Thursday, 27 December 2007

Tulip in charcoal

This was part of a series of doodles of a tulip bouquet, and the photo's a bit off because the sketch is hanging up on my wall and I was too lazy to take it down.

Lazy is a big theme in my life, as you might have noticed.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Winter Music

Gordon Lightfoot on the changer
and then maybe BTO
Me, singing absently to a book
He, whistling while he cleans
and we absorb those songs again
like lotion
on a desiccating day

when he's off at... I don't know
fingers tease notes from a reluctant keyboard
hesitant at first
and not as well as I'd like
but these days I've only me to please
so it'll do.
I stay as usual with old songs;
've always been more about Porter than Webber
on my Broadway days
Tune over glitz
thought over box office
and I'd sooner worry some old Bill
than find the Rent

That evening
when the snow finally stopped
white played blue
under full moon light.
First one after Christmas --
I've forgotten if there's luck in that.
It doesn't sing, the moon...
but I trusted its echoes
in new snow and brittle trees
and found myself

Monday, 24 December 2007


One light
and only one
subtle curves
and shadow

One light
aimed with care
harsh detail
and confusion

One light
and the rest dark
so the unthinking picture
can draw itself


This is about sketching.

No, really. It is.

Any other conclusion you draw is your own...

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Calla lily in graphite

What can I say? Another kind of weird sketch. I don't even have a reason for this one. I think maybe I was just bored one day.

It's the whole line and shape thing coming out again though, obviously. Things stop looking like what they are and just become lines sometimes.

Gah. That sounds silly even for me.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Before the Storm

Cloud-bruised sky warns of bottled panic
in stagnant summer air that is easier
worn than breathed.
No effort displaces the cotton,
mired sticky-sweet like marshmallow creme
as it entwines all flesh in humid strands
until even the protesting brain confesses itself
webbed to anxious inactivity.

So the body lies shackled:
melted to the vinyl-car-seat bed,
coveting AC or at least a eunuch with a fan;
TV off in sheer frustration
and nothing to hear
but the endless seconds of the plastic clock
or the distant moaning of a sky prepared to fall...

And a mind wails in empathy
with the thickening wind,
Take me with you in the updraft
Let me spark madly through the dervish clouds
Make me electric
Help me stroke the stars and split the sky
Use me up in the flash of a moment
For I cannot face eternity

waiting for release


I often make fairly detailed notes about a poem after I've written it because I find it frustrating to read the poems later and not quite remember what brought them on. The note for this one reads only "Sometimes I just feel like my brain is going to explode..."

Ellipsis included, yes. I guess I wasn't having a great day.

I think everyone's had at least one moment of wanting to go out in a flash, though.

Oh, and I know it's weird to be posting a poem about a summer storm when it's so close to Christmas. I was flipping through my book and it just caught my eye. That's all.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Sharpening the Pencils

All the slim soldiers
in their conical hats
by order of High Command
pass inspection
before joining the battle
As the regimental mind will not allow
to disrupt communication
between the vital bases of


For anyone who doesn't read the other blog, just know that I'm a bit of an OLF (that'd be obsessive little freak). When I doodle at home rather than in the field I spend way too much time fiddling with my materials and making sure the surroundings are right before I get a start on anything.

It'd be better if I could get out of that habit, but I don't think it'll happen anytime soon.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007


Not entirely satisfied with the dream I sit for a moment
Staring blankly into nothing
Hashing out portents
Meanings of dead friends and
Lost belongings
Deciding at last that some things are only
Mental sweepings
Midnight commercials
Sugared colas
Deciding at last on emptiness
To let me sleep again

though the tears seemed real


Hey, we've all had bad dreams, and I'm sure we've all spent uncomfortable middle-of-the-night time trying to figured out the reasons or the meanings.

Sometimes it's better for the psyche not to know, I think.

It doesn't make it any easier to let them go, though.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Mr. Barker's Book of Songs

Sometimes you could feel those toothless gears slip
as he embarked on his Thought Processes
(with the long E);
While he rode high on dust devils
I'd observe the proceedings,
waiting to be the audience
for his grand re-entry.
Then he'd expound a new theory of butterflies
or clockwork marbles
and it would be my place to smile and nod as needed...
He lived in cracked prisms
but unexpectedly,
that fractured beam shone clearer in his way
than all our darkened theatres
of self-proclaimed spotlights.


These eyes are my limitation,
and not for the first do I regret
having chosen microscopes when there are stars in the sky.
We moles know nothing but tunnels,
and though they be marvels
they can't protect us from our disbelief
and fear
when we remember that our fathers knew the Moon
and worshipped her.


Dogs know:
Dogs know, and maybe cats.
They found out long ago that everything
is food and sleep
and mutual grooming on a chilly night.
Dogs know that words mean little,
bodies more;
but given a chance, above all else,
a good nose sees the world.


Don't take your troubles to the water,
for they have clarified the wonders of that muddy home.
Cement rivers, cement rivers,
all tamed and wrapped in conduit;
rivers leashed and strangulated,
obediently vapid, never venturing to dance.
I have seen rivers:
Rivers lined with sharp sedges
like the down on a woman's arm;
changeable and wild as a woman's soul.
I have seen exuberant thunderings of spring:
Rising, tossing bridges like old stockings,
straining at the corsets until they're undermined;
washing everything at last in true release
cleansed of restrictions
and ready to travel in new channels.


It saddens that I've seen so many trains in life:
They clatter on blindly to places they've seen before,
screaming out their names to avoid encounters,
only living speed and destination.
What good are unnamed mountains rushing past without a pause?
We understood things when we walked:
Every path just slightly different
every trip an unexpected
every scene the warm familiar
or thrilling unknown
every step an effort
and every face, every being
valued as true companion
on the road.


I've seen that smile, my dear.
I've seen that smile and can only hope
that you who know everything
can smile when knowledge fades.
The world is a teacher of the old school
taking pleasure in the rod,
and its lessons are sore and long...
The words it will give you are beautiful
and if you will hear
it will measure your heart with purest sound
and after all
and everything
you will smile.


This is a weird, weird poem. Weird enough that, even though I know where my head was when I wrote it, I'm not going to tell you anything about the process or the reason or (heaven help us) the meaning.

Yeah, let's just leave it there. Probably best not to poke it with a stick, either.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Tulip petals in graphite

I was going to post some poem or other today, but I seem to be having brain/finger coordination problems and I think I'll wait until it'd be a little less frustrating to fix all the typos.

Don't ask me how many there were in that last sentence.

Anyway, you're stuck with dead tulip petals as a result. Ignore the badly shaded vase in the background; as usual, I got bored by that part of the sketch and stopped looking at what I was seeing.

Hey, it makes sense if you're in my head. Or if you've ever done any still life work.

Or at least let's pretend it does.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Azalea in chalk pastels

Yeah, this one's pretty weird. It started out as an honest attempt to do some colour work (I'm much more comfortable in graphite, to be honest) and... well, then the purple background happened because I got bored.

Short attention span, yes.

The problem is that I tend to get interested in one detail (in this case, the flower), put a lot of work into that detail, and then don't feel like finishing the rest. I have so many half-finished sketches.

The whole artist-ADHD thing is also why a lot of my plants have decent flowers and leaves but the stems suck. I'm perfectly capable of drawing a properly fleshed-out (so to speak) stem, but by the time I get to that part I'm ready to do something else.

I'm such a five-year-old.

Sunday, 2 December 2007


If these words aren't yours they will not stay --
They sift through your hands
Like dust in the shadow of a dune.
When you are ready to see,
They will wrap you in their softness
And sing in your silence.

Look at your being --
So covered in the jagged scars
Of self-created anguish
And abscesses of indecision.
They have rooted you to barren ground,
But this knife cuts clean.

Abandon the dried husk,
Show your wings to the wind --
And when you find the fertile soil,
Spread joy under the greening trees
And give your spirit to the sun.


The knife is self-knowledge. If you're not ready to really know yourself, no amount of words will help matters. When you reach the point where you can look at yourself, like yourself, and accept yourself, you become a samara... one of those winged "helicopter" seeds you find on maples and ashes. Catch the wind, plant yourself in happier, more fertile ground, and let yourself grow.

Not an easy trick, really, but I'm a lot closer than I used to be.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Cyclamen in Conte crayon

Another bit of cyclamen weirdness from a few years ago. Pretty obvious that I was exploring shape rather than going for anything that actually resembled a flower...

Oh, and if you notice a bit of odd variation in the paper it's because I had this one matted and mounted on my wall at one time. I'm in a south-facing apartment, and things bleach out pretty badly from the sun exposure.
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