Thursday, April 30, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Butoh:

As a relief to the psyche take-apart-and-remake of the tuesday butoh dance sessions in the studio - here's a recipe for filling a strawberry rhubarb pie:

Cut 2 cups of one inch chunks of rhubarb stalks, and two of halved strawberries, more or less. Mix a cup of sugar with a half cup of flour, 1/2 tsp of cardamon, 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, a pinch of salt &, perhaps, some grated orange or lemon peel. Add the dry ingredients to the rhubarb and strawberries and tumble it enough just to coat. Put that in a pie shell, add a lattice if you can, brush the lattice with half cream/half egg, sprinkle with sugar and bake. Eat.

Sankai Juku is one of the great Butoh groups ~

Monday, April 27, 2009



The irony is I could give a damn
Whether the soul-force remaining
In your
Butternut dog’s liver
Is consumed or not. It grew on the thrill
Of power unleashed, teenage and twenty something
Mannerbunds of thieves, fitted out with
Rifles, pistols, bayonets, buttons, and flags,
Bullet whistles, seeing eyes go blank – so they fell,
And I’d say to Hell with them.

Someone’s child, oh lord,
No one watching .

Black man you called nigger
Three hours ago has to drag
your sorry ass cross the ground,
Half thawed to mud, strewed with
Peach petals down the aisle of Dead
To your belle wedding –
You spend the night in the arms
Of rot’s kiss, hero.
Stack you here in a row with the rest of em.

Someone’s child, oh lord,
No one watching.

Deep dark they smell it and come
Diving down through the cone
Of blue skili fire with that boneless shriek –
Put on wings in their sleep
And eat subtracted hours -
Packing the war sweet in their craw of days –
years picked apart and gulped like jelly
with their see-through beaks
before the lingering life-force
in the guts can flee
into the decency of worms.

Someone’s child, oh lord,
No one watching.

No, the only reason I’ll
Sit here all night
And half-way freeze, keeping
This little red fire so’s
I can see
Is not because you’ve earned
A guard of me. You not worth the crop
Of corn you tried to take – that was
My back bent to raise - I’m just
Keeping the bad from getting worse.
I ain’t your slave.

Someone’s child, oh lord,
No one watching but me.

Sketch for "The Battle of Dutton Hill":

Corpse of Civil War soldier ossified by Cordyceps - sketch for The Battle of Dutton Hill - oil on panel.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Work in progress...

Here's yesterday & today's work on Pete's Spring. I thought it would be fun to compare this with the initial image.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Panther: (“Painter” as it’s pronounced here.)

Climbing a knob without light
Is slow going at best. The woods
At night is full of sudden holes, jagged
Rocks – slashes of catbrier rip your
Legs and trip. The timber rattler and
Copperhead are uncoiled from hiding
Place and bite the blunder on their path.
The slope is strewn with random sharp-
edged karst of unguessable shapes, darkened
with moss to invisible barricade. Thickets
of face stripping withes lash and impede
every step, and the sides of these old hills
are steep.

From the ridge above the creek, looking out, as oer
A sea of humping waves, an owl’s eye could see
A solitary speck of flickering red, embedded in the distant trees,
A tiny old fire, and the shadow of Pete.
The black branches weave
A red-grazed dome above his wooly head,
Gazing slack-eyed and intent in
salamander flames that crawl the deep red
crevice of the coals.

The Owl extends his neck to expand
The gristle accordion in his throat, clacks
His beak and gives forth
A croaking downward slope of pitch
That curls off in a muffled cry. Latched
With tiny hook-feet on the black-thatched
Boles, katydids and all their kin chant the heat
with ratcheting scrapes
Of ridged plates tucked beneath their chitin wings.
Outside the firelight
Cracks and creaks, paw steps, slithers,
whippoorwills, and a far off, quickly
terminated shriek -

Do not disturb the gaze
Of hunkered Pete, still as
A stump, listening
To each signal in the night, things
Drawn to the fire, and those that retreat,
Tones in a tune that bind the edge of sleep
And open unlit pathways in his dream.
He treads the hillside in a panther slink,
Eyes unglittered by the starlight gleam -
Barely tethered to
The being left behind, the deeper
Joy crouched down to leap.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The White Lady:

The space is white – white-
Washed. The wood rubbed smooth,
Skylit, cotton. The helpers move
Efficiently in the work, clad softly also
In white. Breast-high planters, turned wood
Drums, are moved so quietly from sun
To sun, that all’s heard is the wind, softly
Flowing over the ceiling, and the tinkling
Of a distant bird.

In all this quiet expanse of white,
As though the room was transparent,
And a dream was looking through,
Only the loam is saturated black, rich –
Rich the blackness is ascribed, and in
The medallion of each drum
A mandrake crown rosette
Of vivid green, the intensity
Of these buried, living things, arrayed
In wheels correspondent
To the great one, spangled with
half invisible stars, reeling
Above - kept
Misted with dew.
She opens a ledger
And notes their growth on
Progressive lines, with date and time.

What is the point of this work?
What can it possibly mean? The buried
Roots mature in a different world, under
The dark earth, in the density of
Odure and mineral fragrance – one sleeps,
Half human, half animal shank, with hair
Slightly springy to the touch,
Compounding fervor in its veins, or whatever
These hybrid things are called,
That course between what is
And isn’t seen.
And yes, yes, yes, one tires
Of manipulating the long-desired
But unrequited flesh,
Seeking meaning in the shape,
Persuaded by a sure but ever-gentle touch -
To live somehow - to return the love.
But the mandrakes will forget,
As they shriek into the whiteness
Of the void, pulled by the frisky
Little black terrier, who won’t be killed
To hear them – that’s a myth. And to a
Certain selective market they will be sent,
Wrapped in white tissue, like nothing else –
In fact, the finest of their kind, enclosed
In their own white cardboard house, with
A slip of paper in her hand - with weight,
The date, and in lieu of signature, her brand -
A hand-drawn emblem of a flowering sprig - and signed;

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Deitscher Marmor (Pennsylvania Dutch Marbled Eggs):

For Isaac's art lesson this morning we made some marbled eggs for Easter. The recipe is old, from Germany. The term "Deitscher Marmor" means faux marble German style. It's done with onion peels.

You need the dry peels from yellow onions - about a cup or so. Soak the biggest pieces in cold water for a few minutes to soften them a little, then wrap them randomly around the eggs. If the eggs are exposed here and there, it looks good. Wrap the peel-wrapped eggs with string like a crazy spider, and tie them up. Put the eggs in a non-reactive pan, put in all the rest of the peels and barely cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer them for about 20 minutes. The peels will dye the water dark brown. Take the eggs out, cut the strings, and unwrap. Wash them off in cold water & you have marbled eggs. If you boil the eggs in an iron pot, the color will be dark olive green.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Oba Ko So:

Three thunder booms tunneled through
The night from my room
To the cabin in a dream. Steady
Drumming of hard rain, on tin, on wooden shakes
Linked us, place to place,
In blessed shelter.
The rain of Oshun softens
The earth. Fresh sweet water
Bubbles forth and runs
To greet the mother of the fishes
In the sea. So many phantoms
Are gathering here, that boundaries,
Like time in darkness, blur,
As the bodies of lovers blur,
Who couple in the perfect dark.
Hold dawn, while I linger
In Shango’s arms. His drum
At once in the sky and my chest,
The rumble of his laughter
Music to the elder dance, the black
And polished thunderhead
Of his axe
Bottomed out, and rose with
Every rumble till the ground was plowed
And laced the row
With starshot crops.
Even from the cemetery’s virgin mold.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Plans for staging Part IV of "You'll Always Come Back" ~ The Lathe of Heaven:

The Lathe

Pete, hanged.

Springtime! (lunch)

Spring greens, pork loin, creamed morels

strawberries macerated in honey liqueur, puff pastry, whipped cream

My dad used to bring Cebah a bouquet of Sweet Williams (wild phlox) every spring.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Lathe of Heaven:

When I touch the spinning
Wood with sharpened steel
It speaks! Foot flies
On the petal; my head, or this room
Like the belly of a fiddle
The spindle reaches out to
Form the axis of a wheel
On which the stars are inscribed
And spinning eons on.
The rim of that wheel rubs
A cord of gut, stretched taunt
To the throat
Of the hanged man, who sings.
What he sees; the present, the future,
And the past, but inverted
And no way to
Cipher which is which.

A, E, I, O, U – vowels, yes and words,
You didn’t think of
Come wobbling down the songline
Like quivering blobs of jelly.
Sentence, cause like I said
There’s nothing certain. Even
The drone of the vibrating string
Could be anything, or cease suddenly –
So that you can’t hook them end to end
Anymore, the things inside the blobs of
Duration I mean, being sung by the hung
Man, who’s dangling,
Suspended by his feet,
Naked and singing
Of what was, is, and will be,
On the axis of that tree ~ he has
A density shaving in his head ~ is that a sentence?

(To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.(知止乎其所不能知,至矣。若有不即是者,天鈞敗之。)((a faulty translation from the Tao))

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Toad Mother and the Cemetery:

The Toad Mother and the Cemetery:

Last night on a tv documentary
About the amazon I saw
One of those toads that lays eggs
On its own back. The skin grows
Over them, and then, after telling this
They showed the toadlets emerging
From the holes, their tiny fingers
Splayed in the first water.

So it is with the graves
On Dutton Hill – we put them in
And the grass grows, like a skin
Until the green is smooth as a back,
And just
the larval ghosts emerge, waving their
new spectral fingers and toes
in the ether of thought, darting out
of their snug holes
into an amazon of time.

They buried Mary first. It must be a
Strange sensation to begin a cemetery - climbing
A slope and knowing, by some occult art,
That this is the spot to break the turf,
To start the nursery of the dead, all raw with grief,
Or, and usually, relief, when the strength of the body
Outlasts the mind, and nature’s force
Shows its hand.

I needed some watercress, and that
Was an excuse
To descend again, down the flank
Of the hill, to the hidden hollow
Where they lived. I found the feathers
Of a crow, and of an owl,
Crouched in a ditch
By the remains of their wall, and sang
To myself, or to them, as though
The murmur might
Also penetrate the skin
Of the past they’re now living in.

Oh grandparents
That I never knew, the wild plums
Are still blooming
And the creek flows on. Clouds, of
A strange azure
Brood overhead, full of amphibious
Drops, eager to leap down
And hop across the sod.
Can you hear me there,
Inside your pods? Are these
Delicate tendrils,
Poking from the mold,
Your new hands?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Pink: (thoughts on a photograph)

Chisato once wrote
From Japan,
That she no longer wanted the pink
Of cherry blossoms, but
“real red, like the blood”.

I found my sakura
In a bargain bin, charmed by the idea,
But unable to imagine, then,
The tree, I bought it
Because it evoked
A distant world, and was cheap.

The gorgeous brocade
Of the springtime unfurls itself –
A pale blue sky with petal clouds.
Time drifts by like the
Falling of this soft pink snow
And the strength of the past falters
As the present grows.

A Japanese lady
Came for tea once, someone Chisato knew,
And gave me a bowl, not the plain style
Favored by tea masters, but dainty,
With a crowd of cherry blossoms
Tipped in gold – celebrate
The ephemeral. If it was a treasure
To her, she left it with a stranger.

How does the heart encompass
The wayside gifts, the fallen
Beauty strewn
In woman’s path?