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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

 

 

Rainer Maria Rilke writes:

Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write.

This above all — ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.

[…]
A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. In this nature of its origin lies the judgment of it: there is no other.

In this spirit I offer you, Reader, this poem and these images, stemming from one brief November visit to the city than never sleeps – and several months of correspondence.

 

 

In a New York Minute [Glissando]

 

“If you can receive it at the wavelength is is playing at, you may love it.”

From a review of the series “Forever”

 

 

We existed

in the ellipses between

words appearing on screen

and giving up

 

Suspended above the city

you loved how I used the word luscious

 

We kissed with our souls

on the tip of our tongue

this is from Spoon River Anthology

 

You are morse code

and I need continuity

 

–when I asked if we were ships in the night

and you said yes did you notice me wiping the water

on my cheeks? I barely noticed too.

 

But then you said : “Body and heart.”

Body and heart.

 

You spoke of fire between our souls,

as if you knew about souls.

You only know about fire.

 

My tears don’t fall

I do

every single time

— how many goodbyes did it take?

 

So elegant in your detachment, like it was an art form.

Precise in your choice of words,

I fell in love with your philosopher brain.

I still fall in love with it every time — liminal.

 

A New York minute.

You were the space separating

Love and reason

 

I was addicted to a city

giddy at the thought of walking her streets beside you

how do you fly and walk

at the same time?

 

Even if you don’t see her torn feet

the effortless dance of the ballerina

is a flower bloomed out of pain.

 

Take each sentence, rearrange as you wish.

This is not to scale.

The timeline is not linear.

 

To hear you whisper, half-asleep: “When?”

Zero things better.

 

I heard that New York is the heartbeat of the world.

In that heartbeat a part of me is marked by your passage.

 

We will never go to Tokyo.

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Butterfly Closures (a type of band-aid for deep cuts and stitches sold in the U.S). Mixed media on paper, ink and graphite. Better Buzz Coffee Roasters, Mission Beach, San Diego. September 22, 2018

 

The belief that women talk too much is rooted in the understanding that women should be silent.  “The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence,” is how well-known feminist Dale Spender explained her reasoning in her book Man Made Language written decades ago. “Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.”

Emily Peck

 

This is another novella.

“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”

William Wordsworth

 

Angel comes from the Greek angelos, the messenger, the sent one.

 

Who more than the poets can speak about love?

-she said I contain worlds-

after six days his kisses stopped

he who told me all my no’s became yes’s

he who brought the wind

he who said I talked too much

-but could not spell-

and taught me to stay

by being the one who left.

 

“Never gift a book to someone who doesn’t understand vowels.”

 

I’m just removing the pebbles I’ve had in my shoes for two months, yes tonight- yes he was sweet, boiling ice. Yes he was heartless.

It’s the light in your eyes I cling on to save me

-or distract me-

my fallacy

the shine of yet another city – and i am the magpie with butterfly wings.

 

Of eyes i like when they tighten to focus like the lens of a camera

a mind is sometimes a beautiful forest, and layered people

a cosmos

he was my mirror, but you are on the other side of this screen

 

I have been running for seven years

but i was never more beautiful than the night we first went out – that glow was hope.

Seven years is what it takes for all cells in the body to renew

therefore in November I am, molecularly, a whole different person than the one she knew.

 

In July the old woman asked me why I was not married.

“God has to send me an an angel.” I replied. “An angel.”

 

We made fire in August. Consume.

We were southern blood, I was like sea.

To suffer for love is the greatest privilege.

In the morning the sun would wake me up by warming my feet; at one the vendors made their way back from the beach. We passed black bodies picking tomatoes in the fields of Sardinia.

They started pulling the umbrellas from the sand in the clubs in September. The light in the house was always crepuscular, like Tara in Gone With The Wind.

 

I guess it boils down to a lack of belief, a lack of patience

I am impetuous, and impulsive – female like guerra

if two pieces in a puzzle are too much alike, they don’t lock

I never thought your tattoos could cut me

I followed their path : they taught me the root of the word “seduction”

your eyes stopped seeing me, and it felt like violence.

 

Poetry is making pain elegant, and writing with broken hands.

Cruelty is not giving the beautiful words you say you have- to someone who lives by them. Mercy is never knowing when the last time comes.

 

“What we initially fall in love with is what hurts us the most in the end; he dressed really well, he was early, and his hair spelled trouble.”

I ran away to the ease of palmtrees and terracotta tiles (a cop-out)

because you cannot heal where you got sick – and I know you take yourself wherever you go, but 7,000 miles in between help.

They say it’s enough if only one of the two loves

and we know that i’m in love with the feeling,

the person is just an excuse.

it is not you who i missed- but what came with you;

I belong to freedom, and my art.

I steal words from my travels.

 

I can tell you in real life (IRL) men do not come in the middle of the night to tell you they don’t want to lose you- no matter how pretty or intelligent you are. nothing is fought for any more, and stories end for a nothing, for fear, on cloudy mondays.

 

Poets are one soul in the end, share one collective heart

the only ones who are not ashamed of being publicly immolated

but on the contrary, they show their wounds to the sun

they never explain them

– and that’s how they heal.

 

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L.A.nguid

While I wait for the next set of

glistening eyes

Yeah, when you say maybe

and mean never

When I met him I told him

You use your eyes like weapons

Some things are only meant to be burned on the altar of poetry, liquid like skin

Two planets colliding:

orbits not meant to ever meet again.

Some cities, like kisses that have no right to take and give so much, go to your head.

Where to start? Perhaps from the end

– going backward.

We danced on the H of the Hollywood sign

‘Tis the time of rose gold here

The color of California sunset

The spring of Lana Del Rey and Lorde

Laidback, the occasional listlessness

Head tilted backward on a convertible

We don’t know how lucky we are

His reckless back was softer than your silk robe. I’m not forty, I’m in my second twenties.

In an Uber, real tired, I realize the city I live in possesses the quality and repetition of a videogame,

“what should a town look like”- the approximation fails at convincing

I put the matchbook in your pocket so that one day you may find it in your hand and smile- go back to that night, that rooftop. that’s the scene from a movie.

If your man is gentle, and a good lover, you have two women to thank.

Before I even spoke

He was singing over me

He was counting each of my hair.

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The final full moon of Winter 2017: the Worm Moon {Native Americans} or Storm Moon {Pagan Rites} or Lenten Moon {Christianity}. Also known as the Seed Moon or Chaste Moon. This is the final moon of Winter 2017 and the last full moon before the Spring Equinox. Tonight is also the time that Daylight Saving Time ends in most states of the U.S… returning time and hours to their natural cycle and us to a more harmonious rhythm. The days will be longer thanks to moving the clock ahead one hour -in the UK this is called “Summer Time”. This is the moon of nature’s rebirth from the dark winter months; its meaning is new, fresh starts.


//These poems were typed, not copy-pasted. It makes a difference.//


Venus Just Asked Me 


Perhaps 

For just one minute out of the day 

It may be of value to torture yourself 

With thoughts like, 


“I should be doing 

A hell of a lot more with my life than I am 

Cause I’m so darned talented” 


But remember,

For just one minute of the day. 


With all the rest of your time-

It would be best

To try

Looking upon your self more as God does. 


For He knows

Your true royal nature.  


God is never confused 

And can see Only Himself in you.  


My dear, 

Venus just leaned down and asked me 

To tell you a secret, to confess 


She’s just a mirror who has been stealing 

Your light and music for centuries 



She knows as does Hafiz,

You are the sole heir to 

The King.




Hafiz



The Size of the Love-Bruise


The

Gauge of a good poem is 

The size of the love-bruise it leaves 

On your neck. 

Or 

The size of the love-bruise it can paint 

On your brain.

Or 

The size of the love-bruise it can weave 

Into your soul. 

Or indeed-

It could be all of the 

Above. 




Hafiz


 …


The Shape of Laughter


Let my words become like a skilled 

Potter’s hands, 


Quieting,

Smoothing your life 

With their knowledge,


Reaching into your tender core 

And spreading you out 

Like the morning 


That leaps from the sun’s amused wink 

Onto hills, brows and backs of so many

Beautiful laboring beasts.


God’s duty is to make perfect 

All your movements of mind, of limb,

And your ascending shape of laughter.


Watch the way my hands dance 

With their diamond-edged brilliance 


Cutting you open with music, 

Reaching into your heart


And spilling the night sky- jar you carry 

That is always full of giggling planets and stars. 



My words are a divine potter’s wheel.

If you stay near to me, 

Please, 

Stay near to me–



And Hafiz will spin you into 

Love.




Hafiz



…..

The Fools Who Dream 


Here’s to the ones

who dream

Foolish, as they may seem

Here’s to the hearts

that ache

Here’s to the mess

we make


She told me:

A bit of madness is key

to give us to color to see

Who knows where it will lead us?


And that’s why they need us,

So bring on the rebels

The ripples from pebbles

The painters, and poets, and plays


And here’s to the fools

who dream

Crazy, as they may seem

Here’s to the hearts that break

Here’s to the mess we make


From “La La Land”, 2017 

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Moving


I think moving is not the few hours on a bleary Saturday morning

-the act of-

No, it is weeks:

Looking around at everything you love

And know you’re going

to have to say goodbye.


Like holding a lover for the last time

A little death


Everything we know is going to end

One day 

They say”


Maybe moves and doomed love affairs are

God’s gentle way of reminding us

Nothing is permanent.



Remember that last look

right before you closed the door

and knew you wouldn’t be back?

Isn’t that the definition of living,

Isn’t that the definition of loving.

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The Prophet described iman, or faith, as such: “Faith is to acknowledge with the heart, to voice with the tongue, and to act with the limbs,” (Chittick 6).

This outlines the hierarchy of bodily domains that human beings consist of: the heart, signifying innermost awareness; the tongue which articulates and expresses; and one’s limbs, the source of action.

The art of poetry incorporates all three of these, for one cannot compose a poem without the cognizance of the heart, the use of speech or the physical use of limbs to write out the words.

Poetry channels the three spheres of the body so that awareness, thought and activity fuse to create one product.

Beyond Words: Chronicling Spiritual Ecstasy and Experience in Sufi Poetry

Kate Van Brocklin 

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And, suddenly, you are gazing at the eternal sublime. Venice’s borders are the dream realms. This is a city that starts on water and ends in the soul. Venice is a portal between reality and myth. A city that is real, but also impossible. My little cousin declared, at ten years old, that ‘this is the most beautiful city in the whole world.’ In no other country man-made and natural Beauty is so entrenched with the national psyche and identity. Beauty is elevated as the greatest national virtue, privilege and asset. Beauty is Italy’s doctrine and her true religion. We are, after all, Il Bel Paese.
Venezia, Italia, January 1, 2017.



‘There is still one of which you never speak.’
Marco Polo bowed his head.
‘Venice,’ the Khan said.
Marco smiled. ‘What else do you believe I have been talking to you about?’
The emperor did not turn a hair. ‘And yet I have never heard you mention that name.’
And Polo said: ‘Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.’

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities





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Song of the Open Road, IV

Walt Whitman



The earth expanding right hand and left hand,

The picture alive, every part in its best light,

The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,

The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of the road.

O highway I travel, do you say to me Do not leave me?

Do you say Venture not—if you leave me you are lost?

Do you say I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?

O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,

You express me better than I can express myself,

You shall be more to me than my poem.

I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all free poems also,

I think I could stop here myself and do miracles,

I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me,

I think whoever I see must be happy.

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Cafe'-inspired ink drawing and collage. San Diego, June 2016

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Café Lulu, Sun and Moon. San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter, June 2016.

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The Reader. Café Bassam. San Diego, June 2016.

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Rosa de Tijuana 1/15 . June 2016.



A Mi Tijuana

Milton Ríos

Spanish | English


La olvidada, la 100 por ciento criticada!..

A la que puedes dar mil opiniones sobre ella

La única que es coherente con su equilibrio

Entre las cosas buenas y malas!

La ciudad malvada… la maravillada,

La llena de narcos!

Artistas, multicolores y muchos tantos…

Esta ciudad… ciudad de paso

Y paso a ser mía,

Mi ciudad! Mi metrópoli confundida

Ayer la mas violenta

Hoy el ejemplo de paz!

Pero solo en mi Tijuana se puede vivir esto!

Balazos, teatro… buena música, cineastas en acción

El party el revolución! La que ya no es nada

Por que nació la calle 6ta.

Donde se junta lo subterráneo,

Las culturas urbanas, donde no ahí negros ni blancos!

Ni mexicanos ni gringos…

lo que importa es la noche bohemia,

algo de baile y alcohol

que viva la diversión…

la ciudad de segunda!

De segundas oportunidades

Donde caen los deportados

Donde comen y duermen los emigrados,

Donde se respira libertad

Donde ahí policías buenos y malos!

Y aquí te preguntas? Para que ir al otro lado…

Si acaso nomas de compras,

 a conocer lo bien planeado.

Pero para dormir a gusto! Para respirar a diario…

Con la adrenalina constante,

De Tijuana ahí que ser amante.

Y así a donde vallas al decir soy de Tijuana

Obtendrás ese silencio! Que es un silencio ganado

De respeto por que para criticar Tijuana

Solo  nosotros los que la vivimos

Los que la hemos hecho nuestra

Y ser tijuanense, claro que satisface

Pero también pesa y cuesta!…




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We are the Stargazers,
We are the Memorykeepers

We are the stargazers,
we are the memorykeepers
the nightwalkers
the moonseekers
we are the solitude dwellers
we pause, head lifted to look at clouds
moving fast through the night skies
like steam raising from hot coffee
in a makeshift cafe.

[ stop looking at your phone
and look at the stars ]

We are impractical madness.
We are the timeconjurers,
propelled through dark hours
chasing follies
– we pause to take photographs when we’re late; we always answer the muse
and she comes at the most inopportune moments.
We are the harbingers,
we are the jesters.
We sit on street corners in the cold, listening to the banter of clochards.
Our hands hurt
we write poems no-one will read.

We are the stargazers,
we are the memorykeepers
we are the storytellers.
We are the art warriors,
we battle against the loss of words,
which come unexpected and vanish so quickly, like the tendrils of love in the morning.

We fight against time which consumes.
We succeed – and steal one verse or image from the frenetic chasm.
We indulge in vain attempts to capture stars.

We are the dreamers,
we are the songcollectors
we are the last romantics.
Our job is to always have innocent eyes.
We are the wanderers.
Our job is to remember and coalesce.
We preserve life’s gossamer fragments of beauty, we keep them like strands of lights in a jar.

We are the butterflies,
we are the petal priests,
we run red lights.

We wander at night and are consumed by fire.
In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

San Diego. January 18, 2016

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Sunset and stars, for Martha. Acrylic paint and Encaustics. San Diego, 2003.

 

I finished this painting with encaustics (wax dripping) in 2003, for Martha, my oldest and dearest friend in San Diego.

This is how the painting looked for years:
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I was dissatisfied with it.
It just seemed an ‘experiment’ with golden acrylics, was too heavy on the left side and just, in general, looked like a 90’s Dave Matthews Band CD cover gone wrong.

While there were some reedeming moments ( the night sky/ starry side had a loveliness to it) the demarcation line was too abrupt and the piece as a whole did not make sense
.
So, I took it back sometimes in 2010 to ‘work on it’. Poor Marthita..who does that? Thank you, ever-patient friend.

This untitled ‘thing’ sat on an empty wine rack in my kitchen for years, becoming mine again, in a way, a de facto piece of furniture.
I was at a loss…I knew I had to give it back at some point, yet had no idea how to fix this obvious statement on dichotomy that just looked wrong.

Enter Beverly. One night, a couple months ago, my very eclectic, ageless, artist neighbor Bev was talking to Mingus, her black cat ( I am pretty sure it’s a familiar 😉 ) on the walkway we shared.
It was one of those rare days my place was guest-ready, so I invited her in for a glass. She was interested in the painting on the easel, still turned the ‘wrong’ way. I shared my conundrum with her. She just walked up to it and said ‘What if you turn it this way?.
Now, “thing” was a fiery California sunset. She found the sea in the paint, and it took 12 years.

Something like this gives me faith that everything comes into its own in time.
That timing is always right.
That years are necessary.
That the right person comes in and points to you what has being staring you in the face, what you could not see.
Thank you, Bev.

….
Below, a flipped, filtered version I think
it really is what this painting wants to be, in its dreams.

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We’re Always Under Stars

 

You took me star-gazing
the first night
I was looking for Orion.

(when i went home
I found him,
hung low over my window
at 5 am.
I could never sleep
after you.)

You shared the impossible poetry of Hikmet, which nobody in their right mind should reveal to someone they just met.

On the second day
you came with your convertible,
the passenger side devastated
by an accident.
I had to get in from your side,
for a month.
Climbing in, crossing over,
my body awkwardly tilted while trying to maintain grace in my version of
a courtship.
I did not mind, not one time – though I always forgot.

I should have, maybe, read the sign.
Instead, I thought it was endearing
it meant you had your wounds, too.
I did not feel so bad about my messy house, my scars.

We drove to the beach,
California style.
It was a semi-deserted nudist beach, and we had to hike a steep cliff
to get there.
There was always a sense of the
unexpected
with you.

We talked while girls with bouncing boobs
and men with various appendages
were too away for us to really see
–I was, at once, at ease with and acutely aware of the french strangeness of the situation–
another would have thought about
how progressive it all was.
Unaware until later that that was a choice, I kept my top on.
In hindsight, perhaps,
you were testing my boundaries.

When you touched me,
you touched me
the sun kissed me
another star, on our second date.
We dipped in Mediterranean warmth.

I looked at you
like Sicily looks at Calabria
over the Strait.

I thought this time things would be
different, because we shared the same language.
I forgot stars rise and set at night, too.
And we are always under them.

 

San Diego, November 2015

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Another month of quickening days, of white skies, of scorching heat, of California monsoons has gone by.

The weather in San Diego has been positively schizophrenic.  Life has been full (I dislike the word “busy”), heartbreaking and healing at turns, magic, adventurous, challenging and with an overall trend of daily progress towards balance, harmony and mindfullness. Things are good.

I have been blessed to have crossed paths with soulful fellow travelers.

Since the beginning of 2015, the posts here at Sketchbloom have been so sparse…it’s embarassing. I miss my days before my professorship where I had the luxury of being an artist full time. Yet there were, of course, different struggles at the time.  I always heard that with privileges come responsibilities, and I felt those, so much, this past school year. Although the school year ended, culminating with Graduation at the end of June, I feel I am only (sort-of) beginning to breath now.

I completed my six-week five-credit Arabic course yesterday. I signed up for the class on what must have been an adrenaline rush from the tough Spring I had. The course started during Finals week at my University, which meant a seamless, yet intense/insane transition! I have some calligraphy to share from the course, and I am happy to say I can finally read and write in Arabic!

This month also saw me in Ciudad de Mexico DF for few days. I will post soon  some photographs  and recollections from that city of thousand faces. Alas, no drawings. (no time)

How to sum up a whole year? Only through recollection in tranquility. I am finally on break, and I plan to catch up with all the posts from my travels. I have notebooks full of thoughts and words, that might become verses, once distilled. Yet, this is also the time to make. I read that, a year from now, you will wish you had started today. SO I am starting, again, today. Every time I post here it feels like a new beginning. For those of you who have been following this blog (more than a thousand!), thank you for your patience and for the kind forgetfulness, and forgiveness, of promises not (yet) kept. I started running behind in 2013….no comment. My art and this blog can hardly catch up with my life and travels. I guess that is a good problem to have. Maybe you want to wander here, and see why time flies.

Annnyyyyhow…..Here are the rest of this spring’s nudes from Monday nights at the San Diego Arts Institute.

I noticed, going through the various drawings done there, that I tend to experiment with a different medium and paper each time. I guess I really miss my collages. I had the time to scan these drawings (i always feel quick and dirty when I post shots from my phone), and, well, what a difference.

One good piece of news is that I will get back my art studio in the Fall. I was part of the Brokers’ Building Artist Colony from 2003-2008 and I cannot wait to have a special place for my art again.

This summer – this year, really – feels like the long backward run, the gathering momentum

overdue

of the pole jumper.

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First experiment in Digital nude painting on my Android HTC ONE phone, using the Paint Commander App and the Sensu brush.

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Two months to the day of my last post, I return.

Like a lover who walks into the door surreptitiously, I offer no explanations.

Just Kidding.

This quarter saw me teaching three courses with a total of 120 students, so, dear Single Reader, the reason for my hiatus is self-evident. It was a ten-week long journey into different periods of History of Architecture and Urban Design, Urban Issues and so. much. more.

Here are snapshots of my bimonthly art dates. I have quite a few drawings, but could not conjure up the time and mental space to scan and post them. Ideally, these will be scanned version soon..but here they are.

I embarked on an Arabic adventure as of Monday, and this will be a spectacular summer, I feel and know.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”


Anne Bradstreet

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I walk at night.
You can keep mornings, with the aftershave of salesmen, rush hour…with the Starbucks lines and hair perfectly
well done.

(Mafalda says that everything good in life messes up your hair)

You can have the morning with its blinding light, its lack of nuances…leave the night to blur lines, to hide and to reveal.

The morning of road warriors, weekend warriors, commute warriors, checkers of life’s milestones – I lost count, and it is not my race.

Leave me the profound night, let me walk at hours of my choosing, when empty streets whispher poetry lines, if you just listen.

This is my queendom, let me patrol my land of empty office buildings, of Mexican night workers, of quiet and shadows.

The night of orange streetlights, of vacant lots and sleeping churches.

Of red windows, where the artists burn.

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California Building Tower. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. January 2015.


In the past couple of months, we’ve had the most spectacular sunsets – the most magnificent skies, really.

In addition, balmy, magical nights.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but San Diego and Southern California are becoming more and more lovely and precious each day.
It is like falling in love, all over again.

Tonight I want to share some night and sunset shots, reserving the day skies for another post.
These photos have all been taken and corrected on my HTC One camera, hence the sometimes annoying light ‘spilling’, low res and graininess.
I will start carrying my Panasonic camera again, and correcting on Photoshop. I realize that my photos look better on a small screen…
One day I would like to invest in a proper Digital DSRL, but for now accept these artisanal shots.

I have taken to making nightly pilgrimages to our Balboa Park.
This is our cultural park, with more than twenty art museums and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. The pairing of Spanish architecture and tropical greenery take me to Cuba, to Puerto Rico…to the Caribbeans. Balboa Park was built in 1915 for the Pan-American Exhibition, and is celebrating its Centenary this year!

The central plaza, Plaza de Panama, is now restored as the living room of the city.

To my eye, the park is more and more beautiful each month that goes by.

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View from Cabrillo Bridge. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. January 2015.

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Night view from Cabrillo Bridge. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. January 2015.

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View of Plaza De Panama. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. March 2015.

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Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. March 2015.

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Arboretum. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. March 2015.

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Sculpture Garden. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. March 2015.

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Museum of Man. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. March 2015.

And here are other end-of-day scenes from San Diego.

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Normal Heights, San Diego. January 2015.

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Bankers' Hill, San Diego. January 2015.

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Hillcrest, San Diego. February 2015.

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University Heights, San Diego. February 2015.

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Hillcrest, San Diego. February 2015.

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Downtown San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza. December 2014

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Downtown San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza. December 2014.

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Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego. Cafe' Sevilla. January 2015.

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163 South Highway towards Downtown San Diego. View from Cabrillo Bridge, Balboa Park. March 2015.


And now, two poems to the Night.

The Night is Still

by Edith Matilda Thomas


The night is still, the moon looks kind,
The dew hangs jewels in the heath,
An ivy climbs across thy blind,
And throws a light and misty wreath.

 
The dew hangs jewels in the heath,
Buds bloom for which the bee has pined;
I haste along, I quicker breathe,
The night is still, the moon looks kind.

Buds bloom for which the bee has pined,
The primrose slips its jealous sheath,
As up the flower-watched path I wind
And come thy window-ledge beneath.

The primrose slips its jealous sheath,—
Then open wide that churlish blind,
And kiss me through the ivy wreath!
The night is still, the moon looks kind.

….

A Gift

by Leonora Speyer


I Woke: —
Night, lingering, poured upon the world
Of drowsy hill and wood and lake
Her moon-song,
And the breeze accompanied with hushed fingers
On the birches.

 
Gently the dawn held out to me
A golden handful of bird’s-notes.


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San Diego, Bankers' Hill, March 15, 2015

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San Diego, Bankers' Hill, March 15, 2015

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San Diego, Bankers' Hill, March 15, 2015

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San Diego, Bankers' Hill, March 15, 2015

Autobiography of Eve

 by Ansel Elkins

Wearing nothing but snakeskin
boots, I blazed a footpath, the first
radical road out of that old kingdom
toward a new unknown.
When I came to those great flaming gates
of burning gold,
I stood alone in terror at the threshold
between Paradise and Earth.
There I heard a mysterious echo:
my own voice
singing to me from across the forbidden
side. I shook awake—
at once alive in a blaze of green fire.

Let it be known: I did not fall from grace.

I leapt
to freedom.

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Solana Beach, California. February 13, 2015.


Invitation to Love

by Paul Laurence Dunbar



Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.

 

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it to rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.

 

Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.
Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.





Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first African American poets to gain national recognition.
This poem was published in 1896, when the poet was 24 years old.
He died ten years later.

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La Mujer Que Lee ( Woman Who Reads ). Pastel, Paint, Newsprint Collage on Board. 2004

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Picture the two of you lamp-shopping at IKEA, orchestrating a from-scratch dinner, and generally being capital-T Together.

Refinery29.com

No Te Enamores De Una Mujer Que Lee.
[Do Not Fall in Love With A Woman Who Reads]

By Martha Rivera-Garrido

No te enamores de una mujer que lee, de una mujer que siente demasiado, de una mujer que escribe… No te enamores de una mujer culta, maga, delirante, loca. No te enamores de una mujer que piensa, que sabe lo que sabe y además sabe volar; una mujer segura de sí misma. No te enamores de una mujer que se ríe o llora haciendo el amor, que sabe convertir en espíritu su carne; y mucho menos de una que ame la poesía (esas son las más peligrosas), o que se quede media hora contemplando una pintura y no sepa vivir sin la música. No te enamores de una mujer a la que le interese la política y que sea rebelde y vertigue un inmenso horror por las injusticias. Una a la que le gusten los juegos de fútbol y de pelota y no le guste para nada ver televisión. Ni de una mujer que es bella sin importar las características de su cara y de su cuerpo. No te enamores de una mujer intensa, lúdica y lúcida e irreverente. No quieras enamorarte de una mujer así. Porque cuando te enamoras de una mujer como esa, se quede ella contigo o no, te ame ella o no, de ella, de una mujer así, JAMAS se regresa”.

Don´t fall in love with a woman who reads, with a woman who feels too much, with a woman who writes… Don’t fall in love with a cultivated, magician, delirious, crazy woman. Don’t fall in love with a woman who thinks, who knows what she knows and also knows how to fly; a woman sure of herself. Don’t fall in love with a woman who laughs or cries while making love, who is capable of turning her flesh into spirit. Don´t fall in love with a woman who loves poetry (those are the most dangerous) , who could spend half an hour staring at a painting and can’t live without music. Don’t fall in love with a woman who is interested in politics; one who is rebellious and suffers enormously because of inequality and injustices. A woman who enjoys football matches and ball games but doesn´t like to watch television at all. Don´t you dare to fall in love with a woman who is gorgeous no matter her face or her body – an intense, playful, lucid and irreverent woman. You don’t want to fall in love with a woman like that.  Because if you do so, whether she stays with you or not, whether she loves you back or not, from her, from a woman like that, you´ll NEVER EVER return.

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Plaza de Panama. Balboa Park, San Diego. December 2014.



I was trying to find a poem
To describe your skin, night
But the poets don’t know
the hours, or the look i just tried on you–
I cannot find you in their words.

I am always hiding in their verses,
moon behind clouds.
Distilling memories, crafting them into images, words:
what is the wine that we drink?
and who can write about the way you held me?

They do not have a name for this, for how perfect we were, the amber and coffee
of our hips.
Your kind chest,
your arms, taut as steel,
and the fact that i did not look at you, not once, afraid of learning too much
from the way you walked,
or the way your clothes fell.

Drowning so sweet,
tender fire.

Name the nights this year,
count them on the palm
of one hand.
Indifferent city, i stole moments of brilliance
from your stingy months.
I ride dark, subversive waters
and capsize
continuously.

‘Until the inconscious is made conscious, the subconscious will rule your life,
and you will call it Destiny.’
Carl Jung

Do the poets write
of a lion lying with his lioness?
Of fleeting things?

You drove and i held your hand
You told me one must laugh, pray and cry,
everyday.
I argued the last point.

San Diego, December 2014

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Sunset. Venice, California. November 2014.

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Anything Can Happen. Anything Can Be. Santa Monica, California. November 2014.



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How to Love
By January Gill O’Neil

After stepping into the world again,
there is that question of how to love, 
how to bundle yourself against the frosted morning—
the crunch of icy grass underfoot, the scrape 
of cold wipers along the windshield—
and convert time into distance. 
 
What song to sing down an empty road
as you begin your morning commute?
And is there enough in you to see, really see, 
the three wild turkeys crossing the street 
with their featherless heads and stilt-like legs
in search of a morning meal? Nothing to  do 
but hunker down, wait for them to safely cross. 
 
As they amble away, you wonder if they want 
to be startled back into this world. Maybe you do, too, 
waiting for all this to give way to love itself, 
to look into the eyes of another and feel something— 
the pleasure of a new lover in the unbroken night, 
your wings folded around him, on the other side 
of this ragged January, as if a long sleep has ended.

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Habeas Corpus

by Jeffrey Schultz

 


In memoriam the once-frozen North

Our collective consciousness does not allow punishment where it cannot impose blame.

United States v. Lyon
Judge Alvin Benjamin Rubin, dissenting

 


There is of course the other idea: that the intricate latticework
Of our bodies loosed from us at last will leave us free
To become anything, pure light, perhaps, or wing-beats

In fresh powder beneath some maples locked up in their thin veneer
Of ice. But then as always a sudden gust and the limbs’ clacking,
And, as when some insurgent sound crosses over the porous border

Of a dream, the world recrystallizes around us: midday, snow-
Grayed, the wind-chill’s sub-zero like a ball-peen to the forehead.
It’s cold enough to quiet even the soul’s feathery throat-song,

And so it does. Nothing moves and I move through the woods
At the edge of its city with dog, hoping he’ll shit his daily shit
Before this reddening flesh numbs entirely. Nothing moves,

But beneath months-thick ice and powder, winter’s put up its dead:
Squirrels and sparrows, the wren and the fox, whole families
Of field mice posed as if in the pet store’s deep freeze, even,

Here and there, scattered and whole, occasional missing persons.
For now, for guilty, for guiltless, no matter, the world offers neither
Deliverance nor decay, and though we trust in that the thaw

Will come, that someday soon some pond water, water
Still and softly rippled as pre-War window-glass, will again reflect
Its image of the bloodless sky, cut, at intervals, by spring’s

First returning vultures, and though the police will then take
A little comfort, as they kick the MOBILE CRIME LAB’s tires
Before rolling it out for the season, that the birds help at least

To ease the legwork, we know no one’s, you know, going to be
Set free. The skull’s thin as eggshell so far as the beak’s thick curve
Is concerned. The raisin of the eye’s an easy delicacy.

And so to imagine the future is to imagine the present, but warmer,
But more forthrightly, more honestly violent. And so another day’s
Bones picked clean. There is of course the idea’s consolation:

For eternal patience, eternal reward, for the meek, the Earth’s
Corpse. Instead, a sort of waking sleep, a sort of waking slow;
We rub our eyes, warm the last of yesterday’s coffee, stare

As our email loads: surely something must have come, surely
Someone has spirited us that which would make all the difference.
We call to complain that nothing’s working because we like

The on-hold music, which is a sound other than our breathing.
We ask the music if we can speak to its supervisor but when we try
To explain it only laughs, Guiltless!
Who do you think you are anyway?,

Laughs its little soprano sax laugh before it loops back to its loop’s
Beginning. The coffee pot runs on mediated coal and drips acids.
The car’s topped up with artillery and emits amputees. The idea was

Waking would make things clearer, would startle us as from any night’s
Nightmare: these sheets’ cold which is not bare concrete floor,
This patch of light the moon has cast not the interrogator’s light,

This knocking in our head not some still-indecipherable code
Tapped against an adjacent wall by who knows who, by someone
We can’t even begin to imagine, someone stuck here longer

Than even ourselves yet still committed to the idea that finding
A way to speak to each other would help matters, this knocking
None of that but rather something real, here, furnace clank or thief

In the night, something real and something present and not
The dream of what must be held that way until it stops thrashing,
Not the dream of being held that way, but what could be danger

Or else nothing once more, which means we prowl once more
The house, ridiculous in our underwear, ridiculous with a flashlight
Gripped like a truncheon, the floorboards cold somehow as bare

Concrete, the floorboards that croak somehow like vultures who are
Not here, who winter south, scan the Sonoran desert’s northern
Edge, its empty water bottles and tire ruts and those nameless

It dries to a sort of jerky, those nameless who labored in vain
To cross it, who had hoped that in crossing, they would be set free.
Nothing’s wrong, the house secure, bolts bolted, latches latched.

Somewhere in the distance beyond the kitchen window, downtown
And its bus bench bail bondsman, downtown and its graffiti
Covered wall’s Great Writ:Repent! The End Is Nigh! As always, as always,

Answers the darkness. But, pre-War? In what will soon enough be
Dawn-light, in this near-light, who can tell if it’s blood spread thin
On our hands or else just a healthy, living glow?  Outside, the idea

Of night and the idea of day seem to have come to a standoff.

No one’s calling for negotiations. We know what happens next:
Whether the stars flicker or merely flinch, the sun, whose face

Is a badge, has always been a little trigger happy. And though
The firestorm will consume, soon enough, everything, it seems
For the moment this will go on. As if indefinitely. As if without cause.

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San Diego Harbor, October 18, 2014.




to my single reader:


perhaps one day soon
i will tell you about puerto rico, taíno heart, and driving into méxico at midnight
like two fugitive moths
the indio angels
perhaps i will share the secret tales
of a heart that keeps returning
to the south
and reading poetry as an act
of revolution.
i did not forget. i am not gone.
i never gave up.
artists cannot stop seeing and sharing beauty, no more than poets can stop feeling and bleeding ink.
it is not a choice for us.
understand that a pen lies dormant sometimes, oftentimes,
only to gather strength, and stories,
like our souls.
only to heal.
the vessel eventually spills over.
i will tell you about calabria, my tierra, my fisherman father, then new mexico, the beautiful natives of this country, their poignant song…and the lines i wrote
at ten thousand feet
they might make sense
once stitched together.
i will talk about
traveling as an act of infinite love
to heal, to forgive, to archive
yet never, never forget (i will never let you go, hold you into the light)
but i will never say a word.
there will be more photos than drawings, please forgive me.
there will be, more often than not, no explanations, and little context [as in life]
accept these scattered offerings.
what is the music that one hears
as we change skin?
i can only bring back
dispatches.
the giving of one’s self
receiving infinite blessings
and signs
i will find a way to share this
hiding my hands, covering my mouth.
breaking awful tiles on that grey vinyl floor ! and every instance that made me thankful
for a heart that was broke open
like a seed that could finally flower.
for a traveling soul
that will always eschew expediency
for narrative.


but not tonight.
tonight is not the night
for everything to be told.
it’s a start, a shy coming back
after months abroad.
the new world, the old world.
i return to the shuttered home,
look at these years
stacked in neat boxes,
wrapped with care, once.
a gift from ourselves, to ourselves.
it is time to return,
harvesttime is once upon us, and finds me stronger.
it is time to shake the dust covers, unpack
and finally, finally move in.
there is never enough time to do housework, single reader,
but i figured  you know
it is not the thought of unfinished laundry
that keeps me up at night.

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Ink on Moleskine paper. Schneider Hybrid 0.5.  San Juan, Puerto Rico. June 2014.

Ink on Moleskine paper. Schneider Hybrid 0.5.
San Juan, Puerto Rico. June 2014.

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Cities and Sieges

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After the brief siege ended, 
and the city was laid open at his feet, walls fallen apart like scruples, maybe he thought:



‘I don’t want you to be my first girl,

But my last.

I’ll walk away from your eyes,

And feed you silences.


Because the time is not ripe, 

I will put up fences in the water

To separate

And dams

To hold

My expansive heart.



[ You and I 

Inevitable as thunder

Follows lightning]



I will build, with concrete

Walls that cut through

Olive groves and piazzas

And I will

Contain you.’



Somewhere in between, endless summer, 2014

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Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis, July 2014



Love after Love


The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.



Derek Walcott

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These Rocks Were Put Together By Cats {American Officer}

These Rocks Were Put Together By Cats {American Flag}

Bobby Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Bobby Doesn’t Live Here Anymore


Decoupage: A technique were text is disassembled and reassembled, leading to new interpretation. Used by David Bowie to compose lyrics.
. …

Love in the Morning

By Annie Finch

Morning’s a new bird
stirring against me
out of a quiet nest,
coming to flight—

quick-changing,
slow-nodding,
breath-filling body,

life-holding,
waiting,
clean as clear water,

warmth-given,
fire-driven
kindling companion,

mystery and mountain,
dark-rooted,
earth-anchored.

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Still from the film 'Vincere', 2009.

Still from the film ‘Vincere’, 2009.

 

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why

(Sonnet XLIII)


Edna St. Vincent Millay, 18921950

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands a lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet know its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.



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Thank you mamma for letting me draw on the walls with permanent markers, for drawing our profiles in the moonlight, for the watermelon eaten with spoons on a beach still asleep, for all the walks,  for the picnics in lawns amongst the highways, where you would bring my net, so I could catch butterflies.

I’m still catching butterflies.
I love you.

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Shift #5

Ali Liebegott

for Seamus Heaney

 

 

a box of coconut water
two cans of coconut milk

so many looking for help

some people care when a poet dies

a poem is a conscience
a report card, a confession:

today my lies were a motor that spun the Earth

how can you get truth from a hill
when I am the continent that drifts?

how can I taste what I’m mourning
when soon everything will be salt from the sea?

 

—8/30/13, Register 6
1 PM—5:15 p.m.

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San Diego, April 20, 2014

Open the windows of your soul,
And let the light in,
As a house shuttered for months
Receives the Sun.

San Diego, Easter Sunday 2014

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San Diego, May 2013.



A lover knows only humility,
He has no choice.
He steals into your alley at night,
He has no choice.
He longs to kiss every lock of your hair,
Don’t fret,
He has no choice.
In his frenzied love for you,
He longs to break the chains of his imprisonment,
He has no choice.

A lover asked his beloved,
“Do you love yourself more than you love me?”
And the loved replied:
“I have died to myself and I live for you,
I’ve disappeared from myself and my attributes,
I am present only for you.
I have forgotten all my learnings,
But from knowing you I have become a scholar.
I have lost all my strength,
But from your power I am able.
I love myself,
I love you.
I love you,
I love myself.”

I am your lover,
Come to my side,
I will open the gate to your love.
Come settle with me,
Let us be neighbors in the stars.
You have been hiding so long,
Endlessly drifting in the sea of my love.
Even so, you have always been connected to me.
Concealed, revealed, in the norm, in the un-manifest.
I am life itself.
You have been a prisoner of a little pond,
I am the ocean and its turbulent flood.
Come merge with me.
Leave this world behind us.
Be with me,
I will open the gate to your love.

I desire you more than food or drink.
My body, my senses, my mind,
Hunger for your taste.
I can sense your presence in my heart.
Although you belong to all the world,
I wait in silent passion,
For one gesture, one glance.

Rumi

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I went to my Sunday practice at the Self Realization Fellowship yesterday, and during the retreat we did some visualization exercises – which was perfect because one of my goals for this long weekend was to do art and post here…since…ehm… we are almost at the end of the month (yikes!).

Below, a project I (finally) completed yesterday…the manuscript for my second book of art and poetry.

Here is the first…planning to put both on blurb.com after some design decisions are made.


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Off to a good start …happy, vibrant and loving 2014.



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Above, my Christmas presents from my students.
The ‘one hundred small books’ were a project for the Advanced Presentation course I taught.

To start the conversation on small scale binding, I brought some of my mini books to show.
How did I end up with these? 😛


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My students could choose their own narrative and learned how to bind books using different techniques and materials.
We covered layout through a discussion on portfolio graphics and blog and website design –and used some color palette tools–
so for the final project I wanted to do something different and strange, inspired by an artist in the 70’s who created one hundred little books.

Some of them are portfolios, some poetry, photography…a couple are on love and music 🙂


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There is even Dostoevsky’s novella ‘White Night’ and a book entirely on coffee and quotes, both done by Anastasia, a fellow artist (someone knows me!).

You can follow her beautiful work here.

I will post more pages from the little books once school resumes. I also (shocking, I know) have a little book on coffee quotes at home, bought in Italy few Christmases ago. I’ve been meaning to write a post about it, and now I will share it with you – and Anastasia 🙂

Also there were lots and lots of sketchbooks from my History of Architecture students (!).

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I. love. them.


Before I go (get coffee), some coffee quotes from my little coffee book:

If asked: ‘How do you take your coffee’?
I reply : ‘Very Seriously’

Unknown


Coffee is a language in itself

Jackie Chan


Wake up!

Drink coffee…

Then think.

Unknown


Coffee is the favorite drink

of the civilized world.

Thomas Jefferson


Black as night,

Sweet as sin.

Neil Gaiman ‘Anansi Boys’


Deja Brew:

The feeling you’ve had

this coffee before.

Unknown Coffee


It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to

wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.

Dave Barry


Black as the Devil,

Hot as Hell,

Pure as an Angel,

Sweet as Love.

Charles Maurice De Talleyrand


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My Bounty. Merry Christmas.

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Making Bracelets [Nights at Bassam's]. Digitally manipulated photographs. December 2013.

Making Bracelets [Nights at Bassam’s]. Digitally manipulated photographs. December 2013.


“We all need someone to look at us.  We can be divided into four categories according to the kind of look we wish to live under.
The first category longs for the look of an infinite number of anonymous eyes, in other words, for the look of the public.  The second category is made up of people who have a vital need to be looked at by many known eyes.  They are the tireless hosts of cocktail parties and dinners.  They are happier than the people in the first category, who, when they lose their public, have the feeling that the lights have gone out in the room of their lives.  This happens to nearly all of them sooner or later.  People in the second category, on the other hand, can always come up with the eyes they need.  Then there is the third category, the category of people who need to be constantly before the eyes of the person they love.  Their situation is as dangerous as the situation of people in the first category.  One day the eyes of their beloved will close, and the room will go dark.  And finally there is the fourth category, the rarest, the category of people who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present.  They are the dreamers.”

Milan Kundera


-the definition of unconditional-


daydreamer
stargazer
we make an unlikely couple
– we sure do –

 

i’ve been in my head
dangerously close to the sun
i don’t have icarus’ wax wings –
mine are made of foil
they will not melt, but burn.

 

turn your journals into songs,
irresponsible happinesses,
stringing beads and giddy smiles…
i always, still, get lost in the immense, dark pools of your eyes
drawn to, swim in, drown.
undeniable whirlpools, deep waters: as far as i am concerned, the whole building tilts towards them.  i can’t escape the pull.
their whites, though, is like the white of clouds
i could stare at them, and calm myself,
like one does with cumuli and strata, cirri.

 

i’ve been making a mixtape –

 

each song was bought and paid for in heart pieces.

 

i have traveled
through winters in fargo,
my freshman years,
nights in Florence,
i have opened lost love letters in california.
for you, it’s always for you.
and if i’m wasting my love
if you are stealing it
I’m a more than willing victim
fake-fainting in the arms of the gentleman thief.
your handling always extracts poetry from me,
you are an expert player – and I am pliant.

 

we don’t live in paris or rome, i know, but i swear on our stolen nights i was walking by the river and looking at the stars —
we are not on park boulevard: we are in heaven.

 

perhaps it was just need that brought us together
we wanted fire
and it was provided.
I am convinced we are each others’ figments of the imagination.
because nothing is ever real when we are together: it’s vivid, surreal pura vida, and exists in air chambers.
or, perhaps what i have with you is reality, only feeling, only present, only now –
the rest is a filler.
time is relative under the bell, we are forever kissing – every action continues in perpetuity.
months go by, but i just held you.
the silence is absolute, and you can’t hear my screams.  I know better now.

 

i wake up with sentences fully formed,
i have not left your eyes or your chest where I slept.
where you let me sleep for the first time.
i am still there.
i am letting the days go by
as one gazes, mesmerized, at colorful and bland socks
tumbling in the dryer.

 

this is what i really want to do,
tell you that i replay your words in my mind,
that i am happy you feel my eyes on your
[caressing] eyes.

 

that you kissed me with lips of pillows and petals
and that i slept in them.
that your skin is made of the most exquisite silk
and that each kiss i gave you was my blessing.

 

i wanted to use our bodies as instruments
make love, no, a symphony.
the words that part us will never come from my lips
or my fingers.
we both know that i am unable.

 

there is an overlap between
freedom and loneliness.
i’m perhaps utterly lost,
but finally at peace.

 

i want you to know,
i would never take a single touch or word
for granted. or your soulheartbody.
the night dissolved in your arms
faded
devotion made touch, flesh, verb, breath-
you are the definition of unconditional.

 

more paper trails for me to burn on,
Love is not warm milk.
i want to
adorn you in precious metals and words
last night’s embers are still glowing.

 

when i die, i will be made into fireworks.





San Diego, December 16, 2013

………


We want what we want.
We love what we love.

From ‘ Beautiful Ruins.’


songlist:

playlist3web


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Steel. Digital manipulation, text brush. December 2013.


Movement Song

By Audre Lorde


I have studied the tight curls on the back of your neck
moving away from me
beyond anger or failure
your face in the evening schools of longing
through mornings of wish and ripen
we were always saying goodbye
in the blood in the bone over coffee
before dashing for elevators going
in opposite directions
without goodbyes.

Do not remember me as a bridge nor a roof
as the maker of legends
nor as a trap
door to that world
where black and white clericals
hang on the edge of beauty in five oclock elevators
twitching their shoulders to avoid other flesh
and now
there is someone to speak for them
moving away from me into tomorrows
morning of wish and ripen
your goodbye is a promise of lightning
in the last angels hand
unwelcome and warning
the sands have run out against us
we were rewarded by journeys
away from each other
into desire
into mornings alone
where excuse and endurance mingle
conceiving decision.
Do not remember me
as disaster
nor as the keeper of secrets
I am a fellow rider in the cattle cars
watching
you move slowly out of my bed
saying we cannot waste time
only ourselves.




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I found and lost myself inside of that night. Collage. Graphite, fountain ink, found objects. San Diego. December 9, 2013.

I found and lost myself inside of that night. Collage. Graphite, fountain ink, found objects. San Diego. December 9, 2013.



These collages are starting to need a change of byline for SketchBloom: Art Therapy. Oh well;)

Above, a work in progress (and, darling aren’t we all?)..not sure which way it will go.

In the midst of nude painting to be done from memory (and I have started sketching, too bad the final product won’t be posted here), there’s been art and feelings on fire.

In the quest for ASCII hearts ( yes, lots of hearts are needed ) I found these lovely images.

All credits to benjscott.com

All credits to benjscott.com

The image above is from http://www.benjscott.com/artscii/. Click to be taken to more exquisite ASCII art images and his program.

The ascii art images above are from http://www.benjscott.com/artscii/. Click to be taken to his program.

This is a program called ASCIIART – which goes beyond recreating images in characters to delving into typography…and…this had me at hello.

I cannot wait to experiment with some black and white art.


Also, a return to poetry, literature and tender music. Maybe a new poem will blossom soon…the ingredients are there once again.

Some quotes from a book I am finally finishing (quotes that became a poem): The Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.
Freedom and loneliness overlap, look in the mirror, my face, these words reversed.


Hearing his name caused him to turn back again

looking into her eyes was like standing by a door slightly ajar

how could you not push open the door

see what lay inside?

And that door seemed to open a little.

and the glimpse he had beyond the door tortured him

he wanted to say more, to say everything on his mind, but he couldn’t.

It wasn’t a question of language.

He doubted the words existed in any language.

He  forced himself to look away from her then.

It was like prying a magnet off steel.

It was as though, outside of that room, there could be such a thing as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

And then there was her.

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before…

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after…

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still waiting after three days for the glue to dry on the rosebuds ….

“We will never walk along the river again,
So walk with me in this poem.”
Eric Jirek

The night shift belongs to the poets.

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La Baracca del Bucaniere - Fisherman's Shack - The Kitchen. Graphite and watercolor. Calabria, Italia. September 18, 2013.

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Black and White Figs. Graphite and watercolor. Calabria, Italia. September 18, 2013.

The fastest drawings, right before leaving.
So many watercolor sheets to fill, and beautiful travel magazines to cut up for my collages.
I had to leave them behind and go…
Until another summer.

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Today is my mom’s birthday, she didn’t want me to buy flowers, so I painted her some…

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Photograph, digital manipulation. Calabria, Italia. August 2013.

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Ink on Hand Book paper and digital manipulation. Berkeley, California, 2010.



Sometimes it takes finding a portrait you do not remember drawing….a sketch you do not immediately recognize as your own- yet find intriguing and technically correct, to remind you you are an artist, you can do these things.
You, in fact, do these things- it is your work, a beloved toil- your ink on paper is like rubber on the road for others.
Days with no art are never complete, nor true – or honest, as Papa Hemingway would say.

I can’t help but thinking one should not need such reminders….

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Plans

by Stuart Dischell

She plans to be a writer one day and live in the City of Paris,

Where she will describe the sun as it rises over Buttes-Chaumont.

“Today the dawn began in small pieces, sharp wedges of light

Broke through the clouds.”

She plans to write better than this

And is critic enough to know “sharp wedges” sound like cheese.

She plans to live alone in a place that has a terrace

Where she will drink strong coffee at a round white table.

Her terrace will be her cafe and she will be recognized

By the blue-smocked workers of the neighborhood, the concierges,

The locals at the comptoir of the tabac down the block,

And the girl under the green cross of the apothecary shop.

She plans to love her apartment where she will keep

Just one flower in a blue vase.

She already loves the word apart-

Ment, whose halves please her when she sees them breaking

The line in her journal.

She plans to learn the roots

Of French and English words and will search them out

As if she were hunting skulls in the catacombs.

On her walls she’ll hang a timetable of the great events

Of Western History.

She will read the same twenty books
As Chaucer.

Every morning she will make up stories….

She looks around her Brighton room, at the walls,

The ceiling, the round knob of the rectangular door.

She listens to the voices of the neighbor’s children.

A toilet flushes, then the tamp of cigarette on steel,

The flint flash of her roommate’s boyfriend’s lighter.

When she leaves she plans to leave alone, and every

Article she will carry, each shoe, will be important.

Like an architect she will plan this life, as once

The fortune in a cookie told her: Picture what you wish

To become, if you wish to become that picture.

Thank you The Poetry Forge.

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Jason De Caires Taylor. Underwater sculpture.
Reblogged from Cosmic Machine. Click to view more.


Staccato II

 

‘We should be so anchored in that stillness of the ocean,

so much so that waves do not bother us.’

 

‘Avoid the bridge, he says.

We need all the poets.’

One last brilliant morning, and watch,

I become seagull.

 

Has poetry ever brought back a lover

except in dreams

Has it ever changed one heart

Have words ever mended

That is a job for Time.

 

My poems are songs for no-one, you see.

I sing them on a street corner

For the wind, for the rare passerby

There is no hat on the pavement,

You can keep your change.

 

Respectability will not keep you warm at night.

All these books, my house is made of them,

their wondrous stories

they are but paper and weight in the dark.

 

The sun kisses me and I fall asleep

in a room bathed in golden light

the sunsets are getting longer these days

– look at this cloudless sky, the heat of summer in January,

how can one not be happy?

That is not what I came for.

 

There are constellations on my skin

You will never see

Here is Ursa Major,

Orion’s belt.

 

Yours was the final, absolute silence

Of deep space –

I was tethered

 

Night stars are beautiful to look at

But, oh, they cannot warm you

Diamonds are heartless

and perfect.

 

In the dark,

He speaks  a tongue I do not understand.

During the day he absolves me.

He says

When Life gives, take.

She is a miserly landlady, sometimes

And this is not a kind Winter.

 

When the thick walls of the city are besieged,

they absorb the injury of cannons,

fiery arrows, climbing soldiers.

To a point.

A fortress, like a ship, like a dam,

is still made by human hands.

Lo, the smallest breach and the tiniest rivulet

Bring down civilizations.

 

 

San Diego, January 2013

 

 

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Poetry After the Fact

This is something that has been marinating for weeks in my mind.

Poetry and art exorcise life’s sorrows…they bring closure when/where there is none to be had.
Surrender is accepting that you will not know all the answers…it is making peace with not understanding- something that is incredibly arduous for someone who seeks clarity and communication in all things.

And yet, words deliver, they free and heal us. For poets, a sealed, completed poem makes sense of the arcane.
Poetry allows us to move unencumbered by the baggage of emotions (as these are now, at the same time, crystallized and released) , unrequited feelings, unanswered pleas.
Poetry is the answer, it is the peace we seek. The poet finds words, and like breadcrumbs, they guide through the forest. Poems are maps through the dark regions of the heart.




Poetry Came Instead
{Closures}

Tonight the sky is cold and clear
– trace filigree of stars.
The moon,  mother-of-pearl,
the constellations are aligned.
It is a night for leavening.

I was precipitating towards him
I could not resist him,
more than one resists gravity
(he had me at ‘epitome of inevitability’).

We first made love
on sheets of paper
I wrapped myself in his words

I sent him distress calls –
we were two ships in the night.
He told me I didn’t have to
explain myself when I unraveled,
he quoted my poems
-the only one who ever
kissed the tips of my fingers,
or my forehead every time i saw him.
How does one forget ?
A gaze that caresses,
the perfect first kiss.
How does one erase?
The only cure for love is more love.

I told him better later than never
he said never late
is better.
I called for him so many nights –
the days of forgetting were so long.
When I am upset I wash walls.

I said
we’ve been dancing around the fire for so long
he answered
it’s time to get burnt.
I was ready to,
Poetry came instead.

Nothing extinguishes the flame
of fickle lovers
as a yes.

My heart bled wasted ink,
a dumb moth continuosly scarred.
I will never know the hieroglyphs of his skin, or the sound of his singing-
the light of his eyes was not for me.
A beautiful vessel,
the essence deserted him
and eluded me.

As for the girl,
pepper and spice,
I can finally look back at her eyes
-those wells, the light that pulls everything towards her as an
undeniable whirlpool-and not sink.
The angles of her face
don’t bruise any more .
There is just love.
The careful letting go
of a butterfly.
Maybe next time, Luna
.

These days,
I am surrounded by Beauty.
The spring i pursued
was but a mirage,
my thirst was quenched
by the sweetest sand.

There is drought,
but I am hearing thunder
a strong, kind rumble that displaces air–
has the rainy season finally come
or is it another summer shower?

He kissed me a suspended, light kiss
held my face
like one holds a vase
i was not sure if he was drawing me closer, or letting me go.

You were not a dream,
you were more like
a moment of clarity after
months of drowsiness
.

I know precariousness
And things that don’t last.
I sleep with pen and books.
Do you know what it means to
spend the night writing?

Everything you do
can be a prayer.

I was lying next to you
like a big yes.
Unrealized dreams
are the only ones that last
forever.

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Staccato | Fragments

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1.Time and Vessels:

“She had a way of moving that moved him as much as music, which was what moved him most of all.
Surely the spirit animating that peerless body must be unusual too?
Why would nature make a vessel like that, if not to contain something still more valuable?” ― J.K. Rowling

Love is always the same
-it is only the vessel that changes-
that’s what the poet meant,
it took me a year to understand.
Love moves from one heart to another, selfsame.
You can never lose Love.

2. Skins:

Listen to songs from around the beautiful Earth.
Angel, you can always find the seven notes therein, sleeping.
The same Love is asleep in the Other.
Until it is awake.
You can find the same warmth on skins
milk to dark chocolate,
sand dunes to ashes.
The same kind fire lights all eyes.
The same Sun and Moon no matter
where we are…or how far we are from each other.
All is Good.

3. Love:

I am full of Love for you.
The flower can’t keep from opening.
God is the Love in the lover.
The lotus-heart is hidden beneath layers.

4. Fire:

a. The main function of fires is to warm,
not to burn. My heart is singed, but tempered.
b. The unattended fire dies.

5. Words:

Your words kept me warm
on the long walk home.
Thoughts you had for me,
caresses on a winter day.
Now, try to imagine
a flooding river
forced through
an eyedropper.

6. Let Go:

There is nothing to go back to
there are no mistakes
nothing to miss, fix
or understand.
There is only driving.
I leave my cities of salt behind,
the Nothing,
I see the lonely Friday afternoons,
the hardest,
on the rearview mirror.

Live as though
you are soon moving to a new city.

7. The coldness of stars:

“But who could bear to know which stars were already dead, she thought, blinking up at the night sky; could anybody stand to know that they all were?” ― J.K. Rowling.

The further you look in space,
the further you look in the past.

8. Constellations

The sun is a benign star
made of fire
It burns as I burned for you
It is a star that colors my skin
– my body responds to it the way it responds to the moon.

Gypsy: You are both stars, don’t forget. And the stars exploded billions of years ago, to form everything that is this world. Everything we know, is stardust. So don’t forget, you are stardust.

A handful of stars in your hand.
A candle is meant to become just flame.
Do not render a perfect heart when you go.

9. Silence:

The silence of the Sphinx
protects me-
Ice in my veins, it slayed me.
He taught me
one does not learn
by speaking
and to do so only if what i had to say
was more beautiful than silence.

10. Poetry and Poets

Empty this bucket heart,
My poems are puzzle pieces
put together in the heart of the night.
Milk the night ravings – distill them as grapes with wine.
Stolen words feed our ravenous souls.

11. Life:

There are problems that can’t be solved
they can only be lived
-some say there are no problems.
Do not chain eagles or falcons.
If you don’ t believe in God
believe in Love, or another.
Peace is a religion, too.

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Enhanced still from 'Albert Nobbs'.



And, in the dawn, armed with a burning patience, we shall enter the splendid cities.

Arthur Rimbaud



Only burning patience will allow us to conquer a splendid happiness.

Martha Medeiros



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Ink and lipgloss on hand. book paper. November 2012.

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The set above was designed by Jenna Ann Mac Gillis for the performance
‘The Desperate Characters of Mercer County’
which took place at San Diego Space for Art on November 10, 2012. Read all the lurid details of this Americana story here.

Like a Gillian Welch Song

I can feel poetry
rise out of silence
like an undeniable tide,
a Polaroid floats to the surface.

The words appear
Oh honey, just take out your lighter,
they are written in lemon juice

Loving you was like
carrying a cardboard suitcase
in the rain

In the absence of

I collect mugs by my bedside
Ride in empty buses
-straw bale leggings-
and always get to the theather
after the movie ended

I walk among the Saturday night revelers huddled around a screen
-the miniskirts march in lockstep

It’s date night in San Diego
a cold one too
knights in shirt sleeves have donated their coats
and presents are opened inside cars.

I steal glances and compose poems
that don’t help anyone tonight.
The lines start to sound
like a Gillian Welch song.
If you have a mind like a diamond,
expect it to cut.

I was in love with the dream of you
And now I am shackled to a ghost.

Some kinds of pain never die;
they can only ease a little,
and not every day
.



San Diego, November 2012

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Poem at 4.17

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Poem at 4.17 AM

You left me with all the pieces of the engine laid on rags – garage floor

I sat there wearing my nightgown trying to make sense of the puzzle – there are no instructions and I’m not a mechanic

I sat there for a year.

On some nights I imagined them chess pieces, and played against
you, them, myself

On some other nights I wrote on walls with no ink or feather
about snake charmers
and wolves in sheep’s clothing

Narcissus was tired
The Prince’s treasure, under lock, turned out to be a room full of mirrors
.

Mornings I thought

For a summer I made sculptures and looked at photos

That night in the warehouse, our distracted dance, our last

You drove away
with an engine-less car.

San Diego, November 2012

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Another month rushed by, seemingly accelerating towards the end, as though sprinting to the finish line. The year’s end. Another year.

This past month brought also new beginnings and renewals. Just like accountants, professors measure years differently from the general public.

So this, other, new year that starts with the fall -the harvest- brought Spring in October : experimental mixed media and history courses, new energy, enthusiastic and curious students, expanded involvement, new projects and many welcome social occasions…and always, the company and camaraderie of my gentle and wise kin.
I love my job and feel so blessed. (I have just been given a Service Award for Five Years of outstanding contribution to the school, celebrate good times..)

I hosted my very first reception for my Graduate students’ work in the History of Architecture course this last week. The title of the exhibition was

‘ History of Architecture: Analysis and Synthesis through Visual Notes’.
My past students’ critical, and sometimes lyrical and poetic work –their beautifully rendered drawings, sketches and diagrams–have been gracing the halls of my school and received much acclaim. This body of work and research into this alternative method for teaching history is the topic of a forthcoming paper, which I will present in the Spring.

I am also launching a project called Builtculture, which I will be editing. This is something I have been working on for few months along with a stellar Graduate student of mine, Samar Sepehri. Builtculture is a repository for lectures and cultural events happening in San Diego and the So-Cal region, for the architecture and urban design discriminating aficionados. It exists in form of a facebook page for now, but will soon morph into a simple yet useful calendar site–as soon as I can catch my breath.

Planning to post photos of the Visual Notes Exhibit next week -need to scan few more examples and ‘teasers’- and to share Builtculture when it is ready too. I am thinking about adding an Academic section to my work site, Archistdesign, for such endeavors.

All of this to say, really, is that my full-time job and volunteering [ for community build and garden build projects , I have learned to build a deck and plaster, aka architecture for social purpose … yes!] have taken ahold of my heart and days  lately, and my art has had to wait.
I also (also!) will have my poetry published. New poems have been brewing and blooming, maybe I will share one later tonight.

I know that there are few of you who follow these ramblings of mine , who gently coax me when I have not posted for a while, and wanted to reach out and declare that I do not want this to be a ‘ travel blog’ , a dalliance…but that I also have to make peace with the fact that I am nor cannot be a a full-time writer, poet or artist, (although I would embrace these lives and crafts in a heartbeat, teaching is my calling) and that I cannot post or work on my art everyday. Life itself needs to be explored, precious work completed, books need to be read, and body, soul, and spirit nurtured daily. Perhaps, I have been given too many passions for just one life. These are heavy gifts and Chet Baker sings ‘I fall in love too easily’…

Before biding my hopefully brief adieu, here is a poem that I recently found among old correspondence.
It is nice to be old enough to have that.. Speaking of correspondence, see ‘ Young Goethe in Love’. I died.


The Undertaking

The darkness lifts, imagine, in your lifetime .

The darkness lifts, imagine, in your lifetime .

There you are — cased in clean bark you drift through weaving rushes, fields flooded with cotton.

You are free.

The river films with lilies, shrubs appear, shoots thicken into palm.

And now all fear gives way: the light looks after you, you feel the waves’ goodwill as arms widen over the water;

Love, the key is turned.

Extend yourself —it is the Nile, the sun is shining, everywhere you turn is luck.

Louise Glück

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Lift now the lid of the jar of heaven,

Pour, cupbearer, the wine of the invisible,

The name and sign of what has no sign.

Pour it abundantly.

It is you who enrich the soul–

Make the soul drunk and give it wings.

Come again always, rich one,

and teach all our cupbearers their sacred art.

Be a spring jetting from a heart of stone;

Break the pitcher of soul and body–

Make joyful all lovers of wine.

Ferment a restlessness in the heart

of the one who thinks only of bread–

Bread is a mason of the body’s prison;

Wine, a rain for the garden of the soul.

I’ve tied the ends of the earth together.

Lift now the lid of the jar of heaven

Close those eyes that see only faults

Contemplate those that only see the invisible

so no mosques or temples or idols remain

So this or that is drowned in his fire.

Rumi

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Paragraphs of books become a pattern for a one-of-a-kind infinity scarf.
Be still, my heart.

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The Eternal Life of Objects, the Persistence of You

You skate
On the membrane of my dreams
We are divided by a thin layer of ice
The surface breaks
And there it is
All of our love
All of my sorrow
Flooding and resurfacing
Precarious degrees
Separating water
From water.

We spill over fields and rice paddies
-This is how we will come back-
All of our impossible futures,
The ache of forking paths
We will be streams, and rivers
Timeless and steady arteries.

I visit you in images
Stitched together between awakenings.
I take your things, put them away
The inevitability of your arms
As i come to.

You lie just beneath
the gossamer veil of thoughts
– forgive as the sea forgives,
as it heals, as it forgets,
Forgive as children are forgiven-
Their eyes are not windows yet
But mirrors.

Calabria, September 2012

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This photo was taken by my dear friend and photographer/artist extraordinaire Maha Comianos.

She is currently exploring the creative side of architects in her Archi * Artist Series, among many other artistic endeavors.

Check out her inspired work at:
http://www.studiomaha.com

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Ink drawing of the sculpture “The Age of Enlightenment – Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breuteuil, Marquise de Châtelet” by Yinka Shonibare, MBE. Drawn at the San Diego Museum of Art, 2008. 



There are particular nights, small time frames, where everything you want, and, yes -everything you need- is given to you.

You watch your life unfolding perfectly, like a well-written screenplay of a comedy of errors, where the characters, after a series of ‘harrowing events’ and near misses, find each other at last. These nights you believe in signs, and that there are no coincidences.

I am not saying that life or love have a happy ending, but some days do.

Last Friday, the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park hosted an extraordinary event, part of their Summer Salon Series (inspired by the tradition of French literary and cultural salons). This event was a 36 Hour ‘continued’ Salon taking place in the museum’s galleries (open consecutively for 36 hours…I will never forget contemplating Egon Schiele at 2 in the morning), auditorium, and outdoors in the sculpture garden.

Needless to say, the collection of happenings taking place ranged from the superb to the surreal. Wandering in the museum galleries in the wee hours of night with other artists, revellers and cool types felt very subversive and….Big City.

A Yes Men lecture, an avant-garde play on self-loop for four hours, museum tours, German Expressionist Cinema, ambient music with obligatory trippy visualizations, live bands, a napping station plen air, stargazing on the lawn of the sculpture garden, drawing dreams and nightmares and, my favorite, a marching band in which us, the audience, were given a makeshift instrument and played (and marched) directed by the one-man band’s crazy frontman.

The general feeling of anarchy, and being caught between confusion/freedom/disbelief/engagement made this event very Dada, or something the Situationists would have conjured up…

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During a lecture, I drew one of the pieces on display {above}. you can find a photo of the piece here.

From the museum’s literature: The Age of Enlightenment – Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breuteuil, Marquise de Châtelet, is from a series of five figures depicting notable philosophers from the eighteenth century. The marquise, fluent in several languages and an accomplished mathematician and physicist, personified the “enlightened” person. Her lasting legacy is the translation and critique of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica that is still used to this day. Despite the fact that the Marquise de Châtelet was a leading mind of eighteenth-century France, much of her work was overlooked because of her gender. Her most famous lover, Voltaire, described her as a ‘great man’ whose only fault was being a woman.

I like to think that the Marquise is headless because she has never been recognized for her work and her name is virtually unknown.

She has been deliberately omitted in the annals of His-tory.

The fabric of her dress also tells a fascinating story of colonialism and the fallacy of ‘tradition’.

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One of my most cherished books.

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Lord Byron’s handwriting.



Stanzas Written On the Road Between Florence and Pisa



Oh, talk not to me of a name great in story;

The days of our youth are the days of our glory;

And the myrtle and ivy of sweet two-and-twenty

Are worth all your laurels, though ever so plenty.

What are garlands and crowns to the brow that is wrinkled?

‘Tis but as a dead flower with May-dew besprinkled.

Then away with all such from the head that is hoary!

What care I for the wreaths that can only give glory?

O Fame!—if I e’er took delight in thy praises,

‘Twas less for the sake of thy high-sounding phrases,

Than to see the bright eyes of the dear one discover,

She thought that I was not unworthy to love her.

There chiefly I sought thee, there only I found thee;

Her glance was the best of the rays that surround thee;

When it sparkled o’er aught that was bright in my story,

I knew it was love, and I felt it was glory.


George Gordon, Lord Byron

November, 1821




Romantics, for more on the lives of the Poets, you might hide here for a few days, and spend the evenings at your local cafe reading poems accompanied by a well-tempered clavier.  For my part, I have ordered Ugo Foscolo’s Le Ultime Lettere di Jacopo Ortis (The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis)–and  look forward to sinking in its lyrical, poignant song that so well describes the passion and contradiction of the Italian spirit (and carries me back to the Halcyon days of Literature and Poetry studies in high school).  A presto, more watercolor portraits await…

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El Templete, Habana Vieja (with water from the Malecon).
Ink on hand.book paper. Habana, Cuba. April 2012.


Example of Moorish (Mudéjar) Architecture in Habana Vieja.
Ink on hand.book paper. Habana, Cuba. April 2012.



….

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Music is a total constant. That’s why we have such a strong visceral connection to it, you know? Because a song can take you back instantly to a moment, or a place, or even a person. No matter what else has changed in you or the world, that one song stays the same, just like that moment.”

Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

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The Arms That Wouldn’t Let Me Go

 

On this sweet, rainy evening

My thoughts run to you

Like water towards the ocean

In the city’s gutters and roofs

Towards countless drainstorms

Powerless in the face

Of a calculated incline.

 

It is a sweet rain that is falling tonight

It wears your scent of promises

It is music, it sings of gentle breezes through wooden wind charms,

Of a veranda in the Caribbeans.

A scattering of drops

Like miniscule sand pebbles on my books

As I wait.

 

O Night, your silence descends upon me like a mantle

It calms me

I could write lines like an ode to your burning eyes

Your long, long lashes that caught my tears

Brushed away listless years

And changed me.

 

Tonight I don’t see the bus stop in front of me

Or the muted lights of cars

I see you waiting for me on that street

The staircase that separated me from bliss

[I met my two loves on the steps of Italian cathedrals,

they gave me their blessings]

I know you are there

And when you see me, your eyes smile stars,

twinkling benign in the skies between us.

 

If the world ended in two days,

As predicted,

I would have felt safe

Your broad shoulders would have protected me

From all the walls and crumbling houses of the City.

 

Sleep, days, a thin membrane

Before and after us

A tender gauze between dusk and your sunset skin.

 

We stole nights

Like compassionate thieves

Time measured in kisses

A perfect, impossible life

Soft like the sound of a far-away gramophone

Or a clavichord in Vienna

(Will you come with me to cobbled alley-ed Vienna?)

 

I am home now

The lanes are deserted and streetlights have relinquished

their daytime tyranny

The night is wide with the tabac scent

Of water falling on hot concrete and asphalt

It is a summer night somewhen, somewhere else.

 

I am home now

The house is still

And bathed in red solitude

I need to stop writing

And conjure up what I’ll be wearing tomorrow

I need to stop thinking

That I could die happy tonight.

 

 

San Diego, April 25, 2012

 

 

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Moon Over Cuba

La luna sobre Habana
Tiene una sonrisa
De la Calle San Francisco a Espalda,
En el Vedado.

El Malecon vio’ todo, sus serenadas,
La trova y el son.

Las olas en la noche
Regresan y regresan
amantes para la izquierda
Como tu pensiero
Caliente
Que no me dejas dormir.

Todo es posible en La Habana
Dijo’ Graham Greene.
En la ciudad de las columnas
Tome’ las espinas ayer
Y ora
Tomo la Rosa.

Habana, 5 Abril 2012

Moon Over Cuba

The moon above Habana
Has a smile
From San Francisco Street to Espalda,
In the Vedado.

The Malecon saw everything, his serenades,
The trova and the son.

The waves in the night
Return and return
unofficial lovers
As your thought
Burning
Which keeps me awake

Everything is possible in Habana
said Graham Greene.
In the city of colums
I picked some thorns yesterday
And today
I catch the Rose.

Ya lo se
Que voy a quierer de sentir
El sonido de tu voz
Tu acento

Par la calle la brisa es suave en mi piel
Aqui nunca hace frio
La noche te cubre
Con sus caricias
Su bufanda hecha de estrellas

Estoy olvidando
Todos mis dolores
Las olas se la traigan con ellas

Los muros conservan
Los abrazos de los enamorados
Todo me habla aqui
y tengo que regresarme
Tu me dices

Como escribir en la rena
Y esperar l’agua
Que borra
Un otro amor.

Habana, 8 Abril 2012



I already know
I will want to hear
The sound of your voice
Your accent

In the street the breeze is smooth on my skin
Here it’s never cold
The night covers you
With her caresses
Her scarf made of stars

I am forgetting
All my sorrows
The waves carry them away

The walls conserve
The embraces of lovers
Everything speaks to me here
and I need to come back
You say

It’s like writing on the sand
And waiting for the water
To erase
Another love.

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Habana

Nadie’ en tus arquiadas
En tus piedras llore’
Tus plazas me acogieron

Respire’ en la sombra de tus arboles
Sufrie’ por su cara
–los abrazos olvidados en la rena
estan alla’ hasta otro viento–

En tu son
Tu sol
Comprendi’ tus ojos infinitos
El calor the tus brazos dorados
Me calento’

En la noche el agua va corriendo en las fuentes–
Todavia estare’ alla’,
En los pasajes y las calles,
En las escaleras y las puertas serradas,
y en tu corazon de sal.

La Habana, Cuba, Avril 2012

Havana

I swam in your porticoes
On your stones I cried
Your piazzas welcomed me

I breathed in the shade of your trees
I suffered for his face
–the embraces forgotten on the sand
   there remain, until another wind.

In your sound
Your sun
I understood your infinite eyes
The heat of your golden arms
Warmed me

In the night
The water will continue to run in the fountains
I will be there still,
In your passageways and streets,
In your staircases and closed doors,
And in your heart of salt.

Havana, Cuba, April 2012

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Bassemah takes on Ghadah

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Earlier this year I acquired two books from my lovely blogsister Ghadah Alkandari at PrettyGreenBullet.
One was to keep…the other to collage.

Here I asked my dear friend Bassemah, of Palestinian origins, to respond to one of Ghadah’s drawings.
She chose this one.

We spent an afternoon doing art in her warm San Diego home, playing Cuban and French music…I would love for you to have been there, Ghadah!

And to listen to the two of you speak Arabic *___*….

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Light The Candles


To Happiness by Carl Dennis

If you’re not approaching,
I hope at least
You’re off to comfort someone who needs you more,
Not lost wandering aimlessly
Or drawn to the shelter of well-lit rooms
Where people assume you’ve arrived already.

If you’re coming this way, send me the details
—The name of the ship, the port it leaves from—
So I can be down on the dock to help you
Unload your valises, your trunks and boxes
And stow them in the big van I’ll have rented.

I’d like this to be no weekend stay
Where a single change of clothes is sufficient.
Bring clothes for all seasons, enough to fill a closet;
And instead of a single book for the bedside table
Bring boxes of all your favorites.

I’ll be eager to clear half my shelves to make room,

Eager to read any titles you recommend.
If we’ve many in common, feel free to suggest
They prove my disposition isn’t to blame
For your long absence, just some problems of attitude,

A few bad habits you’ll help me set to one side.
We can start at dinner, which you’re welcome
To cook for us while I sweep and straighten
And set the table.
Then light the candles
You’ve brought from afar for the occasion.

Light them and fill the room
I supposed I knew
With a glow that shows me
I was mistaken.
Then help me decide if I’m still the person I was
Or someone else, someone who always believed in you
And imagined no good reasons for your delay.

“To Happiness” by Carl Dennis, from Unknown Friends.

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Even When He Dreams


The task of art is to transform what is continuously happening to us, to transform all these things into symbols, into music, into something which can last in man’s memory.

That is our duty. If we don’t fulfill it, we feel unhappy.

A writer or any artist has the sometimes joyful duty to transform all that into symbols. These symbols could be colors, forms or sounds. For a poet, the symbols are sounds and also words, fables, stories, poetry.

The work of a poet never ends. It has nothing to do with working hours. Your are continuously receiving things from the external world. These must be transformed, and eventually will be transformed. This revelation can appear anytime. A poet never rests. He’s always working, even when he dreams.

Besides, the life of a writer, is a lonely one. You think you are alone, and as the years go by, if the stars are on your side, you may discover that you are at the center of a vast circle of invisible friends whom you will never get to know but who love you. And that is an immense reward.

Borges

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A Moon Over Berkeley
[We Became Art for a Moment]

There is no need to seek her
For she is the Moon
Her stunning face hangs over me
Never lets a night go without
The ache of her beauty
Do you see the small star by her?

Her shadow is cast over the city
Like Brunelleschi’s cupola over all of Tuscany.
The heaviness of her copper lies
[in my mouth]
She hides under train tracks and asphalt
She peeks from our longtrodden alleys
She’s under and above me.

I have to see about a City
-I said to him-
The way others go see about a Girl.
‘The city is a girl’ he replied.

They wrote about us
We became Art for a moment
Part of the city like streetlamps
A collage of colors
Red for San Francisco cars
Mustard like her scarf
White, my fedora
Red was our debaucherous light
Her crisp apple shirt matched paintings
[gray as planes]

In Buena Vista park we laid on the grass
Fed mosquitoes and waited fairies
I crafted stories on Bechtle’s California suburbs
Stories of quiet misery and afternoon beers, for her…

Blue for too many train tickets
We sat in a room full of patterns
And listened.

Under brilliant suns we walked
To the edge of Sunset.
Faded too early in the streets of Janis Joplin
Among Tibetan jewelry stores,
Earrings and beads,
We found minstrels and poets.

Lemonade and Mate,
I told her about the weight of flowers
Narrated the geography
Of my broken heart.

It is night again
And I still choose my dandelion poetry
Over sleep
And being on time.

San Diego, March 7, 2011

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My California

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My world, my California, still needs to be made.
To make a new world you start with an old one, certainly.
To find a world, maybe you have to have lost one.
Maybe you have to be lost.
The dance of renewal, the dance that made the world, was always danced here at the edge of things, on the brink, on the foggy coast.

Ursula K. Le Guin

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When the Sun rises…

I will wait for you…

 I will wait for you.


With the stubborness of a chair.

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In the winter, Venice is like an abandoned theatre. The play is finished, but the echoes remain.

Arbit Blatas

To build a city where it is impossible to build a city is madness in itself, but to build there one of the most elegant and grandest of cities is the madness of genius.

Alexander Herzen

There is something so different in Venice from any other place in the world, that you leave at once all accustomed habits and everyday sights to enter an enchanted garden.

Mary Shelley

It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.

Erica Jong

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand.

Lord Byron

A train-ride takes you from Milano to Venice..whose real name is Venezia, the Most Serene city and splendid, golden Republic. On the train you think about Byron, his letters written on trains, his Venetian Countess.

Through frozen fields and dormant earth, through fog and long-gone rice paddies , you deboard to the Sublime.

At dusk the lights from bars and cafes shimmer on the dark waters, and you start thinking in cliches, such as temporarily inhabiting an Impressionist painting.

Yet the feeling is fresh and true: each visit to this surrealists’ dream had its poignant moment of suspension of disbelief.

Each time the city grabs you and takes you away with her.

Here’s a taste of today’s acts of flanerie in La Serenissima.

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Crocheting Cathedrals. Il Duomo with parasitic architecture (stage for New Year's festivities). Ink and watercolor on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Aperol and Spritz. Most of the older ladies in my neighborhood are incredibly fashionable, decked in the latest trend winter coat. Here's two enjoying a mildly alcoholic aperitivo at 11 AM. Ink on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Santa Maria Presso San Satiro. The obligatory pilgrimage to the second Bramante's church. Last year I drew Santa Maria Delle Grazie, which is near to my place. I am always amazed by the playfulness and modernity of the oculi (round windows) on the Northern Romanesque facade. I found out that the space in front of the church is called 'Largo Jorge Luis Borges'. Can it get better than this?
Ink on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Window of the Pio Albergo Trivulzio. In an act of Flanerie, I got lost trying to reach the Roseto, and found these whimsical, almost Gaudi-like windows on a palazzo I had not seen since my childhood, painted in the typical warm 'Milanese Yellow' (think saffron rice and add a patina of melancholy, smog and time). Ink on hand.book paper. January 1, 2012.

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Dream before Nonno died. He was a fisherman. Ink on notebook paper, 2003.





Fragments {and a cashmere wrap}


The cashmere wrap finally arrived in the mail

so much weighs on this stole

‘opportunity a thief makes’

he said before giving me homework

— how we love.

“A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep”

Saul Bellow

A lot weighs on this stole:

conversation is rippled with diamonds

they tumble , heavy, they are words, quotes

…out of the mundane…

a pearl – grasp it and keep it.

Wisdom is the only jewelry I wear this season

and my greediness awaits

meaning.

He who grasps more than he can hold, would be better without any.

If a house is crammed with treasures of gold and jade,

it will be impossible to guard them all.

Lao Tzu

Did you hear the sound of wisdom, Heart?

The message you sought.

My only wealth is my memory.

Like a mendicant I gather precious words,

fragments of light that I bring back,

puzzles I spend days composing.

– You, collector of spirit, feeder of souls.

Everyone wants to go to Heaven, no-one wants to die.

The falcon, scarred wing, alighted the sill.


– the magpies, once they have caught the prey,

lose interest

and look around for the next creature to pursue-



Yogis come and go,

grasp their message

Catch leaves in the wind

take them home, make a nest.

Heaven is simple:

let go of anything that is not love or peace.


San Diego, December 15, 2011


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Fall Bouquet {and a button}. November 26, 2011.

 

Think in images, not sentences anymore

or better, fill yourself with food-sounds

against hollow silences.

Colours are a kind of music

and music pours a red-yellow wine here.

Drink it.

 

Sit like a cat in the Sun,

this warm December Sun that heals

this warm December Sun that lights

all dusty corners of the soul

and renews.

My California, My South,

My brilliant blessing, I thank you.

 

Year, rush to an end.

Is it Spring when the birdlets leave the gilded cage?

Open all doors.

Is it Spring when the starlings return from Southern latitudes?

Then burst open shutters and windows

They never do close here.

 

In the photograph, the hand is like a wing that shelters

It is always there,

in the heart-home

that has no doors

like a nest.

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Cafe' De Flore, Paris, October 2011.

Cafe' De Flore, Paris, October 2011.


Fall Bouquet


“El cariño que te tengo. Yo no lo puedo negar.

Paris sun

is the glow of her cafes.

It is a dusk sun that burns in the night,

the warmth of crowds,

bright minds while shadows fall.

Cigarette ambers,

the heat of Bossanova bass

in St. Germain.


“Llego a Cueto, voy para Mayarí”

Fallen leaves of orange, gold, copper

I make a bouquet

for our house of glass love.

Sunset is each day’s autumn.

I fill rooms with colours

Gardener of my own heart.

Draw before you lose them

Orange umbrellas

I’m left with buttons.

“¡Y ahora si quieren bailar,
búsquense otro timbalero!”

 

You opened my heart

with a wound of light.

 

There are flamenco guitars and sheeshas

on roof terraces

There are nights such as these

–filled with stars–

in Tunis or Bayreuth.

 

There are dancing sunrises in Ibiza

and white cabanas on Miami beaches.

 

There is a cafe where our traveling souls will meet

There is poetry after the fire.



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To Choose a Pair of Gloves

To choose a pair of gloves
Is serious business.

I place your brown leather small
On top of mine
It is as if you are protecting me
A tender shelter for my hands
Made of florentine winters
cobblestones, morning trains, domes.
It runs a bit short
A black cashmere wrap, or
the vulnerable clinging of the young.

The gloves are empty
Your hands are not there
Your gloves are shells
Echoing your touch

Your gloves are naked
They are the skin you use to protect your skin
I carry them now
I carry you

Then I place mine on top
Brown like yours, but bigger
Your gloves poke from under , happy.
Mother and child of the same tan.



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Murmurations Upon Watching Un Chien Andalou. Digital Collage.November 20, 2011.

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Ink drawing, Watercolor. 16 November 2011.

Ink drawing, Watercolor + Digital Manipulation. 16 November 2011.

I was recently reunited with luggage lost 45 days ago.

Three items were missing: a bottle of Cinema Eau De Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent, a beloved collaged orange umbrella bought in Barcelona and a pair of Sketchers shoes. Go figure.

Immediately i set out to substitute my lost umbrella. As said in one Law and Order episode (I paraphrase): “Hardheaded Calabrese: the people there are very stubborn… once something is taken away from them, they don’t rest until …they get it back.”

My mind went back to the orange umbrella I bought for my mom in Milano last Christmas (probably with her money;)), from one of my favorite stores: Muji.

In my quest, I ran into this glorious essay on a particular shade of orange.

I have a box of orange objects in my house that I have been meaning to combine into a series.

Tomorrow seems like a good day for it, and orange thoughts are perfect for winter-short days and too much yin.

Before you read, keep this in mind:

Fire in Arabic is ‘Nar’.

………….

My Orange

by Michele Foyer


If we lived during the time of the Dutch West Indies Company, I would tell you that the color that so captured me was the child of paprika and chocolate. The world no longer swoons over spice willing to risk a sail beyond the end of the known. And yes, sadly rape and pillage in its desperate greed. I had only to pass the window of the Muji store in Manhattan’s Chelsea to discover this color in an umbrella.


What is it that grabbed me? Is it a vibration for which the color is only a foil? Or is it something about the color itself lodged between memory and desire? This redder orange infused with luxurious chocolate yielded a strangely jazzier yet muter tone than orange. But if we are mapping out its terrain inevitably the orange relation comes up.


My “Muji Orange” is a distant relative of the neon orange of warning, as well as a “tangerine streamlined baby” of sixties psychedelic abandon. Its crazy older paternal cousin might be the Tang of astronauts or maybe the impossible orange of orange Crush soda, or possibly even Blake’s Tyger burning bright, but its doting grandmother, is definitely — yes, most definitely — a bittersweet French marmalade.


There is some mystery to orange. Orange is the only color in the seven-color spectrum besides violet that originates as a noun, naming a particular thing. It refers to the berry fruit of the orange tree, something very concrete and specific and not as abstract as the other colors. Was the experience of the orange fruit so strong that it came to stand for the orange experience?


The Old English Dictionary (OED) states that in Medieval Latin “the forms ‘arangia’, ‘arantia’ (Du Cange) whence ‘aurantia’ have “popular association with ‘aurum’ gold from the colour.” Perhaps, the OED postulates, there is an etymological relationship between the Old French “orenge” for “arauge” after “or” gold. The OED traces the “loss of the initial ‘n‘ in French, English and Italian” as “ascribed to its absorption into the indefinite article” resulting in “narange” absorbing “une” and “narancia” absorbing ”una.”


Also from the OED we understand that the “native country of orange appears to have been the northern frontier of India, where wild oranges are still found and the name may have originated there.” In Late Sankrit the word for orange is “naranga;” in Hindi it is “narangi” (OED, p. 2001)


Is “orange” related to the color of the fruit and/or to gold and the word “ore” (OED, p. 2001)? Are both these not only things, but also perhaps experiences of light? More questions arise as we consider other correspondences that I call “rhymes and ricochets.”


In Persian the world for pomegranate is “nar” (OED, p.2001) which echoes the nar of narange. Is this coincidence or relationship? The OED states it is not certain. Was the “nar” / pomegranate the fateful fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden myth? It is possible because the pomegranate rather than the apple was the indigenous fruit. If the pomegranate was the tree of knowledge, what was the knowledge that this golden ball embodied? Might it have reflected a relationship of light to dark?


Is there anything other than coincidence to the resonance of the pomegranate which also figures in the myth of Persephone who spends half her days in a descent into Hades when the earth experiences the dark of winter and the other half above ground when the earth experiences the light of spring – alternations or gradients of light and dark?


In one narrative color is dependent upon history and culture. The OED by definition is a history of the English language, tracing the history and values of the western world with its migrations and roots to the East. Today we think oranges are synonymous with the warm climates of Florida and California. We often believe they are indigenous to North America. However, they were planted by conquistador sailors who needed to create supplies of vitamin C to take with them to guard against scurvy on their long sea journeys.


What is orange in cultures outside of the European? In other cultures closed off to our own for so long by the migration and exchange of trade, say the Japanese or Chinese, what is the etymology of the word orange? In Cantonese Chinese (but not in Mandarin), the word for orange is related by sound to the word for gold. At New Year’s the Mandarin orange embodies good wishes for prosperity. Are “gold” and “orange” a conflation of all these color experiences of light?


What about other earlier societies? I wonder whether orange might “rhyme” with “fire.” Fire had the life-giving power that made a large difference to a culture. If gold wasn’t the commodity of value, it might make sense for the word for this experience to be “fire.” Might gold be in part only an imitation of the light of fire?


These richoceting ruminations about gold and fire are vital, because it is precisely the light of gold or fire that starts to go missing in “my” Muji Orange. It is that chocolate brown in addition to the red of the orange that makes the color “step back” toward the shade. Muji Orange recedes from the saturation and almost clear brilliance of an ordinary orange that lags just behind the brilliance of yellow—whether the origin is the light of sun, gold or fire.


Muji is a Japanese company and that perhaps contributes and infuses a measure of its aesthetic into that of the west. The store’s name is related to “mujo” which evokes “transience” in Japanese. I once heard about Japanese “killed colors.” These colors had a little bit of death in them, fading from their original brilliance and glory. I couldn’t find reference to them again but only to the rikuyu colors made from graying. In Muji Orange the quality of orange steps away from the brilliance of the sunny orange into the shade, holding a note of something that is darker. It is not a sinister dark to be avoided but one to be savored like a fine chocolate.


Is my “Muji Orange” so beautiful to me because it captures the life of light and its brilliance — and the life of dark and its recession? To me “Muji Orange” is a kumquat color par excellence. First like the sweet rind of the kumquat there is a “taste” of brilliance and then immediately, almost simultaneously, just as the fruit yields a sour taste, my Muji orange bursts with another very different moody, darker earthy “taste.” Does Muji Orange with its paprika jazzy zest want to dance the tarantula? Is it death or lack of light that gives my Muji color its kick?
I have questioned whether it was the vibration of the color that pulled me into the Chelsea store — the umbrella an extraneous element. But I wonder if the precise color of orange might also be a “rhyme” with the function of “umbrella”? Are the form and the vibration related in the poetry of memory?


Recently I recalled an earlier encounter with umbrellas. When I studied in Madrid in my 20s, I would often take the subway to go downtown to the Turner bookshop. I’d climb the stairs of the appropriately named Sol subway stop that spilled out onto Jose Antonio, emerging more often than not into a scorching sun.


On my way to the bookshop I would pass outside the window of a store that made confectionaries of violets sold in white and purple miniature hatboxes. But my favorite was the neighboring shop entirely devoted to umbrellas with a placard handwritten in a swirly old-fashioned cursive script in the window that read “Manana llovera.” Both its whimsy and its sales-minded craft were not lost in the English translation — “tomorrow it will rain.”


Last December, many years after my sunny Spanish sojourn, when to me it is now irrefutable that night and day, death and life are folded into one another and that Persephone must braid both dark and light — the Muji Orange color caught my eye. Manana llovera. Tomorrow it will rain. Dear Reader, I bought the umbrella.


Bibliographic Note The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Volume I, AO, (Oxford University Press, United States, 1982).

Copyright Michele Foyer. Web: http://michelefoyer.com/news.html

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Meditations on the Sun and Moon

Hurricane after silence,
The Sun gives liberally —
You cannot trap its warmth:
Love cannot exist in a prison
It is true
But the Sun will always have her one Moon.

Fences in the water are useless
the water will continue to flow-
You can take a horse to it.

You cannot start fires and complain
If you get burned
You cannot sow seeds on puddles, asphalt,
Dirt
And marvel when a plant doth sprout.

A plane cuts the sky
Writes a requiem
Draws parallel light-hopes.

I live for that tender moment at the end of my days
As the sun is in full crescendo glory,
giving the last, sweet ripeness
Her moon rushes to a corner
Small, full of mischief
and twinkling laughter.

San Francisco, November 2011

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Les Tuileries, Paris. 2011.

Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrong doing

There is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about

language, ideas, even the phrase each other

doesn’t make any sense.

Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi

مولانا جلال الدين محمد بلخى

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La Seine, Paris. Photograph+ Digital Alteration. November 2011.

I am sorry
For my jumbled mess of thoughts
my contradictions
my ash offerings

I am sorry
for my sterile hips
for burning like a fallow candle
for not fathoming your fullness
(I salute it now).

Penelope undoes at night
her morning’s narrative.
It changes with each day:
two steps forward and one back
is not a step forward.
In fact, it is very much like
marching in place
while wearing a hair shirt.

I am sorry for my darkness
For wanting to hurt you with dandelions
for standing by a ripped promise
like a stubborn stone.

I write because
I have to.
If necessary, I can beg for a pen and paper
to hold again my favorite barbed wire.
(Sylvia Plath tell me again
how much fun it is
to write a poem).

I move my arms to caress
the petals of a giant sunflower
Inhale, lenghten
Exhale, melt.

In my raw silence,
my shard-sharp mind, my heart-awareness
forgetfulness is that one wine
I cannot purchase:
The door was ajar
yet I chose not to enter.

“Forgive my thoughts,
for they bloom at night
Nightflower’d orphans
banished by light”.

 

San Diego, November 2011.

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Thoughts set free. Ink on paper and trace. November 9,2011.

“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time,

then I’m neurotic as hell.

I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another

 for the rest of my days.”

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Chapter 8

 

I have to thank my colleague Alan Rosenblum for sharing the concept of thinking with one’s hands and the visual poetry of The Mystery of a Murmuration. His advice is to watch this in silence.

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Calvary and Atonement. Paris, Le Marais district. October 2011

The Dark Night of the Soul

St John Of the Cross


On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!–
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy
chance!–
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,

Without light or guide, save that which burned in my
heart.

This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me–
A place where none appeared.

Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.

I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.


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No blind facade allowed. Paris, 2011. Intersection between Clovis and rue Descartes. Mural by Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky, poem by French poet and writer Yves Bonnefoy (2000)

Passant,
regarde ce grand arbre
et à travers lui,
il peut suffire.Car même déchiré, souillé,
l’arbre des rues,
c’est toute la nature,
tout le ciel,
l’oiseau s’y pose,
le vent y bouge, le soleil
y dit le même espoir
malgréla mort.

Philosophe,
as-tu chance d’avoir arbre
dans ta rue,
tes pensées seront moins ardues,
tes yeux plus libres,
tes mains plus désireuses
de moins de nuit.


Yves Bonnefoy


Passerby,
look at this great tree
and through it,
that could  be enough.For even torn up, sullied,
the tree of the street is
all of nature,
all the heavens,
the bird alights there,
the wind moves there,the sun there expresses
the same hope
in spite of death.

Philosopher,
if you are lucky enough to
have trees in your street,
your thoughts will be less arduous,
your eyes more free,
your hands more desirous,
at least at night.


My own translation based on this one.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

L’arbre bleu: A concrete poem to Paris

By Cara Waterfall



A luminous, blue tree explodes above the Paris rooftops of the 5ième arrondissement. L’arbre bleu (or the blue tree) is the flâneur’s reward for roaming the streets of Paris in reverie and without a map.

This 2000 mural by Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky, completed in situ, is at the intersection of rue Clovis and rue Descartes. At Alechinsky’s request, the painting has been accompanied by a poem by his friend and renowned French poet and writer Yves Bonnefoy.

The tree’s radiance is in stark contrast to its metropolitan environment: it is a bright blue column with only a few errant splashes to mar its clean lines; the branches emanate from the trunk like an open palm, fingers outstretched. The image reminds the observer that nature still has a place here – although it is somewhat camouflaged by the crowds and the congestion of buildings.

But the border of this central motif tells another story: Alechinsky, 84, delights in imperfection and the margins provide a narrative of their own. Each block in the border of l’arbre bleu reveals the troubled fragments of this urban world: charred trees have succumbed to civilization and now wilt against the concrete backdrop; bursts of royal blue spatter blemish the other blocks of the frame.

Bonnefoy, 87, has written extensively about the meaning of spoken and written words. His style is unembellished with a simple use of vocabulary that can be misleading: he manages to imbue a sensuality into this sparseness of language. As such, it is the ideal complement to Alechinsky’s l’arbre bleu.

The poem gently intrudes on the individual’s consciousness and suggests that this image is sufficient to begin a dialogue about how humans interact with their environment and specifically, how art can bring us closer to nature. The poet further explains that although it is only the image of a living tree, this “torn, soiled tree of the streets” is vivid enough that a bird perches on it, the wind moves it – even the sun shares its hopeful rays with it.

L’arbre bleu was a natural sequel to Alechinsky and Bonnefoy’s initial collaboration: in 2009 Bonnefoy had written a book about the artist’s pictorial method of expression in Alechinsky, Les traversées (The Crossings). He was well prepared for this text having written numerous essays on the subject. The book also explores his involvement with the CoBrA Group, a radical art movement from 1948 to 1951, of which Alechinsky was one of the founders.

Alechinsky is the sole surviving member of the CoBrA Group. (The name was coined by one of the founders, Christian Dotremont, from the initials of the members’ hometowns: Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam.) The Group was inspired by primitive art and children’s drawings. Their painting is characterised by vibrant colours, and vigorous brushstrokes; this liberty of movement is evident in l’arbre bleu. Critics have dismissed Alechinsky as “the man who grew up to be a child” and his art as infantile scribbling, but this spontaneity is representative of the CoBrA movement.

In the early 1950s Alechinsky became enamoured with oriental calligraphy: this highly stylized way of writing with an ink-wet brush allowed for greater variations in the curve and thickness of the lines he used in his work. His experience as the Paris correspondent for the Japanese journal Bokubi (The Joy of Ink) further informed his artistic methods. But the overriding trait of his art remains the combination of writing and pictorial signs.

The Blue Tree mural in Paris

L’arbre bleu differs from “standard” graffiti in that it was not created under cloak of darkness, but was commissioned; however, it still fits into the category of street art as a political vehicle that is countercultural. The painted tree explores our relationship to nature and underscores the fact that the concrete jungle can be fertile ground for the imagination.

But the real strength of l’arbre bleu lies in its economy: the painted image and the poem are layered with meaning. They articulate that nature can be accessible anywhere. Alechinsky and Bonnefoy have redefined the concrete poem: its lyricism unfolds amid the circuitry of the city – the painted tree no more out of place than a real one would be.

From indietravelpodcast.com.

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Ink on Miquelrius paper + Digital collage. October 2011



I want to share these two poems by Ilyas Abu Shabaku, which were given to me as a gift. Poetry is a candle in a dark room: our job in this life may just be to burn as bright as torches, as bright and as alive and loud as we can, for each glorious day we have left.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened,

Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Buddha



YOU OR I?

By Ilyas Abu Shabaku, Lebanese poet (1903-1947)

This beauty, is it yours or mine?

In you I see a person beautiful in love

Like me. And which of us has given me life?

Is it your shape or mine that i love so?

When in my dream I see love’s images

Is it your shadow in my soul or mine?

Love, all of love, dwells in all I see

Whence all this light? Your universal soul?

Did I create you in the world of fancy

Or are you my creator?

Am I the first whom inspiration blessed

Or was it you? Who writes this verse?

Did I write it for you or you for me?

And who in love can be dictated to

And who dictates? Our imaginations blend,

Your soul within my soul, your mind in mine

When things appear obscure to me I see

A doubting shadow dawning in your eyes

When we met first I found my beginning

As if you were a lost part of my being.

Translated by Adam Haydar and Michael Beard




I LOVE YOU


By Ilyas Abu Shabaku, Lebanese poet (1903-1947)

I love you more than human heart can bear

More than a poet dreams or lover feels

You are the perfumed cloud from heaven sent

To rain upon me your enchanted dew;

I feel your heart, your veins flow into mine,

No gap to let the impure world creep in;

My heart confronts your heart, finding its twin,

As two cups meet in one eternal vow;

In us when wine is made to mix with wine,

A blend of perfume, breeze, and dew combine;

My inspiration dwells within your eyes,

And swells when lip on lip instructs my art;

For us the fire rages, though unfed,

Though we are calm, a storm erupts within.

Translated by Adam Haydar and Michael Beard

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Everytime it rains in San Diego, I get giddy.

I used to dislike rainy days but now, they are just…”Paris days.”

The city acquires a new depth, a warm, poetic melancholy.
That feeling of being inside a Caillebotte painting, where the real city, what I see, what i inhabit, what i fall into, is the image in the water; that wet,beautiful canvas. The rain on the asphalth, rivulets, currents, puddles become a mirror that scrambles, abstractizes, seduces….

The rain on the windows when you are sitting in a literary cafe’, and the place becomes a haven not only for the soul (as it usually is), but a toasty, welcoming,peopled orange-glow that will shelter the body in the intemperate, stormy weather. So seeing the sign of the cafe’ in the rain, in the mist,  is what the ship, no longer wreck-bound,  feels at the first glimpses of  the watchtower in the fog, keeper of her dreams and saviour.

It is as though the rain is inside the cafe’. The window panes are frosted and dewy. We could be anywhere. We could be in Paris.

Or all of it sunk in an ocean, a majestic  ruin overgrown with algaes and debris. All of it, wooden tables and chairs from Lebanon, credenzas and tapestries from Jordan. The wine, the coffee, the tea jars. They are all tubling down. And us with them.

It is as though we are sinking in a sweet, decadent oblivion. We drink in the atmosphere while we happily drown in a vague past with no memories. Where everything is possible, allowed, forgiven. And everywhere else, outside of this retro submarine, is desert.

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October 2011

Strangers

by Huda Ablan

 

1.

No one belongs to the path

except a pocket

stuffed with the leaves of the night.

It keeps steps in stock

from a shop at the crossroads of the will,

patched with the skin of an old dream.

When yawning,

it invites them to a dance

with few feet and much madness.

When hungry,

it devours their warm, ripe whispers.

When thirsty,

it drinks their cries washed with holy water.

When lonely,

it forsakes its lenght and shrinks

to a remote corner of the heart

leafing through pictures of those

who have passed away

ensnaring with their song…

It will cast glances,

and tremble with the silence.



2.

No one belongs to the rose

except its melting

in the hand of a sad lover

who plucks it from slumber

every morning

and plants it in the vase of a tear

overflowing with pain.

He teaches how love sings

and how to breathe the secret

hiding behind the eyes

so it may reveal itself

without words.



3.

No one belongs to the heart.

Immersed in opening its chambers–

Shut tight with red forgetfulness–

It stirs the beats of a love

over which a curtain has been drawn

for a thousand nights,

and shakes a cup of blood

freezing as it faces circulation.

It alone

stabs the rug of a wound

made ready for crying

and prays

facing death.



4.

There is no one in the house

is dozing cracks obscure

the rounded journey of a small sun.

In the enclosure of the spirit

its walls bend in the face

of blows from the winds.

Its warmth ages and shrinks

in the coldness of waiting.

With the eyes of the absent

it soaks up warm places that flow

at the very edge of the passage

and melts in the shudder

of an endless beckoning.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     .

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Namaste. Ink on paper, digital manipulation. October 2011.

MENDING WALL

Robert Frost


Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.  The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side.  It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn't it
Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.'  I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself.  I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'

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Three Talismans|Nodes necklace by Archist Design Studio © . I used Industrial Chic spacers.

A talisman (from Arabic طلسم Tilasm, ultimately from Greek telesma or from the Greek word “telein” which means “to initiate into the mysteries”) is an amulet or other object considered to possess supernatural or magical powers. (thankyou wiki.)

Each spacer/bolt has the word intre·pidi·ty embedded on it.

Susan Lenart Kazmer, of Industrial chic ,gives us this definition of a talisman:

tal·is·man \ˈtælɪzmən\: objects worn to bring specific qualities into your life, such as strength, happiness and protection.

She considers herself a “contemporary builder of talismans utilizing objects of her own culture”. As soon as I saw her rugged and evocative spacers I was immediately inspired to create an industrial/architectural piece.

 

 

A pretty package containing rugged things.

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Ink and watercolor on watercolor paper. October 2011.

The birthplace of Existentialism.

 

Les chemins de la Liberte’ passent par le Flore.

Jean-Paul Sartre

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Ink on paper. Paris 2011

notredame2web notredame1web notredame3web

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For many travelers, Paris is Parisland. Here’s the Eiffel Tower. Let’s take aboat ride along the Seine. Ah, the Champs Elysees. Five museums on the list —
let’s whip through them. And, late at night, we’ve got to find that nightclub where the girls kick up their …heels.

Others — that’s my brood and me — go to Paris for the quiet. We sit in cafes for hours. We settle on parkbenches. We take long walks on nearly empty streets. It’s still Parisland, just another kind: an open-air library, a set for dreaming, an urban pillow for outdoor naps.

From a review of Quiet Corners of Paris

Here is a curated list for the flaneur/flaneuse to pack on your messenger bag.

And here, more on the The Flâneur: A Radical-Chic Icon

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“Inside a lover’s heart there’s another world, and yet another.”

        Love

        rests on no foundation.

        It is an endless ocean,

        with no beginning or end.

        Imagine,

        a suspended ocean,

        riding on a cushion of   

        ancient secrets.

        All souls have drowned in it,

       and now dwell there.

        One drop of that ocean is

        hope,

        and the rest is

        fear.

        Rumi

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Ink on paper. September 2011

In Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Borges, we find the description of a hrönir.

In the most ancient regions of Tlön, the duplication of lost objects is not infrequent.

Two persons look for a pencil;the first finds it and says nothing; the second finds a second pencil, no less real, but closer to its expectations.

These secondary objects are called hrönir and are, though awkward in form, somewhat longer.

The methodical fabrication of hrönir (says the Eleventh Volume) has performed prodigious services for archaeologists.

It has made possible the interrogation and even the modification of the past, which is now no less plastic and docile than the future.

Curiously, the hrönir of second and third degree –the hrönir derived from another hrön — exaggerated the aberrations of the initial one;

those of fifth degree are almost uniform; those of ninth degree become confused with those of the second;

in those of the eleventh there is a purity of line not found in the original. The process is cyclical: the hrön of twelfth degree begins to fall off in quality.

Stranger and more pure than any hrön is, at times, the ur: the object produced through suggestion, educed by hope.

Things become duplicated in Tlön; they also tend to become effaced and lose their details when they are forgotten.

A classic example is the doorway which survived so long as it was visited by a beggar and disappeared at his death.

At times some birds, a horse, have saved the ruins of an amphitheater.

Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges

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The dream-like quality of leaving

The dream-like quality of almost-ness

You write poetry
By longhand
in waiting
For a tram
(Waiting is disappearing as an art form)

Or when the body is moving
Transported
The in-between times of a pedestrian
In quiet
Solitude
When it’s too late
train out of service
Wrong train

Sometimes one needs to leave
to write again or be almost leaving
Not to take things for granted

Sometimes one needs to get lost
To be able to listen to silence
The vast canyon of yourself
To run away from the familiar
Leave the road that takes you home
Slightly uneasy
While away the wander-hours

The last in a museum
The first to hear the bells ring
In the deserted streets
Before turning in
Or, once, the padded snow in
A winter night landscape.

The heart needs peace
To hear its own beat
It needs time not to count the wrongs

You write poetry when you stop
At the sight of the black girl playing the cello
In the middle of the ravelers’ din
Recognize her public act of poetry
Her offering
A sight so shattering and quenching as the buddhist monk practicing.
In a busy intersection.
(You remember the red violin
And that singular ache for Lakme’s flower duet,
or Bach’ prelude to Suite No.1)

Poetry happens
when you are supposed to do something else
When you take a day-pass instead of one-ride ticket.

Poetry seldom happens
In the fat of comfort
In the butter of safety

In forgetting yourself
Poetry comes.

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It has been ten long days since my last post, ten days of travels, of letters written and not sent, of (re) search.

In the middle of it all, I experienced the ‘biggest blackout in the history of San Diego county’. Thursday, September 8th, 2011, power went off for millions of people in Southern California, Baja California and Arizona. No ATM’s , shuttered stores, nowhere to buy food or water in a world where, when the machines stop, the city stops. The blackout lasted for almost nine hours, from 3.30 Pm till just before Midnight, and it was all it took to plunge my two neighborhoods in an atmosphere that was at times apocalyptic, at others, surreal, magical, “european”. Beyond the novelty, even excitement, felt by some there were people trapped in high-rise elevators, in trolley cars over canyons, in mid-rise buildings without water. It was a time where everything stopped and a battery radio and candles (my only emergency preparedness) help whiled away the hours. It was a movie. And a dream.

Before I share what I have been working on in the past few days, here is my dispatch from the Blackout and some urban moments caught on camera.

PS: From http://www.nakedtranslations.com/en/2004/entre-chien-et-loup  nakedtranslations.com:

Entre chien et loup is a multi-layered expression. It is used to describe a specific time of day, just before night, when the light is so dim you can’t distinguish a dog from a wolf. However, it’s not all about levels of light. It also expresses that limit between the familiar, the comfortable versus the unknown and the dangerous (or between the domestic and the wild). It is an uncertain threshold between hope and fear.

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The night we saw the stars.

Full moon, venus, motherlight.

Flaws and flames

Not multiplied

It is so quiet

we can hear ourselves

If the end of the world comes

I want you to know

We are fine.

By Moon Light.

 

Read ”La Noche que Volvimos a Ser Gente”or “The Night We Became People Again” by José Luis González, a short story on the big blackout in New York City.

If you are left with a battery powered CD player when the world ends- and speak italian- you could do worse than listen to Caffe’ Letterario.

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The funambulist. Ink drawing + digital collage. August 2011.



Nets

To Rietta Wallenda

Tightrope acrobats dance above safety nets

(or not)

Nerves taut like violin chords

Pulsing on neck, tendons stiff.

/

The fisherman spreads his father’s nets

Repaired a thousand times, damaged again

He sews his wounds on the beach

Fastens the corks

The old man with the young eyes

who listens to Mina and

–faraway look toward his sea,

a cigarillo in his mouth–

dreams of America.

/

Or, once a young girl

with a butterfly net

out to catch impossible sprites on hilly fields

Between highways

On the outskirts of the city.

You don’t know where I have been

and what I have seen.

/

The spider crochets his architecture

His gothic cathedrals

With divine geometry

With infinite patience

Behind the mirror.

 August 2011

From British Pathe':'This 1931 video shows a woman dancing on a high wire suspended 300 feet in the air. We think this was shot in an American city possibly New York. Click to vertigo.'

 

Addendum September 5, 2011:

A search on the term ‘funambulist’ and inquiries about Moussavi’s “Function of Ornament” led me to find an incredible blog and post:

 The Funambulist [Architectural Narratives]: Computational Labyrinth or Towards A Borgesian Architecture

The editor is a fellow ‘literary architect’ interested in theory, film, art, books.

Won’t you join me down the rabbit hole of Borgesian architecture for a read of ‘Aleph’?

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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