October 11, 2017


Before we left Oswiecim, went to work elsewhere for the devil, and we left you to play your sweet clarinet for those officer’s parties and decampment marches, six of us said a Novena and made a promise in the bunker you built. Remember that sweet German marmalade, Albert? And those cups of tepid soup we brought to you those August nights? I remember your ready smile and broad hands. How capable you were with a carpenter’s tools. We were, each of us, around 19 years old in September of 1944. Karol said you reminded him of his kid brother, the stubborn mass of your young muscles despite the starvation and hard labor you endured. You heartened us. And we loved you as we did another Jew, a Nazarene who was also a carpenter.
And in that place where you worked alone those hot afternoons, in that bunker that we built together intended to protect the SS in case of an air raid; the rest of us, we gathered and Bronislow wrote our names and prisoner numbers on a scrap of paper that Karol ripped from an empty cement bag. We used the pencil left by a visiting inspector and there where you hid the evidence of the food we hid for you, the jelly jars and soup tins. There in the cement wall, inside an old vinegar bottle, after we said a prayer for survival, and if nothing else remembrance of our young lives, we secreted that scrolled paper after adding your name, Albert Veissid, and A12063, your prisoner number.
—first appeared (9/30/2017) on BeZine hosted by Meta/Phor(e)/Play during their live "100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC) people the world over...gathered to stand up and stand together for PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY, and SOCIAL JUSTICE.

June 14, 2017

Girls in the Garden

Because this is a love poem, 
nudity should be expected 
It may be clichébut there will be flowers 
and since this is love—gazing for hours.
A woman in love is a woman insane. 
She’ll sacrifice everything in ritual flames. 

Love eternal sometimes ends in flames,
even if pledged in an oath or a poem.
Such loss, it is said, made Lilith insane, 
her natural power is still not accepted,
replaced by her sister Eve, within hours; 
she fled and the footprints she left filled with flowers. 

For Lilith’s breath and her touch begat flowers 
and thoughts of her body, for Adam, begat flames,
when she disappeared that man searched for hours; 
he filled with lament and wrote sonnets and poems.
This longing for Lilith he had not expected.
If not for his Eve, he would be insane. 

Eve complained to God, her man was insane. 
God gave her some apples (they started as flowers)
then he slithered away as should be expected
from a snake in the grass or a bush full of flames. 
God made Adam write some lies in a very long poem
and recite it to both his wives for hours and hours. 

Brainwashing these women took more than just hours,
and for millenniums since, women are seen as insane,
forbidden to speak, or to sing, or to poem.
Instead, they must quietly tend to the flames.
And when in their wake there grew tides of flowers,
the power of women remained unexpected. 

Lilith and Eve behaved not as expected.
They studied and chanted like witches for hours.
Raising their power in starlight and in fiery flames.
Today, belief in a Goddess is considered insane
and when women seem pretty; they are treated like flowers. 
They're worshiped in plays and in dramatic poems. 

The power of women is rarely accepted by scholars, or clerics, in love or insane. Yet young girls sit vigil for hours and hours. They tie up their hair in ribbons and flowers and speak secret wishes to candlelit flames. Writing their poems and calling God by her name. 

January 15, 2016

Clare Bowdy

This short story was first published on The Whistling Fire in May of 2011. I wrote it a very long time ago. The story was conceived during my fist residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts where as a new student I felt invisible and overcome by all the light on campus. During my final residency and with the help of classmates we made a short movie about an invisible student on campus. Suzi McCarty, Steve Lindstrom and Justine Curley Cohen and others helped me to make it. Fittingly enough, the movie was recorded over when a friend taped my graduating lecture, which I've never viewed. Today I realized that The Whistling Fire had also gone dark. Invisibility is indeed a damnable sort of a thing and it also has it's upside. Do you see what I mean?

Clare Bowdy sat at her kitchen table with a pad of paper and pen and made a list of the dozen or so experiments she conducted over the past few weeks. What’s meant by experiment is a little test involving just Clare, not scientific so much, but a test which either supports or disproves Clare’s theory that she is invisible. 

Fountain:  In this experiment Clare stood for ten minutes in the little decorative fountain at her workplace. What’s meant by workplace is that god-awful institution where Clare shows up every morning to perform various clerical duties for eight hours, excluding a lunch hour and two fifteen minute breaks. Men’s Room.  In this experiment Clare used the Men’s room on the tenth floor of the Lennox Building, which was the first time. The second time she used the Men’s room on the ground floor, an active locale. Borrowing. What’s meant by borrowing is stealing. Otherwise honest, Clare viewed this as an essential component of her experiments. She borrowed from the Barley Independent bookstore, The Collected works of Christina Rosetti. She borrowed from the corner drugstore, a tin of mints and a lipstick. Office Crazy. What’s meant by crazy is that Clare crazily moved her chair to the center of the office where she sat for four hours reading a book of borrowed poetry. Grocery check-out. Movie Theater. Clare theorized about her invisibility when a bank teller closed his window and light while Clare stood next in line. This followed a series of other mishaps. Clare didn’t think she’d always been this way only that over time, she’d been disappearing. If the results of her investigations hold true—well then—she is invisible. What’s meant by invisible is unseen. As far as the rest of the world was concerned Clare Bowdy did not exist.

There were things, things that Clare had been unaware of previously. For instance, invisible people don’t pay for theater tickets or bus fare.  They don’t bother about their appearance. A good deal of money can be saved on toiletries and clothing. Perhaps the most wonderful epiphany was Clare’s realization that other people weren’t ignoring her. They simply didn’t see her. This made Clare radiate with a sense of self-confidence.  There were other things. Invisible people don’t have to show up for work. Clare did show up because work was an excellent time-pass. What’s meant by time-pass is something to do, not work so much as other things, like rerun the crazy experiment, or go through a co-worker’s desk or pocket-book. Clare became concerned over her recent plunge into such shocking behavior. And so she decided to research the effects of invisibility. What’s meant by research is she rented three movies:  The Hollow Man, The Invisible Man and Memoirs of an Invisible Man. 
In two of the movies the central character went mad. A correlation between invisibility and lunacy arose, and why not?  Clare felt her own devilment. On Thursday, she’d peppered Miss Timoney’s eggs. On Wednesday she gave a group of boys the finger. Memoirs was her favorite of the movies. It was a funny love story in which Darryl Hannah falls for the unseen Chevy Chase. Clare admired this character’s make-the-best-of-it attitude.  In the movies the invisible characters were missed.  No one missed Clare. All of this study brought Clare to no definitive conclusions except that invisibility may cause psychosis. Clare pondered this idea as she sucked the skin of a popcorn kernel lodged between her teeth – previews of another Chevy Chase film played on the television. 

The best thing about invisibility was seeing it. Previously people’s seeming disregard of Clare seemed a kind of condemnation.  As if not looking at her was another way to stare at her in mockery. What’s meant by mockery is disdain. At least, this is what Clare means by mockery. Clare no longer waited timidly in lines; she cut them. She sat in the cafeteria near the most interesting people and eavesdropped on their conversations, even throwing in her two cents now and then. Life became rich with a new sense of passion and freedom. Clare Bowdy knew who she was—and she accepted herself. 

Clare stood naked before her bedroom looking glass.  She admired her beautiful reflection in the mirror. What’s meant by reflection is what you might expect – although to everyone else she was unseen – Clare could see herself.  All of her life what Clare saw in mirrors and reflected in storefront windows was fleeting and blurred – she never had a strong sense of herself. The truth is she never liked what she saw. It was as if the woman who looked back at Clare were an imposter – gray and shady – someone not to be trusted as yourself. Today Clare saw a veritable goddess in the glass – her gentle features –luminous skin –platinum hair and gray eyes – diminutive bosom and tiny waist. 
“Clare,” she said to herself in the mirror, “Clare Marie Bowdy.”

It was a warm day and Clare considered the idea of going to work nude – but even as an invisible woman – she thought better of it. She donned a pair of jeans and T-shirt and headed out in time to catch the 8:15 train.

At lunch the cafeteria was noisy.  A tray bumped into Clare’s but she didn’t look up from her reading. Things visible were losing her interest. She read the last line of her book, and then reread it aloud. Chewing a fry Clare pondered the line. A man coughed and she looked up. 

“Excuse me—” he said. 
Clare looked over her shoulder and at the people on either side of her. She stared at the man and he stared back at her. 
“You were saying?”
“Reading,” Clare stammered. “You saw me?” 
“And heard.”
Clare’s stomach rumbled. She put her fry down and arranged the mess on her tray. She’d been seen. What’s meant by seen is the past participle of see. 
“I watch you all the time,” the man said.
He wore a blue cotton work shirt, his dark hair a dingy color. His face faded with pockmarks. When he smiled, his teeth showed bits of burger and bun. 
“I’m Drew.”
“Clare—” She gathered her things.
“Can I see you again?” 
“Seems like—” She exited the noisy room looking back once. Drew watched her still. 

She’d left work; a bus all but ran her over as she rushed to catch the outbound train. Crossing the boulevard Clare Bowdy felt her stomach deep in the soles of her shoes. She was just beginning to feel that her purpose exceeded what others could see. Even though isolating, Clare felt empowered in her new lifestyle.  Now an unremarkable stranger changed everything, just by looking at her.
“How could I be so dumb,” she said out loud on the train. Clare put her hand over her mouth self-consciously.  The man next to her slept, the lady across from her read the paper, a skinny kid stood holding the handrail above her, no one acknowledged this strange woman who talked to herself.
“Maybe not so dumb,” she whispered. 

With the telephone at the kitchen table Clare called Becky Adam in Human Resources at the Lennox Building. 
“Let’s see Clare, new hires…Merrill , Bob Raleigh, Simms…oh here … Drew, Drew Voigt. He’s an Intra-corporate courier. Extension 901. Call me next week, Honey. Want me to transfer you?” 
“No. No. Thank you Becky,” Clare hung up. She sat silent at her kitchen table in the afternoon sunlight. Her latest Am I Visible experiments were consistent with her original results. No one saw her in the men’s room. No one noticed when she climbed on the Modern Art Sculpture in the courtyard.  No complaints when she cut the line at the elevator. What was it Drew said? I watch you all the time.
Clare was jittery before lunch. She decided that if she saw Drew she’d pretend she hadn’t. Drew could see her if he wanted that was his business. She was indiscernible as she slipped into her usual dining spot. Directly, Drew Voigt sat across from her. What’s meant by directly is that Clare hadn’t even had a bite of her Sauer-dog.
“Hi,” he said.
She nodded in grim acknowledgement.  
“You look nice. Blue is your color.” 
It wasn’t. Blue brought up the grays in Clare’s complexion. It made her look washed out. 
“Can I call you some Friday night?”

Clare didn’t answer. They ate lunch in silence. He chewed noisily breaking the stride of his mastication regularly with his broad smile. Clare’s bites grew smaller and smaller and with them she felt as if she were shrinking. When she was through she scrawled ten digits on a scrap of napkin and passed it to Drew.

Friday, Drew called Clare and they talked into the wee morning hours. By dawn he knocked on her apartment door.  Soon they’d spent hours, more like days together. Clare never mentioned her condition. They never kissed or held hands but she’d imagine sultry scenes, picture him naked in her bed.  Every love scene on TV or in a book was Drew and Clare. 

Certain ideas gained force for Clare. And so she decided to tell Drew the truth. That evening, Clare told the story of a nondescript-loner, a well-read and intelligent woman who discovers through odd occurrences that no one sees her.  She amused Drew with anecdotes of the woman sneaking into theatres and using the men’s room. The story ended in a dangling way, What’s meant by dangling is with the same feeling as when someone tells part of a secret but stops themselves before telling the juiciest part. Drew moved to the window and opened it. He looked out into the quiet evening. Clare tried to think of another story but every clever thought she’d ever had disappeared.  
“Are you the invisible woman?” He said, turning back to her.

She didn’t answer. The intensity of Drew’s gaze made Clare feel not just seen, but seen naked. Somehow they lay down together on Clare’s bed and soon they were naked and Drew’s narrow body was arching above hers.  The lights were on. Their eyes were open. All of the stories and visions disappeared and the whole world became invisible. It’s another thing all together when everyone and everything else is invisible and the only thing in focus are the lips or the hands of your beloved. What’s meant by beloved is Drew Voigt. 

“What are colors to a blind man? What’s music to a man-who-can’t-hear? What’s the-smell-of-a-flower to a person with no olfactory?” Drew said, smoking and leaning from the evening windowsill.
“Everything,” Clare answered, “and nothing.”

At her kitchen table Clare makes a list of the ten or so job openings that she might be qualified for: Typist, Library night reference, Night-watch person (she crossed this one out but hasn’t ruled it out), Mini-mart Clerk – Graveyard shift, Teacup girl – Midnight Espresso Café, Groundskeeper’s Assistant – Jasmine Memorial Park Cemetery.

It was three weeks since Becky Adam phoned Clare.
“Timoney wants to see you. There’s a problem with you not showing up for work recently Clare.” She spoke with incredulity, unable to accept this as the behavior of Clare Bowdy.
“Also, there’s been a sexual harassment complaint. I’m not supposed to tell you. Something to do with the men’s room…”
Clare accepted six weeks severance and several months’ medical coverage so that she might get the help that Evelyn Timoney suggested. Miss Timoney was an even and well dressed woman. Clare was glad to meet her and Becky Adam who was much heavier than Clare imagined.  
“I can’t fathom you’ve worked here ten years Clare,” Miss Timoney said, “I’d have thought I’d have seen you by now. You’ll do just fine my dear.” She patted Clare’s hand.

Clare thought of kissing Drew.  Each time she remembered a kiss deeper than any she imagined. She thought of how they tore at each other’s clothing, stared at each other’s bodies, made visible love – in the day light of the afternoon sun, with the shade drawn up – for the entire world to see, if the world were not so blind. And in the morning Drew gulped orange juice from a carton and wandered her apartment naked, a piece of dry toast in his hand. Such remembering took Clare’s breath away. 
She didn’t need experiments, didn’t need Miss Timoney’s therapy or Drew Voigt’s love-making. The truth was no one ever saw her. Even when she looked right at them, people looked right through Clare: the bank teller, the bus driver, the man on the train who sat on her lap, the teacher who never called on her despite her waving hand. Her own parents, who discussed her dilemmas, seemingly oblivious that Clare sat on the couch listening to their every word.  

She sipped cappuccino and chewed a bagel at a sidewalk café and afterwards floated across the greening bridge and up the paper street to her home. Dry leaves and crumpled foil skittered in the dust of dusk, a thin white receipt, a list written on its back, lulled among them.  It had escaped the careless hand of Clare Bowdy, as she traveled unobserved through the dusty streets. 

November 05, 2015

America is Sell

I wrote this when I was in high school, 1974 or so, I'm not sure about it's strength as a poem but it's uncanny how true it remains.

America is Sell!

Convince. Persuade.
Free expression?
Free enterprise.
Words are want-ads.
Unrighteous screams demand righteousness!
Political impressiveness
The hard sell,
the soft sell,
the "oh well" apathetic 
voice of the people,
slapped silly by the flesh-eaters.
Where are her guts gone?
Who soiled sweet liberty?
Land of my advertise.
Land where believing died.
America is Frisco,
Disco, I love my Crisco.
Oil boils, corporate fingers,
eager for the crude.
I am in the mood for good
old-fashioned white, blue
and read the paper yesterday.
Seems the world may burn away.

(This land is their land. This land is their land.)

January 24, 2015


Some things I like 
for the language of them:
Plant cell division
for xylem and phloem.
Catholicism for
extreme unction,
limbo, purgatory,
and Sister Mary Pious.

I could love a human
for vascular and cranium.
And though portent of trouble,
free radical begs affection,
like James Dean
with a cigarette.

It’s why I’m a philatelist
so I can say that word.

First appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of the The Tower Journal online magazine. 

July 08, 2014


My brother digs in the village of his wife,
he brushes the dust from artifacts, clutches pearls

he finds lying around the site. Today he found
her rings, has spoken with the locals, a daughter, and a son. 
He tries to keep from fury,
they are young and this is their first dig.

He catalogs the stratosphere of his finds

in the dwelling-rooms of the decedent:
a wardrobe of fine linens, scarves, and jewels;
her library and sacred recipes. It is believed

she collected these stones for use in ritual.
Her sewing room is a vast assortment
of notions and textiles: curious pastels,
funky buttons, and glitter craft glue.

Hands gloved, he turns each item over
examining it for further evidence.
Before the expedition, he slept on her side of the bed

with her robe, a shroud, scented by her still.

He searches for proof of her. This is her paperclip.

Here is a picture of her in the army, her diamond ring.
It’s as if she only just sat here in this leather chair
and sipped from this chipped ceramic cup, he tells me

by texting from his location. I am states away.
I do not say that she is a matter of record now,

an artifact more distant and less comprehensible
than the light arriving from a dying star. 

This poem first appeared in July 2013, in Spaces Lit Mag

Cyn & Jim

January 29, 2013

Do Not Disturb

If I am a traveler come
to wander the earth

if a scientist meant
to catalogue it all

if a butterfly born to taste
every flower’s nectar

If abundance
means this day

if I am the taster
swallowing some poison
meant for you

if a high powered microscope
to view things smaller than quarks

if a radio receiver built
to capture all the waves

if the woven blanket which
puffs the smoke-signaled message
from the sacred fires of ancient tribes

if a rocket ship of wonder meant
to visit every rock and star
in the milky way

if, after all, you would ask me
to interpret this hieroglyph

November 09, 2012

Ghost of my Familiar

Ghost of my Familiar

Grief Must Be witnessed to be Healed
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

At breakfast, Jessica asked if we’d heard a cat
mewing somewhere in the cottage. 

In the bathroom, the shadow of a cat brushed my leg
tagged along until I returned my head to the pillow.

Abigail and I, walking to the vacant camp at midnight
encounter a black cat—eyes flashing moonlight.

In a dream days later, he reappears on the porch, chasing
spiders, sniffing an empty dish. His purrs stir the quiet.

When I wake I remember a skittish calico kitten I fed last summer,
how Denny said not to, he'd only shoot her after I'd gone for the season. 

Now I hear a mournful mewling and recall Frida and Diego,
stalking a brown moth or noiseless rodent in the cottage.

In Jane’s dream of you, you wore a beautiful golden ring
and complained that you could no longer hear Jim's voice.

We hear you. Your laughter, sweet as those redwood 
chimes, sounds against the span and stillness of our sleep.

July 21, 2012

What the Water Gave Me

Amy King

   About her most recent book, I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press) John Ashbery describes Amy King's poetry as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living.”
    King was honored by The Feminist Press as one of the “40 Under 40: The Future of Feminism” awardees, and she received the 2012 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. She organizes “The Count” and interviews for VIDA: Woman in Literary Arts and teaches English and Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.
   King also co-edited Poets for Living Waters with Heidi Lynn Staples and currently co-edits the PEN Poetry Series and Esque Magazine with Ana Bozicevic.

The Boating Party by Mary Cassatt
   A recent visit to the Baltimore MOA afforded me the opportunity to bask in the beauty of Degas, Monet, Seurat and other favorites. Impressionists’ are easy to love. Perhaps a little less easy surrealist art is an acquired taste. I don’t love poetry for its measured formulaic success in making a mark of beauty I love it for the way it makes me feel. This is the same thing I love about the strange.
   I might hang a print of the painting above in my living room or use it as a palette for a color scheme. But “What the Water Gave Me,” by Frida Kahlo is at times ‘unbeautiful,’ even incomprehensible. How am I to understand the strange images that float above the legs of the bather in Kahlo’s painting? My relationship with Kahlo’s work has evolved. And when I view it I view it in the context of the artist’s story.

What the Water Gave Me by Frida Kahlo

   Liz Hager blogs about Kahlo’s painting and about it she writes, “The painting is one of Kahlo’s most visionary and disturbing; the sophisticated water fantasy provides the vehicle for a densely-packed portrayal of the artist’s subconscious. It’s almost as if she crammed her entire life into this bathtub scene.  Kahlo returned to the same symbols over and over; many of the items included here can be seen in her other paintings, some without much alteration.” 
     Someone recently asked me why I love Amy King’s latest book, I Want To Make You Safe. That was weeks ago and I’ve mulled over my response. Why do I love the strange stuff of Amy King's voice?

               Without a sex-o-nista season, the pizza is burning
               the other room down, and these cracks aren’t
               as pungent as the crack the great state of Ohio deserves
               when you rock ‘n’ roll over; so grab your poles,
               go by the lake, and eat up to embrace whatever organ
               makes you gyrate those hips, lace those long legs up
               to our waists and turn out a turntable on this party face,
               sans with or without us, our great groaning lusts a marked
               increase in the moon’s ancient pull by the top of the stairs (69).
   I love it because, just like Kahlo's painting, I Want to Make You Safe is a collection of odd images floating in a tub above the bare legs of the narrator. The observer is alone in the artists head. King's poems are dream poems. When we are in the dream it is not odd at all; we don't question absurdity. That is how I've learned to see Dali too. In magical realism we suspend our disbelief. In surrealism and with the absurd we suspend our expectation of the expected and allow for the outlandish with the commonplace and other uneasy match ups. Such art forces us into a stream of conscious response and it is there that the meaning, if any, happens. 
   King’s voice is the body under the bath-water soaking beneath floating images both soft and hard. “Hello Lady Bird/ Hola, Smashed Guitar Parts,/ I take these strings to this neck/and cut the tumor in half—love is a surgery/ in participles, pus-filled insects./Additional commands keep the planet well-heeled.”
   Peculiar as the voice of I Want To Make You Safe may be; it is an accessible voice with its casual declarations, “A dandelion seed also looks for corners to lie,/so here am I/a seated tin can/with intrusive mice to lend a hand,”(38)  and conversational tone: “You think I am she. She is you and everyone who adjusts too well, (63).
   This is a book from the author more than by the author. It revives the unconscious experience where the mind jettisons a million thoughts into existence simultaneously and leaves the reader to select, to order, to give attention to what matters in the moment.
   Interestingly, Frida Kahlo made separate paintings of many of her “tub” images. I get that sense with King’s poems too; each piece contains the potential for tangents and journeys. 
   I like King's poems because they are semiotic: We think we know things. Pilfer the lint of dreams,/uproot every yellow, follow stigmata for dust./We have always been the first fruit and the first to rot./We are the ones that read the signs after we bury them./(5)
   I like King's poems for their asymmetry: Ohio is equidistant from the religious saviour/I've become and the promise of America's decrepit/class. The "critique of political economy" dangles/from the arch of my hot-pants tongue. Pencil lipped,/we're left wanting what? 
   I like the feminist King in the poem, “Men by the Lips to Women.”

I am the love you light yourself with
and my gender is powerless in this,
We are metered only by our own machines,
While the book is a clock that forgets mechanics.
Her hands can count but would rather wipe warm dew,
The pall from your lips and kiss the lids,
Of your eyes from sleep. Here am I, is he,
with yoke and shadow removed, she is, her in me,
apart from you, man reading men by the lips of women. (31)

   The voice of the narrator feels interior, talks to herself; we cannot censor this dream, this voice allows all; she speaks the tongue of the contemporary god. King tells me that she likes Ana Bozicevic’s (King’s life and work partner) take on her work that she " scats out these casual masterpieces of rhetoric, then promptly forgets where they came from, makes experiments at careful authorlessness seem funny and humorless in comparison." 
   Be assured that despite I Want To Make You Safe’s surrealistic feel King does not kiss to be clever. These are not facile poems; they are written in the context of contemporary queer narrative.
I like I Want to Make You Safe because it is intelligent. King does tip her hat and in a way she reinforces what I’ve been thinking. One of the names she drops in her work is Claude Cahun’s. (9)  Claude was born Lucy Schwob. She began making photographic self-portraits at age 18 and continued doing so through the 1930s. She took the name Claude Cahun and assumed a sexually ambiguous identity. During the 1920a Cahun lived in Paris with her life-partner Suzanne Malherbe. Cahun and Malherbe (known as Marcel Moore) worked their art together, making sculptures, photomontages and collages and writing collaboratively.
   André Breton, founder of the Surrealist movement, called her “one of the most curious spirits of our time.” Although she produced a huge amount of work, as well as significant writings, Claude Cahun operated on the fringes of the Parisian Sureallist (sic) movement. It was not until the 1980's that she was discovered (by François Leperlier), and soon became seen as a forerunner to queer theory and feminist art.” 4.
   It is easy to draw a parallel between Calhun/Maherbe and King/ Bozicevic since both pairs of women shared their art and their lives. Both are pace setters in their respective communities and both seem committed to art and an innate right to self-identify.
   In his Surrealists Manifesto, Andre Breton says, “"Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express -- verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner -- the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern." 5
   And there is other evidence to support the idea that King’s writing is dreamlike. Her poems feature an element of surprise they include unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur. Andre Breton believed that Surrealism was above all a revolutionary movement. Perhaps the same is true of King's work.
And there is other evidence to support the idea that King’s writing is dreamlike. 
   Analyzing last night’s vivid dream is daunting; but re-dream the dream and the strange is readily accepted. Amy King’s poems are like that, they are not easy to understand; don’t try.  Instead read them in the way you might a dream where the odd and discordant becomes part of the landscape. And then read them again, closely.

A brief chat with poet Amy King:

Bluemoon Northeast: I’d like to include one of your favorite poems from IWTMYS here, which poem do you chose today?

Amy King: “The White of Sacre Couer Against a Blue Parisian Sky”

Bluemoon Northeast: I note that you do some name dropping in your poems. Among the names dropped are: David Wojnarowicz, Tina Modotti and Claude Cahun. Each of these artists and writers share a strong and specific artistic identity and a reputation of being something of an activist or revolutionist. How do you see yourself and your work in this context, that of being and artistic revolutionist and an activist?

Amy King:  I think the labels are intricately linked – there are simply gradations of each. For instance, one can be seen more as a “cultural worker” via art. But the art work can resonate among folks and inspire action, which echoes the “activist” label. I’m quite fond of artists, though, whose work and life somehow speak similar political messages. Watch out for a paper I recently wrote on the life of Leonor Fini, an artist who never officially subscribed to being a member of the Surrealists, though her work and life certainly resonated politically and still inspire others, like myself, to be an independent agent when the group one is affiliated with reinforces / requires various oppressions.

Bluemoon Northeast: What other poets or artists feed your muse?

Amy King:   Loads. Right now, I’ve been engrossed with the work and lives of a loose-knit group of artists: Frida Kahlo. Leonor Fini, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo. And many more.

Bluemoon Northeast: What is next for you?

Amy King:  I’m testing the waters of poetry still, integrating more “real life” material of the aforementioned artists’ lives into this upcoming work.


The white of sacre coeur against the blue Parisian sky
marks passageways that blur whenever we enter this city's face.
By our bankrupt dreams, we hold out for starkness,
remember its eyes to dine in.
But I'm of little use to persons undercover, craving
in these buildings' recesses the corners of smiles,
eyes that bulge behind curtains, looking for anything
that will pull the cork, boil the blood
of displeasure tightened by the work of pleasing bosses
and each neighbor whose fence moves a little closer
each year, moaning to stroke the package
left nightly on my doorstep--of pearly liquid, bottled and tied
with a ribbon the color of fairy dust.
They, a secreted them, would have us die to erase that glow.
Mostly at the height of moon's night do her shady limbs
work across properties and lawns they guard with their lives,
whatever these are, whatever they become, however they burn.
For your listening pleasure, I turn as old as I was born,
stroke the bumpy skin of our whisky illness, manage the pyramids
we've never climbed or crawled within,
enter the Morocco never wrapped by your feet
kissing pebbles, visiting your veins, telling you mythologies
that include how we are the sores of hope riding
the backs of tomorrow, mountain peaks we climb
and shout the names of those to come and those who've been,
each of us who happens to be the world's greatest against every
shade of sky, and every sky that cradles our dying heads, still living.

May 22, 2012

For Michael

I’m always borrowing grief, a cup of sugar.
This is the neighbor’s grief not mine;
the neighbor’s cup. Let me take that sure
walk through the rocky meadow down
to the place next door and return it.
I've not seen you in so long.  What
should it matter that you are gone?
It is not like I’ll need to fill up the space
left by your absence from my day.
I can’t say when last we spoke or met.
Yet, the loss of you is keen and bitter
as some bad root that no amount
of sugar will temper. It burns into me.