND INDIGO SLOW             ORANGE AND VIOLET RARELY MOVE                                          

              TOP SUBJECTS:                                  

       MOUNTAINS (SEE CAMEL’S HUMP),         LAKES (SUNSETS, SINGLE BOATS)             FIELDS (BALED HAY)
       BARNS (ABANDONED),                                   WILDLIFE (UNPOSED)                                   CHILDREN (SEE ICE CREAM)                       NO COWS (OVERDONE)                                 CHAMPY (CARTOON ONLY)                         AVOID MINIMALISM
       3 ADIRONDACK CHAIRS (NOT ONE)

           KEEP DAY JOB

 

ABOUT MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK

In 80 years I have worked as a farmhand, lifeguard, folk-singer, surveyor, minister, chaplain, a teacher, coach, head of school, and chief operating officer.

Over a span 50 plus years, I’ve written numerous articles, many sermons, a collection of short stories, a novella, many songs, and over 100 poems.

As a cancer survivor, I treat each new day as a gift, and welcome the offering of what William Saroyan called “the human comedy.”  My family and my faith are inseparable, and like Miguel de Unamuno, I believe in God as I believe in my friends. 

PUBLICATIONS

Poems From Essex & Elsewhere

Nine Holes, Nine Lives-The Front Nine (e-book)

Zebras in the Lake (self-published)

Real fake News (available on request)
mcmoredock@gmail.com
www.mjmoredock.com

ORIGIN SONG | JC - THE POARTRY PROJECT (october 2019)

by JC | The Poartry Project
[inspired by the entire exhibit]

Mama swell,
wrap us in your
shawl of stars. 

Papa earth,
plant our feet in
solid ground. 

Sister stream,
sweep us in the
slip of your stones. 

Brother fire,
forge us in the
light of your flickering face. 

The embers’
trace across
the sky. 

Burning blaze
of remembered
nights. 

Embroidered in
silvered trails
of galaxy pavanes. 

Etching our
history along
the vault of time. 

Arching our breath
through the hearths
of heavenly halls.

 

ABOUT JC

Founder of The Poartry Project, poet, visual artist, cartographer of the unseen, builder of loving worlds through loving words
poartry.org

LISTENING TO SUMMER RAIN ON THE PORCH | MARY L. COLLINS (october2019)

by Mary L. Collins

 

When the rain comes, bringing fresh
agualluvia for the garden, I wait in anticipation.
Soon the wind will follow and kick up her skirts
spraying cool water through the pantalla
onto the porch where I sit, listening and counting cars
in the distant passing traffic. I know their number
by the swooshing sound made as tires grip wet pavement
and the autos scurry along the road
on this wet day, hurrying to their destination,
to beat the storm that has already startled them.
My porch becomes a cantina,
a taverna de bocados,
where my head is filled with heaping mouthfuls of sound
and my own heightened sensory acuity.
Water, wind, and the fertile green
of summer lies just outside the screened window
on this summer stage. The world is lit up like a premiere,
while I sit in obscura,
eager to watch the pageant of the season
continue all around me, illuminated —
as I wait for the rain to make its last curtain call,
expecting a standing ovation,
surely knowing it will receive one.

 

ABOUT MARY L. COLLINS

Mary L. Collins is a writer/activist.  A Burlington native, Mary lives in Elmore, VT and works for the State of Vermont where she manages communications for Vermont’s Foster Care Services. Prior to that, Mary worked in marketing and communications for various non profit organizations, owned a production company, and spent many years in broadcasting. She is the founder of Lakota Tiny House Nation, a building project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD where she has been involved for over 15 years as an advocate for indigenous rights and cultural understanding. She is a recipient of recognition from the national organization, “Giving Tuesday” as a “Woman Who Cares”, and a published poet. She has one son, Will.

THE BLUE TRAIN | MARY L. COLLINS (october 2019)

by Mary L. Collins

 

there is no destination,
there is only the long journey on
this train, with one purpose,
to carry the rider wherever she wants to be taken,
across plains, through mountain passes,
skirting cities, beyond curious cows grazing
in fields she might have called home, if,
there had been someone waiting on a porch,
or out behind the shed stacking wood,
stacking hearts, in neat little rows
with worn leather gloves,
soft from years of work and care, one chunk after the other,
cross-hatched in lines, so sure, so reliable,
poplar, ash, maple, pine, whatever one could find
on land that skirts the rails, cut itself by tracks
and passengers blurring by, always in a hurry,
there on the blue train,
on the rail that never stops
but marks the iron, rattling the ties, and always the steam,
shushing to escape the sonorous clacking.
It brings comfort to the riders with its monotony,
the sameness, expected, assured,
until the solitary figure appears
against the backdrop of evergreens,
and breaks the ripple of color waving by
with his steady, purposeful rhythm,
the pulse point, swinging low in a rhythm all his own
against the dark blue of the thicket,
Ax in hand, he has come to clear the rambling brush
as much as he has need to cut wood for winter,
the long single night of winter, its quiet, the impending loneliness.
Steady like the train he is, pausing to wipe his brow,
to squint the salt from his eyes, he looks up, just as she,
the lone rider with an eye to the window
raises her head too, and fixes a bead on the blue mountains,
the grazing sheep, sweeping like small tufts of clouds

 

ABOUT MARY L. COLLINS

Mary L. Collins is a writer/activist.  A Burlington native, Mary lives in Elmore, VT and works for the State of Vermont where she manages communications for Vermont’s Foster Care Services. Prior to that, Mary worked in marketing and communications for various non profit organizations, owned a production company, and spent many years in broadcasting. She is the founder of Lakota Tiny House Nation, a building project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD where she has been involved for over 15 years as an advocate for indigenous rights and cultural understanding. She is a recipient of recognition from the national organization, “Giving Tuesday” as a “Woman Who Cares”, and a published poet. She has one son, Will.

BORDER LULLABY | MARY L. COLLINS (october 2019)

by Mary L. Collins

 

When I was a child
My father would put me to bed
Tucking blanket up around my shoulders,
snug against my legs and feet.
He would sit there next to me
in the closing light of day
And sing.
It was our ritual.
It was the ritual for all my brothers
And my sister, each of us with a song of our own
only our father could sing.
Dad had picked one out from his memory
for his five children, and gifted
the songs as ours alone.
My eldest brother’s song was Roly Poly.
Although he wasn’t fat, nor do I recall
if he liked corn and taters,
he did like the song and Dad singing it.
The Streets of Laredo was a good cowboy song
for my next brother. Knowing he’d done wrong
left us all a little trepidatious,
and somewhat in awe of our brother.
My sister’s song was Puff the Magic Dragon.
I don’t think Dad got the double meaning of it.
To him, Puff was a mythical beast who carried
his youngest daughter off to a sleepy, enchanted land
where the dragons are nice
and little Jackie Paper loves him.
Every night, each of us got those special few minutes
with our father.
And when it was my turn,
I felt the warm embrace of his voice,
the constancy of his presence.
My song was Jamaica Farewell.
I remember Harry Belafonte on the cover
of an RCA album in a deep green
button down shirt. He was handsome.
And his voice was beautiful.
But it wasn’t as beautiful as my Dad’s
who began softly singing,
Down the way where the nights are gay
And the sun shines daily on the mountain top,
I would get a little wistful
when he got to the part about
leaving a little girl in Kingston Town.
I couldn’t imagine my father ever leaving me
anywhere, or going away.
So when I think of those children
stuck in cement pens,
caged like stock animals,
I think about how no one is there to sing to them
or ease their fears
about the strangeness of where they are.
I think about them falling asleep
wondering where their mothers and fathers
disappeared to and why have they not yet come to
bring them home?
No one sings there.
Fathers won’t be back for many a day.
Hearts are down
Heads are turning around
And children fall asleep
soothed by the sounds of their own weeping.

 

ABOUT MARY L. COLLINS

Mary L. Collins is a writer/activist.  A Burlington native, Mary lives in Elmore, VT and works for the State of Vermont where she manages communications for Vermont’s Foster Care Services. Prior to that, Mary worked in marketing and communications for various non profit organizations, owned a production company, and spent many years in broadcasting. She is the founder of Lakota Tiny House Nation, a building project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD where she has been involved for over 15 years as an advocate for indigenous rights and cultural understanding. She is a recipient of recognition from the national organization, “Giving Tuesday” as a “Woman Who Cares”, and a published poet. She has one son, Will.

NOT A LOT OF HELP | JIMMY TEE (october 2019)

by Jimmy Tee

art fills the Earth’s deep caves
strangles dusty warehouses
every culture found on every shelf
in an immense pile of imagination
forged as divine madness
a compulsion to forever create 

paintings hang tilted in alleyways
sculptures lie in broken shapes of
melted stone and bronzed wood
the poet’s music overwhelms they
recite epics of ideals where none
exist but in mirrors

if we drop the symbols that confront
from every angle we find life as a
well developed myth interpretation
leads nowhere when style is
subjective to vacuum canvases only
extend to their frames 

 

ABOUT JIMMY TEE

Jimmy Tee is a poet from Milton, Vermont
jmmytee300@yahoo.com
jimmyteeblog.wordpress.com

THE BLACK VELVET BLUES | JIMMY TEE (october 2019)

by Jimmy Tee

 

I’d like to speak to Charlie
     but he’s on the phone
high dealing with Waldo
     from his easy chair at home 

Charlie needed money
     and Lynn ruled the throne
Charlie supplied the saccharine
     and two kids she called her own 

Waldo could be lazy
     due to low testosterone
he stayed eight miles high
     in a haze of hydrocone 

Charlie says to Waldo
     he could move eight pounds alone
Waldo sent a suitcase
     full of Mexican pone 

the coppers got word
     and they searched the zone
Charlie tried to stash it
     but he was accident prone 

Lynn about freaked
     out of the house he was thrown
she was a preachers daughter
     and she couldn’t condone

Charlie asked Waldo
     for an extended loan
but Waldo had a deadline
     that he couldn’t postpone 

Charlie hid his treasure
     underneath a stone
he sweated one night
     and his secret was blown 

the coppers all wearing
     badges of chrome
found the yellow suitcase
     and to the press it was shown 

with the loss of eight g’s
     Charlie had to atone
when the thought of Waldo hit him
     Charlie started to groan 

the lesson of the story
     Charlie reaped what he had sown
since they call it dope
     you think he might have known

 

ABOUT JIMMY TEE

Jimmy Tee is a poet from Milton, Vermont
jmmytee300@yahoo.com
jimmyteeblog.wordpress.com

THIS IS NOT MY POEM [ENDING SONG] | JC - THE POARTRY PROJECT (october 2019)

by JC | The Poartry Project
[inspired by the entire exhibit]

This is not my poem.
It is the poem of a man
who left it by the side of the road.
Tucked into the band of his hat
dusted and crushed,
clutched in the fist of his sweated hand
as he sought to gain entry
across a border he didn’t know existed
into a land neither known.
He walked and walked,
across dusty miles of empty desert,
tin cans tumbling across the sand
into sea of electric blue.
But the sea was inaccessible to him,
its cooling waters slipped away
whenever he sought to draw near.
The whales sang that
he did not know the code.
He had not guarded the right memories,
and forgot who he was,
where he came from.
He trudged on,
his shoulders drooping with each step
and his tongue as paper
in the husk of his mouth,
husk of the maize he thinks he used to shuck
for a shadow he thinks might have existed,
but as he grabs at the straw of the memory
– which might have been a right one –
it drifted apart,
and thus he faded away,
sinking by slow degree into
the sands of the Baja
– the below place –
because he forgot the land of women
and the song they used to sing
to raise the sun up into the sky
each day
with the gold of the maize
lovingly caressed and pressed
into manna between hands
that had felt everything
for others.
This is not my poem.
It is the poem of a man
who left it by the side of the road.
Tucked into the band of his hat
dusted and crushed,
clutched in the fist of his sweated hand.

 

ABOUT JC

Founder of The Poartry Project, poet, visual artist, cartographer of the unseen, builder of loving worlds through loving words
poartry.org

EXHIBIT | ‘BUCOLIC CONCRETE’
ARTISTS | VARIOUS

BUCOLIC CONCRETE | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MODEDOCK (august 2019)

by Jeffrey Moredock

all across our country
there are great gaping holes
made deep by drilling
     blasting
     cutting
     grinding
then stones
only semi-precious
are brought to town
     shaped
     stacked
     then
rise toward heaven
higher than the holes
     they left are deep
      and often
just as empty

8/18/2019

 

ABOUT MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK

In 80 years I have worked as a farmhand, lifeguard, folk-singer, surveyor, minister, chaplain, a teacher, coach, head of school, and chief operating officer.

Over a span 50 plus years, I’ve written numerous articles, many sermons, a collection of short stories, a novella, many songs, and over 100 poems.

As a cancer survivor, I treat each new day as a gift, and welcome the offering of what William Saroyan called “the human comedy.”  My family and my faith are inseparable, and like Miguel de Unamuno, I believe in God as I believe in my friends.               

PUBLICATIONS

Poems From Essex & Elsewhere

Nine Holes, Nine Lives-The Front Nine (e-book) Zebras in the Lake (self-published)

Real fake News (available on request)

www.mjmoredock.com
mcmoredock@gmail.com

APPENDAGE | JIMMY TEE (august 2019)

by Jimmy Tee


blackthorn they say is best
others lean toward yew
hornbeam has a pimpled grain
red oak is plumb and true 

you’ll search long for thonged willow
vine wood is a weighted screw
all must have a rooted knob
of warty burl sinew 

eye the wood to hear the call
of the dryads passing through
from offshoot to walking stick
a certain magic takes its cue 

you do not choose the shillelagh
the shillelagh chooses you 

with bow saw in hand somehow
shimmy up a limb or two
cut, carve, shave to measure
balanced from curl to shoe 

hung and cured in a smoke stream
shellacked to a shimmering hue
carried along in life’s plan
of which I have little clue 

my reach now extended
the added strength to pursue
in this epidemic world
any ally will do 

you do not choose the shillelagh
the shillelagh chooses you

 

ABOUT JIMMY TEE

Jimmy Tee is a poet from Milton, Vermont
jmmytee300@yahoo.com
jimmyteeblog.wordpress.com

DAMN AUGUST, YOU BEAUTIFUL | JIMMY TEE (august 2019)

by Jimmy Tee

 

young sparrows
vie for seed
they know nothing
but summer days 

one by one
poppy flakes
fall to the breeze
’til the morn’s end 

a tall stand
of hostas
tips and bends low
as bees crawl in  

how explain
the buzzsaw
cicada song
it must be joy 

sturgeon moon
rises bright
tracing a line
I cannot see

a problem
in August
sweet corn kernels
between the teeth

fat peppers
on the vine
please hold my beer
I’m going in

summer skies
white with heat
charcoal briquets
sun tea brewing  

up early
and out late
sleep can be had
in November 

the clouds fly
over the
dragonflies leap
verse is easy  

tee to green
I’m OK
but two putting
is an art form 

the dog days
of August
will continue
long after mine

the sweet air
travels far
I hope its not
a dryer sheet 

dot matrix
before me
twenty thousand
morning glories

 

ABOUT JIMMY TEE

Jimmy Tee is a poet from Milton, Vermont
jmmytee300@yahoo.com
jimmyteeblog.wordpress.com

BOOKWORM GARDENS | LAINE DRISCOLL (august 2019)

by Laine Driscoll
[inspired by a poetry of nature walk at Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan, Wisconsin]

Wet stone, dry stone
Single shiny scarlet stone
Garden of stone sparks,
Of imagination,
A monster, but lovable,
A library inside,
Golden memories,
Metallic cutouts,
Materialized into form.
I wonder who the caretaker be?
A quiet being? A winged creature?
Sexless or sexmore?
All + alpha, beta, dachshund.
Ticklish notes, goosebumps.
Winnie the Friend.
Alice in Buddhaland.
A young life experiencing
The whole of Japan
In a forest.
Lives young for the first time,
Lives aged for the first time,
In a multidimensional experience of East,
Sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, know
Clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, claircognizance
Can you be through these words? Through this place?

Will you?

At the magic treehouse?
Past the gong and through the gate.
Bring all the bits of you.
Chapters, syllabi, parts tall like redwoods,
And tiny grains of sand,
All the paths you never knew you were,
And those precious times you did. 

We’ll stack them up like books in a field.
We’ll leaf through them and eat the words that jump off the page. We’ll hear what sweet smelling sounds are thread-bound in the folds. We’ll listen for the new knowing.
New World, a bit brighter,
Delighted, lighted for your growing story.
Celebration.

We’ll want to keep a corner.
A dog-eared page or two.
Beauties.
But, with a growing sense of more,
Into the bonfire they go.

And dawn again.

Stones.
Alpha.
Buddha. 

ABOUT LAINE

Laine is a designer and friend of the world often located in New Haven, Connecticut.  

STONES THE COLOR OF CROWS | MARY L. COLLINS (august 2019)

by Mary L. Collins

 

Along the amber waves of grainy sand,
two languages hang in the stifling heat.
One has no music,
the other is loose and floating in the salty sea.
There, a mother wades, fully clothed, and unselfconscious.
Waist deep, she scoops her dark-haired daughter into ample arms.
The girl is all sand and seashells, legs akimbo.
In her hands, a plastic cup spills water
and perfectly tumbled stones. She laughs
and nuzzles into the safe and sturdy arms of her mother,
who dips and skims the girl’s lithe body across the ocean’s surface.
Behind the two, three women watch,
gulping cigarette smoke and cans of Dr. Pepper,
their white as white skin, guarded under beach umbrellas.
A radio splinters out commercials for new cars,
nightclubs, and too much Billy Joel.
Six little girls clamber around the beached women,
up and down the rocky outcrop they climb,
back and forth for towels, more quarters for ice cream,
sun screen across shoulder blades and cheeks,
their conversation, a complaint.
None venture to the water’s edge
Where the woman in the water, sings
her words like a lullaby, her voice, a chorus;

“Es usted rebalozo como un pez!”

She rocks and sways with the deepening tide,
all the while, her eyes are fixed on her blissful daughter, 

“Cuidado, las olos son fuertes!”

The girl slips from her mother’s arms, laughing.
She looks to the shore, eyeing the six little girls on rocks,
fruit pops in hand, colorful beach towels of favorite Disney characters
spread out like badges of honor around them.
The dark haired girl shrugs ever so slightly for what she does not have,
leaps from her mother’s arms, and dives headlong into the waves.
She reaches deep, comes up, slick seaweed in her hair,
in her palm, one perfectly oval stone.
It had waited millennia for her arrival,
sitting sentinel on the bleached out ocean floor,
rocking in its own mother’s arms,
the color of crows.

 

ABOUT MARY L. COLLINS

Mary L. Collins is a writer/activist.  A Burlington native, Mary lives in Elmore, VT and works for the State of Vermont where she manages communications for Vermont’s Foster Care Services. Prior to that, Mary worked in marketing and communications for various non profit organizations, owned a production company, and spent many years in broadcasting. She is the founder of Lakota Tiny House Nation, a building project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD where she has been involved for over 15 years as an advocate for indigenous rights and cultural understanding. She is a recipient of recognition from the national organization, “Giving Tuesday” as a “Woman Who Cares”, and a published poet. She has one son, Will.

THE REAL REASON I NEVER BECAME A DANCER LIKE JULIET PROUSE | MARY L. COLLINS (august 2019)

by Mary L. Collins

 

His name was todd and he was tall,
or did I just think so because he was the only boy
in tap-dancing class?
All the girls hung real close
and shuffle-hop-stepped by him every chance they got
Some carried on a little too much
doing the “cat’s-eye” pose with their fingers,
gracefully arcing their thumb and pointer,
like a geisha’s fan,right up in his face.

todd didn’t seem to notice, or maybe he was shy.
I never got close enough to figure him out.
And when his mother’s car broke down and my mother
offered them a ride in our turquoise Pontiac station wagon,
I didn’t know what to do.

So I crawled over the blue vinyl seat
to sit in the way-back facing the road, and getting dizzy
from how everything spun back
and got smaller, the further away we traveled.

Or was it todd who made me dizzy?

Because when he flipped over the backseat to join me
I got nervous and fish-flopped back
to the empty second seat kicking him in the jaw
with my patent leather tap shoes.

He let out a yelp, then bawled like the girls who weren’t picked to
be his Yellow Rose of Texas, or his Bonny Lying Over the Ocean.

And when his mother screamed, “Can’t you be more careful!”
And my mother barked, “What’s going on back there?”

I started crying, saying something about a sore lip,
how I hated tap-dancing class, and how stupid boys were anyway,
hugging the door, willing it to open and spill me out
into the street to be crushed by our big blue Pontiac,
and wouldn’t they all be sorry then,

my feet shuffle-hop-stepping
on the back of my tap-dancing shoe case
the one that said, “Capezio Taps…The Choice of Stars!”

 

ABOUT MARY L. COLLINS

Mary L. Collins is a writer/activist.  A Burlington native, Mary lives in Elmore, VT and works for the State of Vermont where she manages communications for Vermont’s Foster Care Services. Prior to that, Mary worked in marketing and communications for various non profit organizations, owned a production company, and spent many years in broadcasting. She is the founder of Lakota Tiny House Nation, a building project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD where she has been involved for over 15 years as an advocate for indigenous rights and cultural understanding. She is a recipient of recognition from the national organization, “Giving Tuesday” as a “Woman Who Cares”, and a published poet. She has one son, Will.

TREE HOUSE | MARY L. COLLINS (august 2019)

by Mary L. Collins

 

When my brothers built their first tree house
they didn’t have a plan, they didn’t have single boards that would reach far enough across the two best trees in our yard So they stole what they could from dad’s scrap pile
and cobbled together a ladder, frame, and platform,
before the bees were disturbed,
and each were stung on elbows and necks
and on the backs of their fast moving legs
and when they came back to it,
they worked feverishly, picturing the architecture with imaginations spanning beyond ability and too small hands

What looked like scrap wood tacked to trees became a parapet,
a lookout tower, second story escarpments, and platforms
hung precariously from not so sturdy tree limbs,
but what did that matter? 

All kinds of modifications were built, torn down and
rebuilt, each to serve them in the four seasons,
cubbies for fallen chestnuts or snowballs,
comic books and candy bars, just enough length
to roll out a sleeping bag, arms crossed back underneath their necks to cradle heads as they looked at the stars
bleeding through the roughed-out roof with gaps as big as the sky itself

In that tree house, my brothers would hide
from neighborhood bullies and girls they thought silly,
from me, their younger sister, most of all

 

ABOUT MARY L. COLLINS

Mary L. Collins is a writer/activist.  A Burlington native, Mary lives in Elmore, VT and works for the State of Vermont where she manages communications for Vermont’s Foster Care Services. Prior to that, Mary worked in marketing and communications for various non profit organizations, owned a production company, and spent many years in broadcasting. She is the founder of Lakota Tiny House Nation, a building project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD where she has been involved for over 15 years as an advocate for indigenous rights and cultural understanding. She is a recipient of recognition from the national organization, “Giving Tuesday” as a “Woman Who Cares”, and a published poet. She has one son, Will.

THE MAIDEN WALKS IN A GARDEN OF SNOW | RON L. LAY-SLEEPER (august 2019)

by Ron L. Lay-Sleeper
[inspired by ‘Decembre’ from Eugene Grassier’s Belle Jarndiniere Calendar. 1896] 

Among reptilian pink-bloomed lilies,
Her cloak blowing in the wind,
Her apron filled with snowberries.
Leafless branches caked with snow
In the dim gray woods of the park
Beyond the stone urns and fretted
Balustrade are empty as the garden,
Her cold hands beneath her apron.

In the stone twilight she moves slowly,
Radiant as the flowers, ephemeral as their gree
Drooping leaves, tenuous and beautiful
As a flower in the snow.

 

©Ron Lay-Sleeper

GAUGUIN'S LANDSCAPE | RON L. LAY-SLEEPER (august 2019)

by Ron L. Lay-Sleeper
[inspired by ‘Haystack, Near Arles’ by Paul Gaugin, 1888] 

Like a bare Tahitian breast or a budding Popocatepetl

The haystack crisps and thatches in the hot noon sun.

Drying beside it in the freshmown field

Lie silking waves to be piled and woven

By the forks of the men at their midday meal

In the white-washed building with the green window

Who will soon hurry out

         —See the rainclouds gathering in the East—

Their shirts

                     clammy

                                     on their backs,

Pitch up the last rows, drink a cool green bottle

Of good red wine.

 

Gauguin worked many a day

         Painted a canvas full of farm

Sliced out this section, carried it away—

An Arles afternoon

For rainy days

                     In Polynesia.

 

©Ron Lay-Sleeper

THOUGHTS ON TEMPRANILLO AND TRAVELS | JENN TRAVERS (august 2019)

by Jenn Travers
[inspired by Anna Travers’ painting]

I dipped fingers into the landscape
The way of finger painting
And pressed them into memory
Unreliable; might be lost or remembered
Forever  

I dipped a toe into the lake
Although they have warned time
And time again of contamination 

I spread fingertip
Then whole palm to your body
Painting a landscape on existing earth
Trying to change what should not be erased

And spread wide strok
Onto your structure
It’s been ages
But Earth wasn’t created in a day 

When finger run red with exhaustion
I rub them against paper,
Spit like a camel,
And in similar emotion, retreat 

My mind wearies
Thinking about where you are now
Same dead end job?
Same disdain for life?  

I see my face in store windows
Somehow it always looks better
In foreign places 

Sometimes I travel to see
If I look different there 

When I come home,
I am still the same,
Same girl with her fingers in
The sand
And painted expression in the window

 

ABOUT JENN TRAVERS

Jenn Travers is currently a senior at the University of Vermont, where she studies English and theatre. She started writing poetry last spring. Her work has been exhibited in UVM’s Ekphrastic Poetry Reading at the Fleming Museum in April 2018, Wild Burlington for Art Hop at Artsriot in September 2018, and will be featured in Laurel Moon’s upcoming publication. She has recently returned from studying abroad at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.  

BECKON BLUE | JC - THE POARTRY PROJECT (august 2019)

by JC | The Poartry Project
[inspired by untitled works of Anna Travers, ‘Double Doors’ by John Clark, ‘Moon Rising’, ‘Blood Moon’ and untitled ‘wire paintings’ by Thomas Norberto]

You will not be possessed
Though the valley of your clavicle
Beckons to be known
It is veiled by a shape that
   is somehow wrong
A broken wing bent in
   on itself
Under a watchful eye
   from across the room
whose face melts
What shadows does it hide
What scars does it obscure
under the blue moon
the black sky
It seeks light from somewhere
but gets caught in electric wires
fences of frost
that make the skin
brittle and burn
sere under the gaze that
   does not blink
   does not move
frozen in time
where the clock
of the heart I cannot find
has wound down
I feel sad for this
   broken bird
she stirs the abundant heart
   I have
wishing to give
some of it away
to wrap her in
wings unbroken
that have flown
for aeons looking for
the right heart to heal

 

ABOUT JC

Founder of The Poartry Project, poet, visual artist, cartographer of the unseen, builder of loving worlds through loving words
poartry.org

FIVE MINUTE WINDOW | ANI RAO (august 2019)

by Ani Rao
[written during the break + inspired by the very short timing of the break]

When the clock strikes start,
5 minutes seems like it would be quicker than a blink, barely enough to begin.
In the 1st minute I tend to draw in Muse, thread of thought someway to its destination, and activity.
In the 2nd minute I have a moment of pause and reflection;
Is this going to work out? is it?
Ok it probably will, just continue, go go go.
What happens in the middle, that 3rd minute of activity? a mystery.
I know it exists and yet I’ve rarely seen it on a clock.
Does Time pluck itself away?
As if to say, “there is more to my life than meets the eye.”
And by the final breath of the 4th minute, in a momentary ponder…
Somehow at that time it seems so far away where I began.
The 5th minute, drop drop drop, everything down, for now at least.
Sometimes there happens to be a 6th minute, a grace,
And sometimes that’s all there is. 
Either way, living those 5 minutes I am glad for the beginning.

 

ABOUT ANI

Ani loves poetry, being in nature, meditation and working with young lives in creative ways. He was born in the south of India and moved to Australia at the age of five. He is in currently in Brisbane, Australia after having recently travelled for 20 months through parts of the United States of America, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. He is currently working on consulting- and education-related projects. He has also co-stewarded a business and a philanthropic endeavor, as well as working as a high school teacher.

CONSCIOUS AWARENESS COLLECTION | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK (august 2019)

by McClain Jeffrey Moredock

            Self-love
            my mirror     
            suggests
            i could do
            much better 

        Self-loathing
            i am
            better off
             without
            neighbors        

        Self-congratulations
            a pat
            on the back
            is best left
            to others 

            Self-awareness
            a stubbed toe
            a paper cut
            a sneeze
            still
            so much to learn 

            Selfless
            the scale does not lie
            I am
            just
            too much 

            Selfie
           …ergo sum

 

ABOUT MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK

In 80 years I have worked as a farmhand, lifeguard, folk-singer, surveyor, minister, chaplain, a teacher, coach, head of school, and chief operating officer.

Over a span 50 plus years, I’ve written numerous articles, many sermons, a collection of short stories, a novella, many songs, and over 100 poems.

As a cancer survivor, I treat each new day as a gift, and welcome the offering of what William Saroyan called “the human comedy.”  My family and my faith are inseparable, and like Miguel de Unamuno, I believe in God as I believe in my friends. 

PUBLICATIONS

Poems From Essex & Elsewhere
Nine Holes, Nine Lives-The Front Nine (e-book)
Zebras in the Lake (self-published)
Real fake News (available on request)
mcmoredock@gmail.com
www.mjmoredock.com

PUNKTUATION | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK (august 2019)

by McClain Jeffrey Moredock

            No, not tonight, I have my .
            It’s all gone, my dog – ate it  
            If you ____  you lose
            Excuse my lisp, but look at the solar …
            I just had my first : oscopy
            My sigmoidoscopy was a ; oscopy
            I won the 100 meter  –
            I believe Matthew Luke and John but I  ?    

 

                                                   © VISVERS Ltd.

 

ABOUT MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK

In 80 years I have worked as a farmhand, lifeguard, folk-singer, surveyor, minister, chaplain, a teacher, coach, head of school, and chief operating officer.

Over a span 50 plus years, I’ve written numerous articles, many sermons, a collection of short stories, a novella, many songs, and over 100 poems.

As a cancer survivor, I treat each new day as a gift, and welcome the offering of what William Saroyan called “the human comedy.”  My family and my faith are inseparable, and like Miguel de Unamuno, I believe in God as I believe in my friends. 

PUBLICATIONS

Poems From Essex & Elsewhere
Nine Holes, Nine Lives-The Front Nine (e-book)
Zebras in the Lake (self-published)
Real fake News (available on request)
mcmoredock@gmail.com
www.mjmoredock.com

BARELY HOLDING ON | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK (august 2019)

by McClain Jeffrey Moredock

 taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap
                       ring
                       ring
                       ring

   we are unable to complete your call as dialed
                       sigh
   taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap
                ring
                       ring
                       ring
   you have reached a number that is no longer working
sigh
   taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap
                       ring
                       ring
                       ring
          apriete uno para español
         press two for English
                       please hold
     your call is important to us
     someone will be with you shortly
                       music
                       music
                       music
           yes how may I help you
                       HELP!
   one moment please while I connect you
                       music
                       music
                       music
               thank you for holding
          please state your full name
          the last four digits of your social security
number
          the name of your first grade teacher
          your mother’s maiden name
          your favorite lunch meat
          the square root of pi
                       silence
                       silence
                       silence
   the time for your call is about to expire
                       click
                       dial tone
 

                       F*CK!

 

                                                            1/19/2019

 

ABOUT MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK

In 80 years I have worked as a farmhand, lifeguard, folk-singer, surveyor, minister, chaplain, a teacher, coach, head of school, and chief operating officer.

Over a span 50 plus years, I’ve written numerous articles, many sermons, a collection of short stories, a novella, many songs, and over 100 poems.

As a cancer survivor, I treat each new day as a gift, and welcome the offering of what William Saroyan called “the human comedy.”  My family and my faith are inseparable, and like Miguel de Unamuno, I believe in God as I believe in my friends. 

PUBLICATIONS

Poems From Essex & Elsewhere
Nine Holes, Nine Lives-The Front Nine (e-book)
Zebras in the Lake (self-published)
Real fake News (available on request)
mcmoredock@gmail.com
www.mjmoredock.com

GLOBAL WARNING | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK (august 2019)
by McClain Jeffrey Moredock

Hey, it’s getting hot around here
I mean, a nice hot day is a treat
But every day?
I can’t keep ice in my drink
The squirrels are sweating
Birds pant but don’t sing
Hey, it’s getting hot around here
Do the politicians care?
Congress makes no progress
The White House residential
Could be presidential
And say, for instance
My fellow Americans
It’s getting hot around here
Nooooooo…what we get
Are climate clowns who claim
It’s just a phase a blip
They know because they’ve been
Here for hundreds of years
Chopping off the head
Of every little chicken
Who looks up and says
Hey, things don’t look good
I am not a nasty person
But I imagine them drowning
In a great swirl of
Seawater and sweat
So I sit and watch as
The mercury rises
My spirits fall, and at last,
I Google: Ark Building for Idiots

9/20/2012

 

ABOUT MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK

In 80 years I have worked as a farmhand, lifeguard, folk-singer, surveyor, minister, chaplain, a teacher, coach, head of school, and chief operating officer.

Over a span 50 plus years, I’ve written numerous articles, many sermons, a collection of short stories, a novella, many songs, and over 100 poems.

As a cancer survivor, I treat each new day as a gift, and welcome the offering of what William Saroyan called “the human comedy.”  My family and my faith are inseparable, and like Miguel de Unamuno, I believe in God as I believe in my friends. 

PUBLICATIONS

Poems From Essex & Elsewhere
Nine Holes, Nine Lives-The Front Nine (e-book)
Zebras in the Lake (self-published)
Real fake News (available on request)
mcmoredock@gmail.com
www.mjmoredock.com

THE TRANSFER STATION | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK (august 2019)

by McClain Jeffrey Moredock

 

Every town has a dump
Some have credentials
Many rooted in old habits
All piled high with the
Detritus of destiny
The old making way for the new 

But here in Our Town
We have a Transfer Station
A place where
Pass the trash and
In for a buck is not a game 

Just a dollar a pound
Unload the unneeded
The unnecessary, the
Bad and the ugly
Only the good live again
Recycled, reborn, reused 

The large scale weighs the
Refuse of our lives and we
Wait while our ticket is punched
Always with the Big Question
Really the only question
Will my end be like this 

When I am no longer needed
No longer necessary
Will I be rubbish or renewal
Rejected or recycled 

For…no matter how

We lead our lives
We all end up at
The Transfer Station

 

ABOUT MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK

In 80 years I have worked as a farmhand, lifeguard, folk-singer, surveyor, minister, chaplain, a teacher, coach, head of school, and chief operating officer.

Over a span 50 plus years, I’ve written numerous articles, many sermons, a collection of short stories, a novella, many songs, and over 100 poems.

As a cancer survivor, I treat each new day as a gift, and welcome the offering of what William Saroyan called “the human comedy.”  My family and my faith are inseparable, and like Miguel de Unamuno, I believe in God as I believe in my friends. 

PUBLICATIONS

Poems From Essex & Elsewhere
Nine Holes, Nine Lives-The Front Nine (e-book)
Zebras in the Lake (self-published)
Real fake News (available on request)
mcmoredock@gmail.com
www.mjmoredock.com

THE DOGS IN MY SHOES | JIMMY TEE (august 2019)

by Jimmy Tee

hideous veins
and mysterious pains
no nail exactly the same
the feet that made my living
have become less than forgiving
I’ll never make that mistake again 

arches have fallen
arthritis keeps calling
an ankle that pops on command
walk on lost padding
while birthdays keep adding
to Doctor Scholl’s retirement plan 

with toes out of reach
a plantar facia breech
hurts more than anything can
my heels are compressing
under skin that is stretching
in colors that match a Cezanne 

my days, away they flew
now waiting in heavens queue
the miles these soles have spanned
all the aches and half the fun
lay on my couch, call it a run
old age asks much to understand

 

ABOUT JIMMY TEE

Jimmy Tee is a poet from Milton, Vermont
jmmytee300@yahoo.com
jimmyteeblog.wordpress.com

A WIDOW AT TWENTY-ONE | MARY L. COLLINS (august 2019)

by Mary L. Collins

 

In the dream,
she wraps her legs around his body
like roots, supple and strong,
she anchors him there.

He is old now,
with temples lined in crow’s feet,
deep lines, like plowed fields, yet
his smile remains the same.
It is boyish, full of mischief,
and she is glad to see
he has not yet let go of who he once was. 

She scans the length of his body
curled into the mountain where he rests,
His fingers, now covered in deep green moss,
pliant no more, but alive, still,
moist and verdant, and where
she touches her cheek to his hand
breathing in the earthy scent of him,
she thinks she feels a pulse. 

There will be no awakening.
Gone now forty years,
he is the humus of her life. 

She has grown, a full woman, fertile, too bold,
perhaps, from the girl he remembered.
She had to learn to walk alone,
And that made her strong.  

She curves her shoulders and arms into his broad back,
her breasts touch his skin, her face rests
in the hollow of his neck, holding him there.
She does not let loose her embrace. 

Tenderness seeps out like rain,
the mountain shrugs of letting go.
She follows, falling into memory,
and still, he sleeps.

 

ABOUT MARY L. COLLINS

Mary L. Collins is a writer/activist.  A Burlington native, Mary lives in Elmore, VT and works for the State of Vermont where she manages communications for Vermont’s Foster Care Services. Prior to that, Mary worked in marketing and communications for various non profit organizations, owned a production company, and spent many years in broadcasting. She is the founder of Lakota Tiny House Nation, a building project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD where she has been involved for over 15 years as an advocate for indigenous rights and cultural understanding. She is a recipient of recognition from the national organization, “Giving Tuesday” as a “Woman Who Cares”, and a published poet. She has one son, Will.

THE HELPING KIND | MARY L. COLLINS (august 2019)

by Mary L. Collins
[for Pete Catches]

 

how did I know his medicine ways?
a broken old man, head low to his chest,
hands on his knees. He seemed lost.
The television was on. Loud.
His recliner pulled up real close, so he could hear it.
He was watching rodeo on a western channel.
I remember sitting at his feet and saying “thank you”.
As a guest in his home, I was mindful of the intrusion.
For someone like him, to have someone like me
inside his home, well, that was a big deal.
It was a generosity I am just now understanding.
He held nothing back. Not his drunkenness
Not his frailty. Not his medicine ways.
But I could not read through the spectacle of the man
who had just danced four days straight,
at his advanced age, who had healed the sick,
and taken the poison out of their lives.
I could not reconcile the needs
of the many who came to be doctored
taking it all in, purging the hurts and injury
heaped upon his loved ones, generations
upon generations, himself alone, carrying the burden of it.
Drinking helped him forget. He was, after all, an ordinary, humble man.
It’s hard to carry so much for so long
without collapsing under the weight of it all.
So when I went to say my goodbyes,
I sat quietly at his feet, and said,“Thank you for letting me come here.”
He raised his head slightly, and said, “I love you.”
I said, “I love you too.” I touched his hand.
He let me hold it for a minute, and then he slipped back into his weariness.
Or was it somewhere else he escaped to? 

Black Elk said this was not the real world. I remember.  

There was nothing more to say. I let go the old man’s hand, stood, and left.
Medicine ways are more mysterious than I can ever describe or understand.
The rodeo played on the TV set. The old man asleep there in his recliner,
tipped back, feet up, eyes closed.  

Here was a holy man. And I was healed.

 

ABOUT MARY L. COLLINS

Mary L. Collins is a writer/activist.  A Burlington native, Mary lives in Elmore, VT and works for the State of Vermont where she manages communications for Vermont’s Foster Care Services. Prior to that, Mary worked in marketing and communications for various non profit organizations, owned a production company, and spent many years in broadcasting. She is the founder of Lakota Tiny House Nation, a building project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in SD where she has been involved for over 15 years as an advocate for indigenous rights and cultural understanding. She is a recipient of recognition from the national organization, “Giving Tuesday” as a “Woman Who Cares”, and a published poet. She has one son, Will.

GATHERING LEAVES | RON L. LAY-SLEEPER (august 2019)

by Ron L. Lay-Sleeper

This morning,
Walking,
Gathering leaves
For the memory
Before snow,
Wind and cold
Take their harvest.
Gathering leaves
More splendid in the present
Falling
Than in the springing.
The gathering of leaves
In the wind
And under foot
At our seasonal
Rituals
Leaves the children tired
After work and play and talk,
The meal done
And the dishes washed,
Leaves are gathered in benediction
For night falling, distance traveled,
The long snowy roads of winter
Down the hall.
Gathering leaves–death of the body
Of those we have loved
Who nourished us
In our sapling days– 
The dwindling of our kindling.
Gathering Leaves
From those we loved, with whom we shared
Bed, bread, children;
Taking leave out of season,
The Orchard overgrown,
Untended,
The garden of delight
Springing back to brush,
Another forest
Growing in,
Gathering leaves.

 

©Ron Lay-Sleeper

ALONE AT THE LAKE | JENN TRAVERS (august 2019)

by Jenn Travers
[inspired by ‘Lady of the Lake’ (1936) by Horace Pippin (from MET 2017)]

Freedom only comes from the warm approval of the summer sun
As I rush out into the wilderness from the caves of captivity that
Define my log cabin and throw down that woven blanket
That has been a part of this Earth longer than I have been here.
Freedom only comes from releasing my body from the confines
Of modern clothing with its hose that treats my legs as if they were
Sausages on display in the deli and pearls that belong to the clams.
Freedom comes from my unaltered form fixating on the unchanged
Mountains and lake that surround me.
They were too daunting to the men
That threaten to destroy them but they invite me to sit with them.

Freedom comes from the Sun’s favorable gaze on me;
His smile illuminates my eggshell skin and
Makes me emulate his mistress, the moon, as if I could
Embody all her glory and beauty. The water from the lake
Begs for my attention with each tap of its tongue
Against the Earth. Together, the lake and I glisten in harmony.
I show the Earth the body that she has graced upon me
And nothing is more freeing

 

ABOUT JENN TRAVERS

Jenn Travers is currently a senior at the University of Vermont, where she studies English and theatre. She started writing poetry last spring. Her work has been exhibited in UVM’s Ekphrastic Poetry Reading at the Fleming Museum in April 2018, Wild Burlington for Art Hop at Artsriot in September 2018, and will be featured in Laurel Moon’s upcoming publication. She has recently returned from studying abroad at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.  

DAVID WHERE YOU ARE | JC - THE POARTRY PROJECT (august 2019)

by JC | The Poartry Project
[inspired by ‘If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution!’ by Steven Evans at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston] 

I saw ‘Starboy’,
and I thought it was you 

But, no,
you were Starman,
and it wasn’t what I thought

A bright boy
tries to fill the gap
you left in the world,
and line it with purple feathers left when
the Violet-crowned Woodnymph
flew the nest
David, where you are,
are you still
a one-being revolution,
genteelly shaking up the stars on the axis of your
impeccable garb and form
while the earthboy
whimpers in the dark night
of this world’s soul
spinning poetry that hurts
in its ugliness and pain
as millions probably sing along,
thinking it’s literal,
oblivious parrots
of scathing observation
and
stealthy satire-if-I-cat-ion
hidden in the code
of plain sight 

David, where you are,
are you a peacock
among blackbirds,

or are you
a blackbird among
greater peacocks, 

or have you finally
found your flock, 

realizing that your
androgyny is simply
the nature and being
of the spirit

and that what others
yearn for,
you knew at the
core of your being 

We are in an ugly moment
down here, 

and we need the souls
who fell to Earth
to wake up
to their rain/reign of
glitter and white feathers within 

and for every Major Tom
to realize they are
not adrift alone -in space 

David, where you are,
please smile on every being 
each and all a Ziggy in blackbird drag,
just bursting to blaze forth
in the glitter and white feathers
of our peacock selves

 

ABOUT JC

Founder of The Poartry Project, poet, visual artist, cartographer of the unseen, builder of loving worlds through loving words
poartry.org

EXHIBIT | ‘INTERVALS’  + ‘SHADOWS ON THE MOON POOL’
ARTIST | PETER CURTIS + ROGER COLEMAN

PROSE | LOOKING BACK - Sydney Taft Cole (april 2019)

by Sydney Taft Cole
[inspired by Intervals No. 30 and Intervals No. 32 by Peter Curtis]

When asked the question, I pause. It all happened such a long time ago. I still wonder if I did the right thing. My life would most certainly have been different if I had stayed. I am sure they could all see the fear and uncertainty in my eyes and the wrinkles in my forehead as I boarded the train. I held the bar above my head. I held it tight. I put all my confused emotions into that bar. I could practically see it vibrating with my feelings, barely able to hold them all. The bar was made of old metal, likely iron or steel. It felt cold against my sweaty hands. It was discolored, probably from all the hands that had grasped it with their own clamminess as I was then. I slowly unwrapped my fingers from the bar and pulled one of my hands off. I looked at my palm and noticed a collection of brown fragments in the creases of my hand. I wrinkled my nose and shook my head, trying not to think about where the brown could have come from. That train ride seemed long and silent even though it was full of noisy passengers. Children, teenagers, young adults, parents, and grandparents. I saw another girl about my age, but she was smiling and laughing with her friends. I looked at her, and our eyes met for a split second and in that second, I heard silence. It must have been one of the seven-minute intervals of silence within a group of people. I bit the dry skin on my lip. My brown eyes looked down and to the side. That girl and I had made some sort of strange connection in that tiny amount eye contact.

I remember seeing a field as the train whizzed by and felt somehow intrigued. So flat and solitary. I felt solitary too. I was on my own on this journey. In the midst of my internal dialogue, I heard a sound like a cry. It came from the way I had come. I turned and looked back. No one else turned and the chatter did not stop so I wondered if I was the only one who had heard the sound. Perhaps I was hearing the cry of myself a few hours earlier. The cry that had stayed inside my mouth as I boarded the train. The cry that threatened to take me over as I left. I heard it now. Perhaps it was an echo of my own feelings. I will never know. There wasnt anyone else who turned around. I dont know what I heard.

Looking back on the experience now, I wonder what had driven my actions. To leave, to take the train, to… As I go back there now I am looking back. Back to the place I was born, to the place where I saw the girl with her friends, to the place where I caught a glimpse of the lonely field, to the place where I first noticed the bar I was holding, to the place where I boarded the train. I turn my head now and just, look back.

ABOUT SYDNEY:

Sydney Taft Cole is honored to have been selected as a Voicing Art reader. She is a Vermont 11th grader who has always enjoyed reading and telling stories. At around age 10, she began writing one-page stories in her journals. Currently, she is intrigued by and enjoys writing imagined internal dialogues. Sydney has been accepted into and will be attending the week-long Young Writers Governor’s Institute this summer. Her writing can be found on the Young Writers Project website and has been published in the Burlington Free Press, the Times Argus, and on the VPR website with an audio recording. She has previously shared her work at Poetry Riot at ArtsRiot. Sydney’s other interests include musical theater (performs with Very Merry Theatre), traveling, spending time with her friends, and hiking mountains.

POEM | PHYSICS OF A MOMENT - Shanta Lee Gander (april 2019)

by Shanta Lee Gander
[inspired by “Intervals” by Peter Curtis]

There is a moment that whatever created us
comes bubbling to the surface to reveal itself to
the world and to ourselves

Just like the truth that the speed of light
was never really about the light

And the speed of sound is about placing
it all into a neat equation

But we cant really see, we cant really hear
They are figments of our conscience

There is a bubbling that comes to the surface
and the moment that created us reveals
itself to the world

Those truths about the speed of light, or
the way speed of sound encapsulates your

body in the way that form ceases to exist, in
the way that colors magnify to reveal new ones

the only way you can see tectonic plates move,
what wouldn
t you do to catch it?

ABOUT SHANTA:

Shanta is an artist and leadership professional whose artistic endeavors incorporate writing prose, poetry and articles, as well as photography.
www.facebook.com/ShantaLeeG

POEM | MRS. MAGOO - Jimmy Tee (april 2019)

by Jimmy Tee
[inspired by exhibit themes of abstraction and perspective]

downtown clowns and walking weasels artists sitting at their easels
moms with bombs and fires from hell we
re messed up but the cultures well

airbrush touch in default setting agents aiding and abetting meatless meat in football sport there are no changes to report

bottle battles in pop up ads Scorsese types directing fads notes in totes with axes to grind you got your madness I got mine

a sincere fear of world war three
and the future rising of the sea
son and daughter daughter and son
the rhymes the cure so here comes one

ABOUT JIMMY TEE:

Jimmy Tee is a poet from Milton, Vermont.
jimmytee300[at]yahoo[dot]com
jimmyteeblog.wordpress.com

POEM | HARVEST AVENUE - Henry Motto (april 2019)

by Henry Motto

On Harvest Avenue, everything was baseball bats
puddles were portals to portraiture memories
melted like gallium spoons.
Welding masks made it hard to see
faces. The wet concrete was milk
toothpaste still tasted fresh
under street lamps soiled,
the curb never liked the star gazer.
The fallen ginkgo berries
clouded the Grass
like vomit unflushed in a toilet bowl.
A brass doorknob flushed against a black door
reminded me that I had never seen your feet,
I had always pictured your hands
drenched in white lace,
softer than puppies tummies.
I can never tell how old you are in my dreams,
like the poems passed through pay phones.
The stones stuck to my palm
reminded me of your brass doorknob,
my feet sweat all the way
to your welcome mat.
I felt the knob and I thought of your breast
it choked up on me.
It was a baseball bat,
I was on my third ball
my last chance,
I walked home.
everything was baseball bats, on Harvest Avenue.

POEM | DAWN RISES OVER VEGA - JC | THE POARTRY PROJECT (april 2019)

by JC | The Poartry Project
[inspired by the entire exhibit experience + body of works]

Earth revolves its shoulders and bursts into flame.

Flaming frames fandango and the heart of Mars shivers-quivers
        sympathetic frisson.

The Red Planet melts
as Earth fire burns blue.

There was a time I loved you, but that time has passed
as new love takes form.

That old love,
        red and hot.
The new,
        cool and blue

Burning with an intensity
no fandango can fan
into more fervent flame.

My love lights legends
waiting to be told.

Lift-off into something so much more
that we will put our fascination with Mars
into an old trunk in the attic
with the beloved things
to let the red burn blue
and find its own way.

ABOUT JC

Founder of The Poartry Project, poet, visual artist, cartographer of the unseen, builder of loving worlds through loving words
poartry.org

POEM | LAST SUMMER - Jenn Travers (april 2019)

by Jenn Travers
[inspired by “Intervals No. 2” by Peter Curtis]

I love you
When the slow slide of hands
And feet whisper together
As they take us to the dance floor

I love you
When our kisses linger
Like the phantoms
We will become by morning

I love you
When you hold me
Like an expensive vase
Beautiful and breakable

I love you
When you stroke my face
Before our lips find the rhythm
And taste like bitter coffee

I loved you
Most when I did not realize
And danced to your lead
Before you released my hand

ABOUT JENN:

Jenn Travers is currently a junior at the University of Vermont, where she studies English and theatre. She started writing poetry last spring. Her work has been exhibited in UVM’s Ekphrastic Poetry Reading at the Fleming Museum in April 2018, Wild Burlington for Art Hop at ArtsRiot in September 2018, and will be featured in Laurel Moon’s upcoming publication. She is currently studying abroad at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.

POEM | FORMS BENEATH - Frances Cannon (april 2019)

by Frances Cannon

When I skate across a frozen body of water in winter, 
and when I drift in a boat in warmer weather 
across a freshwater pond or saltwater bay, 
I see shapes lurking below the surface. 
I imagine these shapes until they manifest 
beneath my canoe, or my skate-laced feet. 
Looming, white, ghostly forms, drifting aimless 
like the husks of old sea monsters, 
if they shed their skin as snakes do. 
Sometimes the forms are black shadows 
which rise beneath a boat like a whale 
bringing a silent greeting. Sometimes 
the shapes are human—more graceful 
in their marine dance. These water beings 
visit me in daylight as thoughts, but at night, 
the shape beneath the surface is me.

POEM | RISE AND FALL - KS (april 2019)

by KS
[inspired by a painting by Roger Coleman]

Roots rise
Clouds fall
Liquid life permeates our sacred breath

Found in the freedom of form
Loosed in the liberation of light
Liquid life pulses our sacred breath

Shielded in the womb of matter
Carried in the wings of spirit
Liquid life preserves our sacred breath

Grounded in the unearthed
Soaring in the untamed
Liquid life powers our sacred breath

Roots rise
Clouds fall
Liquid life permeates our sacred breath

“PLEIN AIR POETRY OF NATURE WALKS”

From our very first Poetry of Nature Walk, incredible poetry started to happen immediately. This series shares poetic words from our word-loving outdoor explorers through “plein air poetry”.

SEPTEMBER 2019 POETRY OF NATURE WALK

An unexpected theme of our September Poetry of Nature Walk was creative adaptability. We had a local walker in Vermont and two walkers via livestream from Australia. We met up at Ethan Allen Homestead since our first Poetry of Nature Walk had been so magical there. But what we hadn’t expected was that there wouldn’t be enough connectivity to run the livestream, so we had to think fast and relocate over to a secret spot along the bike path near Leddy Park. It’s a spot that always reminds me of a little forest and beach gully I experienced on the Oregon Coast. It was a dramatically grey day, and we explored picking a word we love or find particularly meaningful and constructing a poem with each line beginning with the letters of the chosen word to describe images, impressions and words from our walk.

GREEN | HEATHER SWICK

Green grass gently growing up towards the Sun
Row boats taking a rest by the rocking waves
Enchanting Earth Beings discovering new worlds
Earthy substance dancing lightly on the skin
Nautical vistas captivating the Spirit on the horizons ahead

By Poetry of Nature Walker, Heather in Brisbane, Australia

-MAGIC- | ANI RAO

-Magic-
Moving bicyclists bending the breeze;
Aromatic fragrances delighting the expanding nostrils;
Golden moments enriching one’s world view
Imagine life teeming all around us and through us;
Canopy coverage cradling the bodies in nourishing embrace.

By Poetry of Nature Walker, Ani in Brisbane, Australia

ACTUALLY | JC - THE POARTRY PROJECT

Are we off-world?
Can I say for sure where we are?
Tents of trees tempt easy answers.
Undoubtedly” becomes suspect –
Acorns lead me to believe we are on Earth.
Let us question that belief,
Led forward by a path
Yearning towards Oregon in the

Aged
Carbonized
Tumbled
Undulated
Artful
Leavings
Laid to rest as
Yesterday’s wood.

 

JULY 2019 POETRY OF NATURE WALK

Our July Poetry of Nature Walk was a special surprise pop-up walk – even for me as the poetry adventure guide! The Poartry Project was out in Chicago in July, so we didn’t figure out till we got there where we would be walking, and we didn’t reveal it till just before the walk. It was also our first walk with our new format of in-person and realtime livestreaming walk-along. One walker was in person and the rest were “virtual walkers” from Brisbane, Australia and New Haven, Connecticut, which was very cool! Our location: The completely magical Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

POEM | WHO AM I TODAY?

Who am I today? Who should I be?
In this hour? In this moment? As I explore…
Shall I be the fairy, the journalist,
Or the walking xylophone sprinkling melody?
What shoes should I put on?
Will the brown blue-laced farm boots allow me enough bounce through the forest?
Will it allow me to fly through the maple trees?
If I am one, can I still be another?
Oh I want to be them all…
For me to experience this world’s whimsy
Of the Christmassy giving tree
And the firestone scorched to life by dragon’s breath
In their heavenly delight.
Yes I want to be them all, Yes I want to be me.
Now I wonder… Where shall I begin today?In this hour? In this moment? As I explore…

By Poetry of Nature Walker, Ani – Brisbane, Australia

POEM | HEATHER'S POEM

Pitter patter, pitter patter, pitter patter
Smooth and silky succulent—BURST!
Giants walking in the forest
Magnifying glasses discovering the unknown
I (eye) seeing clearly —standing
Walking up a staircase …
Vibrations trickling out building on the one that came before
Unified.

By Poetry of Nature Walker, Heather – Brisbane, Australia

POEM | BOOKWORM GARDEN

Wet stone, dry stone
Single shiny scarlet stone
Garden of stone sparks,
Of imagination,
A monster, but lovable,
A library inside,
Golden memories,
Metallic cutouts,
Materialized into form.
I wonder who the caretaker be?
A quiet being? A winged creature?
Sexless or sexmore?
All + alpha, beta, dachshund.
Ticklish notes, goosebumps.
Winnie the Friend.
Alice in Buddhaland.
A young life experiencing
The whole of Japan
In a forest.
Lives young for the first time,
Lives aged for the first time,
In a multidimensional experience of East,
Sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, know
Clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, claircognizance
Can you be through these words? Through this place?

Will you?

At the magic treehouse?
Past the gong and through the gate.
Bring all the bits of you.
Chapters, syllabi, parts tall like redwoods,
And tiny grains of sand,
All the paths you never knew you were,
And those precious times you did. 

We’ll stack them up like books in a field.
We’ll leaf through them and eat the words that jump off the page.
We’ll hear what sweet smelling sounds are thread-bound in the folds.
We’ll listen for the new knowing.
New World, a bit brighter,
Delighted, lighted for your growing story.
Celebration.

We’ll want to keep a corner.
A dog-eared page or two.
Beauties.
But, with a growing sense of more,
Into the bonfire they go.

And dawn again.

Stones.
Alpha.
Buddha. 

By Poetry of Nature Walker, Laine – New Haven, Connecticut

POEM | BOOKLAND

Am I dreaming?
Is this a dream?
I feel like The Little Prince
on his tiny planet
with the magical
red flower.
If there is such a thing
as heaven, this is it.
Worlds of beloved books
brought to life.
Treasured dreams
tumbled into from the
bedtime story page
to the stardust world.
Young lives outdoors
in these living books
before the phone screens
take over.
The elixir of happiness:
book stories, plus nature,
plus young lives
coming alive to the
life of the world.
A leaf held aloft
with the joyful cry,
“This is my favorite tree!”

By JC | The Poartry Project

MAY 2019 POETRY OF NATURE WALK

POEM | NYANKOR'S POEM

The snake is beautiful
it’s like looking at the dazzling
people in the world.
The turtle,
it is one
it is equal
to the lovely view
of the wind
dancing in the trees.
The snake and turtle look
colorful even though they
weren’t together.
The snake is in the home
of other snakes,
but the turtle
is a lone wolf.
The snake and turtle
are wonderful
but not as amazing
as the life around them.

By Poetry of Nature Walker, Nyankor, Age 10

POEM | THE WILLOW
“A narrow fellow in the grass
…and zero at the bone”
has come full circle
in this unexpected place
in this unexpected space.
I sit with a beautiful young willow
as she reaches
a lovely finger
to join with
an equally beautiful
new friend
who isn’t used to
being touched and adored,
and as she wove the
twig of her finger
with the twine of the snake,
her eye was led to
a crack in the well,
and she saw a ball
of twine – 
all wrapped in love
and the comfort
of new home.

by JC, Poetry of Nature Walks Guide | inspired by Poetry of Nature Walker, Nyankor

“WORDS + ART”

These original poems were all created through the incredible Words + Art Series in Houston, Texas. Words + Art invites poets and prose writers to visit a current art exhibit on display in Houston and write an original one-page poem or prose piece inspired by the exhibit. The poets and writers then gather for an evening reading event in the gallery, surrounded by the exhibited art, to share their writings with the public and each other.

One of the most unique experiences of the Words + Art reading events was a spontaneous poem challenge that happened at each reading until recently. At the close of the first half of the evening dedicated to the reading of the juried poems, everyone at the event – not just the readers – was invited to write a spontaneous poem during the 10-minute refreshment break between the first half of juried poems and the second half of unjuried poems. These spontaneous poems were then shared in the second half of the unjuried readings along with the works of many young people who took a writing class in the exhibit with Words + Art founder, Mary Wemple, earlier in the month. Some of the most surprising, moving and creative works come out of these spontaneous poems.

The Poartry Project has been participating in Words + Art since it was first launched in 2010 – for the first 2 years in person at the reading events and in the years since brought in live to read during the events via videostream.

“WORDS + ART” QUICK NAVIGATION GALLERY

EXHIBIT | IF I CAN'T DANCE, IT'S NOT MY REVOLUTION!

POEMDAVID WHERE YOU ARE

EXHIBIT | SKYSPACE

POEMMAGNETRON

EXHIBIT | WALLS TURNED SIDEWAYS

POEMWHITE SPACE-NEGATIVE SPACE | ERASURE | UNSAID

EXHIBIT | MUSEUM SHOW

POEM | WALL OF 12

EXHIBIT | IN A WORD

POEM | VIEWFINDER

EXHIBIT | A BETTER TOMORROW

POEM | CAN’T WE JUST BE FRIENDS?

EXHIBIT | GLOSSY AND FLAT BLACK SQUARES

POEMPOLARITY-ASKEW-LURE-ALL-AGAIN

EXHIBIT | CUBICLE

POEM | TIME NOTATION

EXHIBIT | CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC

POEM | THE BREATH OF THE CITY

EXHIBIT | THE GREAT CAPE RINDENHORN

POEM | [W]HOLES
SPONTANEOUS POEM | MARY

EXHIBIT | INTERSECTIONS

POEMGUILTY, BY ASSOCIATION

EXHIBIT | UNBOUNDED

POEM | BAMBOO HOUSES

EXHIBIT | SHOTGUN

POEM | SEIZA

EXHIBIT | YAMATAME

POEM | MICROSCOPIC
SPONTANEOUS POEM | WHAT DO YOU THINK OF?

EXHIBIT | CROSSING THE FARTHER SHORE

POEMSHADOWPLAY

EXHIBIT | GARDEN PROJECT

POEM | THE SEEKERS
SPONTANEOUS POEM | THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

EXHIBIT | MARSHLAND

POEM | AFTERNOON OF A BOY NAMELESS

EXHIBIT | UNWOVEN LIGHT

POEM | LEVIATHAN
SPONTANEOUS POEM | ROCK N’ ROLL

EXHIBIT | WHEEL OF EVERYDAY LIFE

POEMBRANDED

EXHIBIT | SALON OF BEAUTY

POEM | LA

EXHIBIT | NORTHWEST CORNER, SOUTHEAST LIGHT

POEM | COCOON

EXHIBIT | D-17

POEM | SPACE DECANTED

EXHIBIT | SOMETIMES IN MY DREAMS, I FLY

POEMSPACE TRAVEL
POEMRATS
POEM | FLY

EXHIBIT | ‘IF I CAN’T DANCE, IT’S NOT MY PARTY!’
ARTIST | STEVEN EVANS

POEM | DAVID WHERE YOU ARE (oct 2019)

I saw ‘Starboy’,
and I thought it was you

But, no,
you were Starman,
and it wasn’t what I thought

A bright boy
tries to fill the gap
you left in the world,
and line it with purple feathers 
left when the Violet-crowned Woodnymph
flew the nest

David, where you are,
are you still
a one-being revolution,
genteelly shaking up the stars on the axis 
of your impeccable garb and form
while the earthboy
whimpers in the dark night
of this world’s soul
spinning poetry that hurts
in its ugliness and pain
as millions probably sing along,
thinking it’s literal,
oblivious parrots
of scathing observation
and
stealthy satire-if-I-cat-ion
hidden in the code
of plain sight

David, where you are,
are you a peacock
among blackbirds,

or are you
a blackbird among 
greater peacocks,

or have you finally
found your flock,

realizing that your
androgyny is simply
the nature and being
of the spirit

and that what others
yearn for,
you knew at the
core of your being

We are in an ugly moment
down here,

and we need the soul
who fell to Earth
to wake up
to their rain/reign of
glitter and white feathers within

and for every Major Tom
to realize they are
not adrift alone –
in space

David, where you are,
please smile on every being –
each and all a Ziggy in blackbird drag,
just bursting to blaze forth
in the glitter and white feathers
of our peacock selves

EXHIBIT | ‘TWILIGHT EPIPHANY SKYSPACE’
ARTIST | JAMES TURRELL

POEM | MAGNETRON (jun 2019)

I’ve been with you
since before you existed.

You rose from nothing –
or actually something –
that came before.

Waiting till after 11 pm
to escape the smothering fug,
I ran through your future self,
dripping substance
through my sweat
to the burnt-toast fugue
of fertilizer factories
fanning fumes.

My weight
landing in molted mounds
as one day,
the field’s flank
on the route of my run
rose ripped prone in the dark
with the clods of sod
piling into a modern Mayan mountain
of sky, bleeding memories of music.

I went away for fresh air
and a baptism by fire
in the desert forests
of Dripping Springs,
where the waters chose
to absent themselves in my presence,
and the flames ate into the blank space
left behind.

But I arced forward and around,
and you were complete.

The altar of a new sacrifice
soaked through the soil,
and weight,
and fumes
shot into the ether overhead –
light as mist,
ponderous as poison.
Life to the baptized
who have gone away,
to burn in return
with the story etched of stars.

EXHIBIT | ‘WALLS TURNED SIDEWAYS: ARTISTS CONFRONT THE JUSTICE SYSTEM’
ARTIST | MULTIPLE ARTISTS

While this poem makes references to specific elements of this exhibit, it also makes reference to several notable events happening around the time it was written to explore justice-system related themes of equity, access, power, voice and current states and concepts of ‘justice’ and justice for whom: the testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Supreme Court Justice nomination hearing and the ugly portrayal of Serena Williams at the U.S. Open by a satirical cartoonist in Australia.

POEM | WHITE SPACE-NEGATIVE SPACE | ERASURE | UNSAID (nov 2018)

Unraveled
       freedom

Rewound
       unbound

Cut out
       as a tongue sliced into silence
       – or rest

Absenced
       into presence

Confession
       abstention
       (conscience leaves the chamber)

In privilege
       you get to cry and turn red
       over your spilt beer
       and the sailing of your ship
       into a mist that goes by the name of
       Lazarus (Emma)
              who will rise again in 4 days –
              the number of Humanity

In courage
       you get to be scorned
       and laughed at
       and having to play pretty
       to voice at all
       while shuffling off the gangplank
              …and this when
              you’re white and privileged, too

The banners are in tatters
       at Standing Rock
       couldn’t we see the petroglyphs
       on the wall
       and the exaggerated lips coming back out
       to be smeared on Serena
       all the way from a place
       that got its start as a penal colony

But the walls cannot stand
       they are gauzy
       and mist
       when we are not only of body
              or the enflamed emotions
              or even the mind
              – one of the greatest prisons of them all

Freedom can’t be bound
       when the soul
              of a life
              of a nation
              of a people
              of Humanity
                     is aflame

And they have tossed the match
       yet again as they sail off the edge
       of the world
       in the gasoline sea of beer kegs
       that will turn into floodlight bombs
       sweeping away the darkness
       of the psyche
       into the celebration of
       the richness of the skin
       within

EXHIBIT | ‘MUSEUM SHOW’
ARTIST | CARY LEIBOWITZ

Much in this exhibit featured repetition with no or slight variation. The ‘stop copying me’ panels in the exhibit photograph brought to mind those little square plastic puzzle games of the 1970s where all the rows and columns were filled with little tiles except one and the object was to put the tiles in sequential order. This inspired the poem, ‘wall of 12’, which definitely came through in a specific order. But it can really be read in any order, and it is a fun exploration to see if reading the poem column by column or diagonally or around the periphery and into the center creates any interesting new relationships, ideas or flows.

As written and read at the Words + Art event, it reads row by row, starting with the top row and ending with the bottom row. The top row is read left to right, then the second row is read right to left, then the third is read left to right and finally the fourth is read right to left. In the reading and the shape of the poem, some order is created as a balm for the challenging life experiences of the artist as expressed through their art.

POEM | WALL OF 12 (aug 2018)

EXHIBIT | ‘IN A WORD’
ARTIST | CHRISTOPHER KNOWLES

This was one of the toughest exhibits to work with. The artist, Christopher Knowles, is said to be on the autism spectrum. Because all the poetry produced through The Poartry Project explores and penetrates into the ecosystems of energy of the artist’s creations, as well as of the artist themself, the energy of this exhibit was an energetically challenging experience. It was an energy of disorder trying to impose order upon itself through repetition. Of course, repetition creates pattern, and pattern creates rhythm, and rhythm creates beauty. But this repetition was experienced as obsessive-compulsive, with a skittishness that formed a sliding and oily “energyscape” full of nervous energy. So it was with joy and relief that a small space of refuge was found during the live video tour of the exhibit with Words + Art’s founder, Mary Wemple. This space was formed by a triptych of three different portrayals of the same church formed out of the letter, C, typewritten over and over again. In each piece, different architectural aspects of the church were highlighted – for instance, the steeple prominent in one and just suggested in another where the flying buttresses took center stage.

Poems here at The Poartry Project tend to start with the arrival of a word or a phrase, but after initially having to work hard to connect to something – anything!, this one arrived as a fully formed opening of a movie scene: a languid and wilting dusty village square somewhere in the south of Franco’s 1930s Spain, drifting into Fascism during a frying summer, seen through the eyes of a woman coming upon this scene and becoming part of it.

POEM | VIEWFINDER (mar 2018)

VIEWFINDER

The sweat drips down the back of her neck
as she mops it with her faded red and white bandana.
The yellow dust has turned her face and arms
into a ginger-colored hue,
and it feels like she’s in a 1930s movie.
A fat fly sounds like a Messerschmitt heavy
stalking the air to bump its laden meaty
bomb-body payload into her sweaty bare arm,
imprinting its germ of war into her dust.
It’s the only meat around,
until she spots a man
squat-rocking on the ground
on the other side of the square.
Rocking-rocking-rocking.
Obsessive and oblivious.
Rocking-rocking-rocking.
Chaos shoots out his eyes –
electric all the way across the square –
as he works to contain the chaos
as he counts grains of sand.
He sees explosions of color in his head
that sound like shards of glass scraping against each other,
scraping inside his skull goblet,
pieces of ice cooling electric liquid chaos.
She spots a dusty carpet of olive branch
draping-drooping over the wall across the other side of the square,
its leaves like washed out green handkerchiefs
dropped by village girls with vacant hollowed eyes,
beckoning to the possibility of beauty.
She finds a hidden opening in the wall,
two walls reaching towards each other creating a languorous fold,
and enters the fold to find herself in a place
that is not usually a sense of sanctuary for her.
A simple church the same color as the dust,
the same color as she is,
arises from the sand of a million countings.
“C-C-C,” it says.
“There is a pattern to me that makes me real.
Without the chaos, I am not the calm.
Without the broken glass, I have no windows.
Without you, I am the square to the tempest
inside the universe of his sand, wringing the beauty that never came,
in vain with the undoing of your sweat and dust.”

EXHIBIT | ‘A BETTER TOMORROW’
ARTIST| JOOYOUNG CHOI

POEM | CAN'T WE JUST BE FRIENDS? (aug 2017)

EXHIBIT | ‘GLOSSY AND FLAT BLACK SQUARES’
ARTIST| SOL LEWITT

POEM | POLARITY-ASKEW-LURE-ALL-AGAIN (apr 2017)

I. POLARITY

Two worlds,
a foot in each,
is the fate of almost all.

In this temporal space,
we live in the place –
between the poles.

AC | DC –
pulled in half –
with an unknown power
to choose.

One all gloss + shiny reflection (illusion)
The other, apparently empty + flat.

II. ASKEW

But suddenly the world tilts
and we don’t know what we’re looking at
or
where we are.

We are sliding down
the edge of gloss,
heading towards a sharp point
of matte closure.

Compression rushing at us
while our hands
grasp pointlessly at the gloss.

III. LURE

We think we are headed for emptiness
(in fact we are)
as we slip through the point
and land in the gloss.

The lure of the gloss polarity
– undulating its illusory reflections –
has captured the flag in its
optical false depths
and we are called to choose.

We swim in its plumb depths
lulled into stuperous slumber
filled with palaces
of whirling activity
carried by
soperific sluicing rains
we do not feel for being
in the water.

IV. ALL

We end.
It ends.
It all ends.
Or so we think.

We think we still have
a body –
and familiar senses
and apparatus.
We think we know it’s dark,
it is matte.
it is empty.

Some sense of time seems to happen.
And then time parts as strands of serpentine sea grass dissolving.
And we are at peace.
We become real.
We know what is real.
We come to know the gloss is death.
And we embrace the matte, the all.

V. AGAIN

And then it is white.
All around us.
And what was the end
is a beginning –
Again.

We remember something
about the falseness of certain
light, reflected.

We remember we have to remember something about
the gloss,
in polarity and askew.

We will know this time
that there are no endings,
only beginnings
when a beginning is needed
Again.

EXHIBIT | ‘CUBICLE’
ARTIST| JONATHAN SCHIPPER

POEM | TIME NOTATION (nov 2016)

EXPLANATION OF THE COMPOSITION AND PROCESS

MUSICAL SCORE OF THE “TIME NOTATION” COMPOSITION

AUDIO RECORDING OF LIVE MUSIC PERFORMANCE OF “TIME NOTATION”

EXHIBIT | ‘CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC’
ARTIST| MICHAEL DE FEO

POEM | THE BREATH OF THE CITY (aug 2016)

I’m in LA, and it always amazes me how many writings over the years have either happened or been inspired here – contrary to what I ever expected.

I like LA. I like its youthfulness, its exuberance, its sense of fantasy, its imagination.

I like seeing film crews out and about, spinning the glittery foil that fuels our flights of fantasy into magic worlds of escape or elevation.

I like the hope in LA. It’s similar to NYC, but more innocent in vibe. People land in NYC with the ambition of taking it on, of not being swallowed by its grit and of becoming one with its power. People land in LA to merge with her embrace and the kiss of her sun.

Both cities display their underbellies: NYC with muscular or ironic male swagger; LA with tattooed mama-grrl power “so-whatta-u-gonna-do-about-it?” insouciance. Many strivers have gone to dust in NYC, ground against the hard stone of its streets. Many angels have fallen under the bridge in LA.

But LA always gets me thinking about costumes and masks. (Actually, so does Williamsburg, BKL these days, and I like Wiiliamsburg, too.) Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up here, but the tinsel of Tinsel Town sometimes seems a little thin over the glossy beauty, and I wonder if in the embrace of hope, people end up happy.

In NYC, they don’t seem to be vibing to the beat of happy; they seem to jack into that mirage on the horizon of the Atlantic to get energized, to imbibe of its tight spring.

Cliches are light on substance, but their nugget of truth remains. LA is artfully arrayed by the pool in a bikini that shows the tattoos off just right and is out on the town, breathing in slow, deep lungfuls of the fantasy drug. NYC is running in the rain in a sweaty sweatshirt, pounding the pavement to hear itself run and breathing out its triumphant roar.

In the breath of the Two, the beat of the One can be found.

EXHIBIT | ‘THE GREAT CAPE RINDERHORN’
ARTIST| THORSTEN BRINKMANN

This was a very strange exhibit, but it stimulated many interesting poems. The poem, ‘[W]HOLES’, is very much a word play and meter play or rhythmic play. There may be places where readers might think there’s an “error” – for instance, in the line: ‘so [w]holes can be seen in the some of the parts’. This would usually read ‘sum’ of the parts, but the ‘some’ in this case is quite intentional.

The second poem, ‘Mary’, was the spontaneous poem written during the event break. The intrepid emcee and general maker-of-all-things-happen with the Words & Art event, Mary Wemple, couldn’t be there for this event, which was disappointing because it was the first time in years The Poartry Project had been able to participate in the event in-person in Houston at the gallery rather than remotely via the computer. So this poem was about and for Mary and saluted her amazing dedication in always giving The Poartry Project tours via video of each exhibit to help in the crafting of our poems. She literally crawled around on her hands and knees with iphone in hand for this one. We couldn’t be more grateful!

POEM | [W]HOLES (apr 2016)

Holes in the [w]orld let the light bleed in.
Holes in the bones light the bloodlet begin.
Holes in the stones left our hearts’ break in ruin.
Holes in the ruin break the stones’ heart apart.
Holes in a part suggest [w]holes in the start.
[W]holes in the start parse parts into parts.
Holes in the wood map the worms’ origin.
Holes in the map obscure woods’ sticky scrim.
Holes in the form tether eyes’ sight to swim.
Holes in the eyes in-sight [w]orld light to dim

so [w]holes can be seen in the some of the parts,
so dusts of the bones grow heaving new hearts,
so in the hole of the stone the [w]hole mountain is known,
so in the map of the eye floats the stone that is thrown
from the void of the hole –
the [w]hole at the start –
to star light the world
with the heart of its art.

SPONTANEOUS POEM | MARY (aug 2016)

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
in the happiest way I know.

Adventuring off, she will let herself go,
to a city by the seas,
through a dark, dirty tunnel
on intrepid hands and knees,
with iphone clutched in hand,
so I can understand
what this artist has flung
as chaotic piles of dung
to get us to see the absurdity we face
as we greedily consume apace.

The hatter and the cat and

Alice in her flats
all rolled into one –
a girl on a quest
through a crazy German carnyfest
to reveal what the mind must sow.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

how does your garden grow

As poets and friends,

and creative new lens
to celebrate the art
and elevate the heart
and stir a delightful mess
of the stubborn and the known.

EXHIBIT | ‘INTERSECTIONS’
ARTIST| ANILA QUAYYAM AGHA

Even though this is a seemingly simple and straightforward poem, there is a deep backstory and much significance in how it is structured. It incorporates some years spent in academic studies of medieval Islamic scholars, philosophers, poets and esotericism (Sufism) and discovered their incredibly advanced state of knowledge during the medieval era, including the discovery of the numeral zero and many aspects of astronomy. It is said that much that led to the development of European culture was carried back from visits by Europeans to what is now known as the modern-day Middle East and Southwest Asia. It also incorporates studies of modern Middle Eastern geopolitics and culture and the colonial/post-colonial complications experienced by the region. An early job at the Aga Khan Unit for Housing and Urban Development at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (the Aga Khan is the spiritual head of a branch of Islam little known in the West, the Ismailis) led to a discovery of the beauty and refinement of Islamic architecture and gardens. A January break in the second year of graduate school featured a visit to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain – the direct inspiration for the artist’s work upon which the poem is based – and resulted in eight months living in Spain (mostly in Granada) because of being so inspired by the Alhambra’s beautiful architecture and the gardens, even in winter. Through all of this exposure to the original beauty, culture, refinement and depth of scholarly pursuits in Islam – not at all the version we constantly get bombarded with in the West today – there is an abiding sadness that much of this beauty and Islam’s ancient contributions to modern culture are lost on much of the world due to many of the actions and choices of modern Islam itself. This poem is about that.

And now a bit about the structure of the poem:

All of the verses, except the last, are about Islam itself. The last verse refers to the artist’s experience of not being able to enter Islam’s sacred space of the mosque as a worshipper because she is a woman. The structure of the poem is purposefully spare and repetitive, eliciting the order and elegance of Islam and its original thought, architecture and structures, as well as the precisely-timed daily repeated call of the muezzin to prayer five times a day. It also references the powerfully spare black cube of the Qa’aba at Mecca to which every Muslim is expected to make pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

If we can get past the ugliness of many modern presentations of Islam, the media’s often sensationalistic exclusive focus on its violent fundamentalist elements and the odd silence within modern moderate Islam itself with regards to Islam’s original and true philosophy and beauty, we can experience an elegance and a directness of perception that brings us closer to the divine without the intervention of anthropomorphic images. Representative images of the Prophet Muhammad or God or other significant, revered figures in Islam (such as Christianity’s Mary!) are forbidden in Islam, and thus Islam expressed the divinity its founder and early scholars tuned into through shapes, geometric forms, exquisite calligraphy and the thoughtfully-designed sounds of water that bring a profoundly transcendent experience of beauty, stillness and contemplation.

POEM | GUILTY, BY ASSOCIATION (nov 2015)

Cut off from much of the world –
you are guilty,
by association.

Floating in an enclosed cube –
you are guilty,
by association.

The world unaware –
you are guilty,
by association.

Your light hidden under a bushel –
you are guilty,
by association.

Magical tumbles of water silenced and unheard –
you are guilty,
by association.

Earthly gardens of astonishing beauty –
you are guilty,
by association.

Impeccable geometry of the Master Builder –
you are guilty,
by association.

The zero you perceived, coopted into self-sacrificial death,
with promises of more beautiful heavenly gardens –
you are guilty,
by association.

Because you bleed –
you are guilty,
by association.

EXHIBIT | ‘UNBOUNDED’
ARTIST| BEN BUTLER

POEM | BAMBOO HOUSES (aug 2015)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”…

But they did, they surely did. Every unkindness expressed, an impossibly sharply whittled bamboo sliver, slid between ribs, into hearts, under fingernails.

Torture inflicted upon me, Me inflicting torture upon all the thees in reflexive response.

A special destiny – for a time that seemed infinite – to live in constructed and self-constructed houses of bamboo shards, poking the eye of truth, puncturing the flight of confidence, at every turn. Walking carefully to avoid further pain. Slipping into the shadows of invisibility to go …undetected.

But the nature and voice were too strong, too innately joyful, to stay invisible.

And then the bamboo houses unfurled and became something new.

Bamboo shaped different meaning. No longer instrument of torture, but symbol of strength, of adaptability, of rapid growth and weathering of winds where mighty wood falls.

Currencies reevaluated. Worth measured in other forms. Comforts remembered, in bamboo, in miso, in rock gardens, in gyoza, in seiza – which in transcending the outward, I could sit forever.

I enter the bamboo house now, airy and light and full of promise, and dissolve in the turning outward.

EXHIBIT | ‘SHOTGUN’
ARTIST| ATELIER BOW-WOW + JESUS VASSALLO + STUDENTS

This poem, “SEIZA”, may appear very simple – even childlike – on the surface, but it is in fact highly significant, dense and layered. It was inspired by the wonderful book by Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being. Combining the fact that the story takes place mostly in Japan and the nature of the ‘Shotgun’ art exhibit centering around the airy and spare effect created by showing the raw framework structures of built objects, the poem is crafted as a series of 5 illustrated haiku or 1 complete hokku. Navigating the poem starts at the top left and proceeds clockwise: the first haiku represents the story and energy of the exhibit as located in Houston; the second represents the story and energy of Nao, a main teenaged character in Ozeki’s story; the third represents the story and energy of the narrator, located in British Columbia, Canada; the fourth represents the story and energy of Nao’s grandmother, a very aged feminist-turned-monk in Japan; and the fifth represents the experience and energy of the reader-poet’s reading the story in the depths of a very cold Adirondack Mountains winter. The word, ‘seiza’, is Japanese. It can be translated as “an upright kneeling position that is traditionally used in Japan in meditation and as part of the preparation in martial arts.” The poem’s illustrations were done by the poet.

POEM | SEIZA (mar 2015)

EXHIBIT | ‘YAMATANE’
ARTIST| YUSUKE ASAI

POEM | MICROSCOPIC (nov 2014)

when i sleep,
i always travel far.
i float + i float.

first, i visit mr. fox.
he tells me i must be clever
+ quick + learn to observe.

next, i visit my favorite,
the wellump,
who wears the sun upon his head.
he tells me to seek my own sun within,
says one day i will look like him.

next, i visit the snake queen.
she tells me knowledge is good but can be dangerous
+ wisdom is the safety key.
“what is wisdom?”, ask i.
she says, “you will know it when you meet it
+ you will meet it when your sun begins to shine.”

then it’s on to the green places,
the minerally-mossy things i love.
they tell me to fling myself to my universe wide for all the colors to love.

then it’s on to the aardvark
who tells me i must sing a unique tune –
i’m so small – he says it’s easy to confuse me with an ant
unless he hears me sing my song.

last stop, the good wormlets near the Hands of Harboring.
they play in the currents with me, but remind me to not go too far,
avoid their dark cousins, the cousins near The Watching Eyes,
the cousins who want to cover the colors with the dark of night…

shift scene…stage right…in a laboratory

“Doctor, Doctor, come quickly! We’ve found it!
Look here. You might have to adjust the magnification.
See there? Near that strange pattern that looks like eyes?
Those strange, black, squiggling worm-like things?
That’s it. That’s the virus. We’ve found it!
It’s in the water.”

SPONTANEOUS POEM | WHAT DO YOU THINK OF? (nov 2014)

Yusuke, what do you think of
when you are making your art?
Your grain of dirt that rolls away.
Your curl that blows like a milkweed seed
away in the wind.
Your dream that dissolves with the drop of a tear.
Laying down the lines,
so microscopic
with your chopstick
even as they waver away.
Are you so in touch with your divinity
that you need not be remembered?
Need not leave a mark
like so many desperate yearn?
Are you so in touch with your continuity
your humanity
that your massive work
needs rise eternal
only in memory?

EXHIBIT | ‘CROSSING THE FARTHER SHORE’
ARTIST| DINH Q. LE

POEM | SHADOWPLAY (jun 2014)

Shadows + memories are fickle things,
playing tricks in the light,
darting in + out,
a flash of silver in the murk of the pond
we construct in our minds.
Of all the people + places in the world,
how did you end up here?
What makes your face
stand out in the multitudes?
Is it the light?
The trees?
That one circular photo among all the cubes?
The eyes?
You, young girl,
because your photo
lies on the ground in the little back room?
What makes you significant?
Are you significant?
Do you belong?
Did you know where you were headed?
Did Cajun speak to you –
or remind you of a language
superimposed on a country that
you have never known as your own?
Photos –
forming a thicket garden,
dark leaves on a light floor background,
leaves in shapes from back home,
leaves in a copse
only growing from the shadowy
memories of your elders.
Where are you now?
Do you feel remembered?
Do you matter
in this mass of cubes?
How can you matter
in this overwhelming mass?
How can you matter
in the mass of humanity?
How can you matter
in the mass of stars?
In the end,
you do
as you catch the eye
of one person,
as something in your vibration
sings in tune with someone
circling your cube,
as one kindred being
a million miles away
sees you as a leaf,
one of a great tree
whose sap we form
as the stars
spin in space.
You go on…

EXHIBIT | ‘GARDEN PROJECT’
ARTIST| EL ULTIMO GRITO

POEM | THE SEEKERS (mar 2014)

Across aeons, in the most shaded halls
of their memory,
their origin story remains.
All they had known was war.
As the light of their world dimmed,
it dimmed within themselves,
and they huddled together for contact.
Only three of the races remained –
the Yellow Foots, the Green Foots and
the Orange Foots.
In their ancient hatred, they had never
joined.
But as they came together,
something new and strange happened:
The radon of the Yellow Foots,
the radium of the Green Foots
and the plutonium of the Orange Foots
combined, and the survivors –
come to be known to themselves as
“The Joined” –
lifted off.
With millennia to think after The Lifting,
they came to discover that their fusion
created a bubbling liquid that fueled
The Lift.
In time, they came to see the purpose
of their thin, flexible forms:
to bend, to bond, to join, to flow
themselves and this bubbling liquid
across the universe.
They came to sense The Liquid as
precious
and willed their bodies to form a special
sacred space
to honor and house the fueling music
The Liquid made.
They thought themselves alone.
But suddenly a day arrived when
The Fliers came as a glimmer
in The Joineds’ eyes.
Hovering, floating,
beating against their lenses,
they made The Joined wonder deeper
about their purpose and place
in the order of things.
Mayhap these tiny Fliers were seeking
the bubbling Liquid –
could hear its music –
as it bubbled in the dim Sanctuary
of the fuel room.
They knew not from where they came,
but in this Lifted land of the giant Joined,
the tiny Flier is king.
For in the palaces of their Lifted minds,
The Fliers open the door to the
possibility of Others.
Locked in their dance,
The Fliers lit in the Joiners’ eyes,
the glimmer of their purpose ignites,
and on, they Seek.

SPONTANEOUS POEM | THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (mar 2014)

electric buzz-pop
o, alice’s wonderland
caterpillar waits.
cheshire cat grinning
makes me shiver, most unkind,
creepy teeth bite down.
mad hatter top hat
hummingbird sitting a-top
gaze down to eat me.
i am the one who eats
you, however. Ha! Surprise!
eaten, the eater
in this mad garden
where brave alice takes her tea,
i, you and you, me.

EXHIBIT | ‘MARSHLAND’
ARTIST| GAIA

This was probably the most daunting – and ultimately one of the most rewarding – experiences of the Words & Art Series. The artwork honestly wasn’t resonant, and there was much time contemplating what could possibly be written. And then inspiration struck! Two currents merged to create this incredible experience:


Earlier in the year, three creative goals had been set: 1) experimenting with new stylistic constructions of poetry (which was an early experience finding a unique ‘poetic voice’ back in early elementary school when rhyme-scheme was broken out of to create what was, at that time, something completely new as a personal experience), 2) representing and expressing different ‘voices’ from the ones usually represented, and 3) more humor.

2

The Netflix series, ‘The Killing’, had just been on, and it was incredible how the Swedish actor, Joel Kinnaman, captured American ‘tweaker’ slang and vocal rhythm.

The poem ended up coming through as the voice of a young boy of mixed ethnicity from the borderland between two of Houston’s less-prosperous ‘Wards’, or neighborhoods. Houston is a juxtaposition of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, and Gaia’s exhibit ended up being a meeting ground and point of contact for those two worlds to meet in the poetic imagination.

The profoundly revolutionary moment in the experience came when deciding to read the poem at the reading in the full voice, slang and patois of this young boy. It was like leaping off a cliff, not the least of which because there was a possibility of the reading being offensive or perceived as culturally appropriative. Neither occurred, and it ended up being a full liberation into inhabiting and speaking any world that could be imagined.

POEM | AFTERNOON OF A BOY NAMELESS (nov 2013)

That Guy-a, he be one sick mo-fo.
Dope, man, graffiti in this place where my moms
always tell me to shut my piehole cuz this ain’t the place
to be, like, reverbin.
But it rocks for rappin, man.
When no one be roun an’ I be waitin on my moms,
I sneak in an’ reels the beats.
These creepy faces lookin at me, man,
they be like some weird audience.
If I can make these mo-fos move,
maybe I gots a future in the biz, u digs?
I be residin forever tween the numbers 3 an’ 4, u feels me?
One foot brown an’ ancho flavor – yeah, cuz, you feels me! – one foot black an’ fro, man
but these creepy heads ain’t be my peeps.
Whatchu smirkin at me for, mo-fo picture head?
U think u knows somethin I don’t?
U know nuchin, old dude.
U! Weird picture moms with shades on u head,
tryin to stare me down, I scare u?
My beats make u squirm? U know it, cuz!
My moms, she work in this cranked up place.
I ramble con mio wheels an’ boys,
busted grass poking thru busted concrete while this city bakes.
An’ moms stay cool in this place,
“lucky” to get some cranked up job pokin on keys all day,
so me’s and my bros can eat.
But we lives tween the numbers 3 an’ 4,
not this place.
This be a different place, man.
Sometimes I gots to wait for moms here
while she finishes up peckin on those lame keys
on that lame computer sittin in one place lamely
on some cranked up desk –
and I wanna scratch on these walls, cuz,
like Guy-a be doin.
Hey, this could be dope, man! You feels me?
Maybe I could spin my beats
an’ scribble on walls
an’ make creepy heads
& get famous, bro.
I gots a million tracks runnin thru my head, man.
Must be the brown an’ black an’ heat an’ concrete.
This place be weird, man, but it gots its own dope beats. You feels me, cuz?

EXHIBIT | ‘UNWOVEN LIGHT’
ARTIST| SOO SUNNY PARK

POEM | LEVIATHAN (jun 2013)

His body rolls + shivers,
plates twitch as the water rolls,
breaking into one thousand notes
of shimmering cold heat,
electric color zapping the skin,
light eels zipping through viscous space.
Luscious, luscious aqua,
Luscious, luscious turquoise,
the trickster orange vermillion
winks when we are not looking.
Boats are lost –
searching for those shimmering colors,
breaking upon the rocks of the swordfish song,
sailors’ eyes melting upon sighting colors not of this world.
Sounds + colors swap –
Down is not up,
up is not down,
down is not down,
up is not up.
We fall up
+ climb down.
We are tossed until
softened like tumbled seaglass.
The pale aqua blue was always the priceless shard.
We think we have entered a forest of light,
a world of water
when, in fact, we have been swallowed whole.
Our darting silver not fast enough
+ now we are as one with the swordfish,
his inner walls reflecting his outer song.
A flash of the sun dazes us
+ we know the universe that lies within.

SPONTANEOUS POEM | ROCK N' ROLL (jul 2013)

Rock n’ roll is dead –
they say.
But I say it’s alive + well.
She rocks + rolls in glitter
eyeshadow,
reveling in the curves
that are now disdained.
We hesitate to look
at ourselves
in the shards –
fearing the distortion –
we are already too fat.
We already strain
to be pretty girls.
What we are isn’t good enough.
But, why do we glory in these
spectacular rounded forms –
these organic shapes
in a beautiful glass room
+ they shame us in ourselves
+ are shunned?
Something is broken
when art is more beautiful
than human form,
when little girls cry
because they cannot see their beauty.
When a famous actor who
played Tootsie
cries in an interview –
because dressing as a woman
+ told by makeup that they’ve done
as well as they can
when he asks to be made beautiful –
he realizes all the fabulous, interesting
women he has lost the opportunity
to know
because of some warped idea
of beauty
we all hallucinate is real.
Something is broken
when art is more beautiful
than human form,
when little girls cry
because they cannot see their beauty,
+ boys turned to men
cry because of what they have
lost.

EXHIBIT | ‘WHEEL OF EVERYDAY LIFE’
ARTIST| GUNILLA KLINGBERG

If you look closely in the photos, you can see that this giant modern mandala is composed of familiar big-business logos.

POEM | BRANDED (feb 2013)

Branded –
is nothing sacred anymore?
In this day + age, it never was.
Wearing logos like bindis,
the seat of concealed wisdom,
but where is the wisdom?
I see only addiction.
A steeping in the form
the mandala is meant to liberate
To melt away the veil
– like glass –
standing between the real + unreal,
“outside” + “inside”.
But the unreal has come to dominate,
giving unnatural power to physical death,
lost as most humanity is
– as Morpheus so rightly said –
in “the desert of the real.”
Even so,
the illusion is unraveling.
I used to rail against my parents’
prohibitions against coke + mcdonald’s.
Caffeine made me crazy.
mcdonald’s was not gourmet.
Thank goodness for that refined taste
that seemed like snobbery
to child-me.
It saved me from the poison,
the addiction, the brand
of hypnosis.
Yet the mandala is designed to hypnotize.
Hypnotize through the eye’s devotion
to a gate to another world.
But that doesn’t work so much anymore.
The images are old.
To claim obsolescence of wisdom
is as heretical as the modern brands,
but it is a truth that
even truth grows stale.
Is there beauty in brands?
A scion of the wisdom says it is so –
says that brands + advertising
are the modern training in symbology,
the creation of a universal picture language
recognizable to all,
the forerunner outfitting in the over-scaling
of the walls of words + language
with telepathy,
transferring pictures mind-to-mind.
So in the profane,
we find the sacred after all.
And a Tibetan on a mountain
in the 1930s saw it coming…
Mandalas made of logos,
the god of the symbols,
temporarily grounded in the only
place humanity knows for now,
but previews of coming attractions
when all creative energy
is directed to the divine.

EXHIBIT | ‘SALON OF BEAUTY’
ARTIST| ANA SERRANO

POEM | LA (nov 2012)

life springs where it can –
my first trip to LA from san fran to work with blue shield/blue cross of california,
we took a wrong turn out of
LAX airport
+ ended up in south central, stardate 1993
at high noon –
war zone –
alien territory –
danger –
cross-fire –
dagger-throwing eyes sizing up
the car + ignorant skin tone –
among barbed wire –
barred windows –
broken glass –
dirty newspapers
kicking down the curb
in indolent hot winds –
braid shops –
wig shops –
wing shops –
thunderbird –
danger! danger!
tension! tension!
taut! taut!
coiled muscles!
tyger, tyger, burning dark!
smoldering dark till the tires melt
+ we sink into quicksand pavement,
through a glass darkly –
swallowed whole by LA.
emerging out the other side –
surreal –
bizarre –
movie-set false ocean
where you cannot swim
tinseling the hollow souls –
mascot oj simpson,
i watch on my playa del rey tv,
as the police-terrorists chase hollow LA in the body of simpson,
as the white bronco streaks
on screen,
it streaks outside my window
towards marina del rey
with the biting helicopters
we see every night
eating chunks out of darkness
with screamingblindingtorture lights.
there is no quiet in this place.
peace, where do you live?
not here,
where the stepford zombie life
leaves real + beauty only in the undertowing violence of south central –
playing chicken one day
+ russian roulette the next,
turning reality on its head,
wreaking havoc with our souls.

EXHIBIT | ‘NORTHWEST CORNER, SOUTHEAST LIGHT’
ARTIST| MARY TEMPLE

This was a mind-bending exhibit. Those shadow reflections of trees you see in the photos below are not shadows. They are all painted!

POEM | COCOON (mar 2011)

I loved my junior year
art history seminar
6:30 – 9:30 pm on Thursday nights.
I floated in the dark,
sated on horrible refectory fried food,
lulled by jeweled colors flying by on the screen,
especially that time someone slipped me a “special” brownie at dinner
knowing we were getting to the Dadas + eye-foolers that night.
Always a front row student,
I reveled in sitting in the very back row
soft auditorium seats
my space pod to explore new worlds.
Then stepping outside
into snow and night and cold,
walking up College Hill,
old-style street lamps
burning halos of light
onto the photo negative of night,
inspiring paintings of my own
with evergreen + midnight blue acrylics
slabbed on so thick
they glistened like oils.
Those were good days –
false light + snug dark
before the world stepped in.

Dedicated to time and undergraduate experiences @ Brown University.

EXHIBIT | ‘D-17’
ARTIST| SARAH OPPENHEIMER

This is a visual poem, so read it by reading the lines in numerical order as they wind around the drawing. Start with line 1: “space upended to the n5 degree” and progress through until you finish with line 17: “getting in my blood”.

POEM | SPACE DECANTED (nov 2010)

EXHIBIT | ‘SOMETIMES IN MY DREAMS, I FLY’
ARTIST| ANDREA DEZSO

POEM | SPACE TRAVEL (jul 2010)

On jewel color + light
I fly –
my mind a ribbon to
inner + outer space –
while the black-and-white blades
cut my body
back to gray earth.
But the body is form –
the vehicle, carriage, car.
As the car slowly leaks
its vroom onto the
greasy floor of the
concrete slab in the
concrete bloc in the
concrete country,
does it die + lose itself?
I know: not,
as I construct + am constructed
in Space,
of Space,
in Time,
out of Time,
I fly
and
as I fly,
I bring the earthbound
cars with me –
rusted, withered, sad –
and watch them
transmute into
magical forms –
no longer forms,
but formless.
That are so much forms,
they create a new species –
vroom + vegetation –
moist + mechanistic –
melding into tunnels of light + layer –
the airport
between
this world + the next.

POEM | RODENTS (jul 2010)

I try to put myself in my mother’s child body, seeing through her 5-year-old eyes. She is – today – viscerally afraid of + disgusted by mice, squirrels + rats. If I fill in the blanks of her crossword puzzle life, I suspect she loathes them because she had to eat them. You see, her parents – ethnic Hungarians trapped in the living prison of Slovakia after World War I – set out on foot across Europe to escape to the legendary, mythical place – “AMERICA!!!”

Landed aristocrats, my family arrived here literally with one fewer shoe on my grandmother’s feet than she left with + little experience providing for the children’s welfare, coming from the old land of battalions of servants. From this life, the 5-year-old Vera was apparently plunged into being buried in holes hand-dug by my doctor grandfather every night across Europe, gagged so as not to give away their location to night patrols + sharing the space of this nightmare landscape with things that go bump in the night.

I imagine her child eyes huge + glistening with fear as she comes face-to-face with the glowing red night eyes of a rodent – unaware in its small brain that it is about to become dinner.

In photos at about age 3 or 4, before the actual nightmare descended upon her, child Vera is grim with a line-set mouth + eyes that at once seem deadened + wildly terrified + resigned, as though she was born already seeing what is about to come

Night falls + in the shade, there is no apparent light + the light her daughter carries brings a new kind of darkness – the darkness of knowing that the whole life need not have been so dark. When the light is extended, the response is an almost-terror. She says it’s like lifting a carpet + not wanting to see what’s really below, blinded by red rat eyes that obscure the glorious landscape her daughter constructs.

POEM | FLY (jul 2010)

Where the darkness leaves off,
the daughters fly.
Flying to the landscapes
of the imagination.
Why does hope skip generations?
Where the mothers live darkness
+ the daughters are led to expect
nothing but the darkness passed
through the womb,
the daughters irresistibly
build the light,
build the world they
know seeps light
through every crack
of concrete –
Defying the rock
that doesn’t really exist.
Where the mothers are blinded
by red rat eyes,
the daughters refuse them –
blinding horror with
the light of reality,
melting it away,
so the mothers can breathe.

“THE PAINTED WORD”

The Painted Word Poetry Series, a collaboration of the University of Vermont’s Professor Major Jackson and the Fleming Museum, is a similar concept to the Words + Art Series. Both engage poets and writers in “ekphrastic poetry”, verse written in response to works of visual art.

EXHIBIT | ‘BRENDA AND OTHER WORK’
ARTIST| EDWIN OWRE

This original poem by The Poartry Project has been submitted for a 10th anniversary event of The Painted Word Series. It was inspired by the photographed sculpture above, Tube.

POEM | SEIRENES SELFIE (mar 2018)

Time crashes on the shore of your song,
shattered into glittering pixels
with knowing winks of selfhood
that fish hoarders dart in to grab for their
faux coral collections,
accreting their death by toxin
in reefs of ticking countdown –

Just as those sailor-soldiers did
at dawn,
seduced by the copper sheen
of your angled tail,
arranged just so by the golden mean
in a tableau of beautiful seduction
before your sheen dulled
and your wings were shorn.

And so now you have to learn
new angles
to try to catch the light of the
fire that still burns and smoulders
somewhere in your hold.

But the music of your millennial musing
now turned inwards on
the boulders of bones of broken men
has made you forget
who you are in the world.

Frozen in time,
frozen in face,
frozen in the space
of the angles of your body,
you dimly think that this is not how you want
to be remembered.

You must crash yourself
upon the shores of your own making
and dissolve into the pixel sea,
recombined, blazing, emergent
as the milky currents of
a billion electric galaxies
stream off your formless form.

“SPACES + PLACES”

These original poems were all created as explorations of spaces and places – outer and inner.

FEATURED WORK
A POETIC PLANET EARTH STORY

Four times a year, The Poartry Project participates in the Quarterly Weeks of World Cooperation – international gatherings of lives dedicated to actively contributing to bringing more cooperation to life through the magic of the world of energy – hosted by The World of Energy Collective.

As part of the 2019 March-Spring-Autumn Week of World Cooperation, participants created a collaborative “Planet Earth Time Capsule” as a message to future humanity on the story of Planet’s Earth’s spiritual trek as an evolving life. Here’s The Poartry Project’s contribution to that story, crafted of our original artwork, photographs, words and design created during the week:

OTHER WORKS

A DOG AND HIS WILD HORSES

Each year, the City of Burlington in Vermont puts on a weekend-long Art Hop. One of the exhibits includes a celebration of the many parks and recreational opportunities made available in the city through the Parks and Recreation Department. For 2018, the theme of this exhibit is celebrating the wild places of Burlington.

With so many spectacular vistas and natural spaces in the city, it is actually the Andy A-Dog Williams Skatepark that ended up providing the creative spark to create something perhaps more original and unexpected than typical nature poetry.

Andy A-Dog Williams was a much beloved young DJ, skateboarder, artist and cultural icon who died in 2013 of leukemia. If you read tributes from the community after his passing, it is clear that he was an exceptional human being who touched the lives of all those he met. No wonder then, that the city built a skatepark in his honor. Nowhere in the city can the beauty of wildness be more experienced than at this park where lives of all ages, all colors, all gender identities, all origins, all gadgets of conveyance come together in harmony and freedom to celebrate life.

 

A DOG AND HIS WILD HORSES

A-Dog, your presence enters my awareness
parking almost daily before your altar
as the launching point to cycle the wind
and touch the face of the Creator with speed.

I come to have a sense of you
through the wild horses who gather in your field
and drink from your trough:

The flowing manes of the young fillies,
The streaming tails of the unfettered colts,
The shining bronzed coats dripping with sweat.

The unmistakable sound of the jumping slap
as they test their mettle
on the course you have set.

They gather round your trough
under your gaze,
drifting back,
joining nose to nose
to take a sip
and feel the cool breeze
whisper against their wet skin,
more sensuous than the flick
of the finest filly’s glance.

Andy, your story gets written
again and again.

In the tattooed post-punk papas,
who flash their brilliant colors
as they place their foals before them
and teach them to be fearless
flying across the plains of pavement.

In the Zen meditative mamas,
who flow as liquid air
so at one with their boards
that the heart aches with their beauty as
– unconcerned with the tumbled skinned foreleg –
they raise their young
to be strong and wild.

In the grizzled ones,
still riding the range,
hobbled here and there,
freedom and defiance flashing
in their ageless eyes.

All rolling the one-way line
into the future,
weightless on the wind
of your omnipresent love.

22 COUNTRIES + 22 GROOVES

We’ve travelled the world of 22 countries –
Alaska the only unvisited blank spot on our US home map –
and we’ve ended up here.

Lifelong wanderlust
blissfully at rest.
For how long, who knows?
But so far, so good.

We’ve got grooves tracking through this land.
Not deadening ones of rote repetition
of rote repetition
of rote repetition
of rote repetition
that saps the soul of adventure.
Good ones of expectation
etched in the vinyl –
shaped into the vista of a favorite song on a beloved record,
mapping a completeness we didn’t expect to find here.

A treasure map of territory
hidden from view in plain sight.
If people knew,
everyone might be here.
We’ll keep it a little secret, then,
shall we?
But, actually, no.
Not in this land
of the inclusive spirit,
the welcoming arms,
the feisty fighters for all that is fair,
so we’ll share the map of the grooves
and ask the world in.

This poem was written and selected for publication in Burlington Beat in an edition dedicated to celebrating the City of Burlington, Vermont. The first part tells a bit of the tale of arrival and landing in Vermont after a lifetime of traveling to 22 countries. The second part features a hand-drawn map and accompanying “legend poems” charting some favorite routes and spots in Burlington and surrounding areas.

PINE OVER CLIFF

Among the diminutive ones,
you roar –
quietly.

Over cliff of rock,
you become mighty ponderosa,
pondering sky.

I imagine Buddha –
then Christ –
sitting under your majesty.

Lost, and found,
in the heavens.
A tiny touch of heaven,

this tiny
Dixie Ponderosa Pine.
Anchored in this ground

towering over this red cliff
of this small rock
surrounded by this ocean of stone.

A still life harmony
of elements
transformed into mighty moving weather.

Stones, water.
Rock, mountain.
Wood, river.
Elfin conifers, towering trees.

You stand at the center,
tiny ponderosa,
axis of the world.

This poem was written to accompany an MFA project exhibit by Words + Art founder, Mary Wemple. The assignment was to write a poem about the experience of planting a tree (planted especially for the exhibit). The Poartry Project had just designed and planted a Japanese-inspired garden that includes 7 new trees. We chose to write the poem about the little Dixie Ponderosa Pine.

INVOCATION FOR EARTH

It started as a point of light
in the afterburn of a global scream.

Silhouettes of vaporized young men
burned onto trees in Europe –
frozen onto concrete in Japan.

The world held its breath –
suspended in the smoky-smudgy darkness
oozing across the valleys
like leaden fog prowling down the muddy hollows.

Hanging on its point of
madness,
humanity turned away,
turned its face aside,
and uttered one tiny, trembling, tremulous breath –
exhausted, empty, ready to be filled.

And between the goal-posts
of dual evils so great,
they are still barely understood,
goodwill rushed in –
a high, thin, precise note
sounding above the grey landscape
of broken skeletons.

Never again, it said.
Never again. Never again!
We repel thee.
We gather unto ourselves
a goodness so great,
it is barely understood.

The dividers will not conquer.
The separators will not stand.
The diminishers will not vanquish.
The will-to-good radiates.
The will-to-peace pulses out.
The will-to-harmonize overcomes the
will-to-divide.

And stand we still,
lives united,
nations united,
the future face of humanity
glimpsed in the facets of the harbinger
of things to come:

The liberation of our human family,
the realization of our mineral family,
the rejuvenation of our plant family,
the recognition of our animal family,
the release of our elemental family.

United nations –
united kingdoms –
united earth –
joining life to life
in the body
of the evolving life beyond.

This poem is essentially an energetic blueprint of the formation of the United Nations and the ecosystem of energies and forces that were in motion to prompt its formation. It was written by The Poartry Project at the invitation of the United Nations Association for UN Day. It also serves as a true invocation using energy science to set energies and forces in motion as a stimulating force of good offsetting the force of separatism and division.

BHARAT KALEIDOSCOPE

Impossible juxtapositions.
You are not fixed.
Impossible to capture,
your escapable essence
darting away –
a flash of silver
in the impenetrable
perennial dusk of the deep sea.

Pop of shocking electric orange –
stacked fruit amidst
the faded piles of trash.

Exotic hawks wheeling
overhead
above impossibly packed
city squares.

Shrouded figues wrapped
like corpses dumped
at the beneficent feet of
incongruent shrines.

Totally different –
it has never felt so new and so old,
so completely alien.
Peacock feathers float by
like some strange dream.

Your essence,
like sand slipping through
fingers.

Indescribable,
you refuse to be pinned
by words.

Your center –
a hidden machine in a box spinning on one corner
like a cyclotron –
explosive power as yet
unknown.

How can the sacred and
profane exist like this?
Everything seems divine –
the starving dogs,
the street children layered
in years of grime, white
teeth flashing like headlights,
the professional meditating
next to the pile of trash,
the boy pissing at the bus stop.
You are so polluted, but
so different from the twin villages outside
Guayaquil on the road to Cuenca
where the garbage is just garbage
and the starving dogs are tragic.

A conundrum,
a kaleidoscope that won’t
stop moving.
Fire from friction,
jewelled colors in improbable
displays.
Constantly changing –
an energy in whirling motion.

Pinwheel winds and the
most profound inner
silence ever known.

A messy, chaotic, exotic
party cocktail of microbes and saints.
Drink down the cocktail,
inhale the noise,
lose yourself to the crazy carnival,
and the boundaries fall away.

In the seductive dust and
faded sunlight,
in the melting piles of
garbage that almost
beg for virgin hands to
plunge in up to the wrists,
in the celebration of
secretion and elimination
and all that is human
in glorious oblivion –

We are one with All,
All are One. 

Impossible Bharat Kaleidoscope,
you will remain elusive –
just beyond the fingertips
of understanding –
until the last sighing of breath,
and as my eyes widen
in my final moment,
I will look upon your face,
and I will know you.

Written while riding a bus from Delhi to Agra, India

CAJAS

I lost myself in you,

your grey-greens,
your shadowy mists,
your icy falls.

The wild winds blow + whistle –

this magical, haunting land
of Mother Mary sightings.

Your desolation a perfection so full,

greens of so many subtle
varieties never seen before.

You pull me out of and into

myself.
out into this wild wind,
this hungry, untouched wind.

A desert of mountains so

perfectly empty –
so perfectly full.

Most pass through your peaks

and crags with a careful
eye on the guardrail.

I am seduced to throw

myself off your edges
as I count your hundreds
of lakes.

I long to be dust, wind,

moss upon your perfectly
silent stillness.

To be absorbed into your

ageless timelessness,
your ever-changing,
changeless face of
shadow + light.

I will rest here.
I will soar here.
I will become permanent here –

melting into your wind –
worn rocks with face
turned up to the kiss
of your mist.

This poem was written on a car ride through El Cajas National Park in Ecuador. It is a section of the countryside closest to the high mountain town of Cuenca. The elevation is 13,550 feet/4,310 meters, and it features 270 lakes and lagoons. They look like pieces of broken mirror scattered all throughout the flanks of the mountains and valleys. The back road where this poem was written is apparently a little sketchy to drive; it is said that there are bandits, so even Ecuador natives tend to stay away, but all that was experienced on the road was absolute quiet except for the voice of the wind. It is a truly magical place on Earth.

TRUE STORY FOR ANNIE

You never think much about accordions

until a masterful woman spins one from imagination,

with all its history

and irrelevance—

only to end ignominiously.

But that little green concertina is your constant companion now,

in a world where you love music

through a tin ear.

And it’s why,

while waiting in a crowded San Francisco airport,

one of the accordion’s stories comes alive,

wheezing notes turned into thrumming poetry

as an ordinary man with grey beard and balding pate

wends his way through some doleful memory or another.

No one pays attention—

you wouldn’t have before befriending the beleaguered concertina—

but it trembles your heart

as the player’s grandson sits on the dirty floor

counting money out of a scruffy baseball cap.

You feel you’ve missed your moment,

somehow disappointing Annie

by not acting on what has changed your landscape,

creating intimacy in the epitome of anonymity—

the airport—when you had your chance.

But you can’t ignore the unlikely siren song

echoing in your head.

Seizing the poemness of the event—

reverting to your lifelong desire to live on a page

all the while realizing this is much closer to the bone—

you approach the man,

though he’s retired his little squeezebox

and the boy has pocketed the paltry change.

You hand him a dollar,

a little embarrassed to be marking the epiphany with

crude currency,

and, heart pounding and face flushed,

you ask him if he’s read the book.

Does he know his green accordion’s a star?

He doesn’t,

but he says he’ll find the tale.

He may think you’re a little strange.

It doesn’t matter.

Your history has finally been shaped by a fiction

tangy and persistent,

and while some get it backwards saying art imitates life,

and others would find such a moment absurd,

nothing will ever be the same.

As shared in the poem, it was written in an airport terminal in San Francisco, with a letter in pocket from Michael Harper, Poet Laureate of Rhode Island and Brown University Creative Writing Chair, to the Chair of the Poetry Department at Stanford University, who had assured the letter-bearer’s acceptance into the Poetry Doctorate Program at Stanford. The letter was never used and the connection to Stanford never made, the intention of which (not using the letter and not going to Stanford) was already present in awareness in this moment at the airport. The poem references E. Annie Proulx’s gem of a book, Accordian Crimes. This event marked a first true hesitant contact out into the world and with ‘strangers’ as an ‘adult’ just after college. It felt like a breaking of the rules of engagement known up until that point and a willingness to step into appearing foolish after a lifetime of avoiding any such possibility. It was the beginning of a long series of paths into the world of energy and more spiritual living, giving rise to a deep love for humanity and a recognition that all lives and moments of contact are beautiful.

A HOLIDAY PARABLE

“Mr. Mayor, I must protest!”
“How, now, Madame Supervisor? What’s your interest?”

“Tis not enough that the Redcoats try to take over the post?
Now, we must abide this golden storm to play the host?”

Quoth the Mayor, “Of what storm do you speak, M’Lady?”

“Dear Mayor, are you truly serious? Do you not witness behaviors most shady?!
Dear Sir, how can you not see the clouds of unruly Golden Crown usurpers –
Small, yet mighty, even nudging out the Redcoats!? We must defend our borders!”

The Mayor, a peace-loving public servant, pondered deeply beneath his black cap.
“Hmmm. Hahhhhh. Ahhhhhh, I see!”, upon which realization he delivered himself a slap.
“My dear lady, I have been busy filling the town coffers and, truth be told, my copious belly
as with my age, I feel the cold much more and my frigid muscles, they do quiver like jelly.
In my narrow focus and the many years of peace,
I do believe I have become soft and accustomed to ease.”

“As Territory Supervisor, I must be aware of our borders.
The Redcoats, whilst newish, have caused minimal disorder,
but these Golden Crowns are too much and must be disposed!
To you, Sir Mayor, I must insist, What dost thee propose?”

“Oh, Mr. Mayor, Madame Supervisor, down here, down here!
I know I am young and inexperienced and not your peer.
But I could not help but overhear your quandary.
I question the dilemma in the midst of our plenty.
Have you conversed with the Golden Crowns?
Have you supped with the Redcoats?
Have you consulted with our neighbor towns?
Have you crossed over the rivers and moats?
‘Tis the holiday season, the time to share,
‘tis the time to welcome if others’ cupboards are bare.
‘Tis the time to succor the weary traveler to rest his bones.
‘Tis the time to throw doors open to all of our homes.
After all, all we have is thanks to the care of others,
so I would share our wealth, if I had my druthers.
If the feeder becomes empty, what we have becomes moot
and as the Redcoats and Golden Caps, we would needs follow suit.
So in this time of snow, why not give what we horde
and distribute out all that by custom we have stored?
I have seen that when our hearts we do allow to flow
and our vast and mighty riches we happily bestow,
The two-legs attend to our houses and stock them with seed
and we never find ourselves in a position of need.
With generosity, the Chickadee Kingdom then will be secure
and Cardinals and Kinglets will, in friendship, be more demure!
With plenty shared for one, multiplies plenty thus for all
and under this law of sharing, no kingdom then with fall!

This poem was written for a holiday event at an assisted living facility in the Adirondacks that used to be a tuberculosis sanatorium hosting many famous figures, many of them writers. It is a parable about the Law of Sharing and Abundant Exchange, which is one of the fundamental operating principles, laws and realities of the world of energy. When we give unconditionally for good with no expectation of return, the energy ecosystem responds abundantly. As a world teacher known to those who seek wrote, “For those who give all, all is given so they may give again.”

I WONDER IF IT MATTERS

I wonder
if it matters that I am here.
If it matters than I am beautiful.
It it matters that I exist.
If my color matters.
If the metre of my makers matters.
If the fragrance of my material matters
in any miniscule way.
If I am interesting in a distracted age.
If I will linger
in this age of pixels and personalities and selfie sticks.
If the digital world makes me more or less.
If the obsession of self
in a society of loneliness will ever end, become something more.
If the moments of contact I create matter.
If the individual is anything without the idea.
If the idea is anything without the individual.
If identity is imperative, or
if the Infinite is where it’s at.
If there’s a there here, or
if I should be seeking to shed my skin, my beauty,
immersed into loss that is
initiation, letting my-self go
into where I came from, and where
I will return.

This poem was written during a ‘Plein Air Poetry of Nature Workshop’ I was facilitating. One of the students shared their experience of not thinking of their ‘I’ in the midst of stewarding global and even more macrocosmic collaboratives. So it got me to thinking about ‘I’, and I gave myself the challenge of writing a poem in which every line begins with the letter ‘I’. The narrator of the poem – the ‘I’ – is the space where the workshop was held, a well-known local nursery. But the questions it asks are so universal, any one of us could be the narrator.

“GUEST POEMS”

We invite lovers of poetry to share their original poems for consideration as curated guest poems in our guest poems series.

SHARE YOUR POEM

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LIVING EARTH

Section 1

Emerald green sparkling leaves spiraling towards the sunlight.
Raucous laughter with the splash of water droplets. 
Effervescent, fragrant, sentient, teeming with life.
What gay melodies the gentle breeze brushing brings through you, woodwind. 
Breath is life. 
Green and violet blossom-ing. 
Let shine the light of day reflecting its splendours. 
Love by many names are the colour of its dance. 

Section 2

Blue shimmering vistas,
Burning red sand cool to touch.
Grass clippings, lemongrass scent in the air, 
Mud squelching underfoot the elephant’s toes, clay.
Kaleidoscopic life encased, enriched, brightened, harmonized.
Universal sound reverberating through the ripples of time and space and ethers.
Shape and organize ‘heaven’ and earth through your music. 

Section 3

Millions upon millions of cells synchronised in movement, 
Chorus of singing, chirping, hissing, purring for connection and play.
Speed of the jungle, watch the leaping panther catch the sunlight. 
Sonar, super sensing energy fluctuations. 
Banded together family and friend their flags.
What splendour and marvel do you reveal of your world beyond the gaze of human eyes?

Section 4

The strongest of the strong, carrying the weight of spirits in solidarity and bond, grain to grain. 
Bending and reflecting light and sound.
Shapeshifter, master builder, smiling silently when talk queries the alive.
Solid as a rock, good as gold, silver lining. 
Children of the Sun and Earth, spanning the arcs of distance and time.

Section 5

Travellers by a riverbank catch eye of a pair of silvery scaled fish, singing a melody. 
They hear the song — listening by ear, sensing its texture, seeing a vision — and to its musical notes they build a house. 
Building then resting. 
Remembering again the song and again building… finished.
For years filling the house with laughter and joy and dance and love and play. 
One day returning to the spot.
They hope to hear those fish again. 
By that very same spot they hear singing again, this time a different song, 
Just as beautiful. 
A fisherman singing and drumming on a water pot. 
They hear the song — listening by ear, sensing its texture, seeing a vision — and to its musical note they begin building a house another.

Section 6

A sphere alight on mission, co-trekking a path, ever in view of the watchful Sun.  
Visioning, ahead a story of magical love.  
Collaborating, co-creating, in production. 
Composers, conductors, orchestra, directors, producers, camera persons, actors, technicians arrive on set, cast from across the cosmos and from within. 
Lights, sound, camera, action! 

– AR

Week of World Cooperation: 2019 March-Spring-Autumn Quarter
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 

LIGHT BETWIXT

Worlds afar emerging from within
Barren beauty becomes of bounty
Irradiated space of scorpius fills the air

No longer i exist as here and there
The me and you earthed apart
Exists now as living light betwixt
Misted fusion of scorpius taurus fills the air

– KS

Scorpius Solar Peak
Sunset Bike Ride on Lake Champlain over Adis
Vermont, USA
Oct 24, 2018 5.45 pm eastern

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