Origin Stories

Watching the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop,  I again considered the junction between permanence and artistic expression. The film which is about, among other things, street art, made me wonder about the image (or object), the artist, and about what happens to both when the image is done. Gone or preserved. Momentary, like the croak of a frog or lasting like the croak of a frog through the forest of time. dsc_0367

For a while now, Eric has been encouraging me to see the origami I make as more than just folded paper. I know origami is much more than folded paper; it’s ancient, expressive, precise, colorful, intricate, disciplined, beautiful, worrisome, elegant–both object and idea. My pieces mean a lot to me, and I save them. They’re made, crafted with skill (varying levels in my case). While I’m following a pattern, each piece is built with my choice of paper and pattern, creased by a few sensitive fingers that create mountains or valley folds, which become cranes, boxes, pinwheels, decahedrons, fish, turtles, and flowers. Eric thinks they’re amazing. What to do with them?

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First, we thought of photography as a means to document and also preserve them. (I’ve also tried lacquer, but not so good). Then the photos become art too. Or do they? What about creating a new art form? How . . . maybe why? So far, I’ve come up with versigami–combining poems, shapes, and photography. It’s a work in progress. Here are some of my first efforts.dsc_0402

Poems “Accountability” (crane) and “Losing the Summer” (box) took shape when I printed the text onto the paper then folded it. New? Maybe.

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As part of the process, I had to figure out how to get the text to anticipate the folds, not as easy as I thought it would be. More to the point, I had to start to see ahead to the folds. Where the words appeared on the paper was important. Without the dexterity of a good design program, this proved more complicated than my four-o’clock self really could handle. After a few print outs (and font fun), I could find a balance between words and no words. My poems are more permanent to me in print–for this project I want typed words, not handwritten ones. dsc_0411

There was also the matter of what the actual poem says. I want the words to mean what they mean as a stand alone poem, but also in this new manifestation of versigami. “Losing the Summer” worked well because it’s about, well, loss–the missing pieces. I liked that as a visual theme as much as a written one. dsc_0430

I would like to experiment more with shape, text, process, and finality.

The poem was featured in Four Blue Eggs and recently cited in Gaylord Contributions so maybe versigami a way to reinvent it, update and give it additional life.

Amy Nawrocki was on summer break from her freshman year at Sarah Lawrence College in June of 1992 . . .  [Read more

Origins. Versigami, transience, permanence, folded and unfolded. “Such a thing is not /

“Such a thing is not / dsc_0428a deformity, but a bud.”

Gratitude

Gratitude

 

If we could have read the moon’s face
through the falling snow
that night we drove into its absent shadow,
it would have told us that the cold
sometimes melts things, too.
The train station, under hazy yellow lights,
fills with travelers arriving for Christmas.
We drive home with our father,
a faint smile crooked in the low end of his mouth.
Because the road hides so much,
more than once, Dad mentions black ice
the way he’d repeat an argument
until we understood. But when the car,
spins momentarily toward the guard rail,
he anchors us—and we are held
by his steadiness, which, for so many years,
we mistook for other things—
discipline, scolding, but mostly anger.
It’s time now to take this lesson
and file it safely under black ice,
reluctant blessings, how our father,
silver haired and breathing slowly,
saves his children’s lives yet again.

A poem from Four Blue Eggs, images from London

Book Club

Here is an invitation to the books you are about to order: “Book Club”  appears in Four Blue Eggs, which is now conveniently available directly from me. Find the “Buy Now” on the “Purchase Signed Copies” menu tab. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea, and make your purchase (through PayPal) today. I’ll be happy to personalize messages and get your copy to your mailbox asap.

Book Club

In the months before my father died
he joined a half-dozen mail-order book clubs.
The hard backs with their sturdy resolve
arrived week after week
as his own pages dissolved in vinegar.
After, the packages clogged the front step,
waiting for idle new eyeglasses, waiting
for a heart, bruised and bypassed,
to decipher conquests and romances,
to find that it was not unlike others—
full of the blood that would betray it.

I pull up to the long driveway
and find, rubber-banded to the post,
this month’s arrival—The Oxford
Companion to World Mythology.
Instead of scribbling cancel
on the invoice, I crack the spine
in order to breathe in the crisp pages,
to decipher the stories that will have to fill
the spaces where my own heart failed.

As always, you can also buy unsigned copies and e-books through Homebound Publications. Add a couple other titles to your cart while you’re at it.

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“It would be easier . . . “

Here’s a poem that appeared in Reconnaissance, published by Homebound Publications in 2015.

Long Shot

A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.      ~Eudora Welty

The dilemma is not
about choosing between
architecture or faces,
panorama or close-up,
indirect light or flash

but between
the print’s future frame
and the quiet immobility
of reflection—of just sitting
and being, not worrying
about whether any of this
will be preserved digitally
and remembered in twelve
or thirteen years. Chances are,

tomorrow I will struggle
with recreating the bird
swaggering near my feet. Maybe
in some somnambulant day dream,
I’ll re-see these tiny
daisy-like weeds and hear
the passersby crunch gravel
under lazy sneakers. I might
be able to gather pieces
of foil and flattened cigarettes
from a mind cluttered
with fading poppies
and the leaves of a tree
I cannot name
blowing in a breeze.

It would be easier
if I didn’t love
every single pigeon, this one
with his spooky eyes and orange beak—
a single brushstroke
of white and teal beneath his neck,DSC_0294

and if the fence’s shadow
wasn’t so dappled and transient,
if acorns would stop falling
mid-distance between dawn
and dusk, long enough
to preserve their posts
in my mind. If forgoing
the shot and closing my eyes
would be enough to argue against

some future self
who will be too old or sad
or something worse
to remember this.

Check out these other great titles from Homebound Publications including new fiction by L.M. Browning  and Eric D. Lehman, poetry by Andrew Jarvis and James Scott Smith, illustrated children’s literature by Elizabeth Slayton, and nonfiction by David K. Leff.  Add Four Blue Eggs and Wildness: Voices of the Sacred Landscape to your book bag and you’ll be set (for a while)! Support independent publishers and writers who want to make a difference in the world. Save 20% and receive free shipping on orders over $35.00 with coupon code: SUMMERREADING20.

 

The Beauty of Faces

Babci’s recipe, mom’s hands, Amy’s poems.

 

Babka

I eat the bread with raisins and some butter
remembering how I first learned to knead it.
My mother’s hands would shape the bread

in careful mounds, the counter floured
in a dusting, light as graying memory.
I mix the dough with raisins and some sugar

moving the moist glob with my hands.
She’d warn me not to knead too gently,
her hands would show me how the bread

should give and tug, like elastic,
then surrender; let the yeast begin
to tease the bread with flavor and some nurture.

Standing in the kitchen, the light streams in;
the heat takes over with deft precision,
my mother’s hands would ease the bread

into awaited sleep. She tells me now
to let it sit, give it time, watch it rise.
I eat the bread with raisins and some butter.
I long to see her hands rising in my own.

~published in Potato Eaters, Finishing Line Press, 2008

 

The Beauty of Faces

We hold tightfisted to the beauty of faces
because photographs have no sound
unless we tap into the orchestra behind them,
try to hear the family’s voices piped
and whistling the day they were recorded
as we can only imagine how glaciers
moving in and out of the landscape
create sound spacious enough to crack
the horizon. So, too, the hiss and spit
of the northern lights must be dreamed
because our ears are inefficient
as old telegraph wires.

So the house
on South Colony Street carries
children’s laughter up the front stairway
sloping toward the kitchen
where Josephine’s peeled oranges hum
like music from the Victorola
filling the heart with remembrance and history,
pulling toward a place called home.

~published in Four Blue Eggs, Homebound Publications, 2014

 

 

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From Four Blue Eggs, published by Homebound Publications. Celebrate 5 years independent publishing, order your copy today, and give it to your mom.

On My Mother’s Seventy-third Birthday

The hike is pleasant; the trail markers
are new, ferns and mountain laurel bloom
along the path. A soft whispering breeze
says something about remembrances
and a flimsy gasp escapes from my lungs.
Wishing for its own voice, a trickle of water
inches down a slope of jagged rocks as if
wanting just to touch something, however cool.
In a clearing, I see across the rounded tops of trees
into the valley and into the complex
gathering of green—the heart of June,
new and curious. Yet, everything seems
to be empty. Despite the emeralds
all I spy are gaps; rifts appear where leaves
and bark separate, the gulf between earth
and sky is full of ever-present grey stones.
More than a half-life has passed
since we wondered whether the hair
she was losing would grow back black
or peppered with white ash, but I cannot
remember what we decided. Memory
in its detachment, is as insufficient
as a summer waterfall.

 

Thinking

The Thinker as Poet

Aus der Erfahrung des Denkens

—Martin Heidegger

How like a           whisper the wind
engaging the cup of my ear.

How like a shout       these echoing
passages filter northwest to southeast.

How like a growl      the rustling leaves request
channel from shadows to true

existence.

How like a thought      disappearing
into thin air       these pages ruffling beneath
my pen       beneath a passing sun
beneath the loud, enchanting

chimes of Sunday in spring.

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This poem appears in Four Blue Eggs, published by Homebound Publications in 2014. Make your purchase of the full collection here.

The True Weight

West Highland Way, August 2011; a little tough, a little glorious

 

eric in pain

The True Weight

We make a list of all our favorite moments—
best hikes, finest meals— skipping
over the hard parts—when boots filled
with muck and rain froze our hands
and spun through the plastic
of our water-proof coats, each cursed step
you suffered through pain without ever
surrendering to sighs. Cataloging
the singular bluebell doesn’t really

tell the whole story. The tiny tear-shaped
flower pressed between “A Dream” and
“Ode to the Memory of Mrs. Oswald”
in the pages of Robert Burns
does not relate the true heft of that volume—
the pages, browned and frayed, turn easily
one at a time but bound together
they hold the true weight of the poet’s words.

So too, yellow broom and wood sorrel
decorating the ascent through Glen Nevis
or the heather spilling lavender toward
the modest peak of Bien Inverveigh
can never be summarized
in one sprig of tiny rainbow blooms.

From Four Blue Eggs, Homebound Publications, 2014

Rusting

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From Four Blue Eggs

Please add Homebound Publications to your list of stops for holiday shopping. Winter Sale–25% off! Finish 2015 off with a book in your lap.

How to Say Goodbye

The eighth month buzzes
through lichen days, dry
and hot; mud pools sweat
from the long-ago decadence
of rain and frogs plop like ice cubes
into this imagined summer drink.

Badges of mica shimmer
in the sun-bathing rocks
and the thirsty earth sends
missionaries—brown mosses
crunching underfoot; leaves
absorbing the prism, reflecting
the short, electromagnetic
waves we have come to call
green, and grasses turning
now, slightly away as if
to say, enough, spreading
chlorophyll cylinders
to catch a dreamed of
rain drop. Even crickets
sing with parched voices;
their constancy interrupted
by an intermittent hiccup;
small bow legs pause to rest
and then return to syncopation.

It’s too hot for human flesh:
our scales have fallen off,
and our naked, unprotected cells
do not photosynthesize.
We are much like sticks
fallen from hardy oaks,
vulnerable to the breakage
of heat. But there are promises, too
here in this parched world:
of shelter, protection, the sip
of a cool night, the awe of witnessing
something of change; promises
of relief if only we hang on until
our reddest moment, after we’ve turned
everything to sugar and can let go
knowing winter’s white can hold us.

Monet, Dostoyevsky, and some Lousiana Cypresses

Thanks to Timothy Quirk for recording my reading of “Giverny” for Nutmeg Chatter.

 

With Voices of Poetry in August, I read “The man sitting next to me is reading The Idiot.”  You can find this and “Giverny” in Reconnaissance.

 

Thanks to James Novoa for filming me at Housatonic Community College for my Writers in the Classroom presentation. I’m reading “Aboriculture” which you can find in Four Blue Eggs.