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Thanks, once again, to Curtis Dunlap, Tobacco Road Poet

Thanks to Curtis Dunlap, Tobacco Road Poet

Introduction

Miki and I met on the internet when I discovered Miki’s art through another blogger.  These poems were a result of my strong reaction to Miki’s sensitivity to detail in the world around her and her ability to interpret the world with a brush in an inspiring way.  The poems are presented in the order in which I wrote them. The title of my poem is followed by the title of Miki’s painting.

The poems have been around for a couple of years, but they seem to need Miki’s art to be complete. Because of this dependence, I decided to self-publish these poems as a chapbook.

Miki and I hope you enjoy our collaboration. Please let us know if you did.

Helen and Miki

e-mail Helen at hlosse@triad.rr.com

e-mail Miki at miki@goodaboom.com

Copies of most of Miki’s painting are for sale on her web site Planet Goodaboom. If you need art, please consider buying one.

**


Miki’s Spanish Village/No to Perspective and No to Straightness!

The bold colors you have chosen
for the trees and the sky and the roofs

invite me to participate in your water
color in a place that is documented

but not interpreted. You have captured
the Spanish village and invite me there.

Your colors explode around buildings—
built at odd angles. Your tree

on the left looks as though a horse is
jumping through it, and the trees themselves

look effervescent. You invite return
to a place I’ve never been.

**

But Not From the Dark Side/The Biest

Click picture to ZOOM

The green river is
covered with slime. Trees
are growing at an angle on
the side of the hill, where two
people on horseback climb,

where there may be a path,
but I can’t see it, so it won’t be
described. The wind whips
through the aforementioned trees—
green, blue, a touch of purple—
where purple looks like berries.

The beast is nowhere in the picture.
I think she might have given birth—
at least, it’s conjecture—
rather than sensing danger.

“Nothing gold can stay,” said Frost.
And nothing here spells D-A-R-K,
nothing but cryptophyte.

**

Upon Looking Closer, Some Say/ Queen’s Call

Click picture to ZOOM

Some say, “An ocean storm is
rougher at night.” Some see land
in the horizon and a closer place,

where waves lap the shore. Others
see dark clouds, sailboats on water.
And some, viewing a circle of

bending worshippers, believe
the bugs behind the inner ring could be
worshipping, too. Some say, “The kneeling

rocks can sing, but the sky’s too blue
to believe. And who’s to know what’s
behind the pink? The moon is a magnet—

the moon who has a smaller sister.”
And yes, upon looking closer, some say,
“She has two.”

Some say, “The queen is calling”—
the queen being a metaphor
for anything one can imagine or dream.

**

Better Not To Know/Stranger In the Night

Click picture to ZOOM

Somewhere a stranger
sits on a hillside. Somehow
a light shines deep in the night.

The man with the purple face
has three fingers on his hand.
He looks upward, face frozen.

A woman raises her arms, cries.
Buzzards slowly gather.

Sometimes it’s better not to know.

**

Dominance of Pink/Painting the Pinks

Looks like the world’s imploding,
while some poor soul got shot out
of a chimney. The rest of the people
are rushing toward center. Why

even the trees seek the white-hot light.
Will we recognize the world when
the wind stops blowing, the brush in
the hand still painting its acrylic?

**

When God Looks Like a Snowman/Celebration of Life

My eyes leave the women—dancing and worshiping—
advance to the water, color and texture of glass,
the light the droplets falling.

At one point I think the women could be mermaids
but abandon that theory along with the one about ice.

The water is blue, green, purple, the women silhouettes.
Then I notice the face—looking upward—
central to the red section, where God looks like

a snowman, blowing bubbles through separated lips.
The power of the breath of God is grace befalling.
And even wonder.

**

Zeus & the Mythology of Lust/Love In the Mountains

A woman lies naked,
bronzed and cold—nipples taut—
thinks, “Love in the Mountains.”

No explanation reaches toward her,
and what she calls love is nothing
or conquest that flies in the wind.

Certainly turquoise is among flowers
& royal & purple & rust. Eyelashes
guide warrior-wings, puffs of thunder.

She sees everything but
the absent chariot & dangerous thing
Zeus is swinging, way to low.

**

Living In a World/Grace Under Pressure

I see Grace in the upper right hand
corner of the picture which may be

under water. Under glass or Plexiglas.
Maybe ice. Bubbles around her face,

hair the fuchsia of flowers. Pictorial
division is vertical, in front of which,

the shadows become women
whose arms are tree branches—

mirrored, stretched, stretching, reflected.
Certainly raised up & over their heads.

Some of the trees have green leaves.
This place is “a pressure cooker.”

Precisely.
A world held together by string.

**

Pen and White Ink/Bird of Hope

A soldier in armor looks up,
sees the bird that brings us hope.
The soldier wears a red helmet.

The bird takes up 1/3 of the page.
Will there—in Paradise—be birds
such as this? Will we—in Paradise—

need hope? A second soldier is wearing
purple. Four men behind them look like
pears. A corpse floats by, the water

breaking into hopeless, green chunks.
In the valley, a small town. Maybe
a cathedral in front of golden mountains.

Just above them—in the middle of the page—
the artist signed her illegible name
in pen and white ink.

**

Before the Parting of Physical Laws/Fire and Ice

The sun must set low this time of year,
which leaves my mind confused.

In the age that will follow, deep shadows
will fall only where logic permits,

yet here in the picture’s upper left-hand
quadrant, the sky is nearly black.

A man walks on the path,
next to a mountain covered with ice.

Fire colors the rest of the mountain:
Yellow, brown, (a brown darker than dirt).

The path is lower than its bed
and no longer crowned for maximum drainage.

Yes, the fire has melted the path
but not the ballast. And what’s more,

the fire lets trees burn, unconsumed.
The fire and the ice leave no shadows at all.

**

There Is a Pot That Looks Like Pig/Potugal in the Box #1


Sun. Sky. Rain. Shadow.

There is a cloud on the picture’s
left. On the right,
bright sky. Houses at odd angles. Central.

To the picture. In Portugal. Carnival-town
is falling down,
as from a whirligig. Red and white,
the houses go. Tumble, tumble. Fro

and to. And I’m giddy, when first I see
that there is a pot that looks like a pig
on the front walkway, beside palm trees,

that a yellow animal—pointed ears, pointed
nose, tail a line—closely follows.

**

When Worlds Collide/Portugal In the Box #5

A church stands on a hill behind the action.
I look up at the belfry, the steeple.
The sky is blue and normal enough. In it
is a trail of white, left by a jet.

The side of another building is pictured on the right;
the rest of the town concerns me.

Toys from the junk-yard:
blue, purple, brown, green, yellow, orange.
Only a fence stops plastic town—sliding down the hill—
from crushing yellow flowers.

All the houses are playhouses made from colorful plastics.
They wear tags like Playskool and Little Tykes.
Blue cardboard in front of the fence
forms a monument to childhood.

I am an old ghost in a tumble-down town.

**

Thanks to the following literary magazines for first publishing these poems, in earlier revisions.

“But Not From the Dark Side,” Poetry Friends, (October 9, 2008).

“Dominance of Pink,” Right Hand Pointing, (November 2008)

**

Miki

Helen's Photo

Helen

Even though our emotional and spiritual lives are distinct, they do influence one another profoundly. Our feelings often give us a window on our spiritual journeys. When we cannot let go of jealousy, we may wonder if we are in touch with the Spirit in us that cries out “Abba.” When we feel very peaceful and “centered,” we may come to realise that this is a sign of our deep awareness of our belovedness.

Likewise our prayer lives, lived as faithful response to the presence of the Spirit within us, may open a window on our emotions, feelings, and passions and give us some indication of how to put them into the service of our long journey into the heart of God.

emphasis mine

Read all about it here.

Our emotional lives and our spiritual lives have different dynamics. The ups and downs of our emotional life depend a great deal on our past or present surroundings. We are happy, sad, angry, bored, excited, depressed, loving, caring, hateful, or vengeful because of what happened long ago or what is happening now.

The ups and downs of our spiritual lives depend on our obedience - that is, our attentive listening – to the movements of the Spirit of God within us. Without this listening our spiritual life eventually becomes subject to the windswept waves of our emotions.

emphasis mine

I see Grace in the upper right hand
corner of the picture which may be

under water. Under glass or Plexiglas.
Maybe ice. Bubbles around her face,

hair the fuchsia of flowers. Pictorial
division is vertical, in front of which,

the shadows become women
whose arms are tree branches—

mirrored, stretched, stretching, reflected.
Certainly raised up & over their heads.

Some of the trees have green leaves.
This place is “a pressure cooker.”

Precisely.
A world held together by string.

based on Miki’s picture “Grace Under Pressure”

A woman lies naked,
bronzed and cold—nipples taut—
thinks, “Love in the Mountains.”

No explanation reaches toward her,
and what she calls love is nothing
or conquest that flies in the wind.

Certainly turquoise is among flowers
& royal & purple & rust. Eyelashes
guide warrior-wings, puffs of thunder.

She sees everything but
the absent chariot & dangerous thing
Zeus is swinging, way to low.

based on “Love In the Mountains” by Miki

When someone hurts us, offends us, ignores us, or rejects us, a deep inner protest emerges. It can be rage or depression, desire to take revenge or an impulse to harm ourselves. We can feel a deep urge to wound those who have wounded us or to withdraw in a suicidal mood of self-rejection. Although these extreme reactions might seem exceptional, they are never far away from our hearts. During the long nights we often find ourselves brooding about words and actions we might have used in response to what others have said or done to us.

It is precisely here that we have to dig deep into our spiritual resources and find the center within us, the center that lies beyond our need to hurt others or ourselves, where we are free to forgive and love.

emphasis mine

My eyes leave the women—dancing and worshiping—
advance to the water, color and texture of glass,
the light the droplets falling.

At one point I think the women could be mermaids
but abandon that theory along with the one about ice.

The water is blue, green, purple, the women silhouettes.
Then I notice the face—looking upward—
central to the red section, where God looks like

a snowman, blowing bubbles through separated lips.
The power of the breath of God is grace befalling.
And even wonder.

based on the picture “Celebration of Life” by Miki

July 2009
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