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 | ‘LARGE-SCALE POLITICAL PAINTINGS’
ARTIST | AL SALZMAN

POEM | IT IS NOT THE BOXCUTTERS, IT IS THE WILL TO USE THEM | JIMMY TEE (june 2019)

by Jimmy Tee

eight thousand atrocities pinned to the wall
in gray, the studied cruelty of history’s crawl
seeking the justice of Saints Peter and Paul
I say paint as you may until the sand covers all

monuments topple yet the pedestals remain
anticipating the next campaign
when wishful thinking becomes the main
and the shadow of Babel rises once again

that our fallacies rule offers no surprises
conflict is expected and therefore arises
in juried halls and broadcast enterprises
between dead principals and compromises

political action is reciprocal at best
true revolution will burn every nest
as sure as the medals on dead men’s chests
a simple revision will take care of the rest

 

ABOUT JIMMY TEE

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

POEM | BATHWATER | JIMMY TEE (june 2019)

by Jimmy Tee

the mess that is the present
it is a product of the past

for we love the mob mentality
and I’m sure its gonna’ last

theres a rush to judgement
from this torch and pitchfork crew

with nothing gentler than a lie
with never a process due

the genies fled the bottle
demanding our attention

meaning is not inherent
it requires our invention

but its a tiger by the tail
and a question of degrees

any horde will tell you
they burn more than effigies

 

ABOUT JIMMY TEE

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

POEM | BAD MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK (june 2019)

by McClain Jeffrey Moredock
[inspired by Little Feat’s Fat Man in the Bathtub]
Can be read or sung, basic 12 bar blues 

There’s a bad man in the White House
Got his small hands on the wheel
Got his focus on himself
And not the commonweal
He got his start in real estate
He moved from deal to deal
And in spite of going bankrupt
His profits seemed unreal
Then on to hiring firing
So all the world could see
He was the boss of everyone
On reality TV
But now he’s in the White House
Still running his big scam
With daily twitter tweets
That range from flim to flam
So gird up all your loins
And steel yourself for battle
Its time to take up arms
And remove him from his saddle
Not with guns but votes
That’s the democratic way
For ballots better bullets
If a tyrant you would slay
So rally all your friends
Let’s go from bad to good
And rid our nation once and all
Of this this common neighbor hood

Onward!

 

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

POEM | APOLOGIES TO DR. SEUSS | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK (june 2019)

by McClain Jeffrey Moredock

I am The Donald,
The Donald I am
And not like any other man
I’m living large out on the stump
In this house of cards
I am the Trump
Little Marco and Big Ted Cruz
Punched me hard to make me lose
They did not know I do not bruise
I am the Donald, The Donald I am
Withstanding every media pan
The party of Lincoln, the party of Reagan
They’re on their knees and now they’re beggin’
Please, please, Dump the Trump
To them I say harrumph, harrumph
For I am The Donald nobody’s chump
I dish it out lump after lump
And when at last the votes are counted
And protests left and right are mounted
I’ll still be here still standing tall
Because I’m just too big to fall
And if it’s Clinton or Commie Bernie
I’ll be on the phone to my attorney
Cause you all know I’ve got the loot
And Trumps the card that beats a suit
I am Donald, The Donald I am
Known to all as the Flim-Flam-Man 

…almost the Ides of March

 

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

POEM | GOVERNMENT BODIES | JENN TRAVERS (june 2019)

by Jenn Travers

As citizens, we sit in skin
Slowly slipping ownership
To the bodies of government
Tightening legislation around us
Til we cannot speak
Restricted by birth and body
Judged further than eyes’ reach
Standing our ground on stolen land
We must use what is remaining
Within our lungs to call for change
And choice
For those who already breathe life

 

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 has just returned from studying abroad at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.  

POEM | OVERLAP'D BODIES | LAINE DRISCOLL (june 2019)

by Laine Driscoll
[inspired by the tondos – round paintings]

Rest now in that neck’s nook
There’s fire outside and warmth within.
Peace within this portal
And there the poor horse hangs.
Sweet cuddlenuzzles,
Purrs-a capellas,
Babes at breast,
Then, starving to death.
Within the worlds
Withstand the fever out at foot.
Warm glow | burning flame,
At once, And nowadays,
both degrees of grey.

 

ABOUT LAINE

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

POEM | THE VIOLIN - JC | THE POARTRY PROJECT (june 2019)

by JC | The Poartry Project
[inspired by tondos – round paintings]

The stories I could tell you
would make your spirit unbound
to its widest shores
and would break your heart.

They say Robert Johnson
went down to the crossroads
and traded his soul with the Most Unclean.
I think he just had the sorrow of legions
pouring out his fingers.

They say Wolfgang’s Requiem
drove Salieri around the bend in a jealous rage.
I think he just had the unleashed paralysis of poverty
bleeding out onto his strings.

They say a red violin
shaped like a beautiful woman
traveled down through the ages making legends.
I think women must be tired of such comparisons,
of being played and pampered and pounded like
a coveted doll in a case by day
and despised and undone and left by the side of the road in the dark.

They say a certain Italian
member of my family
is worth 3.6 million dollars.
I say that is mad;
we are here to be shared freely,
and I am weary witnessing children’s promise
whittled away by lack and the emptiness of zero.

But out beyond words,
“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”
stirs the innards of even the most doubting agnostic to sense the universal music within their heart.

Out beyond words,
I rested on a shoulder on 3rd Street in Santa Monica and loosed one of my most beautiful odes
from across the ages out onto
the empty sea of commerce
and re-awoke beauty.

Out beyond words,
I cause elephants to sway,
and dogs to relax,
and fish to distinguish between Stravinsky and Bach.
I am not surprised.
I am not the possession of Arrogance,
who would own the world to destruction and devour its delights to death.

Out beyond words,
I joined peoples across borders,
across the bitter divide of religions,
to flow their irrepressible love and laughter
through dark nights and long years of potatoes
until the dawn of day.

Out beyond words,
out on the plains,
up in the hidden mountains,
hand-hewn by roughened hands,
whose grandparents were lost to black lung,
and parents to alcohol,
and children to pills and powder in the veins,
I weep for lives lost,
but also share the stories of the tender love
that gets us through.

I will splinter one day.
My strings will dry out.
My bow will break.
But from the dust of the memories
I will leak into the loam,
a delicate shoot will seek the light
of a new dawn and a new day,
and new hands will be waiting
to tell new stories
of a new world.

 

ABOUT JC

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

POEM | 2 P'S IN A POD | ANI RAO (june 2019)

by Ani Rao
[written during the break + inspired by the poems read in the first half of the reading]

Politics and Poetry, 2 P’s in a pod.
Each striding to convey beauty in their own ways.
A drone strike in one sparking a pen stroke in another,
A stanza from one ringing in the thought of the other through campaign, office and memoir.
Singing a duet on stage, sometimes like a Voice battle song,
Each with many beautiful scripts still to be voiced and written.

 

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.

POEM | THE GAME | JIMMY TEE (june 2019)

by Jimmy Tee

the militants march in a terror parade
carrying cannon gun and rocket grenade
killing innocents in a publicized raid
in a thousand year war, the latest jihad
where children will suffer, their concept mislaid
so I wondered after the latest tirade
where is this weaponry bartered in trade
and it turns out that the very countries afraid
are the ones that supply the terrorists aid
for war is a distant board game to be played
while we sip our wine, safe on the esplanade
profits are won but the true costs are delayed
as a spade will continue to be found as a spade
and our created misery nowhere near a charade

 

ABOUT JIMMY TEE

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

POEM | BONANZA | JIMMY TEE (june 2019)

by Jimmy Tee
[impressively recited from memory!]

here comes Long Tall Sally
sneaking through the alley
hoping that good luck would stop and linger
but she passed a doorway
and found one more way
to satisfy an itchy trigger finger

you know for Long Tall Sally
losing every tally
left her cold and mean
a bee with a six gun stinger
and then one bad day
she shot up the cafe
to satisfy an itchy trigger finger

they took Long Tall Sally
to the hangmans rally
where the mob put he
through the wringer
there was no excuse
not to drop the noose
to satisfy an itchy trigger finger

they say when Long Tall Sally
faced her finale
she smiled and knew
what death would bring her
then she spat on the floor
to even the score
to satisfy an itchy trigger finger

 

ABOUT JIMMY TEE

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

POEM | THE ESSEX WINTER OF 2011-12 | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK (june 2019)

by McClain Jeffrey Moredock

The Old Man is back!
The Old Man is back!
He does not enter on temperate tiptoes.
Noooooo!
He stomps in from high peaks
Wearing nob-nailed boots.
He crushes the last foolish flower,
Kicks away all memories of leafy color.
Beats at doors, raps on windows,
Freezes fingers, nips noses
The Old Man is back!

We adjust …gradually…swaddled in dow
Mittened, gloved, scarved, mufflered
The less hardy, balaclavaed.
We talk of witches breasts,
Well digger’s buttocks.
Then, with the curtain still up on Act One,
Act Two opens on the same stage.

Sheet after sheet of bright white percale
Floats down from above.
It is the monstrous mother of all January White Sales.
Sheets pile up and up and up.
Will this sale never end?
The Hawk spreads his windy wings,
Bares his talons, swoops too and fro,
Screams in our ears, tears at our clothes.

It goes on and on and on and on and on and on.
The Green Mountains are still across the lake,
But the White Mountains, once far away,
Now loom large in our yards,
On porches, along driveways.

Roads disappear cars refuse to leave garages.
School buses sit idle and empty.
Children and teachers rejoice.
Mothers and fathers weep silently.
The whether or not man lies again and again,
Tells us a break is in sight,
But he is in a warm studio looking at a camera.
We are in cold houses staring at frosted windows.

Then it happens, mirable dictum!
The sun, for many arctic moons a stranger,
Appears in the sky and beams down.
Adults go outside and smile.
Small children say “Mommy, Mommy,
What’s that shiny ball in the sky?”
We laugh, confident that we will survive.
We wax skis, order snowshoes from L.L. Bean,
Talk a great deal about exercise.
But, alas, a heavy gray cloud cover
Draws itself over the percale.
Everyone goes back inside
To read, to wait…and to drink.

Eternity downshifts into low gear.
We shovel, we scrape, we slip, we slide,
And, when cabin fever
Approaches epidemic proportions,
A change springs into view.
Our world warms.
The percale is peeled away one sheet at a time.
Hearts and minds and ponds begin to thaw.
A few small white mountains remain,
But now there are green valleys to walk through.
Children and teachers are back in school.
Mothers and fathers rejoice.

As Act Two slowly fades from view
Act Three rumbles onto center stage.
It offers a light and sound show.
Some remember Woodstock,
But spirits dampen.
We droop from downpour after downpour.
Moss grows between our toes.
Goldie’s locks go straight.
Even non-believers walk on water.
There is talk of ark building.
A baby is born…he is named Noah.
He thrives, but the downpour continues.

At last the gods grow weary of their sport
The big spigot goes righty-tighty
And we see…dry land
The primal fluid that poured into our lives
Now gushes and rushes down rivers and streams
Until it ends where it always ends,
At the lake’s edge
An edge now closer than ever before,
Or so we are told.

Large chunks of lakefront real estate
Drop away and disappear in a muddy miasma.
Owners wonder, “Will my taxes go down
Because I now own less land…or…
Will they go up because I am closer to the lake?”
The Wise Guys of Whallonsburg opine
They will go up… because they always go up.

The lake heads west,
engulfs the ferry landing.
Tourism and interstate commerce tread water
The Old Dock is too old to move to higher ground
The marina is afloat without a boat
The Rudder Club loses its liquor license,
Again
Act Three appears to be endless.

Then Allah be praised, there is a plan
Salvation is at hand
We awake one fine morning
We dress in shorts and t-shirts…for
The percale sheets have drifted away.
No primal fluid drops from the sky.
The edge of the lake creeps east.
The most divine of plans is at hand.

When we thought we could go on no longer,
Endure another minute of
The Old Man, The Hawk, Piles of Percale,
Pelting Primal Fluid, and a lake
That didn’t seem to know its place,
The God With Many Names gives us…
Summer!

 

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

POEM | THOUGHT FOR FOOD #1 | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK (june 2019)

by McClain Jeffrey Moredock

couldn’t sleep
got up
wrote short poem
thought
need a snack
balled up poem
ate it

 

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

POEM | THOUGHT FOR FOOD #2 | MCCLAIN JEFFREY MOREDOCK (june 2019)

by McClain Jeffrey Moredock

       
      poetry
          my medium
          and
                     on  rare occasions
            i say to myself
               well done

 

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

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”.

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 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 | 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 | ‘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.”

“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

14 + 13 =

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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