Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Folder Art

colorful folders
all those patient files leaning
against each other

Checking in at the dentist's office, I'm struck by the shelves full of folders on the back wall. Patient files in shades of red, green, yellow, leaning this way and that, patiently supporting each other. The receptionists just think of them as work. I see them as still life--silent yet speaking volumes.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Saint Says

The Saint Says

See, see, see —
so this seer
sees with eyes
open or behind
closed lids

This attending
cries out for action
to turn the seeing
into something seen
by other seers

Sounds and squiggles,
symbols and signs —
threads that bind
inner and outer
pieces of wholeness

"Threads that Bind," oil on paper, Care Connet 2017
"The Saint Says," Care Connet 2018

Friday, January 12, 2018

another way trees make leaves

another way trees make leaves --
pulp into paper printed on pages --
pages into compost --
roots into leaves

Ten pumpkins on the sun porch froze solid during the last spell of -17 F (-27 C). Then came the usual January thaw and they started to soften. I've been slicing, dicing and steaming, packing the pulp into plastic containers for the freezer. Five down, five to go. Now we've had another below zero dip, so I will hold off on the pumpkins for a spell. 

Yesterday, after the freezing rain that looked like ice BBs followed by a frosting of snow, I walked gingerly out to the compost bin with the bucket of pumpkin skins. When I lifted the ice covered lid, a mouse disappeared down into the bowels. Better here than in the house! On the way back I took the bowl full of slick pumpkin seeds and dumped them in the tray under the bird feeder. The blue jays like them, and the squirrels. 

That's another part of nature's magnificent recycling center, from seeds to plants to food for animals, to excrement to compost to nourish roots. Throughout the cycle runs the sap, unless it's momentarily frozen!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

in a window box wet

in a window box wet
petunias -- red petals
falling with the rain

First Friday Artwalk on a wet October evening, I am making the rounds of art galleries. Walking down the wide brick alley connecting the courthouse to the square, I pass a window box full of petunias. The red flowers explode like fireworks in the dim light, sparkling in the rain and showering petals onto a slanted cover. The hatch may once have been used for delivering coal, but now it serves as a canvas for an impressionist tableau. The old brick wall, glowing blue in the low light, accents the brightness of the blossoms. Here, in this out-of-the-way place, a still life as beautiful as anything in a gallery.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

sunset golden light

sunset golden light
a man with a pole wading
in the low river

Record-breaking heat in late September. During a break between choir rehearsal and the John Williams concert at the Ottumwa Bridge View Center, I step out of the cool hall in my long black concert attire. After this summer's drought, the Des Moines River runs quite low, revealing shoals of gravel. A man is wading in the shallows. He pokes around on the bottom with a pole that has a small round attachment on one end. I don't think he's fishing. He seems to be searching for something. Could it be a metal detector? Or a little seine for scooping up gold-laden gravel? The only gold I see is cast by the setting sun on the bridge piers. They look like angels with outspread wings holding up humans on their incessant journeys back and forth across the waters.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

rust on a steel pan

rust on a steel pan --
slow decay from exposure
to water and neglect

Rust, a sure sign of degradation. Left outside, the iron in this pan is becoming iron oxide, turning from gray to orange, from smooth to flaky. Eventually, the entire pan will disintegrate.

We've all experienced the heartbreak of rust. Rusted cars, rusty nails you don't dare step on, rusted bridges that collapse, whole industrial zones based on steel that now bear the epithet "Rust Belt."

But once again, as with so many anomalies, I find this pan beautiful. Something that was once plain is now adorned, if only briefly, with a colorful and intriguing pattern. I can easily imagine this as a work of art in a museum. Just search for images of rust art and you'll see what I see.

if you open the box

if you open the box
will you encounter a Faun
or coils of phone wires?

Graffiti is mysterious, at least to those who don't know the language. But I do know that word, Narnia, from the seven novels by C. S. Lewis. In this fantasy series, four children evacuated from London during WWII find a wardrobe in a country house that leads to Narnia. There they meet a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood and many other magical beings, including the great lion Aslan.

So why has someone written NARNIA on a telephone cable interconnect box? Is this the name adopted by a gang? Did the same person, or a rival, spray paint a big blue X through the word? And what, if anything, is the meaning of the minnow-like smudges in an oval under the word? Were they just the artist wiping paint from fingers, or some secret code?

Unlike Pandora, I did not open the box. Not physically, anyway.