Monday, December 07, 2009

Distance in Process




Two stages midway through the painting of "Distance." See the completed version here.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Benthic




I painted "Benthic" first in Watercolors and then scanned and added a gradient. I did nothing else to it. Click to view larger.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Raven Spirit Guide yet again


Still unfinished, but I'm working on it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Night Vapors

Here is a brand new poem still in process

Night Vapors

I noticed green light like in a dream,
and I thought, if this is a dream, then I can fly,
but I stuck to the ground like a bug
on gooey-paper, my body heavy as a Mack truck,
my iron feet clinging to the magnetic earth.
Obviously not a dream. I was at a bus stop
and it was dark, but faint green light
illuminated one side of the nearest building,
just the edges of the stones, and one side
of my face reflected in the big black store window
as if I were etched there in pale green acid
that glowed dimly as foxfire. I was naked.
You're not supposed to write the word naked
in a poem for some reason I guess because
if the reader stopped and imagined me naked
and threw up, if might slow the forward
motion of the poem that is heading for a collision
with that oncoming bus with its headlights
not really lighting up the dark street
but only floating before the bus like two
bobble-head baubles with three fireflies in each,
only I don't look like me anymore. I'd say skinner, but
I don't look like anything. No, that's not right, either—
I look like an empty glass shell
with nothing inside me but more of this darkness
and maybe the light missing from those bus headlights
shining from my breasts. Oh-oh, I think
I just said another word that is high in the lexicon
of forbidden words. Don't say naked or breast
because someone will think you're writing
an erotic poem and come to the table or to the bed
with a whole set of inappropriate expectations
and be disappointed and maybe even angry.
This is no dream because too many words
Nestle in the pit of its stomach, trapped like moths
spinning under the dimmest of streetlamps,
and, obviously, I am still not flying, even
though the sheer husk of this shell I call "me"
is filled only with night vapors which Milton
describes as lighter than helium
and my bones are more hollow
that the bones of a humming bird and my legs
are whistles of wind and the stars
are caught in my hair.


Mary Stebbins Taitt
091029-2306-1b(2) at The Rolandale Silk Creek Retreat House

One more draft of Raven Spirit Guide

I can only work on it in small bits. Compare to previous.

Digital painting in progress

I started a new digital painting.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Piece in Steve's Mole


I've been wanting to record the stages of my paintings, but I keep forgetting to stop and do it, so here's an unfinished painting I'm working on in Steve's Moleskine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

variations on a theme, fractal

I can't resist playing soemtimes--AK!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

process


The second, or lower picture was the "original" for this smudge painting--it came
from a photograph, but I don't know where the original original is.

See variations below.

Farm by Moonlight

Well, these are two of a number of variations I made on this painting.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fractal Friday Thursday



Playing with fractals from Fractal works. I have no idea why that first one posted fuzzy, very annoying. The original is VERY CLEAR! :-( You can click on it and it will get large and you can see how sharp it is. But you will ahve to scroll around to see the individual shots.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Painting Grandma 090808

Painting Grandma 090808

Bean tendrils curl like memories, twisting from the tip
of my brush onto the canvas before me.   Clipped crookedly
to the easel, small, bent and dark, an old sepia photo
calls memories of my grandmother into this distant studio.
To please and satisfy the whims of her only granddaughter,
she let skin form on the farina they way I liked it, brewed me
strong coffee at an age my parents called "tender" and "too young,"
sweetened it with cream, sugar and chocolate, warmed me
on winter afternoons with hugs and homemade soup, baked
cookies for me with sweet surprises hidden inside.  And her garden
I remember, and her in it. As she bent to pluck peas or pull weeds,
rolls of her flesh and stocking tops showed below the hems
of her slips and skirts.  I loved the neat perfection of that garden
with its black, glittery soil, and its bounty that filled her pots
and pans, her table, and our bellies.

The dark little photo invades my painting.  Brushed in first,
tumbles of white cotton candy ride brown, flat-bottomed barges
across a brown sea of sky.  I borrowed them from the photo,
too resonant in brown to paint in blue.  Tall beans wind
around rows of poles and pile one onto the next over mounds
of cloud, leaves sepia brown on the bottoms and greening
gradually toward the top.  I paint the photo's dark woman
secure between the rows, round as a snowman in this unlikely
season.  She wears a bib apron, pink with red flowers
over a grizzled blue gingham housedress.  I paint her square face
a tea-stained brown, leathery and wrinkled
as shed layers of sycamore bark. 

As the old photo revives my memories, Grandma
becomes the brightest point in the painting. 
Her grey braids wrap thin around her head and she reaches
heavy brown arms to pluck beans from the plants I paint
before her.  The tips of their leave overlap her reproachful face.
I remember the smile that stern face always turned toward me
and I smile in return toward the small scowl I paint on her lips
and forehead.   "Don't," she warms my father, "Point that camera
at me." Through the shining, iridescent lens in my father's hands,
through more than fifty years of silence, my grandmother cannot see
the granddaughter who with a brush traces the sun-edged clouds,
suggests the light in her eyes, and defines her bean-burgeoning
apron, nor see, beyond me, the great granddaughters and great,
great granddaughters who across five generations touch
her still-damp face with their smiles.
 

Mary Stebbins Taitt
For Nicolina Ciaranello

⇑This line and everything below ⇓ this line are not part of this poem, please ignore.
090808-1648-3i(11), 090721-0856-2, 1st 090719 on back of SMM Ms in pen in car
send this to Maria Mazzotti Gillan (or hand deliver?) for Patterson Review
fresh and green, pot, pan to the easel, small, faded and bent at the edges. Forgotten , dreams creep into my painting, a third thing, not the memories trace, or the photo, but an awkward merging. To visage enhanced bending to

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Firestorms (Desire’s Eyeteeth)

Firestorms (Desire's Eyeteeth)

When venom trickles acid from your lip, I peel
away my remaining smiles, grow my eyeteeth
and go to war.  Wolverine-toothed, sniper-eyed,
and foaming with fire, I mean to make you tremble. 
Your voice ricochets through a throat of stone,
slices me, shrill and sharp as leaky mansion windows. 
Wilted in your anger light, I pour my caustic stare
into your face until my eyeballs scorch
and wither.  You refuse to capitulate.
Beneath each of my skins blows a desert
of windblown sparks, a heart of cinder.
Driven perhaps by astonishment or boredom,
you ask if I would come to bed. I taste the tears
brightening your eyes, the salt
and sorrow of them, and turn away.
Already, I've forgotten which shreds
of your words offended and catapulted me
toward rage.  I wish you held in your hands
first the blossomed fantasy of my truth and then
my face.  Otherwise, whom would you touch
tonight?  Should I drain the moat, swing open
the door to some old remembered mermaid wife
or an invading dream-breasted and antlered witch?
Outside, cicadas whine, drone and parch,
but heat never keeps you from your delightful
and deft desire. Yes, I will come to bed.
We may regret these firestorms we ignite,
but they blaze two ways. Yes, take my hand. 
Your touch soothes me, rouses me, is sweeter,
wiser and hungrier than all these filed yellow
teeth and useless tears strung between us
like broken pearls and opals.



Mary Stebbins Taitt
090805-1800-3h(10), 090804-2047-1b(2), 090804-2038-1st

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Daisies IV

Daisies IV, by Mary Stebbins Taitt, another variation on a theme. I
intend to do more if I can.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Daisies in my Moleskine

Daisies, by Mary Stebbins Taitt. Brand new sketch this afternoon with
pens from Andrea. I used all the pens drawn in random order and no
other pens or media. Andrea sugegsted we share what we are doing in
our returned moles.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Everyone We Love IIIa

Everyone We Love IIIa, by me.

Still playing. AK. See Previous Post.

Everyone We Love




Everyone We Love
, by Mary Stebbins Taitt. For Jim Doran. The sad fact is that everyone we love will die--including ourselves. WAHN! ;-(

I've been working on this off and one for a week. The original is 3 x 4 inches. (Moleskine size and smaller). It may be done now, but I'm not sure, probably not quite.

It came from an accident where I inadvertently printed a DAISY on the instructions brochure for the paper which had gotten put into the printer with the paper by mistake. The third image is one where I attempted to put back the original daisies--it is called "Pushing up daisies, but I don't like it; it's too messy looking and hard to distinguish.



































The second image is a scan of the original picture, which was done with markers over the top of daisy on the how-to brochure. If you look closely, you can still see the daisy underneath. You can click on it to see it bigger--remember, the original size was very small. On the third iamge, I attempted to add the daisy back in, and called it "Pushing Up Daisies," but I don't like it because it looks messy and is hard to decipher.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Broken Ear and all its Monsters

The Broken Ear and all its Monsters

Waving a spoon back and forth over a candle,
like the master of an ancient and primitive ritual,
my father heated oil to pour into my brother's ears.
I imagine, but don't remember, a quiet incantation,
his voice soft and low, mumbling strange phrases
and the room darkening dreamlike from its ordinary
brightness. Earaches plagued my brother, who
was maybe eight then, and the warm oil, my father
said, would help. At nine, I did not believe him
and pictured ghastly torture. I watched
my father tip my brother's head, the bent
ear first, and ceremoniously pour a long thin stream
of oil into the offending ear. My brother winced,
my father held him steady, made him wait.
I stared at the bent edge of my brother's ear.
My father, when provoked, would grab
my that ear and twist it hard, hauling my brother
up and close to berate him. My brother
perfected the skill of needling my father—and
everyone else. Later, all three of us provoked him
with a thrashing teenage angst that began early
and lasted well beyond our teens, but my brother
started first. He grew out of it first as well, or managed
to hide it better. Then, he became my father's favorite,
and I the outcast. At nine, I thought my father's
repeated twisting of my brother's ear had broken it.
But perhaps he was born that way, broken,
with the seventh-generation curse from our pirate
ancestors or with some genetic psychic contortion
no nurture could overcome. Broken ears or not, we each
drew on ourselves the fury of first our parents
and then our partners with the flailing, incendiary
monsters we kept caged within.



Mary Stebbins Taitt
090728-1128-3a(3), 090724-1006-2a(2), 1st, Thursday, July 23, 2009, 12:43 PM

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Broken Ear and all its Monsters 0...

The Broken Ear and all its Monsters 090724-1006

Waving a spoon back and forth over a candle,
like the master of an ancient and primitive ritual,
my father heated oil to pour into my brother's ears.
I imagine, but don't remember, a quiet incantation,
his voice soft and low, mumbling strange phrases.
Earaches plagued my brother, who was maybe eight
then,  and the warm oil, my father said, would help.
At nine, I could not fathom how.  I watched
my father tip my brother's head, the bent
ear first, and ceremoniously pour a long thin stream
of oil into the offending ear.  My brother winced,
my father held him steady, made him wait.
I stared at the bent edge my brother's ear.
My father, when provoked, would grab
my brother's ear and twist it hard, and my brother
had perfected the skill of needling him.
Later, all three of us provoked him
with a thrashing teenage angst that began early
and lasted well beyond our teens, but my brother
started first.  He grew out of it first as well, or managed
to hide it better.  Then, he became my father's favorite,
and I the outcast.  At nine, I thought my father's
repeated twisting of my brother's ear had broken it.
But perhaps he was born that way, broken,
with the seventh-generation curse from our pirate
ancestors or with some twist of genetics that no nurture
could overcome.  Broken ears or not, we each
drew on ourselves the fury of first our parents
and then our partners with the flailing, provocative
monsters we kept caged within.


Mary Stebbins Taitt
090724-1006-2a(2), 1st, Thursday, July 23, 2009, 12:43 PM

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Broken Ear and all its monsters

Brand new rough first draft not time to work right now:


The Broken Ear and all its Monsters

In a spoon waved back and forth over a candle,
like an ancient and primitive ritual, my father
heated oil to pour into my brother's ears.
I imagine, but don't remember, a quiet incantation.
My brother, maybe eight, was plagued with earaches
and the warm oil was supposed to help
in some way that I, at nine, could not fathom.
I watched my father tip my brother's head, the bent
ear first, and pour a long thin stream of oil,
my brother wincing and starting slightly.
My father, when provoked, would grab
my brother's ear and twist it.  My brother
excelled at provoking my father , we, all three,
provoked my father, with our thrashing
teenage angst that lasted well beyond
our teens, but my brother started first.
Later, he became my father's favorite,
and I the outcast.  At nine, I thought
it was my father's sudden twisting
that had broke my brother's ear.  But perhaps
he was born that way, with the seventh-
generation curse from our pirate ancestors
or with some twist of genetics that no nurture
could overcome.  Broken ears or not,
we each housed flailing monsters
who drew on us the fury of first our parents
and then our partners.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
1st, Thursday, July 23, 2009, 12:43 PM
.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Breathing Fire in a Vacuum

Breathing Fire in a Vacuum

The glaze that films your eyes like a skim of ice
on an autumn pond worries me.  When I speak,
your ear bends to the sound of a distant motorcycle
or the hum of a twin engine plane, rather than to me
and my words, and your eyes stray to flowers,10
roving insects, dead mice, anything but my face.
Shadow by shadow in the long afternoons,
your attention leaves me.  And who would not
be bored with prattle about insomnia
and fibromyalgia unless they, too, housed
an invisible fire-breathing dragon?  Remember Florence
going on about her heart?  If anyone had listened,
could we have saved her?  Can we still save us?
I think so.  Pain stretches the distance between us,
but sometimes we still reel it in with a touch.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
For BB
090721-1414-1st4702

Painting Grandma

Painting Grandma

Like curls of bean tendrils, memories twist green
from the old, sepia-dark photo.  It hangs crooked, clipped
to the easel, small, faded and bent at the edges. Forgotten
dreams creep into my painting, a third thing, not the memories
or the photo, but an awkward merging.  Brushed in first,
flat-bottomed brown clouds sail through a sea of brown sky,
bearing tumbles of white cotton candy.  I borrowed them
from the photo, too poignant in brown to paint in blue. 
Tall pole beans wind around rows of poles and pile
one onto the next over mounds of cloud, sepia brown
on the bottoms and gradually greening toward the top. 
I paint a woman between the rows, roundish, wearing an apron
pink  with red flowers over a faded blue housedress.
I paint her square face tea-stained brown, leathery and wrinkled
as a shed layer of sycamore bark.  The old photo invades
my dimming memories, but she is still the brightest
point in the painting.  Her thin grey-black braids wind 
around her head and she reaches with heavy arms to pluck beans
from the plants I paint before her.  The tips of their leave overlap
her reproachful face. I remember the smile that stern face
always turned toward me and I smile toward the dark visage.
"Don't," she warms my father, "Point that camera at me."
Through the shining and iridescent lens in my father's hands,
she cannot see the granddaughter who holds the brush
that traces the sun edged clouds, shape of her face,
the bean-burgeoning apron nor see, beyond me,
the great granddaughters and great, great granddaughters
who touch her still-damp face across five generations.
 

Mary Stebbins Taitt
For Nicolina Ciaranello
090721-0856-2, 1st 090719 on back of SMM Ms in pen in car

Monday, July 20, 2009

Memories and Repcruussions 2

Memories and Repercussions

All my faces I burned at the your door, stepped
over your threshold blank as the first piece of paper
slid from a newly opened ream.  I fanned the ashes
of self into your dogwoods and lilacs, but they filtered
in through the poisoned earth to remind me who I was
before I met you. Those shadows, though immolated
in flames, still dance in dreams.  Every day a new face, old
as its tortured scars, blossoms from the blank visage
I donned for our wedding.  One by one, I claw
them off and they scuttle like rats under our bed
to screech and whine for my attention.  They interrupt
the soft touch of your hand on the curve of my hip
during the long wakeful hours as I listen, helplessly,
to their squabbling and pronouncements. So many
of them pile around our rooms, like wadded
and rejected drafts, that I can no longer find the unblemished
self I tried to give you. For your protection. And mine.
Nor can we find each other now among the heaps of drooling
faces, the raging masks that bury and drown us both.


Mary Stebbins Taitt
For K
090720-1254-2, 090720 1st

Memories and their Repercussions hf

I've been working on a new novel, a children's novel and sequel to Frog Haven. I am hoping to send Frog Haven out soon (again). But I wrote a new poem last night (on paper, not transcribed yet) and another new one this morning (below) (Oops I've revised it, see new version above):

Memories and their Repercussions


All my faces I burned at the door to your house, stepped
over the threshold blank as the first piece of paper
slid from a newly opened ream. I fanned the ashes
of self into the dogwoods and lilacs, but they filtered in
through the poisoned earth to remind me who I was
before I met you. Every day a new face, old
as its tortured scars, blossomed out of the blank visage
I'd tried to don for our wedding. One by one, I clawed
them off and they scuttled like rats under our bed
to screech and battle for my attention. They interrupt
the soft touch of your hand on the curve of my hip
during the long wakeful hours as I listen, helplessly,
to their squabbling and pronouncements. Now,
so many of them pile around our rooms, like wadded
and rejected drafts, that I can no longer find the unblemished
self I tried to give you for your protection. And mine.
Nor can we find each other among the heaps of drooling
faces, the raging masks that bury and drown us both.


Mary Stebbins Taitt
For K
090720 1st

Friday, July 10, 2009

process

Mole to "art"--and I think I'm not done yet.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Daisy Rain

Daisy Rain, by Mary Stebbins Taitt. A sandwich of two pictures taken
on my recent trip to Whitehall. Sandwiched in Picasa.

through a window darkly lightly

Through the window of a rest stop in Michigan on the way home from the
trials of car failure. I'm hoping to make one or more art pieces from
this.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Poetry Primer Passage 090527-1200-1d(4)

Poetry Primer Passage
 

The poem looks ordinary enough, at first, dark-haired,
green-eyed and with a winning, cheerful smile.  Her gingham dress,
a classical shirtwaist with red, heart-shaped pockets edged with lace,
flatters her slender young figure.  She pushes her glasses
down on her nose and peers over them at you, holding a primer.

The poem speaks your name, once, quietly, as if taking
attendance, though no one attends her but you.  Her lilting
voice's dulcet tones grate with an odd harshness
that sends flickers of chill up your spine and cause the hair
on the back of your neck to stand up.  You taste acid bile

and as you bend toward her pretty words, you notice
she smells of ginger and wake-robins, those dark red trilliums
that grace the spring forest, sweet on sunny days
and smelling of rotten meat during cool cloudy periods.
A stench of putrid-flesh words weave subtly among her heady

freshness and when you glance behind you, looking for the path
that brought you to her, a hooded cape flutters in your peripheral vision,
a pale skull with dark eye sockets winks in and out of sight,
and bony word-fingers reach toward your face.  When you turn
back, the poem smiles again, sweetly and blushes slightly.

The primer's title touches the curve of the poem's breast;
the title faces away from you, but somehow you know
what it says.  Everything has led you to this:  A Poet's Primer
of Death.  Kindly and with soft eyes, the poem smiles
at you.  You want to turn away; you want to run,

but not many words remain, and you feel compelled
to read on.  The poem sweeps her arm toward you, indicates
a seat in her classroom.  When she leans over you, her touch
simultaneously burns and freezes.  Still, somehow, her fingers
on your shoulder calm and reassure you.  As she opens

the pages of her book on the desk before you, a door
swings open, a door of words, light and darkness.
The poem offers you her hand, and together,
surrounded by these words, you walk through,
leaving your crumpled body behind on the other side.      

Mary Stebbins Taitt, 090527-1200-1d(4), 090527-0918-1st

Poetry Primer Passage

Poetry Primer Passage

 

 

The poem looks ordinary enough, at first, dark-haired,

green-eyed, cheerful smile.  Her gingham dress,

a classical shirtwaist with red, heart-shaped pockets,

flatters her slender young figure.  She pushes her glasses

down on her nose and peers over them at you, holding a primer.

 

But when you glance away, behind you, toward where

you came from, a hooded cape flutters in your peripheral vision,

a pale skull with dark eye sockets winks in and out of sight,

and bony word-fingers reach toward your face.  When you turn

back, the poem smiles again.  Sweetly.  Blushing slightly.

 

The primer title touches the curve of the poem's breast,

the title faces away from you, but somehow you know

what it says.  Everything has led you to this:  A Poet's Primer

of Death.  Kindly and with quiet compassion, the poem smiles

at you.  You want to turn away; you want to run,

 

but not many words remain, and you feel compelled

to read on.  The poem sweeps her arm toward you, indicates

a seat in her classroom.  When she leans over you and opens

the pages of her book on the desk before you, it is a door

that opens, or door of words, light and darkness.

 

The poem offers you her hand, and together,

surrounded by these words, you walk through,

leaving your crumpled body behind on the other side.       

 

 

Mary Stebbins Taitt

090527-0938-1b(2), 090527-0918-1st

 

What kind of perfume is she wearing?  What do you smell or taste when the door opens?  What does her skin feel like when she touches you?

 


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vertigo Fear Shadows

Vertigo Fear Shadows

At the edge of a shadow cast by the neighbor's oak,
sun shines on my face, a breeze rustles my hair
and the shadow of the oak shifts and wriggles, restless
and hungry, withdrawing and then approaching
my bare toes, over and over while the whole dancing
shadow with it's patches of sun slides slowly closer.
Shadows of leaves, shadows of branches, shadows
of baby acorns nestled among the leaves.  Shadows
of robins passing each other with worms and insects,
shadows of their babies opening wide their mouths.
Such a chorus of pleading.  Wingbeats, then stillness.
A touch of cold startles me.  I look down to see darkness
on my hands, isolated and with no visible source
from the tree.  The deep, cloudless sky throws no shadows,
but the shadow on my wrist expands toward my heart.
Compelled to drink from that well of night, I bend toward
my hands.  A black wave engulfs me.  The earth tilts, the sky
spins and the tree lurches.  I smell bruised grass, damp soil.
Feel tiny pebbles mashed into my cheek.  Taste salt and iron.
Sweating and cold, I watch the jonquils and tulips leap jaggedly
in the garden.  Jump and twist spasmodically.  On my knees,
my body curls in Bala-asana, the child pose, and I close
my eyes to still the jumping.  The darkness
behind my eyes turns and jerks raggedly.  I breathe
slowly.  Feel a passing chill, another shadow.
I open my eyes to see a vulture circling, its shadow
passing over me again and again.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
090512-1319-1b, 090512-1229-1st

NOTE:  This did NOT happen as written, but is a combination of the earlier experience of vertigo with the later experience of the shifting shadows and the mysterious one on my hand.

Freewrite for Poetry 090512

Freewrite for Poetry 090512

I have just had an hour-long episode of vertigo that has left me feeling nauseous, dizzy and worried.  I made a note of it for my doctor, who I happen to be going to on Friday, Muna Beeai.  She's my GP.  My neurologist thinks it could be silent migraines.  I am afraid to do my normal morning exercises, because I am feeling dizzy and I am worried the vertigo will start up again--it came in two batches this morning, first lasting only 2-3 minutes, and then when I thought it was over, I moved and it started up again.  So now, of course, Ia m afraid to move.

Oh-oh, appears my fears were well-founded--I just moved and it DID start up again, with a vengeance.  8:40 start.  Room spinning bad.  I keeled over to the left.  Hit my head, not hard.  Curled in a ball on the floor waiting for it to subside.  Burst into a terrible sweat.  Managed to crawl--literally--over to the computer and get into my chair.  It seems to be subsiding again. 8:50 on Leo's clock, seems to have mostly stopped--ten more minutes of vertigo--but I think it is still with me and will return if I move.

OK, so let me start this freewrite again.  I'm feeling dizzy, nauseous, worried, frightened.  The room is spinning--OK--not spinning, holding relatively still now.  But I'm afraid it will spin again.  There is an odd dull feeling on my left side.  That is, the left side of my head--I think it is starting to hurt.  I had a lot to do today, and I am bummed about that as well, but also worried about what causes these spells of vertigo.  Dr. Moudgil says it could be migraines, but it was also suggested that it might be a smalls stroke or a seizure.  It's very scary, especially when I fall suddenly.  That fall was very reminiscent of the time in Hamilton, Ontario where I suddenly lurches to the left and bumped into the wall of the hall.  Nothing more happened then, but I did the same thing just now--lurched suddenly to the left.

The sun is shining brightly and I would like to go outside.  I need to feed the squirrel, rocky, the wild birds and clean Rocky's cage and Eager's cage and make breakfast and shower and dress and get going on my tasks for the day.  BUT I am afraid to move.

I can think of nothing unusual that I ate yesterday, only things I've been eating fairly regularly:  steel cut oats, brain, rice milk, pork, calamari, shrimp, scallops, mushrooms, broccoli, yellow squash.  I feel pretty sick.  I can't do this, I have to go lie down.

10:00 I've had two more incidents of vertigo and still feel sick.  9:11-9:14, 9:40-9:55 accompanied by sweating and nausea.  Fairly bad vertigo and nausea--probably not four incidents, but one long one, not over yet.  It's been THREE HOURS NOW--I feel like it's wasting my whole day on the one hand and on the other hand, am quite scared.  Worried about what it is and means.  I got up out of bed because I have to pee and get a drink.  I also need to feed the squirrel, but that involves bending over, which tends to exacerbate the problem.

More than 3 hours of vertigo, during which time I was unable to accomplish anything and spent most of the time in bed.  Finally got up, made breakfast, sat out in the yard next to the shadow of the silver maple in the neighbor's yard--that is, I was in our yard, but the maples is on theirs.  I had a weird experience where a shadow appeared on my hand that did not seem to come from the tree.

Vertigo Shadows

At the edge of a shadow cast by the neighbor's oak,
sun shines on my face, a breeze rustles my hair
and the shadow of the oak shifts and wriggles, restless
and hungry, withdrawing and then approaching
my bare toes, over and over while the whole dancing
shadow with it's patches of sun slides slowly closer.
Shadows of leaves, shadows of branches, shadows
of baby acorns nestled among the leaves.  Shadows
of robins passing each other with worms and insects,
shadows of their babies opening wide their mouths.
A touch of cold startles me.  I look down to see darkness
on my hands, isolated and with no visible source
from the tree.  The deep, cloudless sky throws no shadows,
but the shadow on my wrist expands toward my heart.
Compelled to drink from that well of night. I bend toward
my hands.  A black wave engulfs me.  The earth tilts, the sky
spins and the tree lurches.  I smell bruised grass, damp soil.
Feel tiny pebbles mashed into my cheek.  Sweating
and cold, I watch the jonquils and tulips leap jaggedly
in the garden.  Jump and twist spasmodically.  On my knees,
my body curls in Bala-asana, the child pose, and I close
my eyes to still the jumping.  The darkness
behind my eyes turns and jerks raggedly.  I breathe
slowly.  Feel a passing chill, another shadow.
I open my eyes to see a vulture circling, its shadow
passing over me again and again.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
090512-1229-1st

NOTE:  This did NOT happen as written, but is a combination of the earlier experience of vertigo with the later experience of the shifting shadows and the mysterious one on my hand.


Saturday, May 09, 2009

Private (and not-so-private) Poems

Private (and not-so-private) Poems

 

Through the honeyed air, bees lurch and stagger, drunk

on the nectar of poems.  Profusions of wild poems litter

the forest floor like candy spilled from a hundred piñatas.

We could gather them by the armful and swallow

their luscious purples, rich yellows, delicately flavored

whites and beiges.  Arranged by an unseen poet,

the poems' bright curving phrases delight the eye. 

And their smell, ah, the fragrance of these poems, sweet

and heady, almost as intoxicating as the poppies of Oz.

We could bask in that odor.  We could sleep in it,

day and night.  But remember, among these feral poems

grow dentate ones with terrible tearing teeth.  Those lacy poems

emit the odor of garlic and the poems that resemble tulips

reek of onion.  The monk poems with their mottled brown hoods

stink of skunk. And these poems, white under green umbrellas? 

Poisonous! Look, but don't devour. This poem is very private.

See how it wraps a cape around itself?  Open it carefully,

word by word, and peek inside.  The poet secretly striped the interior

with purple and green, gay as the awning on a carrousel. 

If you listen carefully, you may hear music pouring from its throat,

the sound of an organ grinder, there, at the center, with his monkey.

They want no coins.  They ask for nothing

but sunshine, fertile soil and bees, though surely,

they must also love our visits. They must want to share

the compositions, the beauty worked at so hard, or so gently. 

Some rare and endangered poems hide so deeply in the dense forest

we must search and struggle to find them, with their unusual

and striking sequences of velvety words.  But notice the rays

of this common poem.  Many say it is full of clichés

and needs to be weeded out, but see how it resembles the sun.

Glorious, I say, though it dusts my nose with yellow words

and makes me sneeze. Along this trail that wends

through spring trees soft with tiny new leaves, poems

rise and whisper to us.  To us and anyone who cares to listen

or read their colors on this green and vernal page.

Dear explorer, dear wanderer, if I give you this poem,

would you pluck its long white five-fold petals one by one,

loves me, loves me not?  Half-hidden in the golden center

of the poem, woven in double spirals of pattern and meaning

you'll find the answer:  always poetry, always yes,

always love.

 

 

Mary Stebbins Taitt


This line ^ and anything below the line is not part of the poem

090509-1737-3g, 090508-1537-2c, 090504-1b, 090503-1st

Note on draft notation:  ★090509 etc is the date: year, month, day

★1537 etc is the time, 24 hour style, so at 3:37 PM I completed that draft
★3g etc is the draft number, the # being the nth day and the letter being the nth draft on that particular day, so 3g would be the 7th draft on the 3rd day of working on the poem
In this case, at 3g, there have been a total of 12 drafts over 3 days time.

Today, I worked on a poem

Today, I worked on a poem

struggled with recalcitrant words and stumbling phrases
for hours.  While I wrote, I did not weed the garden
vacuum the house or wash the dishes.  I did not start
the tomatoes or re-pot the African violets.  I stared
at blank white pages, scribbled and re-scribbled
the same words over and over, rearranging them,
just a little, a tweak here, a phrase there, a word added,
another subtracted.  As I worked, I worried
about how to make the poem sing and how to get the chores
done and would anyone care.  Why tackle poetry? 
Sometimes, you can't pay someone to hear or read a poem. 
If they listen, grudgingly, do they understand?  Who has time
for poetry in the face television and internet?
Could poetry matter while jobs disappear and a war rages
in Iraq.  I feel guilty.  I worry I should do something
important.  But wait, this poem would be so much better
if I just deleted that darned cliche. 


Mary Stebbins Taitt
090508-1319-1b, 090508-1300-1st

Later, when I abandoned the poem to weed the garden,
prepare dinner, wash dishes, the poem called, making distress cries
like a baby bird or squirrel, help me, I need to grow.

Private (and not-so-private) Poems

Private (and not-so-private) Poems

 

Through the honeyed air, bees lurch and stagger, drunk

on the nectar of poems.  Plethoras of wild poems litter

the forest floor like candy spilled from a piñata.

We could gather them by the armful and swallow

their luscious purples, rich yellows, delicately flavored

whites and beiges.  As if arranged by an unseen poet,

the poems' bright curving phrases delight the eye. 

And their smell, ah, the fragrance of these poems, sweet

and heady, almost as intoxicating as the poppies of Oz.

We could bask in that odor.  We could sleep in it,

day and night.  But remember, among these feral poems

grow dentate ones with terrible tearing teeth.  Those lacy ones

emit the odor of garlic and the poems that resemble tulips

reek of onion.  The monk poems with their mottled brown hoods

stink of skunk. And these poems, white under green umbrellas? 

Poisonous! Look, but don't devour. This poem is very private.

See how it too holds a hood around itself?  Open it carefully, word

by word, and peek inside.  The poet secretly striped it inside,

gaily, with purple and green, like the awning on a carrousel. 

If you listen carefully, you may hear music pouring from its throat,

the sound of an organ grinder, in the center, with his monkey.

They want no coins.  They ask for nothing

but sunshine, fertile soil and bee visits, though surely,

they must also love our visits. They must want to share

the arrangements, the beauty they work so hard at, or so gently. 

Some rare and endangered poems hide so deep in the forest

we must search and struggle to find them, with their unusual

and striking arrangements of velvety words.  But notice the rays

of this common poem.  Many say it is full of clichés

and needs to be weeded out, but see how it resembles the sun.

Glorious, I say, though it dusts my nose with yellow words

and makes me sneeze. Along this trail that wends

through the spring trees soft with tiny new leaves, poems

rise and whisper to us.  To us and anyone who cares to listen

or read their colors on this green and vernal page.

Dear explorer, dear wanderer, if I give you this poem,

would you pluck off its white word-petals one by one,

she loves me, she loves me not?  You'll find, half-hidden

in the golden center of the poem, double spirals

of pattern and meaning.

 

 

Mary Stebbins Taitt

090509-1044-3a, 090508-1537-2c, 090504-1b, 090503-1st


Friday, May 08, 2009

Today, I worked on a poem

Today, I worked on a poem

struggled with recalcitrant words and stumbling phrases
for hours.  While I was writing, I did not weed the garden
vacuum the house or wash the dishes.  I did not start
the tomatoes or re-pot the African violets.  I stared at blank white
and scribbled and re-scribbled the same words over and over,
rearranging them, just a little, a tweak there, a word added,
another subtracted.  As I worked, I worried
about how to make the poem sing and how to get the chores
done and would anyone even care.  Why was I doing it,
anyway?  You can't pay someone to hear or read a poem. 
If they listen, grudgingly, do they understand?  Who has time
for poetry when there is television and internet?
Jobs being lost and a war in Iraq.  I feel guilty. 
I'm afraid I am wasting time.  But wait,
this would be so much better if I just deleted
that darned cliche. 


Mary Stebbins Taitt
090508-1319-1b, 090508-1300-1st

Today, I worked on a poem

Today, I worked on a poem

struggled with recalcitrant words and stumbling phrases
for hours.  While I was writing, I did not weed the garden
vacuum the house or wash the dishes.  I stared at blank white
and scribbled and re-scribbled the same words over and over,
rearranging them, just a little, a tweak there, a word added,
another subtracted.  All the time, I worried
about how to make the poem sing and how to get the chores
done and would anyone even care.  Why was I doing it,
anyway?  You can't pay someone to hear or read a poem. 
If they listen, grudgingly, do they understand?  Who has time
for poetry when there is television and internet?
I feel guilty.  I'm afraid I am wasting time.  But wait,
this would be so much better if I just deleted
that darned cliche. 


Mary Stebbins Taitt

Monday, May 04, 2009

Friends

Friends

OK, watch this; see if I don't win. I detest work

but I need a milkshake. Ready? Here goes:


I saunter in the kitchen door.

“I love you, little Sweetness and Light,” my mother says.

“Whatever,” I answer, and keep on walking.


Hear the grump in my voice? She deserves it.

First, I’m not little. I’m a teenager, and I tower

over her. OK, only by an inch or two,

but she’s no dwarf.

Anyway, I’m not little, I’m not sweet,

and I generate no light, except

perhaps toward any witches who see auras.

Mom might; she’s that weird.

I stroll toward the stairs a few steps, then turn back

and give her a hug.

"OK, what do you want?” She asks.

“Friendship,” I say.


She guesses right, of course.

I hug her mostly only when I want something.

The rest of the time, she vanishes into the background

or disappears off my radar entirely.

She knows it, too.

I do want something. I want a LOT. I want money.

I want to stay up all night and sleep all day.

I want to eat candy, drink soda, play video games

and watch TV. Hang out with my friends.

I want no school, homework, baths, clean clothes.

I want to refuse to practice the piano, clean my room

clean the bird cage and bury the compost.

Fat chance; but if I play my cards right . . .


I hug her again, stroke her hair. “Friend,” I say.

“Milkshake,” I say. “Real friends

make their friends milkshakes.

You’re my friend, right Mom?”

“Oh,” she says, “you want to make me a milkshake,

how sweet. You charm me with your generosity.”

“Awwwwww . . .” I release a big sigh

and roll my best sad puppy eyes at her,

but already, she hauls out the milk

ice-cream and sugar.

“Chocolate,” I yell, as I dash upstairs.


Don’t tell Mom, but I often create a perfect milkshake.

I just hate to wash the blender.

Now I can leap into Runescape and see if Simon

or George killed any monsters yet.

And she can wash the blender.

Mary Stebbins Taitt

090504-1157-2e, 090503-2149-1c, 090503-1911-1st of this version (earlier draft/version was a short prose poem)

earlier draft below:

Friends

OK, watch this; see if I don't win. I need a milkshake

but detest work. I saunter in the kitchen door.

"I love you, little Sweetness and Light," my mother says.

"Whatever," I answer, and keep on walking.

I hear the grump in my voice, but she deserves it.

First, I'm not little. I'm a teenager, and I tower

over her. OK, only by an inch or two,

but she's no dwarf.

Anyway, I'm not little, I'm not sweet,

and I generate no light, except

perhaps toward any witches who see auras.

Mom might; she's that weird.

I stroll toward the stairs a few steps, then turn back

and give her a hug.

"OK, what do you want?" She asks.

"Friendship," I say. She guesses right, of course.

I hug her mostly only when I want something.

The rest of the time, she vanishes into the background

or disappears off my radar entirely.

She knows it, too.

I do want something. I want a LOT. I want money.

I want to stay up all night and sleep all day.

I want to eat candy, drink soda, play video games

and watch TV. Hang out with my friends.

I want no school, homework, baths, clean clothes.

I want to refuse to practice the piano, clean my room

clean the bird cage and bury the compost.

Fat chance; but if I play my cards right . . .


I hug her again, stroke her hair. "Friend," I say.

"Milkshake," I say. "Real friends

make their friends milkshakes.

You're my friend, right Mom?"

"Oh," she says, "you want to make me a milkshake,

how sweet. You charm me with your generosity."

"Awwwwww . . ." I release a big sigh

and roll my best sad puppy eyes at her,

but already, she hauls out the milk

ice-cream and sugar.

"Chocolate," I yell, as I dash upstairs.

Don't tell Mom, but I create a perfect milkshake.

I just hate to wash the blender.

Now I can leap into Runescape and see if Simon

or George killed any monsters yet.

And Mom can wash the blender.

Mary Stebbins Taitt

090504-0340-2c, 090503-2149-1c, 090503-1911-1st of this version (earlier draft/version was a shorter prose poem)

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Trick of Light

A Trick of Light

When her compass of shadows points only to darkness,
a rumble slashes behind her, a torn crack of sound.
Imagine the girl, hair brushing her waist, gown hitched up
and clinging damply to her skin as she wades through
the tall wildflowers that brush her bare legs with dew.
She turns in the meadow, resplendent with reds from the low sun,
curious and afraid. She holds the purple asters and goldenrods
close to her chest, flowers that evermore will signify the end
of summer, half the end, in a way, of everything,
but she doesn't know that yet. Not quite yet. She sees the horses
first, black, green-eyed, drooling spittle, dancing in their harnesses.
They paw at the air and rock; sparks fly from their hooves.
She sees the driver next, dark, handsome, old. Then young,
a sort of trick of the light. He is already in front of her
before she thinks to bolt. He seizes her, scoops her with an arm
around her waist, just as she begins to scream. Her head falls back,
flung on her thin neck by the upward rush as the chariot spins
and turns downward again. Dangling like this, she sees
one last glimpse of the darkening meadow, the flowers
a sea of colors, the stars whirl, the moon sets precipitously
at the edge of the chasm. The Underland seethes with the dead.
Their eyes and skin glow greenish, like foxfire or fireflies,
giving the vast caverns an eerie light. Creepy. In the throne room,
Hades makes diamonds for her by crushing coal in his bare hands,
a nifty trick, but Persephone will not stop crying. When he touches her,
the flowers blacken in her hands. She calls and calls for her mother.
He offers rubies, emeralds, pork chops, polenta, chocolate. Of course,
the pomegranate stops the tears. Her mother had fed them to her
as a child, one seed at a time, but when Hades feeds her his seed,
all trace of sweetness disappears from her tongue.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
090420-1141-2a; 090419-2016 1st completed 1st draft

confined

Confined

Fawn lilies, pale in the shadows of trees, open their throats

and call the bees. Bees, drunk with sleep and winter,

stagger from the hive. The hive hums with its own morning.

Spring caresses the forest lightly. If you hurry, you will see nothing

but the dark still-sleeping trunks of trees. But stop. Place your ear

to the trunk and listen. Sap thrums in its veins, singing

to the buds who hum softly as they gather their new leaves

to unfurl. And in a spot of branch-filtered sun, the first

mourning cloak butterfly fans slow wings among the fallen leaves.

You might mistake it for one of them if you didn't pause and look.

But I cannot look. Confined indoors, I miss the birthday

of the forest: the doe, licking her newborn, pressing

with her nose to balance it as it wobbles toward

its first breakfast. Picture me longing, aching; see me imagining

instead of watching, as, stepping among the white lilies

that bear its name, in a moment never to be repeated,

the newborn fawn takes its fleeting first steps.

Mary Stebbins Taitt

for Keith

090419-1153-1c; 090418-1916-1st completed draft

The fawn in the composit is by Berrybird. The word layout is by Wordle (from my poem). I took the trees and the fawn lily and made the composit. For Creative Every Day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Making it on my Own (Word Trails)

Making it on my Own (Word Trails)

Writing as I walk, I follow word trails through a forest of thought,
each word linked mutably to a host of images and memories.
An Icabod Crane tree hangs over the path: twisted. The word twisted
links to broken, broken to shattered, shattered to glass
and to my heart, that old saw, that cliché that still feels so rich and real
to me, so true, in spite of centuries of overuse. It's difficult
to be a poet when you love clichés. My glass heart shatters from anger,
from a hand or fist or knife, smashed against a face, face links to fly,
fly escape bird wing fast fancy fallow Farrow Darcy.
I liked that name, Darcy. But I could not name
a daughter Darcy because of Darcy Farrow, though any name
must link to some tragedy or other. A good name ruined.
Alicia was another. I'd chosen it as a possibility until Robert Garrow
raped and killed Alicia Houk and abandoned her body along the trail,
the trail I walked to school each day. A beautiful girl left all winter
under the snow, no a trail of words, but a trail of horror. Strange
what we remember and what we forget. A trail of memories.
Reading old letters, I discover that I wrote my parents daily, twice
daily, often, after I left home. Such an outpouring of confusion,
a plethora of words, forbidden words, like fire hunger beg drugs,
like robbed, beaten, kicked, evicted, like plethora, a word my teacher
says not to use in poetry. Much of what I wrote my parents
I forgot, but occasionally, a favorite story surfaces, suddenly revisited,
shiny in the moment of it's recording, fresh with excitement
and pain or matter-of-factly written as commonplace,
two of us cramming into the turnstile together because we only
had one subway token between us. The half-rotted fruit
we pulled from the dumpster behind the grocers, devoured, grateful
for any sustenance. Sitting on the fire escape to get even the slightest
hint of breeze. "Don't send money," I wrote repeatedly
to my parents, "if I can't make it on my own, I'll come home."
Unlike Darcy Farrow, unlike Alicia Houk, I made it home eventually.
Boyfriend lover husband anger fist hit bleed abuse. Finally, escape.
Twisted, broken, shattered, home. I made it home,
if that breathing but mangled girl ringing my parents' doorbell
was still me.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
090417-2124-1c; 090417-1641-1st (complete) draft


word image from Wordle.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

White Duck in a Green Pool

For National Poetry Month and for Creative Every Day

White Duck in a Green Pool

The Clinton River makes an acute turn, chews
up the banks and topples trees whose roots hang fibrous
and ungrounded into the green water. Mallards, quacking
and grunting, slide along the current like pucks
in an air hockey game, smooth on the wrinkled green surface,
interrupting the reflection of willows and phragmites
with their shiny blue and green heads. When the river cuts
back far enough, it will rejoin itself, abandoning
this U-shaped oxbow to stagnate like an old appendix.
Already, the trail caves into the river and disappears,
almost impassable between the plunge to water
and the thicket of brambles. Already,
old oxbows ring islands of trashy willows and weeds
where Canada geese nest, the males hissing,
trailing intruders, attacking with wing blows,
with the heavy thump of breastbone against neck and shoulder.
No one in this dismal place is jubilant, but the white ducks,
resting on the sandbar opposite the bend of the river preen
their spotless feathers with bright orange smiles.


Mary Stebbins Taitt
090416-1025-2a, 090413-1730-1b

I've been posting most of my poetry that I have time to post, including the drafts, to The Smell of Sun because I've been too busy to do what I usually do, which is to post the early drafts here and the later ones there.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Acting "As If"

Acting "As If"

"Sometimes," the woman says to her husband as she butchers a chicken for supper, "when I think about who I am, I hate myself and want to commit suicide."  She has set the butcher knife down to wrest the skin from a leg and thigh.  He picks up the knife, holds it handle toward her.  "Here, let me assist you."  He smiles slightly, but his eyes look serious.  A knife is too much pain, she thinks, afraid, and then for half a moment, considers stabbing him rather than herself.  Instead, she continues cutting up the chicken.  She says nothing, but inside, a pack of devils dance in her heart, laughing gleefully and poking sharply with their pitchforks.  The dinner is delicious but nearly wordless.  The man listens to his music, reads the CD covers.  Says something she misses but doesn't ask to have repeated.  The woman takes potshots at the devils in her heart.  But there are so many of them.  I will act "as if" I love him, until I do again, she tells the demons, but they only laugh.  She lies awake all night, her husband's words running through her mind in an endless loop, the fiends jabbing and jabbing.  In the morning, she gets up, fetches his paper and slippers, makes his coffee, his eggs, bacon and toast, places three dark chocolate kisses on his napkin and puts some Bach on the stereo, his favorite music.  She answers quietly when spoken to, but volunteers no words of her own.  After he leaves for work, she builds a recumbent snowman in the trees, carves her husband's features onto the head, and squatting alone in the spruces, pisses on his face and watches it melt into a yellow puddle.


Mary Stebbins Taitt
090311-1323-1c; 090311-1139-1st

Monday, March 09, 2009

Willow Waiting (tonight's workshop poem)

Here's my "Model Poem" from tonight workshop.

Willow Waiting

Slumped under the weight of snow-dense clouds, lacy,
fingered and blurring wetly into the roofs and fading ridges,
a clump of scrubby bushes clings to the outer penitentiary wall,
stunned, scrawny and rusty but glazed with white.
Even the few brown leaves twist and fill with snow.

One slender stem uproots and shuffles
among the others, blunders, furtive,
a dark shape growing paler, struggling
against the deep and bending branches. The shrubs huddle,
shrink into drifts that rise to swallow them.

Snow buries the periwinkle, the picris, the dock,
Reaches up the willow stems, biting, hungry, cold.
Tomorrow, the bushes might disappear entirely,
but for the rootless one, moving, pausing, stamping,
separate. The shrubs hunker into the snow and sleep.

The girl twists her scarf tighter around her neck,
feels the snow melt icy into her too-short boots,
listens in the fluffy silence for her father.
He raises his window an inch and sings
to her though the bars.


Mary Stebbins Taitt
090309-2241-1f, 090309, 1st
from a workshop piece in Dawn McDuffie's class.

I need to do a new image for it.

Of course, I completely made it my own.

It seems that everything I write wants to turn into a NOVEL!


This poem is called a "model poem" because the first draft was modeled after another poem. However, I changed it substantially.

The Casks

The Casks

The woman watches Jesus play with the sun. He tosses it into the air and catches it, throws it behind his back, bounces it like a rubber ball on the yellow pathway through the lawns and parks of Heaven. Through his body she sees trees, bushes and an odd black sky with unfamiliar stars. Jesus shines translucent white, bright, but not too bright. He bounces the sun, lifts his leg so that it bounces under to the other side. It passes through the light fabric of his robe unencumbered. He catches it, places it back in the sky above the earth, and turns to smile at her. He offers her his hand and she takes it. It is warm and feels like ordinary flesh, like her husband's hand. Like love. They descend a long series of stairs into the darkness. She thinks Hell, and when he opens the small oaken door and ducks inside, the scene there does not dissuade her from that
fear. Dwarfs, elves, and monsters. Wormy things sitting on benches and stools. The room glows red in spite of darkness; a huge fire burns in the fireplace. Gargantuan oaken casks rise behind the bar from floor to ceiling. Everyone talks, laughs, drinks. At the bar, Jesus orders them each a drink. His glows yellow and she watches it enter his body, which brightens and shifts to a yellower hue. She tips and rolls her glass, sniffing. It smells of chocolate, coffee, and raspberries, tastes like roses. It makes her terribly sleepy, and she awakens, of course, in bed. Her husband snores loudly. She wants to rouse him and tell him her dream, but knows he will dismiss it. 'Just another dream about death,' he would probably say. She might elbow him sharply for that unspoken comment if it weren't for that glowing hand on her shoulder. Instead, she accepts another drink and goes off to explore the future.

Mary Taitt
090309-1012-3a, 090308-2236-2a, 090307-2110-1c, 090307-1122 first

This is a new PROSE POEM from two back-to back dreams. (See dreams here).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Perfect Love

A Perfect Love

In the graveyard at night, the woman collects fabric rose petals scattered in the snow, red ones, gold ones and black ones. They whisper across the dark drifts like the remains of autumn leaves. She chases them through ever-deepening snow, fills her pockets with them. She takes some of each, but since her pockets won't hold them all, she favors the red and gold ones over the black. She carries them in her pockets for years, taking them out only to launder the pockets. When she does, they escape, and roam around the house, multiplying. Her husband kidnaps them, trying to rid the marriage of the curse of the fabric rose petals. Only he notices that the gold petals are turning red, the red petals are turning black and the black ones are getting blacker and blacker. Velvety with soot. The woman rescues them. She now sees only gold petals, shining, delicate and light as a ray of sunshine. "Love me; love my rose petals," she intones to her insensitive husband. Since he despises the black rose petals, he immediately files for divorce. The woman fills her bed with translucent golden rose petals. They caress her skin. That night, while dreaming of a perfect love, she drowns in petals clinging to her face. When the man returns for his belongings, he finds her dead in drifts of black rose petals, a look of quiet satisfaction still lingering on her face.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
090224-1249-1d; 090224-1237-1st

This is a brand new poem I just wrote today and then I made the sketch as an illo for it, it's in Peggy F's sketchbook. I may, if I have time, make a "broadside" of the poem and a painting of it. This is a prose poem and does not have line-breaks.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Surrounded by Sky 090223-1440

Surrounded by Sky

A woman imagines she has cholera and worries she will be eaten by a shark. She fears she will slip under the fence and be swept over the falls at Niagara. When she eats, her belly explodes and kills her and when she flies, she dies in a plane crash. Every snowy car ride turns into an automobile accident and every Ferris wheel collapses when she reaches the top. She collects clippings of people killed by wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, escaped lions, burst appendixes, rabid rats, ice falling off church roofs, infected toenails, knowing each of these deaths is the one that will claim her.

One day, the once worried woman, who had already died a million imaginary deaths, lies dying. Dementia consumes her and she fails to recognize death's teeth at her throat. The reaper pulls the black hood off to his boney face and she only smiles. She dreams she is a child, and afraid of nothing. She climbs the tallest pine in the forest, a cabbage pine with branches like a ladder. Up and up and up and up, like Jack on the beanstalk she ascends, effortlessly, to the tippy top. It sways in the breeze. The sky surrounds her. The treetop bends, then breaks. She should fall. Instead, her body inflates with sunshine and she flies. She flies so high she can see the individual rays of starlight and each has a voice and a song. When the woman joins the song, a terrible rasping pours from her throat. No one at her deathbed recognizes the angel voices in the cacophony flowing like a fountain from her lips.

Mary Stebbins

090223-1440-2c; 090222-2135-1e; 090222-1756-1st


This, in case you can't tell, is a prose poem, which I wrote for Paul Roth, sort of. I may explain later. I think it may be the beginning, or the end, of a new chapbook. YIKES!


I'm doing this backwards, in a sense, posting the latest, newest version on my process blog when I've already posted an earlier version to The Smell of Sun, my poetry blog That was becasue I wanted to post it, unfinished though it was, to Creative Every Day.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My place at the dining room table at 3 AM

Today I made this digital painting from the sketch I drew last night
when I was insomniac at 3 AM. It took me all day to paint it, by
hand, not with filters, on my old computer using a MOUSE in PS7. (I
did use liquify to bend the brushes on the left to "match" the bed in
the water bottle on the right. I did not use either of my tablets or
pens, because I felt really terrible and wanted to do it the old
fashioned way, LOL! (slowly, slowly.))

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Living Inside my Words

I'm taking a poetry class that meets on Monday nights. I've been doing this off and on for several years, with Dawn McDuffie at the Scarab Club. Every Monday night, we get an assignment. Every Tuesday morning, God willing and the creeks don't rise (Forgive the cliche!), I write a new poem, based hopefully on my assignment. Every Tuesday night, I review and and revise. Every Wednesday morning I review and revise, and so on as the week passes until Monday. Monday I spend a good part of the day working on my new, week-old poem, and finally print copies to take to class.

The reason I do this is becasue I have learned that if I inhabit the poem, if I really live inside it, I make discoveries about myself and the world that enhance the poem, at least for me. And each discovery is a little joy, a little euphoria. Sure, there is struggle, panic. Sure there is the tedium of searching thesaurus for the right word and of changing phraseology, only to change it back, three, four five times. But then, there is that aha moment when something inside the poem opens to admit me deeper into its mysteries, deeper into myself.

The poem may still not be done, but it's one step closer, and there will hopefully be more ahas and more revisions. Not to beat a dead horse, but revision means to Re-VISION, to re-see, and vision involves awareness of the self and world, of the interconnections of things. And it applies to my prose writing as well. It's a glorious process. It's why I write poetry.


(The photos represent a first draft poem and a poem further toward completion.)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Pancake Day

It's Candlemas, St. Bigid's Day, Imbolc, Groundhog Day. A day to eat
pancakes, see your shadow, light candles, take down your Christmas
tree.

I made crepes:

1/4 c milk, i egg, 1/4 c flour for each crepe, more or less, whisk up.
I used whole wheat flour and some seeds and rice milk for mine--yum.
\

I wrote a poem about it, brand new today, for my class tonight.

Candlemas
How Geraldine becomes a Saint, Feb 2, 1961

One by one, with needles pricking and dropping
with lisping sounds like falling rain through
the drooping branches, Geraldine picks lengths of tinsel
from the browning tree. She turns the dull and shining
strands in the colored lights to see them sparkle,
watches small streams of color wash and wriggle
across the ceiling like eels in Uncle Jake's creel.
She blows at the tinsel, puffs gently on the filaments
draped over her fingers, watches the light ones rise
and flutter while the heavy ones barely move.
New sun filters though the lace curtains, adding
another layer of pattern to the patches of color
and the ghosts of branches on the walls and ceiling.
Mama calls her to come out and see her shadow.
"The woodchucks," she says, "the groundhogs,
are sleeping in the woods, under the snow,
they won't be seeing any shadows, but you
can see yours instead." Geraldine waves
at her shadow and laughs when the shadow
waves back. Laughs and laughs and waves again.
Watches the blue hand move against the pink snow.
"Bye, bye winter," Mama says. "Well, anyway,
it's half gone, and that's worth celebrating."
Geraldine celebrates by leaping up and down
and shouting, laughing again as her shadow leaps
along with her, silent as the watching sparrows.
They give the sparrows yellow millet and golden
corn. "Yellow and gold for the sun," Mama says.
"Yellow for the sun," Geraldine repeats.
"Pancakes for breakfast," Mama says. In the center
of each pancake, she makes the shape of a sun
with a smile and many rays. "For St. Brigid,"
she says, "for the happy, growing sun."
Geraldine eats her suns with maple syrup
and asks for a pancake with her shadow in it.
"Here you are," Mama says, sliding the pancake
onto Geraldine's plate, "St. Geraldine, goddess
of shadows." Geraldine waves goodbye
to the pancake and to her pancake shadow,
as she forks it into her mouth, bite by bite.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
For Geraldine and the High Priestess