Daybreak at KIRA

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Daybreak

… early morning sunshine
creepy-crawly spider leg rays
climbing over window and wall
my bed-nest alive to light
not night’s star twinkle
but the sun’s egg breaking
its golden yolk
gilding sheet and pillow
billowing day dreams
through my still sleepy head …

… the word feast festering
gathering its inner glimpses
interior life of wind and wave
the elements laid out before me
my banquet of festivities
white the table cloth
golden the woodwork’s glow
mind and matter polished
and the sun show shimmering
its morning glory on garden and porch …

Comment: Not every day is the same, nor are the colors the same. Monet would watch the sun crossing the face of Rouen Cathedral. Every hour brought a different set of colours and a changed palette of impressions. No two mornings in the Red Room are the same. Each one presents a changed light, changing moments, changing impressions, but all (or almost all) are unforgettable. The poem, incidentally, can be found in One Small Corner. A Kingsbrae Chronicle (available at this link).

Comment: Another moment of magic: this is the morning of the partial eclipse (Thursday, 10 June, 2021). However, there’s enough cloud cover for me to have missed the actual moments of the eclipse. That said, the sun is all distorted and not at all clear, as it usually is when seen early from the Red Room, nor is it the same rich colors at all, so perhaps I did catch something worthwhile after all. More than worthwhile, this too is a magic moment.

Ginger Marcinkowski

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Ginger Marcinkowski
(KIRA, August, 2019)

“My walk each morning, rain or shine,
feathers my black galoshes with dewy grass.
There I would ramble through gated doors
that kept out the world and sealed in
my pen’s work for that day. 

I often found myself sidetracked,
exploring paths that led through flowerbeds,
and up to my favorite sculptures.
I paused to watch my fellow artists
as they focused on chosen subjects
unaware that I was eavesdropping. 

Then silently, I would steal away
along the well-trod path to my studio,
pausing long enough to greet the llamas
and baby goats. If I listen carefully
I can still hear their bleating. 

In wonder, every day, I climbed the steps
of wood that led to my studio, opened
the door, and turned to breathe in my good
fortune. “What a blessed woman you are,”
I would tell myself before taking my place
for hours on end at my desk, each moment,
each stroke of the pen, each letter added
to the growing lines on the page, a gift.”

Comment: I have been writing poems about the KIRA artists as part of my next poetry book, The Nature of Art and the Art of Nature. This is my KIRA2021 project. The Nature of Art is a revision and expansion of a poetry manuscript of the same name that placed second in the WFNB’s Alfred G. Bailey Award (2020). This poem appears in the section entitled Impressions of KIRA Artists. Currently this section contains eleven poems, but it is still under construction. This poem is interesting in that it is a ‘found’ poem, in the sense that Ginger wrote these words to me in an e-mail. I removed them, reordered them, polished them, and sent her back her own poem in her own words. What fun! This should help explain the use of inverted commas at beginning and end, for this poem is spoken in Ginger’s own words.

Saturday at KIRA

Early morning sun through mist.

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Saturday at KIRA

Visitors Day at KIRA and the artists work in their studios showing their methods and techniques to visitors from the local community and further afield. The mist disappears very quickly and we are left with sunshine and warmth. A good day for sitting out on the porch and waiting for guests.

View from my book table.

I sit behind my table on the porch at KIRA, making notes in my journal and waiting for the advent of guests. I have no plans other than to sit ad write. If people arrive and wish to engage me in conversation, that will be great. It will be even better if they pick up a book, open it, choose a poem or a passage of prose, and allow me to read it to them. They can follow the text while I read. When people do arrive, they look first at the covers of the saddle-stitch books and chapbooks. Many comment on the wonderful pencil sketches that Geoff provided for them. A couple are drawn to the bright colors and cartoons of the larger books. Title and cover combine together to persuade each visitor to pickup a book and start to read it.

Visitor’s view of the book table.

This is more or less what guests and visitors see when they approach the book table. You have to imagine me, the poet, sitting behind that table, masked if I do not know the guests, unmasked and at a safe distance if I do. I find it difficult to read out loud with the mask on. It is much easier, mask off.

I promised one guest, alas, I have forgotten her name, that I would post a poem and a voice recording of it, here on my blog, so that she and her friends could hear me read. This is the poem I read to her. I do hope she is able to locate my blog and follow this up. Here is the poem, from Sun and Moon. Poems from Oaxaca.

Santo Domingo
Worshipping Gaia before the great altar
in Santo Domingo

If the goddess is not carried in your heart
like a warm loaf in a paper bag beneath your shirt
you will never discover her hiding place

she does not sip ambrosia from these golden flowers
nor does she climb this vine to her heavenly throne
nor does she sit on this ceiling frowning down

in spite of the sunshine trapped in all this gold
the church is cold and overwhelming
tourists come with cameras not the people with their prayers

my only warmth and comfort
not in this god who bids the lily gilded
but in that quieter voice that speaks within me

and brings me light amidst all this darkness
and brings me poverty amidst all this wealth

I will post some of the other poems that I read on the porch over the next few days. Meanwhile, be patient with me. I feel that I am all off-balance, trapped between two worlds, part of me is away in KIRA and part of me is home in Island View. I find it difficult to work on my KIRA2021 project, a rewrite of The Nature of Art and the Art of Nature. This manuscript placed second in the WFNB’s Alfred G. Bailey poetry award in 2020. Since then, I have been revising it and adding to it, with KIRA2021 in mind. However, creating and posting seem to be two conflicting skills right now. The need to express (open blogging) and the need to create (secretive and non-sharing). I hope this helps to explain my irregular postings and my absences from this blog.

Color and Shape

Shaky hands @ 4:30 am

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Color and Shape

Waking up to an early morning sky
that leaves eyes and mind stained
with raspberry juice and blueberries.
Night’s vain shadows flee, leaving
behind a certain something,
a residue of resonance resounding
down half-aware corridors
unconscious of what they are seeing,
unaware of the beauty they have seen.
Misty the memories, slipping , sliding
into the oblivion of falling back to sleep
only to wake to another world,
gray scale now, a tissue of cloud and mist
and something mysterious, sensed,
but not grasped, by searching fingers.

Hard to believe it’s the same room,
the same window, the same camera,
the same day, the same scene. Clarity,
perhaps, but lost the mystery, the nature
of that wild rainbow world blessing
my waking moments, coloring my dreams,
my rapidly dissolving dreams.

KIRA DAWN 2021

KIRA DAWN 2021

I guess somethings remain the same, even when they seem to change. Dawn from the Red Room at KIRA. The dawn hasn’t changed much since I came here first in June 2017.

The rising sun, not yet visible, starts to redden the sky. The studio lights stand out in patches of green. The world is reborn as I watch.

Now the fireworks start and the sky runs red. “In blood we were born, in blood we will die,” say the Oaxacans. The only thing missing is zopilote, up there, above the earth, bringing down the fire he has stolen from the sky.

Garden of Memories

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Garden of Memories

Last year, a star as red as the warrior planet,
fell down the chimney and covered the poinsettia
with its annual story of glorious, gory leaves.

The cat and the dog stood shoulder to shoulder
to deliver new versions of their Christmas broadsides.
Ghosts danced on the snow bank, slender and bright.

This year an obsidian knife, chipped from black,
volcanic glass hacks into my mind, carving it
in two. Snowflakes invade its split personality.

I tread thin ice that burns with a glacial fire.
Incarcerated birds sing deep in my rib cage.
All my lost toys lie buried beneath fresh snow.

Tears freeze in my eyes, drip from my eyelashes.
They shoot towards earth and descend as stars.
A sunflower grows from my rag-and-bone body.

If I sit here in silence will the world, like a garden
growing wild, go on without me? I pop the question
but spring blossoms seal their lips, refuse to reply.

Dog Fox

Dog Fox

Late evening, low light, fox in the distance, photo through windows, two crows bombing him, fox on the run. A lovely sequence. Before the fox came, a hawk circled the lawn. Then came the crows. Then I saw the fox. Sorry about the quality of the photo: best I could do under the circumstances.

Just to say that this is a fine ending to a wonderful day. My fellow artists (Anne, Caitlin, Chantal, and Dan) are fantastic. Evening meal in he Garden Cafe was superb, as usual. Individual tables, suitably spaced. I had a lovely lunch with Geoff and Jeff. Many thanks for the welcome welcome you have all given me.

After the evening meal, we did a live reading on the porch, from One Small Corner and Tales from Tara. That was so much fun. To cap the day, I called my beloved and she told me that all was well and that Stars at Elbow and Foot (Selected Poems, 1979-2020) had arrived safely in Idlewood. Oh frabjous day, calloo callay, he chortled in his glee.

AWOL

AWOL

I never dreamed I would one day share the Red Room at KIRA with a portrait on the wall of Roger Writing in the Red Room at KIRA. It is a great honor to be here again and to be the first alumnus (June, 2017) invited back for a second stay (May-June, 2021). I will do my best to ensure that this stay is a successful one. I am honored to be the first returnee. I most certainly have no wish to be the last.

My desk is in its usual place by the window. To the right, on the wall above me, hangs my portrait. This is new, especially for me. The view from my working window has changed. The auditorium was just being constructed when I was here first (June, 2017). My companions from that first cohort of resident artists are here with me, in spirit. Ann, Carlos, Elise, and Ruby, the one who painted my likeness. My hope is that they too may sometime return.

The Tower on Minister’s Island is still visible above the trees. It has long kept me company and long may it continue to do so. Across the bay, behind the red tree on the left, Magic Rock and Holt’s Point can almost be seen. What beauty. What joy. Sitting here, at my desk, I review twelve days absent without leave, AWOL from Social Media and the Blog. Those Tiz-Woz days are hopefully over now. The bone scan was negative and showed no metastases. So that is a huge relief, though there may yet be some complications. There will be further testing, ad possibly some more medication. That lies in the future. This is the present. The sun is shining. I am here among friends. All’s right with the world.

Painting the School Outing

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Painting the School Outing
Beaver Pond, Mactaquac

The yellow of the school bus is easy, but
what colors do you give the rain of school
kids descending? And how do you portray
their energy, their noise, the tones of French
and English? What colors are their vowels,
their consonants, their high-pitched voices?

You can sketch their orderly rows as they snack
on the top-hat magic pulled out of backpacks.
But it’s not so easy to paint the pop of Pepsi cans,
the scent of chocolate bars, or the crackle of chips
released from packets and popped into mouths.

Running round after lunch, they drive the wild
birds wild with their unorganized games of tag,
their impromptu dances, their three-legged races,
their winners and losers, their joys and sorrows.
Fishing nets are produced from nowhere. Girls,
boys wander to water’s edge in search of prey:
incipient frogs, newts, tadpoles, bullheads, but
how do you paint the wet and wriggle of them?

Try painting this. Whistles sound. Kids regroup.
The bus reloads and goes. Now paint the silence.
Sketch the tranquility of woods, bird-calls back,
of the beaver pond with its lilies stretching their
green necks skywards towards a pale blue sky
where cotton clouds cluster together in celestial
flocks. A pastoral scene, this painter’s paradise.

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Full Moon Over KIRA

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Full Moon Over KIRA

Who shall dredge this midnight moon
from the shoals of Passamaquoddy Bay?
Gaunt the moon-rakers’ faces, harsh their hands
hauling on nets, heaving her up, rippled and dimpled,
blunt her bite as she emerges from submersion,
raked from water in the traditional ritual.

Upside down, these reflected clouds,
as bright as full-moon fishing boats
distorted from below as the night wind
blows clean dry bones across a mirrored sky
where shadow fish fly wet with moonshine.

Oh pity her, you people, as she’s dragged
from her element and exposed to air and oxygen
that will slowly kill her, make her fade,
frail and fragile, not meant for this world of rock
and stone, flower and field, but destined to walk
in heavenly meadows or to rest in the shallows
where she rocks to sleep in the sea’s endless cradle.

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