poem20 Jun 2016 06:42 am

Wu_Zhen._Twin_Pines._180x111,4_cm._1328._National_Palace_Museum,_Taipei
girlhood maps we drew
pencil forests covering a table
no rivers or cities, just forests
of pine trees stacked arrows on arrows
parallel trunks to ground

you were a duchess and i was a robot
i was an empress and you were an elf
i was a warrior and you were a warrior made of gold

this
is the point in the story where you lose your shine
in college I learn I’m not so smart
age branches us to fond distance

but
you never did
i never did
it never did

instead we were white ghosts in rice-stepped mountains
instead we pulled weeds from the desert

now your daughter is an elf
and a warrior and a map of trees
now

we seek the linchpin of the moon

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poem13 Jun 2016 07:39 am

Lantau_Peak_Starry_Night_2014

 

 Photo by Eddie Yip from Groningen, the Netherlands (夏季銀河東升) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Summer nights slay you. They’re sour-sweet
as cherries, as the blueberries ripening,
so rich you have to wipe them from your chin.
Thick enough with fruit that you must cut them
with a knife. And what is it that you find inside?
Thousands of lights. Stars. Fireflies. Gems
amongst the velvet fur of sky. They spill
like the Milky Way until the darkness is bled dry.

Echo of the white tides, what have you done,
emptying the night like a cut-purse? Will you
weave your spoils into a web to bind the flow
of your long hair? No. You stoop to gather up
the scattered riches, then raise your arms to paint
and populate the sky, spatter the sparks against
the dark, seeding it until it fruits again and all
your treasures drip like diamonds from its chin.

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the arts06 Jun 2016 07:25 am

Update on the Athena mask (see previous posts for the background):

13313744_10154179843729787_1291966842_o

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poem30 May 2016 08:43 am
By Coyau / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12817103

By Coyau / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12817103

Dusk is the hour
when memory pulls strongest,
when twin green tendrils
of hope and despair
snarl my gut
and tug hard.

The day’s dying light
tastes of home,
my lost, soft, twilight world
soaked in all the shades of life
I seek fruitlessly amongst
the beans on my meagre plate.

As you would say,
we came here green and
ignorant of your ways,
lured by a rich siren call of bells,
the brightness of your land
burning in my eyes

like a forest of emeralds,
shiny promises that lied
though we did not know that then:
two innocents trapped by your false splendour
as much as the wolf pit
you found us in.

We clung to our green truth
for as long as we could,
starved until raw beans were offered
then kale, cabbage, the bread of life.
We continued to eat,
to consume your world,

thinking to immerse
your ways within us,
to become one with their enticing shine,
but they washed away our colour
and spat us out
leaving me one alone.

My brother-self withered,
gave up the struggle,
his soul returning
where his body could not.
I took a native mate, trying
to grow myself whole again.

I allowed him to immerse
himself in me, hoping
to become one with your ways.
The town’s hard stone streets
taught me I
will always now walk alone.

They say I lead
a normal life.
Normal for whom?
I have lost my colour,
my world,
my self.

I am faded as pale as you
except at dusk, the hour
when memory pulls hardest,
and fresh green tendrils of despair
grow and snarl
around my gut.

The Suffolk folk tale of the green children of Woolpit apparently dates from the twelfth century. The reapers were out working in the fields around the village, when out of one of the wolf pits emerged two vivid green children, a boy and a girl, their clothes unfamiliar and speaking in an unknown language. At first they wouldn’t eat, but eventually did, beginning with beans and vegetables. After a period of assimilation, including being baptized into the Christian Church, the boy died, but the girl lived on, learnt to speak English, married a local man and moved to King’s Lynn where she purportedly led a normal life.

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poem23 May 2016 08:00 am

450px-Kunsthistorisches_Museum_Vienna_0189

The mummy’s mask speaks
texts from the dead,
an unknown gospel in each cheekbone
a lost play for a forehead
referenced in antiquity, but
its lines only guessed at until now.
The layers peel back;
time peels away.

A laborers’s death,
no money for fancy masks so
the family makes do,
old paper lying around, worthless pages
too worn to scrape clean.
The mourners fold and seal them
layer by layer into a mask.

Unlayered now by new techniques
deeper texts emerge:
a bill of sale, a priest’s grocery list.
A fragment of a fairy tale
at the very edge of the mask,
the ancient paper doubles back on itself,
crafting a tale of doubles and doppelgangers.
In the center, covering the eyes,
a lost night of Scheherazade—
the djinn tricked into…
not a lamp, not a book,
but a mask that travels through time,
reveals its words,
but never quite breaks free.

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artist profile and editorial16 May 2016 08:18 am

IMAG0800

I first saw Eric Bornstein’s masks at a festival more than 20 years ago. He was performing folk tales with a small group of actors playing all of the roles using the masks to portray monsters, gods, heroes, and all of the other mythic gods. The performance was in the kid’s portion of the festival, but I was spell-bound and didn’t want to leave. I chatted with him briefly as he was packing up and discovered he took students. I was primarily a doll maker then, but there is a lot of overlap in techniques and styles between the two so I was excited at the thought of studying with him. But with kids and work and other projects, I wasn’t able to study with him until 2014.

Last fall, I decided to commission one of his masks. I’ve never commissioned a piece of artwork before. He has done a number of beautiful deity masks, including some greek gods that are amazing. He is going to make a goddess inspired by Athena, working words and images collaged into the helmet.

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artist profile09 May 2016 08:28 am

10547692_10153827747822458_999691958704077585_n

The mask, as a literary convention, always signifies a false face, a mask of civility, hiding the unsavory or vicious true nature. This device assumes a misleading distraction from sinister intentions, or a shield of normalcy over an unstable or doubtful nature. The idea is that if the true self were to be discovered that our evil plans or weaknesses would be discovered, and we would be torn apart bu others, also hiding their actual natures. I find this term very limiting, and not very empowering. Of course, these states do exist, but I’d like new vocabulary to be developed.

What I am occupied with is the True-faced mask, the mask of our deep, archetypal selves, or whimsical, playful selves. I believe that underneath, if we were truly fully self-expressed, that we would be loving, generous, and full of positive creativity and abundance.

The limiting surface appearance is this skin we already have, reacting with the limitations of others’ perceptions and misconceptions. We are easily judged and defined by our gender, age, nationality, race, status, even species., but we are so much more. Within us we carry identification with many expressions of our identity, which influence our sense of self and desires for fulfillment. As Joss Whedon said, “Don’t be your self; be all your selves.”

I am committed to seeing through the flesh, sensing the true spirit of those I meet and engage with while engaged in our short dance on this earth. I am thrilled when another spirit brings out, inspires, and encourages the best selves within me to manifest. I seek to share in this engagement.

The opposite of this is to see only danger and distrust in those who look or behave differently. This persecution of the Other expresses directly our estrangement with the Other within. When we come face to face with the Other within, with love and acceptance, we incorporate all possibilities and become more free to choose positive expression, together.

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the arts01 May 2016 04:36 pm

I’ve commissioned a mask from master mask maker Eric Bornstein, www.behindthemask.org, and throughout the month of May I’ll be showing the progress on it.

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poem25 Apr 2016 08:08 am

By August Macke - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=154247
You meet him on the road from nowhere to oblivion,
where the sky comes down like a backlot
and tumbleweeds tackle and wrestle in the sand
and gas always costs ten cents.
Faded as a lobby card, he will offer to pay for the lift
with the dust in his pockets and a wistful smile
just the list of a lance at a windmill,
but the burden in his rucksack
is his own light life,
expectant as the blank lines of a book.
If you ferry him as far as the Pacific,
he will vanish before the sun burns down to the sea,
the phantom hitchhiker of the painted desert
thumbing his way into roadside repute.
Stop the car among the broken timbers of the Triassic,
as heartshot red as a man with a promise in him,
and he may take his leave with civility
and his scenes stolen as absently as cigarettes,
the ghost-errant
who wore his cynicism
like a silver dollar on his sleeve,
the girl he haunted
gone with her paints to Paris long ago.

painting by August Macke – The Yorck Project
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poem18 Apr 2016 08:10 am

By http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/obf_images/5a/1e/dd149efd818af4b11c1fba7e0204.jpgGallery: http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/V0022736.html, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36555068

Slithering through the dark
bowels of the city in storm drains
where sewers often overflow,
the parthenogenic progeny
from an escaped pet python
survive on rats, unwary
city workers, and the odd
miscreant fleeing the law,
pressing the last breaths
from their trapped bodies.
Nightmares beyond reason,
they inhabit and haunt
these dank concrete
and steel caverns.

Some claim that through
generations born and surviving
in the fetid dark, they have bred
to albino pythons capable
of mesmerizing their prey
with a single glance of
their lustrous purblind eyes.

Others say there will come
a day when they will emerge
from the bitter depths below,
from storm drains and manholes
and along the banks of the river.
Shunning the harsh light of day
they’ll come in dead of night,
pale specters from hellish depths
devouring sinners in their beds.

Then there are those who
tell the story of a little girl,
seen after midnight, walking
barefoot through the dark
asphalt streets of the city,
wearing torn yellow pajamas
splattered with blood and
a young python twined
around her neck, a living,
breathing ophidian necklace.
She is the ghost of the city’s
corruption made manifest,
a perverse little demon
with sharp young teeth.

They say it’s her, with her
flaming hair, who leaves
a phosphorescent red trail
behind her, who was the
first to be dropped into
the sewers, the first to
have seen a nest of pythons,
to heat it with her human cells.

In revenge against those who
left her to a watery grave,
she has given to the snakes
an advanced intelligence,
a key to the weaknesses
of the Lords of the Earth
who walk on two legs.

If you meet her when
you’re alone after midnight
and your own path turns
a phosphorescent red,
grasp a silver crucifix,
pray to your failed gods
for salvation, take off
your shoes and run away.

They call her Anja The Red,
this ghostly witness who
warns that beneath your feet
where your worst fears
and obsessions fester,
a growing reptilian city thrives,
waiting to embrace you
with its slick relentless coils.

Eight snakes, including a reticulated python, a slow worm, a thirst snake, a Russell’s viper and a mythical two-headed serpent. Engraving, ca. 1778. Iconographic Collections
http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/V0022736.html
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