poemimage

Where text meets image. Where the visual intersects the literary. All text copyright authors. Images copyright Steven McCabe. Your visit is appreciated.

Sugar by Sheila Stewart

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1.
Dust rises off the hot low veldt.  Vast sugarcane estates: the only irrigated
land.   Wide lush green fields sprout a million tiny sprinklers. The cane is
ready, burnt to make it easier to cut. Flame sweeps the fields, fierce as a
forest fire. The air black soot, a flurry of ash falls miles away, drifts in
doorways, a line of soot runs across the table in our classroom Monday
morning, mirroring the crack in the roof’s peak.

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2.
How I love a dusting of sugar over a slab of chocolate cake, a script of
raspberry sauce.

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3.
Give me brown sugar, white sugar, cubes and icing sugar, caster sugar,
sugar daddy, sugar mummy, sugar baby, sugar bear, sugar-beet, sugar
bowl, sugared and sugary, sugar plum fairy, Shake Sugaree.

avery

4.
Long, open cane trucks, chains along the sides, drive past the auto-
wreck’s Jesus is Coming, into the refugee settlement, collect workers
early in the morning, return them dirty, tired at day’s end. The cane cutters
earn a little more, dressed in layers for protection, sooty as chimney
sweeps. Our students tell us, Cane can cut you. Snake can get you in the
cane.  

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5.
Monthly rations: maize, beans, salt, sometimes dried fish, and a little
sugar.

suncube

6.
One more lump of sugar, please.

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7.
Simon learned English fast: homeland, refugee, truck. Hot and cold. Love
and hate. Past, present, future.
Simon cut cane. He told us of his last trip
on the back of a cane truck. Returning to the settlement one black night,
the truck broke down at the side of the road. People got out, lay down and slept, waiting for another truck. Simon watched a lorry full of oranges
crash into the cane truck, knocking it over onto the sleeping workers,
pinning the dead and injured to the ground. The sugary smell of oranges
but none to eat. The truck carried on, cutting through the night taking the oranges safely to Durban.

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Sheila Stewart has two poetry collections, The Shape of a Throat (Signature Editions) and A Hat to Stop a Train (Wolsak and Wynn). She co-edited The Art of Poetic Inquiry (Backalong Books). Sheila’s poetry has been recognized by such awards as the gritLIT Contest, the Pottersfield Portfolio Short Poem Contest, and the Scarborough Arts Council Windows on Words Award. She teaches in Equity Studies, Women and Gender Studies, and the Writing Centre at New College, University of Toronto. ‘Sugar’ is from The Shape of a Throat.

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Faux-Beat Anti-War Poem by Luther Blissett

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I have seen the greatest minds of my generation riding vacuum cleaners in the sky above Syria. George Washington’s wooden occult teeth clitter clatter in the rubble filled streets. General Sherman’s occult army empties another town on his flaming march to the sea.

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Jet-diving vacuum roar sucks up intricate silver jewelry dropped upon/ into the embroidered rug. Loot! Booty! This should be worth something! Dropping beside/ into delicately curved brass dishes of fragrant food flavoured with aromatic spices. A wedding photograph framed within the ancient yew.

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Great-grandmother’s sacred water-well dripping twisted rags in Springtime. Pawn shop lights blinking. Pawns on the azure-tiled cafe floor tipped beneath an abandoned chessboard. Dripping ruptured pipes drip, once it was every minute, rusted, caustic water drops staining the almost (e8=Q).  Staining the almost.

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See the fleet footed family fly beneath gleaming sedan billboards into the shade shadow of a brighter tomorrow. See the family scurry hurry parallel rust-flaked punctured pipes into the caustic, occult ceiling of a brighter tomorrow. A gleaming tomorrow/ flee flee Washington’s wanton wooden teeth.

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Swing low sweet chariot with minus reflective surface. Aim from the plastic-wrapped heart in the gleaming plastic bowl in the chilled gleaming refrigerator darkened by a dead bulb.

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Luther Blissett is a mythical figure in contemporary European art history. He works on multiple media platforms cross-referencing a multiplicity of artistic disciplines concerning identity, the body, society and the psyche.

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Transformation of a Document

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The document exists within a moment. Perhaps a sweet moment.

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And the moment exists within the skin of a document. Perhaps bitter.

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Perhaps not. Yet you begin the undoing.

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You unwrap this moment, and every moment you see. You can’t help yourself. This moment tastes like nothing you’ve tasted before.

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 You’ve been out there working in the dark too long. You can’t see a thing.

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You say the darkness is naked and for the darkness you must undo all of the moments.

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You document everything.

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And now look at you, at the very beginning of your moments.

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In my very early twenties I drew two ink drawings titled ‘Fragmentary Moments of Momentary Fragments’ and ‘Momentary Fragments of Fragmentary Moments.’ As you might imagine the drawings were very similar.

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One of the images used in this digital composition is Ancient Household, a 1945 sculpture by David Smith. I find David Smith’s line (particularly in his early work) strangely comforting. He seems to suggests a reality we once knew.

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 & Also the Cathach of St. Columba, a 6th century Irish manuscript: https://www.ria.ie/library/catalogues/special-collections/medieval-and-early-modern-manuscripts/cathach-psalter-st

(detail)

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The moments continue

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A Small Experimental Drawing (and the law of intended consequences)

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After visiting the JMW Turner exhibition for a second time at the Art Gallery of Ontario and wading through the busloads of students and groups of seniors from retirement/nursing homes I realized how fortunate I had been on Friday night when the place was half deserted. Possibly half full.

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Again I am reminded of Turner’s grey. Vanishing yet insistent. Drawing the eye. Drawing the eye into. Possibly even halfway in.

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Sometimes one is drawn by the air of an unexplored territory. Or summoned by insistent mystery. Summoned halfway into a vanishing mystery.

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I focus on the brilliant whites in Turner’s work, and escape the crush, wandering into a drawing exhibition pulled from the print & drawing vaults.

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Three of the works refresh anew my dilemma. I think of the Judge’s black robes.

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 I join a raiding party. The Captain’s name is Font. His horse is called Halfway.

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The raiding party does not solve my crisis. Nevertheless I raise the end of a burnt stick from the fire.

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Marking the edge of the law. My declaration marking the edge of the law.

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There is no natural boundary to the embedded law of intended consequence.

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Another edge must roll it back to where it came from. Or swallow it. Leaving its bones along the trail.

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The edge of the sun!

The ambers, and whites, and Naples Yellow in Turner’s sky, radiating with silent resolution.

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Let me tell you a story about Naples Yellow.

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I visited an artist one night many years ago.

There are many stories to tell about that night but I will tell you this one.

When I was leaving, at the bottom of the stairs, the artist began talking about Naples Yellow.

And did not stop.

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The artists, the art periods, the art movements involved with Naples Yellow.

The secret uses of Naples Yellow, The powers of Naples Yellow, the magic of Naples Yellow.

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Perhaps Naples Yellow can solve my dilemma.

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Mizzle «Garúa» by Cristina Castello (Translated by Pierre L’Abbé)

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I immigrated to the Earth draped in silence
Written on a reflection, a path to the word
I brought my fertile voice, my thornless offering,
a calm mizzle in the depth of the eyes

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I found a shelter of swamp and nettles
A Power that ignited the blood of children,
I saw men like wolves, I saw angel wolves
And a brackish deluge of moribund dreams

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Each day, more beings broken and destroyed
Cut to size, torn up, broken, killed
While Goya, Beethoven and Balzac
Affirm that life is reinforced in each Being

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An immigrant in the potent kernel of art
I curse the cemeteries and the ashes, and I remain
I remain until the foliage of men
Nurtures the roots and reinvents the world

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Cristina Castello is an Argentinian poet and journalist now living in France. Her work is committed to peace and beauty against all social injustices. Her poems are always a commitment to the dignity of life, beauty and freedom. They have been translated into several languages. Her books include, Soif, (L’Harmattan 2004); Orage, (Bod 2009),Ombre (Trames 2010) and “Le chant des sirènes” / “El canto de las sirenas” (Chemins de plume, 2012).

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Translated by Pierre L’Abbé from the Spanish original and from the French translation of Pedro Vianna

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Pierre L’Abbe is a Toronto translator, publisher, ebook designer and author of both poetry and short story collections.

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Lost by Chris Pannell

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Every street was Italian

the inks on my map blotched and ran

the motorways rose and fell like roller coasters

singing choruses from I Pagliacci.

German and English signs

had been broken and tossed aside.

Gargoyles on buildings dressed in suits

money managers amok

commandeered red double-deck buses from

their streetcar tracks.

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I was driving a taxi full of hit-men

who were expecting me to get them quickly to

their destination

and to avoid the carabinieri.

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Chris Pannell’s latest poetry book is A Nervous City (Wolsak and Wynn, 2013). This title recently won the Kerry Schooley Book Award from the Hamilton Arts Council. In 2010, his book Drive won the Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Prize and the Arts Hamilton Poetry Book of the Year.

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From 1993 to 2005 he ran the new writing workshop and published two anthologies of work by that group.

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He has a book of poetry forthcoming in 2016 called How We Came to Pass. He is a former board member of the gritLIT Writers Festival and a former DARTS bus driver. He hosts and helps organize the monthly Hamilton reading series Lit Live.

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Distance Swimming

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In her mirror

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She feels illumined by an accelerating process

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Initiated by the 20th Century.

watery

A darkening fog.

the heroic ball and glove

Klee-song,

hand

Cocteau,

newly

de Chirico,

love

Arise from her in swirling, serpentine eddies. A ventriloquist.

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She unties a boat on the shore. The underground river.

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Languages of illumining clarity speed into each other like blood in water,

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As vast and translucent as the Northern Lights.

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 & For reasons both utilitarian and mythopoeic

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The face in the mirror anticipates leaping.

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& Distance swimming through shadow-lands,

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Beneath the precipice of shallow, atomic time,

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Within and without darkened chambers & coincidentally

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 Light reflecting upon ancient vials.

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 & Our spines an unbroken chain of receptor cauldrons.

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& Her gift. The mirror.

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Paul Klee catalogue (1951), Giorgio de Chirico painting ‘Song of Love’ (1914), photographic still from Jean Cocteau’s ‘Orphee’ (1950), pictured: Jean Marais  and Maria Casarès

Mémoire by Arthur Rimbaud

refugee 13

I

Clear water, like the salt of childhood tears:
The white of women’s bodies opened in the sun,
And truth, beyond walls or the silk oriflammes, won
Out with the valour of a maid pure in her years.

The frolic of angels in their moving blaze of gold,
Imponderable arms sparkling with the coolness of the grass,
And the blues of Heaven taking up their beds to pass
Under the canopy of shade into the arch and hill’s fold.

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II

The stones, under the water, extend as in a clear broth,
And depths, freckled in prepared beds of pale gold,
And frocks of girls, loosely faded, as green as mould,
And willows, and hopping birds, unfettered, woven in the day’s cloth.

Round as the eyelid, with the warmth of a gold Louis,
Blooms the marsh marigold, fresh in its wedding vows.
The mirror at prompt noon, jealous of the day’s drouse
Tarnishes into a sphere, heat-flecked and dear to us.

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III

Too upright is Madam in the meadow’s rippled glass.
The sons of toil are in the cotton-fields falling as a white cloud.
In her fingers she twirls her parasol, tramples it, too proud
To watch her children reading in the flowered grass

Their books in red morocco. Of what they think or dream —
As on all paths a thousand angels flare upon the day —
Of hopes lost in high mountains, she cannot follow; her way
Is overcast and cold, as is the shadowed stream.

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IV

Regret of arms satiated and celibate,
Sainted, straight white beds on moonlit April nights,
And the tear-wet joy falling on abandoned river sites,
And the rotting evenings in August that these germinate.

Under walls let her weep now: the winds possess
Only the high poplars, their motions tremulously sown.
Underneath in lead, unglinting, weighed with stone,
An old dredger labours, the small boat motionless.

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V

Flotsam, plaything of these waters that nothing hinders,
A boat beholden to stillness, and with arms too short,
And flowers blue or yellow, not then ever sought,
And breath now spread upon a water dull as cinders.

And for all that there are willows, powder, the plume of blood
That would drag out roses from reedbeds of time’s jaws,
The boat stays here, unmoving, and the chain draws
On the eye, water-heavy and deep in the unbanked mud.

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Translation C. John Holcombe

http://www.textetc.com/workshop/wt-rimbaud-1.html

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 Original photo credit: Massimo Sestini

Paul Klee and Ferdinand the Bull

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Ferdinand the Bull only wanted to smell the flowers.

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My favourite book as a child. I found the story captivating and the ink drawings mesmerizing. I remember my mother in the sun-drenched living room where I would turn the pages over and over.

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‘Fairy Tales’ by Paul Klee. Perhaps my favourite artist of all my favourites. Was Paul Klee so unlike Ferdinand? Flowers too cast shadows.

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Georgia O’Keeffe: A Quote

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“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant—there is no such thing.

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Making your unknown known is the important thing—

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and keeping the unknown always beyond you…”

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Georgia O’Keeffe, in a letter, to Sherwood Anderson.

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Photo of Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz, 1918

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