poemimage: where text meets image…where the visual intersects the literary…copyright text/authors, copyright images/s.mccabe…your visit, perusal, consideration is appreciated.

Air and Fire as Force

in black rain

Xenophanes is said to have argued against the thesis that the world breathes: he must have been thinking of some Ionian nature-philosophers. Possibly Anaximenes originated the idea.

ralph 2

Aristotle says that among older Pythagoreans was a similar belief; its advocates connected it with the theory that the world contained empty space.

the ice storm

Sextus says that the Pythagoreans and Empedokles based it on their creed that the fellowship of men is not merely with one another and with the gods, but includes animals: “For there is one pneuma which pervades, like a soul, the entire universe and which also makes us one with them.”

cosmic physics

By adding the opposites dry and moist, hot and cold, to pneuma, thinkers were able to differentiate the pneuma of psyche, dry and warm, from the pneuma of physis (world of plants), moist and cold.

as emotional

Orphic theology represented the psyche as entering the newborn child on wings of wind.

in detritus

We are not sure how far air was active or passive in early formulations. There seems a confusion in Aristotle and later writers, perhaps through a linking of air and water-vapour.


Poseidonios makes moisture produce the chill of air over marshy ground; but his pupil Cicero stressed the caloric content of air.

shadows 1

Ploutarch pointed to the active role of air in freezing water, and assigned air a mid-position between fire and water.

surrealistic insurance

The Stoics made air and fire active.

black bucket wreckralph 2

Ch. 6  – Air and Fire as Force

Blast Power & Ballistics: Concepts of Force & Energy in the Ancient World

 by Jack Lindsay

ralph 2

 I do not own the copyright to the original image

of the auto-insurance agent found in the Toronto Star.

I altered it for purposes of commentary

under fair use provisions.

ralph 2book cover 2

I Know The Way You Can Get by Hafiz

coffee face on lid

I know the way you can get

When you have not had a drink of Love:

Evidence Bcoffee stain 1

Your face hardens,

Your sweet muscles cramp.

Children become concerned

About a strange look that appears in your eyes

Which even begins to worry your own mirror

And nose.

origcoffee stain 3

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness

And call an important conference in a tall tree.

They decide which secret code to chant

To help your mind and soul.

touch of bluecoffee stain fragment againcoffee overlaid on black and white

Even angels fear that brand of madness

That arrays itself against the world

And throws sharp stones and spears into

The innocent

And into one’s self.

duotone deluxetwo types of ecstacy

O I know the way you can get

If you have not been drinking Love:

coffee face on lidlids lids lids

You might rip apart

Every sentence your friends and teachers say,

Looking for hidden clauses.

coffee mountain

You might weigh every word on a scale

Like a dead fish.


You might pull out a ruler to measure

From every angle in your darkness

The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once


2 coffee

I know the way you can get

If you have not had a drink from Love’s


3 coffee

That is why all the Great Ones speak of

The vital need

To keep remembering God,

So you will come to know and see Him

As being so Playful

And Wanting,

Just Wanting to help.

blimp and lid in the desertmorphed

That is why Hafiz says:

Bring your cup near me.

For all I care about

Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

cinematic shadowthe tomorrow

All a Sane man can ever care about

Is giving Love!

origcoffee face on lid

From: I Heard God Laughing – Renderings of Hafiz

Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

A Sequential Meditation, Concerning Two Images, With Variations

meditation 1

We saw the

Haunted expression

On her thin, young face,

Digging out books

Half-buried in the rubble

Of her neighbourhood.

meditation 3

Who did she lose?

meditation 7

We saw

News flashes from Ferguson,

Reviving memories

Of roots & branches in

Martin Luther King’s

Cascading & thunderous

 Vision of Love. 

meditation 9

We discover books as


Meaningful as Old Ideas & New Ideas,

Meaningful in texture and weight,

Fluttering like birds, singing or calling

Your name, her name.

meditation 10

We listened

To the bulletins from Palestine,

Remembering Martin Luther King’s

Historical analysis/ lack of paralysis,

A prophetic

Vision of Peace.

meditation 25

Pages lay motionless in the sun-drenched wind,

Their script fading to a whisper.

meditation 14

Heat and humidity envelop Little Dixie,

Chains click and rattle like ghosts,

An officer of the law/ empties his weapon/ into an unarmed man,

What has been done cannot be undone.

meditation 15

Plantation windows shutter shut,

She trembles, avoiding shards of glass.

meditation 12

The road is steep, leading to the fields,

Flowing with vanished olive groves.

meditation 16

She wears a paper-thin dress against danger from the sky.

meditation 18

“The arc of the moral universe is long

But it bends towards justice.”

meditation 28

The future rumbles

Like distant thunder,



A Vision of Justice.

Meditation 11 copy

She cups her hands,

Alabaster stars radiate,

In the cauldron,

Of an obsidian void.

meditation 25


The photograph of the Palestinian girl climbing over the rubble collecting her books was uncredited. The photographer of Martin Luther King is unknown to me. Upon discovery I will post the information. I do not own the rights to the original images. I have created new works for purposes of juxtaposition and commentary under fair use provisions.



today a

Today you forget again

You stay with forgetting


Today you forget again

You stay with forgetting


You taste forgetting

today e


You taste


today b

You taste forgetting


You stay with forgetting


today c

You forget forgetting

You taste forgetting



today d

You taste forgetting

You forget forgetting

today e

You taste forgetting


today a


today b


today c


today d


today e

A Broken Ankle (and Oliver Cromwell)


At the nine and one-half week mark

Your foot is still swollen


Your ankle looks like a loaf of rye bread baked

On a winter night and placed inside a blanket

As winds howl through cracks in the walls.


Or something meaty and coarse

Illiterate peasants tear between their teeth

Marching beneath a mercenary banner


 Fighting a war for glory and power

Though not their own.


The instructions are:

Elevate, ice, and exercise,

Form the alphabet three times a day with your foot.


Do not dangle your foot for hours above any battle scenes

Celebrated in embroidered tapestries

Warming cold castle walls.


For the last month you have worn an air cast

Made of plastic and plastic fabric

Following six weeks of plaster and then fibreglass



 You march beneath the banner of a cane. This is next.


 The electricity goes out. You push past a blond woman on a horse

Climbing the stairs. She’s dressed like a fish.

Or so it seems with glimmers of moonlight passing through cracks

In the roof.


You rescue two children.

This is not possible you are on crutches.


 Oliver Cromwell’s army is marauding through the streets

Looking for Irish to enslave or decapitate.


You tear down a tapestry showing Puritans Arriving in America

And roll up the children.

You put a loaf of fresh bread between them

Dragging the tapestry to the corner of the Great Hall

Behind a counter with pastries, a cash register, and postcards.


 You find your crutches.

Your air cast is light and removable

For a month and a half you wore what felt like anvils

And told yourself you weren’t going crazy.

This doesn’t really bother me you said.


 You tell yourself you won’t be captured.

At the fracture clinic they said you would walk in

On September 8th with a cane and a limp.


Your foot fits in your unlaced walking shoe.

Oliver Cromwell is trying on wooden shoes.

Where did he get those?

He laughs a high-pitched laugh.


 His Puritan followers board a ship for the Caribbean

Leading captives bound neck to neck.


 You walk right through them and shudder with cold.

You limp into the sunshine

Stopping at your neighbourhood cafe.


1981 (The Phantom of Liberation)

phantom of

In 1981

The Phantom of Liberation

Paid me a visit

81 heads


A sketch

twin egg

I obliged

Thinking that was all

That was all

There was to it

burn blur copy

Hello and goodbye

To the Phantom of Liberation

centre eye

But the Phantom

Must have said

Eat my body

blue monuments

I complied

Thinking that was all

That was all

There was to it

blue conte

Hello and goodbye

To the Phantom of Liberation

dream section

They found a foreign body

In my heart

And said it’s spread

To your brain

And your wings

new ore

I said I don’t have

Any wings

face of the phantom

They said I was covered with wings

Beating ferociously

Refusing to stop

And bothering the neighbours


I asked if I should move

To a cemetery


They wanted to know

If I was trying to escape


Or the conditions that require



I listened to their question

Thinking that was all

That was all

There was to it.

the conditions

Too Late


I realized (too late)

We had left alchemy

Out of the equation


Stars, pathways, and


 I hastened to manipulate

The voluminous footnotes to my


Rounding and pulling

Like working with clay.


Like working with love.

My apologies began

To glisten.

It is never too late

To listen.

1 again23

As a Horse Enters the Room


William Blake lifting and parting silken rays of translucent ecstasy, without a thought to his own gain, rambling upon the aftermath of a village, the merciless beast of empire pressing her breastplate to the ground, and the spewing of milk, unseen, in the clover-scented breeze.

mirror image1633

 William’s words rising upon the feet of a woman, in a tintype portrait, as he drapes her shoulders with blue silk curtains emblazoned with golden script. I would do this all again she thinks, folding the air around his eyes into the mouth of a small, and infinitely glowing, sea creature:


 The eye of the sun blinking, penetrating her fingertips, rays drifting, a glimmer sinking into the pasture, the sun dipping into a hollow made by sounds, half rolling, half floating to the chants and whispered songs of mothers, the sun warming milk, rolling like a wheel of honey igniting fire in the body of bees…


William’s words a wooden chain, encircling, and binding him to her, as she drapes his shoulders with flowery blue skies enveloping a fiery wheel. I would do this all again she thinks, folding flames into the mouth of a small, infinite ocean:


All times spinning as one time within her, traveling a great distance, as she kneels, washing the feet of the tribes, working William’s words with oil and rope, folding the air around a breath, around time. Flatlands curve beneath a massive groaning, the weight settles, night pushing cold metallic air…


The sun returning with snow and white deer, the tribe dances swimming to distant, gold-flecked trees shimmering in violet heat. The army catches them by surprise. Soldiers measure their fingers.


She is lost between a vision and a longing, the sun rolling to her, balancing, on the back of a horse. Clouds high and purple, above wheels and crops:

twirling portrait

 Walking barefoot into a night-wind as thin as paper, billowing like sails. William’s words a tool, a device, the rigging. Her fingers explore cracks filling with watery ink, tracing lines in the margins of the page, lifting like wings, like translucent rays, silken.

William Blake stops his pen, turning his gaze from the slightly moist paper on this humid afternoon to the sun at her feet, shifting in his wooden chair, hearing a door unlatch, pressing palms to the fading window.


Lifting his gaze, from the ivory-amber page, to a flight of bees, glancing over his threadbare shoulder, as a horse enters the room.



I felt melancholy in the expression on this woman’s face. I imagined somebody out of place in her culture situated somewhere in time & proximity to both the England of William Blake and echoes of the indigenous cultures of North America. Somewhere in proximity to both the ethereal visions (and cries for justice) of William Blake as well as the nature infused spirituality of indigenous peoples. I imagined her sensing something beyond her immediate experience with a certain sympathy.




I purchased the Tintype photograph of an anonymous woman at the Clarence, N.Y. flea market in perhaps 1990.




William Blake’s handwriting courtesy of the British Library public domain Discovering Literature webpage http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians




1874 sketch (or print) of the Sioux Sun Dance courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Provided to Wikipedia Commons by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration as part of a cooperation project depicting American and global history. Public domain or licensed under a free license: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sioux_sun_dance,_1874_-_NARA_-_530871.jpg



the empty cafe(s)

this collaged image

The lovesick man

although looking inward

is watching modern warplanes roar past.

Perhaps aiming for the cities and civilians

of Gaza,


Wounded Knee,


grosz world war one battlefieldblind willie mctell


can sing the blues


Blind Willie McTell

creviceblind willie mctella flash


can sing the blues


Blind Willie McTell

let there be light

Digital collage: Details from Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ have been superimposed over photographs of rubble in Guernica and Gaza. The face of radical pacifist Martin Luther King Jr. is layered within a painting by antiwar artist George Grosz titled ‘The Lovesick Man’ (1916). Battlefield terrain from World War One frames the George Grosz painting.

“Nobody can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell...” from the Bob Dylan song Blind Willie McTell. 

The copyright of original images remains with the holders of same. Under fair use provisions I have composed new work for non-commercial purposes and commentary.






I Said to a Cab Driver…

ink A

First a bit of background: I’ve been wearing a cast on my leg and foot for over 40 days. Xrays tomorrow. I’ll find out how well the 7 screws (and my body’s healing processes) have done their job.

ink B

Had surgery on May 31st. Pushed through and had my book launch on June 12th with Never More Together. My friend William Beauvais played classical guitar. Mother Nature cooperated during a week of rain & gave us a glorious evening on the ‘Tango Palace Coffee Company’ patio. I was exhausted yet enjoyed it all.

ink cc

During the last 44 days regular life has come to a standstill. Getting from point A to B is laborious. Summer plans changed. One notable illusion dissipated, a couple of very hopeful (creative) ideas germinated, names and faces came (via telephone and in person) out of the past, I met many kind people and had interactions I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ve come to the simple conclusion that (living in) the universe gives us experiences and it’s up to us to make of them what we will.

inked d

And yet I’m also puzzled by synchronicity. The why of what, the what of when, the when of why. This seems to exist of its own volition. Unless the self has the power to mysteriously will coincidental events into existence. Paging Dr. Jung…

inke e
The first four drawings from my sketchbook are from a planned series showing facial profiles as well as a spiral motif. Again I return to Jung’s quote that in times of crisis humanity returns to primal symbols. The final page is post-accident and shows the symbol but not a profile. It has a different feel to it. The drawings from ‘before’ seem to be describing an immersion, or perception of reality. The most recent drawing seems to be aiming. Has ‘experiencing perception’ been replaced by a direct line of reception? Is this what pain does?

e ink Read the rest of this entry »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 171 other followers