Women old colonists
auslander manifesto for an unadulterated
space – companions in family history, too mature & silent to administer cartes de
visite & left hanging cryptically, algebraically, among other mash-ups & ruins
but, still, warum allein?
the others from the Holborn gathering have come & are very pretty today / sleep
becomes hard with the doctrines of gullies & glades exposed –
at least have faith in this catalogue entry, a long winded
way to ensure you are participated at, a testament to mild applause /
every frayed cloth, blotchy forearm (heightened
senses) expressed in mock woodgrain, the myth of symmetry
underlying the repose of men / true charity is never holding country accountable
for temperaments vanquished… besides which, the banquet was spoiled by
the Gambier brothel story though in this age the feeling is more than mutual / oh
turns off too frequently / it is hard to distinguish what is
patience in all this, patience losing measure by the season, is there even
lustre in these experiences (advising cloves for teeth care, lips pursed will work
here, make up for it with posture) / a season, an idea, united under abstractions
felt – physiques are matter, trust to the depiction,
single painting can be guilty / hands folding & unfolding in the fug of March,
voices of arts patrons ferment on inconceivable
neighbours’ enthusiasm – more pressing is pastoral as a Prussian delineation now,
familiarity endangered, contested vistas changed
upon looking / childless men guessing at circuits, roundabout achievements in al-
most engineering, them & us improvisers in terrain, intimacy, ‘local or
universal’, relent to pose with compassion this eve / record of fitted smiles, a collage
/ time to do this, swapping a face for a face, time to exist here remaining within token
hierarchy / good-natured habitude leads to over-reliance on species memory to dis-
Barnaby Smith is a journalist, editor, poet and musician based in northern New South Wales, Australia. He can be found online at www.seededelsewhere.com
Lesson from Nature
The cat’s bones hold it up
in a field of flowers,
spinal chord a stem for a head
seeded with desire,
ears’ leaves lifting to the hum
of bees, the rise
and fall of wings, paws delicate
between stalks, awaiting
mice and voles that will come,
the serration of ribs,
foliage, jaw, giving the light an edge
with which to cut.
The artist has hand-coloured two blooms,
high and low,
an homage to each gentle corolla, but
haloed by the stripping sun,
the bowed skull remains the focal point,
Devon Balwit is a writer and teacher from Portland, OR. She has two chapbooks forthcoming--'how the blessed travel' from Maverick Duck Press and 'Forms Most Marvelous' from dancing girl press. Her recent work has found many homes, among them: Oyez, The Cincinnati Review, Red Paint Hill, Timberline Review, Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Trailhead Review, and Oracle.
The Body Farm (for Sally Mann)
She used her lens to capture
where we go when there’s nowhere
left. What happens when we submit
to nature’s whims? Abandoned,
we un-fallow the fields with our mantle
of flesh shrugged off and left behind.
What can be learned from bones
rat-gnawed when greasy,
squirrel-gnawed when dry?
An accounting of time’s passage, assigning
cause and blame— There are worse things
than to be watched over, even in death.
Carol McMahon is a teacher and poet who has been published in various journals (Prodigal, IthacaLit, Unlost Journal, The Wild Word, Blue Collar Review) and has a chapbook, On Any Given Day, published by FootHills Press. McMahon received an MFA in Poetry from the Rainier Writing Workshop in Washington State and when not teaching, reading or writing can be found out trail-running or on the water rowing.
Ekphrastic Haibun : Bosh
Recently the art world was rocked when a photograph of a spud, yes, the humble potato, sold for a record of a cool £750,000 (approximately $1 million).
This image by the Irish photographer Kevin Abosch was bought by an unnamed businessman, after he fell in love with the photograph hanging on Abosch’s wall, after having drinks together.
As potatoes go it isn’t even a good looking specimen, just a humble brown on a black background.
One recalls Van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters which consists of five figures sitting around a square table eating potatoes in a dark room with light from an oil lamp.The Potato Eaters failed to be displayed in Salon. Today the piece is considered as being his first masterpiece.
warmed by a cup of
hot masala chai
This haibun first appeared in the other bunny.
Dr. Ms Angelee Deodhar is an eye surgeon by profession as well as a haiku poet, translator, and artist. She lives and works in, Chandigarh India. Her haiku, haibun and haiga have been published internationally in various books and journals, and her work can be viewed on many websites.
House of Self
I couldn’t see it from the street
but from inside her flames were bright
and blinding, though they spread too slow
to warrant an emergency
in the house where only she
abided, or could even go.
A matted coolness calmed the heat,
however, and a dark, the light.
A folded freak, an unfurled face:
Flashes that she froze and framed
hung on the walls, the edge of space,
cavorting with the unnamable, the unnamed.
And all the partitions crumbled
in a way: Room after room
diverse demonic subjects shot
from one creative womb.
And yet they were as mirrors; fun-
house ones, warped as a mind
where all the differences between,
coiled and contained, unwind.
Each like a leaf reopened
in a terrifying still
too strange for life. Yet I rejoiced
as long lost strangers will
on finding each other, not having known
the other was lost, or was,
shivering with recognition
to each other, they and I—but not
she whose work, although brief,
flash-froze her name on the back
of every glossy, ghastly leaf.
after Diane Arbus, 1923-1971
James B. Nicola
James B. Nicola's poems have appeared recently in the Antioch, Southwest and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle, and Poetry East. His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His two poetry collections, published by Word Poetry, are Manhattan Plaza (2014) and Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016). sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola.
After Contact Sheet #4539 of three different sets of identical twins, by Diane Arbus
In our secret language,
we float upside down.
It’s like speaking to a mirror. Or
an x-ray. Those shrouded outlines
presenting us with maps.
Here is your tongue, sister. Let
me share it.
Here is my hand. You take it
piece left over
from the time before
when we slept in
the aperture of our
Here are our eyes. Pinholes
Sarah Nichols is a co-editor of Thank You for Swallowing, an online journal of feminist protest poetry. She is the author of three chapbooks, including She May Be a Saint (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2016), and Edie (Whispering): Poems from Grey Gardens (Dancing Girl Press, 2015). Her work has also appeared in Yellow Chair Review, Rogue Agent, and Noble/Gas Qtrly.
Books absorb us, draw us inward— even when we’re most in public. The great photographer André Kertész made a lifelong project of exploring that paradox. Between 1915 and the 1970s, he travelled the world, snapping candid photos of people with their books, their magazines, and the occasional newspaper. On rooftops, behind stage doors, on trains, in parks, in bars and shops, bent over trash bins, tucked into alcoves; black and white; male and female; priest and rabbi and nun; rich and poor — wherever he found readers, he recorded them in the act. Reading is the great leveller, the great lifter, his images seem to suggest. In the republic of books, we are all equal.
There is something almost unbearably poignant about these photographs today. Yet, what we sense when we look at them is more than wistfulness for an imagined past, more than mere nostalgia. Shot from unexpected angles, they conceal complexities; often we have to work to discern a subject within the frame. The experience mimics the act portrayed. In these images, we don’t simply witness someone reading; instead, we read someone reading. So what we feel when we look at them is something akin to deep reading’s deep engagement.
Only a lover of books could take such photographs. Kertész could hardly have been blind to the irony of that. For it was brilliant photographers like him who were rendering text increasingly redundant in his day. “Your pictures talk too much,” said an editor at Life, in rejecting some of his images. Kertész’s photos were so expressive, so complete in themselves that they left nothing for a journalist to say.
Some of his photographs seem to acknowledge as much, and to draw the implications even further. One in particular, taken in his study in 1960, is a kind of oblique self-portrait. Shot from a sofa or chair on one side of the room, it takes as its subject a wall of neatly arranged shelves. In the foreground we can see the photographer’s bare feet.
Those feet by then had transported Kertész from the ticker-taped floors of the Budapest stock exchange, where his family had sent him to work as a young man, to the absinthe-scented cafés and paint splattered artists’ studios of Montparnasse. Later still they had explored the fire escapes, rooftops, and windowsills of New York. At the same time, they recall the dirty, naked feet of the young boys poring over a book in one of his earliest photographs. At sixty-six, he had not forgotten his beginnings.
The objects on his shelves evoke a full and cultured life. Books. Magazines and journals stacked in piles. 19th-century landscapes, dark and moody. One of his more surrealist works, from the Distortions series, hangs in the upper right; below it a glass-encased clock indicates the passage of time. A mirror reflects the artist back to himself; a lamp casts light on the portrait of a woman, possibly Elizabeth, his beloved wife. And amid all this evidence of a refined and cultivated sensibility squats a television. Its screen is blank. Above it dangles an empty picture frame.
It is tempting to see that television as an evil dwarf in a tale of loss and bitter discouragement. By then, Kertész had lived in the United States for more than twenty years, and he had failed to achieve any recognition as an artist. Too late, too late, this image seems to say. As photography had overtaken books, so television might overpower photography. And the world would turn, increasingly, to flat and featureless screens for instruction and entertainment.
Kertész didn’t live to see the spread of computers and Kindles and smartphones, and it’s difficult to know what he would have made of them. For if he sometimes seemed to dread the march of technology, he also embraced its advances; one of the earliest photographers to adopt a 35 mm camera, in his old age he also experimented with the latest Polaroid. What’s more, as the father of street photography, he was always eager to take pictures of ordinary people going about their lives. In fact, if he were still at work today, instead of readers, he might be snapping candid shots of men and women leaning over their laptops or fixated on their smartphones. But, “I do not document anything; I always give an interpretation,” he once remarked. So I doubt if his laptop series would have anything to say about stillness or deep engagement.
Then again, better than anyone, Kertész understood that we live in a liminal time. Screens may seem ascendant, yet books and words can still command a central place. A later photo from his study series illustrates. Taken in 1969, shot from the same sofa or chair as the 1960 picture, it depicts the identical set of shelves; a viewer will also recognize many of the same books and pictures and treasured objects, along with the same bare feet, crossed in almost the same pose.
But that is where the similarities end. In this photo, to the right we see the table where Kertész does some of his work, along with a tripod. In this photo, the photographer’s own photo, his Distortion, occupies a more central place on the shelves. And in this photo, there is no clock, no television, and no empty, dangling frame. Instead, the artist’s neatly organized books and papers dominate the scene. By then, Kertész had finally achieved the American recognition he had long desired, and I like to think that with revived reputation came renewed hope in the rich hermeneutical tradition from which he sprang, and refreshed belief in the power of the word and the power of artful arrangement.
He must have sat on that couch or chaise almost daily for decades, and almost always with a book. But he did not take a photo every time. What, then, prompted this particular self-portrait? We’ll never know. Perhaps a shaft of sun fell just so across his page, distracting him; perhaps a memory, called up by the story he was reading, momentarily tugged his attention away from the page.
Imagine. At seventy-five, he is white-haired, balding, age-spotted, mole-scattered—marked by time, just as his room is marked by time—and the feet stretching out before him ache from his morning’s walk. Outside, in Washington Square, the sounds of a guitar drift up towards the window; closer, in the kitchen, Elizabeth shuts a cupboard door and then begins to hum. He thinks about their evening meal—baked fish, perhaps, with a simple salad and baguette—something light and fresh to mark the season. Soon, he’ll open a dry Riesling and pour them each a glass. From their small round table, they’ll see the trees in the square below and the crisscrossed pattern of the pathways.
Before the stock exchange, before the war, before photography found him, he used to fish the Danube. That was in childhood. Sun glanced off the water, making him squint. Drifting, dreaming, sometimes he’d wait for hours for a tug against the line. He laid the catch inside his uncle’s wicker basket. The larger carp would thrash against its reed-lined sides.
The most valuable things in a life are a man’s memories. And they are priceless.
He looks at his familiar shelves. Perhaps he recalls his father’s bookshop, back in Hungary—the country he fled, first in pursuit of his art, and later, to escape Nazi persecution.
The moment always dictates in my work. So much history embedded in those carefully arranged lines and planes. So much life within those assembled pages. So much life in all pages. The novel in his lap, for instance. Words, like light, bracketing moments; words, like light, calling forth worlds.
Everything is a subject. Every subject has a rhythm. His hand closes around the camera’s familiar weight. The viewfinder frames the scene. Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph.
The shutter clicks.
I write with light.
He sets his camera down. Then he turns back to his book.
Susan Olding is the author of Pathologies: A Life in Essays, selected by 49th Shelf and Amazon.ca as one of 100 Canadian books to read in a lifetime. Her writing has won a National Magazine Award (Canada), and has appeared in The Bellingham Review, The L.A. Review of Books, Maisonneuve, The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, and the Utne Reader, and in anthologies including Best Canadian Essays, 2016 and In Fine Form, 2nd Edition.
The Broken World
Now that you have come
to sort things out,
I am more
confused than ever.
and it’s been years since
I heard midnight
knocking at my door-
I’ve made my life
squished it crammed it stuffed it
with law and order.
I intended to keep
the crashing winds at bay,
as if lists and yoga, or sorted silverware,
could possibly protect me
from the gods of the sea.
I never know
if the roads
will bring you home, and
are written in your eyes,
the things you’ve seen,
the things you’ve tried to hide,
and you are wearing the sun
and the rain and the road
and the endless
(If you can give it, I can take it
‘Cause if this heart is gonna break
it’s gonna take a lot to break it.)
(I’m broken like a promise,
shattered like a dream.)
You are a storm that blows through here
galloping wild horses,
but something else,
something wilder, unrestrained.
It doesn’t matter:
every time you
break my heart,
I will grow another one
for you to smash
and treasure the hours
it falls apart,
just to have something from you.
I can’t stop you
from climbing across my roof
and into my window
if you need to get to me.
I don’t even know if
you are dead or alive.
Now, the great unknown, again.
as you arrive,
Do you remember?
Once you said, you would do anything for me,
anything at all,
you’d walk 1000 miles for me, you said,
and the ferocity of your conviction took me aback,
how love blazed in your eyes,
It was a promise you kept,
arriving from the east
like rain on my roof.
But I had said, no, don’t you remember?
I don’t want it, I told you.
I won’t ask that.
You know all I’ll ever ask of you
is to put
your pipe down
Leave it down
I beg you,
leave it down.
I will never, ever
ask another thing.
Now as ever, your company is easy,
and holding you
is comfortable, familiar sorrow.
You ask about my work,
and about my meetings.
And whether I’ve found anyone.
My fingertips trail your scars,
fading rope at your throat,
feathers on your wrists.
Now, as if there were
no years between us,
and no grief,
we sprawl across the floor with
Johnny Cash on repeat, and it’s
an apt soundtrack for all that we have seen,
for the people we have been.
And yours is a lonely road,
my most beloved friend,
but you’ve never questioned why I keep
your heart with me as best I can.
Even so, I told you.
It was how tenderly you tended to
my injuries, how you
tried to save me.
The air here is filmy and surreal,
emptied of you,
soapy and edged with grief.
I can’t fix
the broken world.
It is you who could,
you who fixed my sink and my bicycle
when you hitchhiked into town.
It’s only 2000 miles,
repacking your backpack.
I’m clean now, woman,
I’ll make it west, don’t worry.
Lorette C. Luzajic
Originally published at Hood, and in The Lords of George Street, by the author, Mixed Up Media Editions, 2016.
Surrealisms series- Lorette C. Luzajic
Eerie, strange, irreverent, poetic- this series of more than 100 surreal vignettes is now available in limited edition 5x7" prints. Prints come matted with 8x10" acid free archival quality matte in black or white, your choice, with foamboard backing.
You can display them as is, or conveniently pop them into 8x10" frame.
Choose one for $30 or five for $100.
You can purchase through Paypal or email, or through Etsy.
Click this link for one print.
Click this link for one print.
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