Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Three poems from many years ago


Interminably dark, red gold and silver,
The landscapes stretches and scrapes out so softly,
Towards the start of the sharp edge of night,
Into its freedom from the burn of day.

With caves of eyes seen over boulevards,
Floor layered upon floor after floor,
A mesh of lives and minds and work and time,
Which rises over all of those who live.

Dwelling and softly crying for their lives,
From cell to cell they flow deliberately,
Born out of one womb, changing for another,
Living and dying blind and invisibly.

Listen soft, you can barely hear their voices,
So touch your finger to your lips, for lives
Lashed to the bones of collapsed tenements:
Each wound exposes some new wailing mouth.


This quick sharp new world is in ecstasy
Breeze quickens blows and turns, striking so frenzied
Winter it pierces me bluster and blast
Great wheeling frozen slivers penetrating.

The light laced white crystals,
geometric shaped,six sided flakes,
come to violence wind whipped
ice knives cutting at unprotected flesh,
with proud peerlessness, penetrate all defense.

Its whirl churns with fast passing cold cold power,
striking religious glanced shocks to the head,
then all bright white blindness, its glare so pure,
I yearn burn for you, in the whiteness hid.

In fragile glass vessels precious held
Are twenty million nights of liquid dreams
Once lost or broken these pour down to deeps
While washing down stone hills to earth and sand.

And under days sharp seething sun the sea
Dissolves to mist, until with shadow cool
Darkly the sky bleeds back the planets blood
So clear, without a taste of salt sea tears.

The trees with green hands stretching up receive
With flash and blast the sap of life and being
Without which all this foliage growing lush
Would be dry dust on this dead empty course.

Capping the planet diamond poles present
Stars with a frozen state of crystal beauty
The glacial clearness floats in rushing blue
This jewel sphere against black case of space

Monday, January 18, 2016

Transfiguration Series Notes

This Transfiguration series is composed of portraits of my friends, touched together with moss, rock, rust, lichen, corrosion, architecture, reflections, entropy, loss, time.....

Transfigurations 1 - Crown of Lichen, Flesh of Rust

Notes: To Sleep along the River: Reddi, rust, lichen, flood-tumbled stone.

Transfigurations 2 - Crown of Rust, Dress of Ashes
Notes: A rusted metal door from a burnt out electrical parts building, and a layer of volcanic ash, from Crown of Rust, Dress of Ashes.

Her crown is an image of one of the most beautiful decayed objects I have ever seen, a rusted metal door, warped and burned in a fire, exposed to the elements, and corroded. Her dress is an image of volcanic ash, layered, from a cliffside on Mount Hood. of Mt. Hood.

In so far as the mind sees things in their eternal aspect, it participates in eternity.
Baruch Spinoza

Transfigurations 3 - Language of the Birds
Notes: Vine maple, lichen, columnar basalt.Zhalih as Gaia.

Transfigurations 4 - Suffer the Time
Notes Suffer the Time II: The bus had been driven to Oregon, at the end of the 60's, by two members of the San Francisco mime troupe. They bought a small plot of land outside of Portland, lived in the bus a while, built a home, raised a family. One became very active in poetry and community radio, one became a carpenter. They were Italian. Every Easter they put on a lovely feast, with two kinds of home made sausage, traditional Easter cake stuffed with Ricotta cheese, home and my other wonderful things brought by their guests. (my mom is Sicilian, so I loved this) The couple grew old. The bus stayed in the yard, rusted, became covered with plants, moss and lichen. Beautiful, it became simply beautiful.

I merged the window of this bus, where the driver sat, with the image of Zhalih. (along with another image of stone and lichen, from the side of a nearby volcano) Surely there must be a metaphor here

Transfigurations 5 - The Music Forbids Deep Silence 
A simple piece two layers, beautiful and somber Aimee, and a century old gravestone, covered with lichen, decayed in time.

Transfigurations 6 - Portrait with Lichen and Striated Leaf

Transfigurations 7 - Touch

Transfigurations 8 - Corrosion, Blue Light
Notes: The reflection of a through-truss, double lift bridge in a skyscraper facade under dusk light, as transfigured into and with the image of Zhalih

Transfigurations 9 - Mirror Yearn

Transfigurations 10 - Architectural Mask and Lichen
Notes: Lichen, sunlight on basalt, architectural mask (Koolhaus Seattle library), Aimee. The light of nature and knowledge.

Transfigurations 11 - She sleeps (Also Awakening)

Transfigurations 12 - In Years of Rain
Notes: Plywood left in years of rain, vine maple, lichen

Transfigurations 13 - Into the Forest Floor

Transfigurations 14 - The Last Breath of Small Light

Transfigurations 15 - Interstitial
Notes: Zhalih, the curvature of an aluminum sculpture, and reflections in a skyscraper facade, as viewed from the steel bridge at dusk

Transfigurations 16 - If Time was a Circle
Notes: Corrosion, reflection, and the dissolution of the surface of a painted brick wall

Transfigurations 17 – EgyptianNotes: Egyptian
Corrosion, reflection, and the dissolution of surface

Transfigurations 18 – Corrosive Mask
 Notes: A tribal mask, the texture of rusted and flaked industrial barrel.

Transfigurations 19 - Rivets and Corroded Paint
Notes: Rivets and corroded paint. The steel girders of a double-truss bridge.

Transfigurations 20 - Architectural Singularity

Transfigurations 21 - In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Notes: Architectural texture from Rem Koolhaas (Seattle Public Library) and Frank Gehry (Experience Music Project), and fractured basalt.


Transfigurations 22 - Autumn Mask


Transfigurations 23 - Maiden Hair

Transfigurations 24 - Intensity and Corrosion

Transfigurations 25 – Stigmata (portrait of the poet Walt Curtis)

Transfigurations 26 - Corrosion and Time

Transfigurations 27 - Half Eye Under Stone

Transfigurations 28 - Through a glass darkly

Transfigurations 29 - Queen of the green  night

Transfigurations 30 - Crackling of Time

Transfigurations 31 - Sea shell

Transfigurations 32 - As moving sleep

Transfigurations 33 – Catalan

Transfigurations 34 - Self Portrait

Transfigurations 35 - Metamorphosis.
Notes: Nature, man, life, time, growth, earth, metamorphosis, and decay.

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

Transfigurations 36 – Portrait of a Poet in the 21st Century.

Transfigurations 36 – She is Hidden

Transfigurations 37 – Corrosive metamorphosis

Notes: “Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.” Jorge Luis Borges

Transfiguration 38 – Aimee as the Spirit of Autumn


Transfiguration 39 – 


More Notes:

Leonardo da Vinci
From his Treatise on Painting

"You should look at certain walls stained with damp, or at stones of uneven colour. If you have to invent some backgrounds you will be able to see in these the likeness of divine landscapes, adorned with mountains, ruins, rocks, woods, great plains, hills and valleys in great variety: and then again you will see there battles and strange figures in violent action, and expressions of faces and clothes and an infinity of things which you will be able to reduce to their complete and proper forms. In such walls the same thing happens as in the sound of a bell, in whose stroke you may find every named word you can imagine."

Susan Sontag
From Fragments of an Aesthetic of Melancholy


Because, first of all, they are a compendium of desires – contrasting, contradictory, impacted, immobilizing.
The desire to become fully visible, to be seen (at last) as one is, to be honest, to be unmasked.
The desire to hide, to be camouflaged. To be elsewhere. Other. The desire to impersonate someone else, but that is not other enough. The desire to escape from a merely human appearance: to be an animal, not a person, an object (stone? wood? metal? cloth?), not a person, to be done with personhood.
The desire to be emblematic. Impervious to age and the distress of flesh.
The desire to accede to the ruins of time, to be reconciled with the depredations of time, to become a ruin.
The desire to punish the self. The desire to place no aim before that of gratifying it.
The desire to dissolve the self into the world, the desire to reduce the world to matter, something one can inscribe oneself on, sink into, be saturated with. The desire to compete with one’s own image, to become image, artifact; art; form….
The desire to be stripped down, to be naked, to be concealed, to disappear, to be only one’s skin, to mortify the skin, to petrify the body, to become fixed, to become dematerialized, a ghost, to become matter only, inorganic matter, to stop, to die.

“Omnia mutantur, nihil interit (everything changes, nothing perishes).”
― Ovid, Metamorphoses

Notes on the Transfigurations

I take many thousands of photos. Sometimes when I go hiking I focus exclusively on the lichen, moss, rock, rock and wood patterns, ignoring the landscape. I photograph decay, corrosion, dissolution. I photographs the facades of buildings reflecting changing lights. All these textural elements have symbolic and poetic meaning, as well as visual beauty.

When I am ready, I analyze my images. I take my best portraits, and my best textural photos, and combine them digitally. I go through hundreds of pairs of images, exploring the complex combinatorial space, following my own heuristic devices and intuitions until, as if it had dropped out of the sky, a new piece appears in front of me. I have techniques and methods, of course, and when I see something appear I might have to push it to its own fulfillment, but there is an essential part in the creation of many of these pieces that they came into existence their own being, something unexpected, something even difficult to name. They are visual poems.


I graduated from the University of Wisconsin, then studied poetry under John Yau, Bernadette Meyer, and David Trinidad at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, the heart of poetry in NYC, and with Charles Bernstein at the New School.

Out on the West coast I fell into a job as a commercial photographer. In a year I took over 50,000 photos of buildings in cities all over the Pacific Northwest, in rain, in fog, in sun, in shadow, in mist, in summer, and winter.

Now, somehow, my poetry and photography has combined. Lichen, water, stone, corrosion, decay, and the faces of my friends, have become the vocabulary of a visual poetry.

More info

Produced the documentary Salmon Poet, which was directed by Sabrina Guitart, and starring Portland poet Walt Curtis.

Directed the cult favorite Portland satire, The Worriers, a parody of the lives and loves of the Portland, Oregon, poetry community. Its tagline "Bad Gangs, Bad Girls, Bad Poetry.



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