turn of the screw

My mind fingers it’s red wooden edge
wondering if the ridge is sharp-
wondering if it’s white perfection turns -
could it all change with a turn of the screw

Perhaps yesterday’s newspaper
devoid of color, glaring of white crimes
and black hate, contains a secret code to enter
turning each notch in a pattern until a door
opens allowing us to disappear

What of this heaven when hell is near
do screaming children get welcomed
even when Jesus was just a man according
to their holy book on Allah

Will I burn slowly or do I simply stay
in that decorative box chosen by a crying Mary
who turned away when they finally closed
the mahogany lid, not waiting for the final
turn of the screw for she knew this fate

in case you are a regular reader with an email option, my apologies for it seems I’ve a lot to say today… this post was actually composed a while inspired by a piece of art by Mark Kersetter – it is a wonderful wooden sculpture of screws- sadly I cannot find it on his Flickr site so you will just have to imagine with these words and wherever they take you….

Ps- cannot promise this will be the last today)


It feels so goddamn good to write, but I shouldn’t say goddamn because God and I recently agreed that I would let him(her) drive – that is to say to help me not screw up again. Ignoring pulsing in ones veins is to play mortal combat with one’s brain and this brain could twist with pain that may require a Jungian to unravel.

A poem, you say, should contain short lines, couplets or stanzas but this long line is akin to something one may encounter at the border of Somalia-Kenya refuge camp where a woman begs for her dying children. Do we ever understand this hunger as we suffer our first world problems of “will it be Mickey Ds or BK for lunch?” when all she hopes is that a taste of Plumpy’Nut will revive the dying body of her seven month baby who looks three months to us, her tiny head bobbing, its mass weight more than bones and flesh combined.

How can we hold up our own heads when so many sing these blues?

So as said – God and I made a pack despite this writer’s agnostic tendencies. Writing this, I realize that sounds of voodoo (making deals) so perhaps it was not God’s words but a snake playing saint. He should know better – this is about here, not for the days that have gone dying.

I could sing Delta blues about those days, but would rather write a gospel choir
not for ourselves, but for those starving babes silently waiting for our tears to materialize.

Van Gogh

Why cannot I draw upon this flesh
a vision in which to paint to you
in words this agony of silence
bound within a mute world
I stare into Spring’s horizon
imaging Van Gogh’s brush
how he must have felt, each stroke
an utterance of his eternal wound
dipping each breath beneath clouds
he created with swirls of grey

Dear Theo, he would write
explaining his suffering voice
not from inaction but misunderstanding
Dear Gaughan, he would write
explaining his creating, desire for his muse
to fill this void left in cloud filled fields
describing chair, bed, paintings hung
above this bed in the Yellow House
as if to convince there was no other place

Would Van Gogh had left his brush
caked with paint, died to a blank
canvas if Gaughan had never visited
or would the blood that coursed
bled ochre, Prussian blue tipped with black
continued to light his eternal flame
for he needed no muse beyond the breath
that built beauty inside his human house.


They found it next to her, floating upon the surface, half entwined within her fragile hair. The pond had swallowed them both, becoming a shallow grave of beauty. It was the technician who recorded each article, who felt that there was something special, something within the fabric’s electric swirls, that must tell her story. The turquoise, briefly slashed within magenta, yellow and black, mimicked the shade within her emptied eyes. Those eyes left us all unsettled that day. We shall never know why her body was there alone beyond the facts known – an art teacher, age 25, with no known family, fighting a battle of cancer. An autopsie eventually revealed that the poison had become too much, succumbing her with pneumonia. A neighbor, whom wept when he was questioned, spoke of her daily walks despite the damp, April nights. He wanted to walk with her, but she said it was her time with God.
The ceremony was held on an unusually bright day. I stood behind those that knew her, listening to their words. A student painted the final screen of her story: “She was like the wind of Spring – she would ruffle our thoughts so that we could consider a new beginning, find a new opening within our art.” I would learn that the scarf we found with her that day was her own art, her way of creating a new opening while too weak to create anew.
Years later, the fabric remains strong and true – the turquoise, a gentle reminder of a gaze of grace from a soul that knew what it was to live, to die.


(This is the second reworking of this prose poem – the first one was written while waiting for a very moving lecture this evening. I was too lazy to get up and find my little notebook, so recreated the story into this – the premise is pretty much the same. I apologize for the somber nature – it certainly is not to say that Roberto Alborghetti’s art is somber – it is not, it is quite lively and lovely. I thank him for offering up this picture at my bequest of help for poetic inspiration. ~ a)



“I felt our love lying on the earth like a heap of ash.” ~ Edvard Munch

the forest weeps in strains of red
willowy trees sense your triumph over
this diseased soul
look at me
already dead, gone pale and
ashen under this moon’s last pass before
a lark announces the stirring of beasts
life awakens despite this death of humanity
we are no better than Adam and Eve
falling fate to our desire to taste life’s nectar
dripping from exotic fruit belonging to another tree
temptress, your fiery locks entwine us
refusing to release this cold marriage
but you do not fool the fool who hides among us
with that white garment no longer clean
its thin fabric carrying the soil of our sin
just as your fabric shall deliver it
someday ~

forgive me for I’m terribly behind on posting poetry based on your prompts….sigh, life… I shall offer my thanks to Ronald Shields for offering this Edvard Munch link. “Ashes” posted here links from Wikipaintings.org. Upon researching this rather curious painting, I found the above quote by Munch was on a lithograph of the piece. It helped to inspire this very impromptu response. ~ a




a cadence echoes from inside
rhythm remains colourless, seamless,
without structure
leaving rigidity a wasteland e
we ride a wave of existence
within his fingers’ memories
that are not really his, but history,
ancestry that fills DNA
blastocyst implanting -
we all replicate their soul beginnings
at night when dark caresses us
creating visions behind our windows
touching lightly their world,
their unfinished mission -
sometimes, though, it manifests
creating a tiny rip, a seam
and you must pick at it
opening it a bit more
and out seeps a wordless dream
a pattern forms,
only a lucky few are blessed to
reveal the dead through creative rebirth
notes thrown out innocently
yet delivery, its afterbirth
awakening pure energy
connecting our interior fibers
until a vibration echoes against our skull
and in a trance-like state receptors open
allowing buried history to become phoenix -
there is no question of origin
there is no question of real
there is only the shedding of now
and within that tear
i realize there is a link
between his creating and mine -
we survive wandering this tiny earth
seeking each other with hope to experience something
if just to touch upon an eternal beauty
from this cocoon of humanity ~

Philip Glass

I had the honor of seeing Philip Glass twice this weekend – once at a lecture, and then at his solo piano performance. Needless to say, it was moving beyond belief. The above words where written later as I listened to his Solo Piano recording on Spotify. It contained most of the works he performed today. Never was I so moved as when he played certain pieces. These words do not match his brilliance…but a humble offering to thoughts that came to mind while letting his music wash over me. ~

remembering our roots

A howl breaks through the silence
slicing open this empty room gone rancid
it is not the wind that sounds
but this soul -
No, do not stop reading
it gets better, promise
no one can speak of hollow words
and shallow self better than a shadow-
I reflect upon this floor of covered dirt
pacing a line of our existence
worrying over every breath not given -
A train whistle blows open this groove
gone stale with worn patterns
do not think you are too late to board
even if your ticket is used -
Avoid the man who says you can’t
especially if he is speaking inside you
mine just stepped into a land mine
the howl was his swan song -
Guess it is time to open these windows
hoping she will join us still
penning small letters together while
imagining a world of white space
open to explore the possibilities – -

machismo (or, paint me red)

John Currin painted me
I raise this fist in protest
(he paints with claims of female psyche)
Feminism is dead
(in modern artists’ minds)
Painterly visions rise again from 80s ash
(is it cheap thrill, or rebellion)
Norman Rockwell compiled this face with him
Rachel Feinstein must be somewhere
(a muse’s lines oft become hidden)
Does it matter to you that he enjoys toying with millions
No amount of oil will lube this vision
(hyperrealism, or is it individualism, or is it )

Certainly it is fate
My embodiment, a crucifixion
(of liberal ideals debased)
A libertarian feels justified playing with me
(for financial gain, or is it material greed)

Make me bleed
Understand this object(ism)
Our peril remains real in this man eat woman world
Cowgirls pom-pom for less than minimum while
Cowboys are signing billions

Even Sunday’s Times headline:
“Q: Would you like this drawing more if a man made it?
A: The art world would”
Like the angry girl sings, “It’s a man’s, man’s world…”

Change this tune
Before I’m sold to the highest bidder
Who will hang me upon a naked nail
Next to a mounted head
All our lives end in the trophy room
– poem based on  ~ Red Faced Woman 

As you know, April 1st is not only for fools, but for poets. Thank you all for helping me work on my poetry this month. 

This rather brutal opening came today thanks to link provided of Red Faced Woman from MK. Mark has no idea that this picture led me on a whirlwind search on artist, John Currin, only to walk away with…well, I think you get the gist. After reading a few interviews from the years past, I cannot help but be suspicious of Currin. If his oeuvre was just nudes of distortion, but it delves deep as he explores sexualization where woman remains object. However, it is art, so we will all draw our own conclusion. ~ a 

April draws near…will you help me?

I need your help.

Next month is National Poetry Month and my damn muse has gone and drown herself…or however one explains a loss of voice. I need to just start writing again – if you write, more words will follow…so Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird.

This is where I am enlisting your help. My goal is to write at least 15 new poems next month. Inspiration is needed to complete this goal. A brilliant artist/writer posted a couple of poems recently based on ekphrasis – it got me thinking, “poems can be inspired by a work of art!” But there are so many, ergo, you can help me by posting a title of a work, a copy of the piece, or a link of your favorite art pieces in the comments. Each one posted will get a poem (no promises on quality).

Deal? Is anyone out there? Will you help me? Please?


a bit more thought…

Only with hindsight can we now see that tradition and authority may be necessary, even to make a genuine avant-garde possible – in order to provide something to revolt against. ~ Suzi Gablik “Has Modernism Failed”

Suzi Gablik’s book continues to revisit the necessity of tradition. As one without an art background, it had me wondering what exactly is taught in an academic program. If the evolution of art is taught, is that enough, or do students need to attempt old technique in order to gain insight to the new ways. If one is never to be a painter, must they paint?

Perhaps this has nothing to do with the argument at all, but I could not help but question this while watching a Coursera lecture via CalArts on Art History. The Provost teaching it has taken an amazing array of art eras in her lectures in order to make certain points. It helped me to realize that there is a lot going on in the art world -what may seem ridiculous or without purpose, which very much as purpose if you understand their point. That said, if art is making a point about art tradition and it gets lost on the viewer was it successful?

Gablik’s final chapter uses an example of an artist whom she feels is approaching art with ‘spiritual dignity’. What is interesting is this artist is someone whom I’ve oft admired, but knew not his background. German artist, Anselm Kiefer, does create artwork that has a point. The piece I visit every time at our local art centre is a massive composition of a train yard – from that muted train yard there is a ladder that rises up from the canvas, from it hangs a bronzed ballet slipper. The first time I saw this piece, as a teenager, I knew it was a statement about the Holocaust without any context beyond what hung before me. It is a beautifully depressing piece that reimagines the traditional canvas – it takes history and makes it modern.

I would love to say, as Gablik seems to be, that art such as Kiefer is the art to strive to produce because it helps to meld art, society and a spiritual nature, but I cannot. While I strongly believe that purposeful art is a healing tool for our culture and society, it cannot be limited to such a degree. I hope to explore this more, but not tonight…. your thoughts are always welcome. ~ a


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