February 2020 Voicing Art Poetry Reading + Poems

inspired by the art of justin hoekstra


How is it that this place can bring up many memories of many places?
Yet, there isn’t a place that I’ve been to that’s exactly like where I am today.
Here, I discover a memory of:
Earth – New Mexico;
Air – Bilgola Plateau;
Water – New Zealand;
Fire – The Grand Canyon.
Here, I discover a touch of:
Silky sky;
Rugged road;
Flat face cactus;
Skeleton of a tree;
Rhythmic rippling water
Cotton drapery of flower’s petal,
Harmony through diversity.
Is this an experience of universal-unique in nature?

LOVE | McClain Jeff Moredock

through years of exploration
and scientific explanation
love remains a mystery

the Greeks
once sages to the world
now fallen on hard times
had at least four words for love
but none made it less a mystery

we have all been
IN love.
and we have all been
OUT of love
most would agree
no doubt
IN is better than OUT

though for far too long
through fears and tears
too many
have not known love at all.

but here today, in this place,
at this time
we need no classic definition
or academic erudition,
for Edward and Bob are in love
and we are in love with Edward and Bob
the mystery may remain
but we can still proclaim

ain’t love grand?

Say AMEN!   June 2017


we rarely look beyond artifacts left behind of a life that’s exited,

no matter the circumstances of one’s leaving,

witness bearers are preoccupied with our grief and disbelief,

we do not see the underscored natural world, its beauty,

its perfect balance with our dead,

nor can we accept the appearance of the cradle

now holding our beloved one in its embrace.


when all has sifted down to bones,

when the body is reduced to randomly scattered remains,

a shattered femur rounded by the cycle of weather,

gold-capped molars, the blue plastic comb housed in a pocket,

one size eight men’s boot, metal zippers and buttons.

it is not easy to think of the person who once filled the space

that gave shape to all of the above settled now into this literal depression,

while we are left the emotional one created by their exit.


isn’t this, after all, the space of love and containment?

why are we not able to appreciate her?

 the earth receives each of us in our time,

accepts us, and does her random best to provide a proper burial,

hastened by wildlife in search of a meal,

the ritual of freezing and thawing,

the dispassionate cycle of birth and death,

seedling to stalk, flower to spore, the fade into full decay,

a good compost – she does her job thoroughly and unfailingly well.


every dead body is an homage to her,

emotion has no home here. science rules, yet, we believe

if we wrap our arms closely around our shoulders,

we will feel, somehow, better.


death is always cold.


collecting the bones of this lost soul,

a voice calls out from a far distance.

it is the sound of relief, a sigh, being found,

it is wind, it is witness.

it is the creak of changing seasons,

imagination giving way to wish, a bird,

kin to this graveside region, who caws, trills or coos,

a supplicant, it summons us to come and join the mourners,

urgent and insistent to be heard.

 rivulets of water circle past what few bits of the body remain 

on their way to becoming streams, rivers, lakes, oceans,

water brings with it pieces of sodden flesh, shards of our sadness and grief,

whatever can no longer cling to the dead’s body or ours.

 the place is marked as if a shrine from where the dying fell,

and in that brief consciousness before going

they knew a piece of them would remain as fallen,

while all else congregated in shallow pools

seeping deeper into the ground

to feed new life, invited, or not, into this, our last cradle.


we do not know our mother,

and still she welcomes each and every one of us eventually,

unwaveringly, open-armed and forgivingly, home.


ml collins | 2019


* Funny River, Alaska is on the Kenai Peninsula. Population: About 900. I recently read a story about a body being recovered there – after the deceased had been missing for over 10 years. I thought about how those who are missing and likely dead, are absorbed back into the earth in a much more natural way than those of us who “benefit” from a “proper” burial. And so, the poem was birthed. As usual, it’s a work in progress.


all the talk made it
something it’s not
all you find
was once left behind
one thing is certain
when you’re down
and you’re hurting
is that you’re hurting
most of the time

the chickpea stands
at the edge of the pot
asking for change
without a rearrange
it ain’t worth the trying
and my dear friends
there’s no denying
that you’re denying
most of the time

that what we dread
is easily forgot
with a whiskey neat
it only appears concrete
that Jupiter is rising
as matters fall
is something surprising
and it’s surprising
most of the time

SPIDER TIES | Jenn Travers

Spider hands crawl and creep
Hairy, bent legs of black thread
Weave and unravel the ties
The thin threads that hold me
Together encase my body
With invisible strength, they fold
Weave and unravel the ties
That kept us together

In that web of time,
I lived as a pantomime
With perfect submission
Gave you full permission to
Weave and unravel the ties
That keep me sown shut

Your insect fingers spun lace
And illusion around a phantom
Until the realization
I had been caught up
And resolved that it was time to
Weave and unravel the ties

THIS MORNING | Jaina Clough

You are halfway to being a ghost.

Your under-eyes are a slow

landslide toward nothing.

Your house too,

its blue paint over yellow,

some places worn through

to bare board.

The layering up

and the wearing down

plainly visible.

Your child is asleep.

His all-night sickness

made him need you.

He called for you,

his hot hands as big as your own

reaching through his fever,

his dream of sudden fog

breathing up the snow

leaving it threadbare

on the dark earth.

Your own sleep brief and light

and just enough.


[inspired by the entire exhibit, kodak film and its demise, rochester and a short film called ‘home sweet home’ about the abandoned buildings of detroit]



1a: a concluding musical section that is formally distinct from the main structure

b: a concluding part of a literary or dramatic work

2: something that serves to round out, conclude, or summarize and usually has its own interest (Merriam-Webster)


The separation of the components of a mixture by slow passage over or through a material that absorbs the components differently (The Immune Response, 2006)


I find my memory of my lived life
film, color dripping out the frame
into the reservoir of dreams
of candy hues
in step with the times
when my bells clanged
and chains rattled
and glass trilled to the
notes say coda
this is it
i am to be separated into my constituent
the inks of my being
concluded in a cloud of
the way to the future
i must leave
the imprint of my colors
the veil
of my rusted body
with the lights gone out of
the eyes
see what could not be perceived
there was color on film
and the daguerrotype flipped things
i find myself with anatomy rearranged
and realize we do not end
despite the frames we leave
which weeds come to grow
and children wonder what we were
ever reconfiguring the constituent


I don’t see you,
yet I know you are here.
Many trails of wandering looking for love.
Very ethereal and gifted from above.

The glimpse I’ve had, contact made,
a stare-down, so to speak.
Oh, how I wish I understood the path
that you do seek.

This morning, as my gaze discovered you so near,
my tears ran free
and quieted me
to ask, why are you here?

The answer was, the earth.
She gives and gives forevermore
until the times we take her wares
and lose all those to care.

Sorry to the many herds –
the bees, the birds, the trees.
I feel disgust, to think that we
have taken all from thee.

So pray with me, all spirits strong.
Replish if you can.
Otherwise, we will not have
an earth for human clan.



ipso facto natural law
ironclad yet travels far
you cannot hide
from its beck and call
or use reason to break its fall
fall from heaven — roll, pitch, yaw
birth is but a vector bar
enjoy the ride
ignore the pall
as flowers bloom so should we all

MY DENTIST | Jimmy Tee

My dentist is a bit of a pill
his instructions loud and shrill
“remember your teeth
decay from underneath”
Don’t worry Doc, I know the drill

My dentist practices a strange zen
He speaks and I am forced to listen
“to escape from my bossin’
you better start flossin’
your teeth will fall out until then”

My dentist is a political hack
He preaches while I’m flat on my back
“I was left, now I’m right
and without much of a fight
will vote for ideals that I lack”

My dentist sees life as a riddle
while he dodges enamel and spittle
“what else can be said
as I drill through your head
but this might just hurt a little”

My dentist is a big Red Sox fan
and he well tell you whenever he can
but I can think of much worse
than ninety years of a curse
as I cough up blood in a pan

ADAPTABILITY | Laine Driscoll

The roads are long
The roads are long
The roads are long

Jump off when you prickle
Smell the burgundy when you flower
Mockingbird keeps watch out of sight.

Embrace and expand all who
Lose their way and
Magnetize to your vista.

Dance with the wild wind
And the white flowers.

Turquoise waters
At the bottom of dry cliffs,
Wild but organized.

Fall off the cliff and find
You’re surrounded by the embrace.


Snow outside while sitting on a
Warm cliff in Texas.
Psychical experience of a
Adapted from a book.

Brown roots
Groves of cacti and brush grass,
a sea of white.

Skeleton trees
Under the waters are rocks
Built of the facility of being mineraled—
The potency of the masses of Texas.

Knowing how to organize green
And capable of drought.

All the shadows of longhorns
Beaten into dense clay cliffs
Jump, submerge, expand, contract.

A small state saluting a large one.
The delicate snow dancing with an
Earthen path leading down to
Hamilton Pool,
With its emerald waterfall and warblers of gold,
A once home, saluting birthplace
In the damp ten degrees of
January winter.
And a 70 degree day.

How bodies adapt when offered
Another way.
When the experience of
Diversity breathes life from
Connecticut to Texas in 24 hours,
An unforgettable Taurean drive,
Back to life after eight years,
And so much verdant growth,

THE TABLE | JC - The Poartry Project

[inspired by the entire exhibit]

The golden glow of late autumn light
slants across the table set for celebration,
illuminating the particles dancing in the air.
The settings are as they always are,
waiting for the life of movement
to take its place
among the crackle of the fire
and the clack of Shut-the-Box
and the toasted smell of
warming dog by the hearth.
He was the first to leave the table,
wandering into winter’s cold to complete
his journey – I felt so alone.
The hole left behind blacker than his
northern coat made for swimming
icy waters and saving lives.
I hope the ruby cardinal was his companion,
no longer executioner, but tender guide
gifting a jewel of bright beauty, a last sight
as his eyes shut upon the snow.
The table is a living, breathing thing –
witness to so many cycles.
How many have sat around it before?
How many hands have passed over these
forks and spoons and cut glasses?
How many stalks of celery enjoyed or
forgotten or borne with fortitude?
The table is a living, breathing thing –
witness to how many hearts warmed and
It flexes and contracts.
As one year, there is one less place
set at the table – then two –
only to be followed by an expansion again –
of friend, of companion, of child.
The universe balancing itself
through passage.
Through this, we go on –
A fingerprint on a spoon,
an idea in the eye of the soldier and his sons
who gaze from the photograph
across the table
from one hundred years’ distance,
an echo in the ear of the constant companion
dog returned home to the heart of Sirius,
a fond salute in our travels to a fellow traveller
who loved the American West and
the northern mountains and
the mid-Atlantic marshes,
and all the quiet moments that string us
together in a never-ending strand
as we sit
at the table,
wherever we may be,
our memories infused in the patina
warmed by the wedge of late autumn’s
golden glowing light
as the particles of what remains
dance in the tender gladness that we have

EVERYTHING'S HAPPENING | Liliana (a young poet)

[written during the reading]


Winters’ in the air, while spring in a pear.

The smell of the Pear smelled like really good hair.

While the hair blowed in the breeze,

A monkey was on the trapeze.

While the monkey swung high,

A bird flew high in the sky.

While the bird flew high in the sky, a boy was just about to lie.

He said to his parents “Oh, I’m just going to play with my friends”

When he really was going to scream.

The End

Our Debut Voicing Art Book

Voicing Art: Poetry of Space | Place | Time
is now available!

Poetry inspired by works of art, the art of nature and the exploration of beauty, perception and insight through the cartography of the unseen.


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