A Short Thought

This is a collage poem. I did a group of them yesterday. Some were for mail art and some went into my book.

page from my collage poem book

page from my collage poem book for “Hit Bottom”

 

Hit Bottom

when a fresh quarrel is of no importance

threats appear the only sensible, intelligent thing-

now consider silence.

 

 

 

 

Security, Complaining, and the Mail, All Mixed Together

Image

Mail art containing “Complaining”

This is one of my “collage” poems. Phrases and words come together like the pieces of paper I use in making my art collages – they started off somewhere else and now have a second life in this composition. I like working in this way – choosing words that I see rather than pulling them up from wherever thoughts come from in my mind. The poems turn out differently, too – I have a little different way of expressing myself, I notice. More telegraphic and elliptical? Anyway, this is a poem I then sent out as mail art. It’s pasted on paper from the inside of a security envelope, which was then glued to a piece of cardboard, postcard-size. You see it here lying on a pile of other painted papers I have made. I love the patterns on the insides of these workaday items – utilitarian and nice-looking, a great thing to be.

Complaining

abrasive work

complaining

but it’s nothing-nothing But pleasure

Therefore

when I become

good and generous

every reason to think that

There’s nothing serious

about it

Happy Feet

It’s a true story and it happened at my house, so that’s why I know all about it.

They Wed on Laundry Day

You’re right, they didn’t start out together,

although I’m sure they knew each other before.

Thrown together as they were,

they must have met –

just neighbors, no more,

too strongly linked

by pattern and identity

to another

surely thought of

as a soul mate.

But now they are certainly a pair,

two not of a kind

but good together. A second marriage,

each having lost a mate.

On my left, a death.

Old age. A final breakdown in the body fabric.

On my right, a divorce.

Just never came home one day.

I introduced them after a suitable interval,

the funeral over, the departed interred;

search efforts called off,

no traces to be found.

They’ve been together ever since.

Seem happy. At least not straying.

I enjoy their company, knowing their story.

A balance restored

settles anyone. I do have a fondness

for the happy ending.

Maybe it’s not a fairy tale romance,

but I’ve made a match.

Who knows?

I could do the same for you.

"Happy Feet"mixed media on paper

“Happy Feet”
Mixed media on paper

 

Thoughts on a Windy Day

"Small bird standing on a pole"Clay tile, 2013

“Small bird standing on a pole”
Clay tile, 2013

It is cold and wintry here, and we’ve had several days of gusty blustering winds.

 

That harsh wind bites, but

I don’t feel it. Tiny birds

coax a smile from me.

Ordinary Times

Clay Tile "Happy Person Driving a Car" 2011

Clay Tile
“Happy Person Driving a Car”
2011

An ordinary day is the best kind of day to me.

Monotony

There’s nothing like falling asleep,
the soles of your feet, heel to toe,
a backrest for the cat
who has no idea of settling you,
but she does

Unless it’s like the dragonfly
perching on your table
mouth full of half-eaten butterfly,
finishing the meal
thoroughly cleaning up
in no hurry
(with the same motions
as the cat might use)
suddenly shooting away
leaving pale yellow wings
to flutter to the ground

Unless it’s like the well-sewn seam
completing the pillow
canvas duck, hard-wearing
you are making for your son’s new sofa
Maybe he will get a cat, too

Unless it’s like the turn of the key
in the lock of your own door
just before you step inside
no longer coming home but being home
And of course there is the cat
nails clicking on the hallway floor

Unless it’s like the thunderstorm in the morning
that woke you up
Unless it’s like the pink wool sweater
you’re wearing for the first time
Unless it’s like the cat
clawing at the cardboard box
you’re about to put in the trash

There’s nothing like any of it
and yet somehow
there seems to be
so much like it,
every day, all day –
all over the place
there is nothing else
as far as you look
I don’t wonder
that so many
complain of monotony
But
it seems to me
they’ve missed the point

First Class Journey

Giselle and Cameron small

Here’s a piece of mail art I made that has taken the journey through the postal system and arrived safely. I recycled an advertising card that came to me in the mail, and I painted and collaged it, and gave it a caption.

The mail is important to me – the kind of mail, I mean, that you hold in your hand and put into a mailbox in front of your house, or on the street. I sent and received many letters in the past – the long-distance telephone was expensive and I always felt under pressure to get the points covered in my conversation and hang up. So my mail correspondence was very important to me. Opening the mailbox and seeing familiar handwriting on an envelope addressed to me – it never lost that thrill, anticipating the words of someone important to me, seeing their handwriting, imagining them in their own place, far away from me.

Now I communicate with the phone and email and even when I do get letters, it’s not the same feeling. The scarcity of opportunity to communicate is just not there anymore. But – I have been filling that gap with mail art for some time now, and so my mailbox still offers me surprises. And I mail out a lot of items myself, of course, so I still have quite an acquaintance with mail boxes.

There’s the background on why I wrote this poem. It’s recent, and I thought I would include it today, since we are having a blustery cold morning like the one that inspired me.

January Transaction

So I grabbed the handle
jerked open the door of the mailbox
Screech rattle bang
I could feel all of that
cold chipped blue painted metal
all at once
right through my glove
immediately
completely
Swung my arm around
opened my fingers
dropped the letter through and let go
The door slammed back and bounced
clatter clang jangle
I winced
Anyone could hear that racket
a mile away
A crust of snow dropped off the box
struck my foot
it hurt.
I guess the letter hit bottom
during all of this commotion
that little piece of paper
shivering in its thin envelope
down there in the cold dark
maybe a crack of light up here
at the lid
The mailman comes at eleven

I Politely Decline

Mom Is Still Thinking About It small

“Mom is Still Thinking About It”
2011, mixed media

Sometimes I have trouble saying no.

 

Yes But No

When asked I say

I can do it as soon as I find a ball of string

I can do it when I’ve mopped the basement

I can do it if the repairman comes on time

I can do it but I must check to see if we have any pickles

I can do it if there’s any soap left

I can do it after seven but before eight

I can do it once the cat comes home

I can do it but first I have to wash my wig

I can do it after I take a shower

and if it doesn’t interfere with dinner

or weeding the garden

or my aquafit class.

In other words

I can’t do it.

Things Get Cut to Pieces For Their Own Good

Elevator Buttons #2 small

“Elevator Buttons #2”

About 15 years ago, when I first started doing collage work, I made a piece called “Elevator Buttons”. I used paint chips and magazine pages. I held on to the collage for quite a few years; it hung in our kitchen for some time but eventually came off the wall and went into the basement. Recently, I’ve been cleaning out things around here. I decided that this collage was just right for mail art and I cut it into as many 6″ x 4.25″ rectangles as I could.

Haunted small

“Haunted”

If you wonder what “Elevator Buttons” looked like before the paper-cutter did its work, I can’t show you, as I didn’t take a picture of it. I do have a picture, though, of a similar piece I made for a friend – she had admired the original one. (I don’t think she has cut it up yet.) Anyway, the result was several postcards ready-made for mail art, and I decided to write a haiku to add to each one. I ended up with a collection with each haiku inspired by an individual section of “Elevator Buttons”. It was fun to write with such an odd situation to inspire me.

And, it is interesting to me to read the haikus knowing how they came about and then to try think about what someone who came upon them without knowing their story might get from them.

A word on the use of paint chips in collage art – I find them hard to glue down, as they are stiff and they curl, but I love looking at them all arrayed in rows and rows at the paint or home improvement store. I can’t resist taking a nice selection whenever I am there. I have used them for a lot of purposes, and I find them especially good for creating people in my collages, such as the white figure in “Haunted”.

Enough backgound. Here is the group of haikus:

1.

I used to be that

Now I’m this but I still know

what I used to know

2.

One two three four five

now count me just a fraction

but still a number

3.

Just off the edge, yes,

Used to be the center, yes,

Still worth a look, yes

4.

Lost the rest of us

to the scissors. Survival

is everything.

5.

A lot of white space

and you’re peeling off the edge

But me, I’m OK.

6.

Interrupted thought

Cut off, truncated, severed,

Big deal. Still makes sense.

Eat Your Vegetables?

Asparagus Ladies small

“Asparagus Ladies”
(postcard, 6″ x 4.25″)

Politically Correct

 

Whatever outlandish scenario

you conjure up

I guarantee you

It is no more bizarre to me

than the idea that it is perfectly all right

for that lady over there

to fork lettuce

and macaroni salad

and kidney beans, kale, carrots,

directly from the grocery store salad bar

into her mouth

And that no one should say a word to her

because she must have her reasons

and we must respect them

despite health laws and the fact that she is stealing.

Collage Art, Collage Poetry

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“After the End of the World”
Mixed Media on Canvas, 24″ x 20″
2012

I use a lot of print in my collage art work – I like the way it looks, with the nice geometry it lends to a composition. And then there is the mysterious effect of phrases and sentences cut off in the middle – not meant to be read, but you can’t help it. And then, off you go on a tangent, thinking of all kinds of things…

I was working on some mixed media work last fall, and I had pages from several books on my work table (I have had to overcome the idea that cutting up a book is a bad thing, not when that book is on the free shelves at the library – one step from the trash). My eye fell on a phrase. I cut it out. On another page, another phrase almost seemed to highlight itself. I cut it out and put it with the first. Another page, and another couple of words seemed to fit in with the others. Very quickly, a poem assembled itself.

I was struck by how similar the process was to my collage work – I don’t usually have an aim in mind when I start to work, but just get out my papers and paints and see what develops, and follow it as it goes along. This writing process was just like making a collage to me – assembling words that started off somewhere else and then came together to make a different composition. I was just entranced by this process and have been very happy to add this method of working to my poetry writing.

I don’t look for specific words or phrases. I take torn out pages from various books, I run my eye over them, and something catches my attention. I cut it out, repeat my examination, and get a few more phrases or sentences. I start to arrange them, and keep looking. Maybe at the end I’ll look for some specific words, but they are usually articles or pronouns. I don’t try to force the meaning, but let it develop.

I like this method. It’s contemplative and focused. My mind is calm. I don’t think it’s much different from writing words that come into my mind from my thoughts – these ideas just start from another source and have to be arranged in the same way. It’s made me more aware of how my mind is working when I write poetry and it has emphasized the importance of letting ideas grow in their own way.

After I am satisfied with the poem, I paste it into a copy book (I have painted the pages to make it easier to read). Here’s a collage poem and the corresponding page in the book.

Close-mouthed small

A page from the book of collage poems.

 

 

 

Closemouthed

he never spoke of

the reason why he had left

Not entirely straightforward surroundings

The narrow tightening prison

of the thoughts of other people

always

subleasing

conflict and emotion

disquiet

people had been only

too willing to oblige

but simply never did so.