Sunday, April 21, 1991

THIS IS JUST TO SAY (for Kathy Evans)

             (an occasional poem for Kathy Evans)

Because the collected Love Poems slept all night long
on top of O'Hara's Lunch Poems, Dostoyevsky is implied
though the window sill is composed of pure morning light.
I moved the bottle of grapefruit juice from the floor
beneath the rocking chair (& one lone shoe) to the sink
only to have it explode in the sunlight onto the photos of your children
smiling crazily at us from beneath a juicy glaze
& Oleg hurries to save them from the indifferent nature
of love in this world; the mathematical division of families
his own children asleep on the other side of the world,
your mother wondering why a stranger with a Russian accent
answers your phone on a Sunday morning.
We continually face separations of the heart
that is why it hungers for sum totals.
Everything needs translation—
The sea plane outside your window taxies across alluvial mud;
the pilot has to go so far to reach water these days.
The French family on the dock screams goodbye
to their papá as he lifts off from the gravity of this world.
This division cleaves us from what we know to be true.
If only it were so simple: Peterson's Guide to Western Birds
holding us aloft and classified from human wishes,
last year's wives, and the daily remains
enough to sustain our increasing appetites.
Migratory birds sup most delicately on soup du jour,
the mud — moist, hard and moaning. No free lunch here.
You will not die from the multiple invasions of winter
without a single answer from the abundance of nature.
This thirst we share in common.

Mill Valley  mudflats

1992 Artists' Palette, Mill Valley, 1st Honorable Mention, chosen by Rosalie Moore & Kathy Evans

Hmm, my prose piece is
Easter Sunday, April 19, 1992 typo?
Sunday Morning, Berth 1-11, Sausalito 
         ( een gelegenheidsgedicht voor Kathy Evans)

Omdat de verzamelde Love Poems de hele nacht sliepen
boven op de Lunch Poems van O'Hara zit Dostojevski er ook tussen
al is de vensterbank gemaakt van zuiver morgenlicht.
Ik heb de fles met grapefruitsap, op de vloer
onder de schommelstoel (& een eenzame schoen), op het aanrecht gezet
maar daar explodeerde hij juist in het zonlicht over de fotoos van je kinderen
die met een streep door ze heen naar ons lachen van onder een sappig glazuur
& Oleg haast zich om ze te redden van de onverschillige aard
van liefde in deze wereld; de wiskundige deling van gezinnen —
zijn eigen kinderen in slaap aan de andere kant van de wereld,
jouw moeder die zich afvraagt waarom een vreemde met een Russisch accent                
bij jou de telefoon opneemt op een zondagmorgen.
We zien steeds scheidingen van het hart onder ogen
daarom hunkert het naar totalen.
Alles heeft vertaling nodig —
Het watervliegtuig voor je raam taxiet over aangespoelde modder;
de piloot moet zo ver gaan om bij water te komen tegenwoordig.
Het Franse gezin aan de kade schreeuwt tot ziens
naar hun papá terwijl die loskomt van de zwaartekracht van deze wereld.
Deze deling klieft ons van wat wij weten dat waar is.
Was het maar zo eenvoudig: Peterson's Guide to Western Birds
die ons omhoog houdt en in een andere klasse dan mensenwensen,
de echtgenoten van verleden jaar, en de dagelijkse overblijfselen —
genoeg om onze toenemende begeerten gaande te houden.
Trekvogels souperen zeer kies op soep du jour,
de modder — vochtig, hard en kreunend. Geen gratis maal hier.
Je zult niet doodgaan aan de meervoudige invasies van de winter
zonder een enkel antwoord van de overvloed van de natuur.
Deze dorst hebben we samen gemeen.

Maureen Hurley
De  schorren en slikken van Mill Valley
Nederl. vert. Vins van Neerven, 10/92

Monday, April 1, 1991

DREAM VESSELS —from collages by Marsha Connell


 1:  Mayim*
 2:  Earth Palette*
 3:  Night Goddess*
 4:  Witnesses*
 5:  Shards of Destruction*
 6:  Cellist*
 7:  Grandmothers*
 8:  Masada*
 9:  I Lift My Eyes*
10:  Covenant
11:  Shards of Creation
12:  Separation
13:  Ritual Cleansing
14:  Spirit Catcher
15:  Jatumpamba
16:  Thirst
17:  Grandpa Sam's Farm
18:  Intifada Arson
19:  The Great Johnstown Flood
20:  Piano Rose I*
21:  Piano Rose II*
22:  Sources of Power
23:  Three Mile Island*
24:  Temptation
25:  Southwest Venus
26:  Exodus
27:  Dark Vision
28:  Oil Spill
29:  Delta
30:  Cabbage Harvest
31:  Fish Farm
32:  Alchemy
33:  Death and the Maiden
34:  Eclipse
35:  Burning
36:  Sirens
37:  Mountain, Fire, Shepherd
38:  Mourning Tea
39:  The Whole World is a
        Very Narrow Bridge
40:  Sheltering Love
41:  Soundings
42:  The Face of Fire I
43:  The Face of Fire II
44:  Spires
45:  Jewels
46:  Muse
47:  Tree of Life
48:  Noh Throne
49:  Crossing Seas
50:  Cloak of Darkness
51:  Bowl of Eggs I
52:  Bowl of Eggs II
53:  False Spring
54:  Celadon
55:  Chrysalis
56:  Oshun
57:  Redemption

*means the poems were finished: 12 poems plus 9 drafts


I am primarily a painter. Several investigations of ideas through other media including sculpture, performance, and these collage/prints—have opened up important new avenues in my artwork and in my life. Begun in spring 1991, as letters to my daughter Reba, in Jerusalem for her junior year abroad—a year which included my first trip to Israel and the war in the Persian Gulf— the work has taken on a momentum of its own. Making the Dream Vessels  became my healing. They embrace stories both personal and global: about myself, my children, parents and grandparents, mentors and friends; the war,  environment, Holocaust, diverse tribes of our rapidly shrinking world community. For example, the vessels of the women potters of Jatumpamba, Ecuador, that followed me on a difficult journey home to America, became a source for the collages. They began with the shards of these vessels and shadows, oil spills, smokestacks, fires, nuclear cooling towers; slowly they embraced more life-affirming images—wings, birds, eggs, horses, and babies.

Bowl of Eggs and Witnesses came from dreams. The content is elusive and gradually unfolds on multiple levels. The girl in the pink dress might have been me, or my daughter; the dark-robed woman, an Arab, or a grandmother. Tree of Life and Cloak of Darkness are about transformation through the image of the vessel—as container, as body, as conveyance. Mayim is Hebrew for water and also a play on the name of my painting teacher, Maya. I Lift My Eyes is about spiritual searching—my daughter recognized herself in this image. Many collages took months to complete. I worked on Sheltering Love the summer my son Sam was preparing to leave for college. They became color copy prints when I tried to send them to my daughter in a friend's suitcase; they were too fragile for the journey. The print process imbued the images with an unexpected visual strength and unity that brought them to completion.

Curious about the themes of the collages, poet Maureen Hurley was drawn into a dialogue with the work. She wanted to know if the images would reveal themselves through writing. Her process was to read the images, to write about everything that surfaced, even to do historical research, to follow her own narratives as they entered the work, then to interview me, and, lastly, to weave fact, fiction, her stories and my stories together. For me, this was a time of intense images and few words—some of my spare writings are included here, juxtaposed against Maureen's dense tapestries. Meanwhile, Reba's writing developed an uncanny resonance with the Dream Vessels themes, and enters into this book to continue the cycle.
                    —Marsha Connell, 1992

Note bene: Marsha did several more Dream Vessel collages after we'd made a book, and I was onto other projects 1992 so I never finished the series. I wrote 12 poems plus 9 drafts that could still be saved. Many of the poems were never transcribed from my notebooks. This is a work in progress that was abandoned. Maybe someday. I got a Sonoma County Community Foundation NEA Artist Fellowship for the 12 poems that are finished. So I really should finish them. 
I also received another SSSF NEA Fellowship for a similar project with Kirk Whipple's compositions Elemental Portraits: Nocturnes for Two Pianos which I still need to upload. —MH 7/17/2014

       —from a collage by Marsha Connell 

Is she asleep or dead—
this woman of the landscape?
The volcano goddess Pele's hair across her face—
Epicanthal fold lost in the darkness of dreams.
Sea stacks offshore, a reminder of home,
of the paintings lost, a multitude of King Lears
waiting in the wings at sunset,
the sky, a lid on the primordial soup
manifesting itself as rock.
Amphorae from another inland sea,
the cradle of civilization, overturned.
Gelatinous sea creatures thrown onto desert sands.
The earth is on fire, we cannot quench
the burning oil wells.

Maya, mayim, why are you sleeping?
She is a ghost. She is Ophelia.
Maya, teacher of the art of pillow talk.
Was it she, who, after a lover rejected her—
the mastectomy too graphic—
gave him an exquisite tea bowl
filled with the dry husks of bees?
Or some image I read from a novel?
She was the dancer who could no longer dance
because her bones melted. To survive during WWII,
she ate from Tokyo garbage cans. Rickets…
The soldier took her home to New York
where she was the actress typecast again
and again in Teahouse of the August Moon;
the mirror confirmed her roots.
It was then she began to paint her story.
Her ancestors were artists:
Grandfather Cezanne, Uncle Picasso—

Winter depressions came with the absence of light.
Searching for Hawaii—
the details of her death go unrecorded.
What genjii rise from these jars?
There is the equation of sunset to be considered:
the sun itself as if viewed through smoke.
We all live on fragile islands;
the sea stacks—old men
hunkering down to outwait the night.
Do those in power ever dream?
Or are we empty vessels waiting
to be filled with nightmare oil
purged from the sandy bowels of the earth?

There are more questions than answers.
I cannot say the same for basalt,
the earth's essence (and the moon's),
continually rising skyward.
I keep thinking of Ran,
Kurosawa's version of King Lear.
Intrigues of lust and power
felling the ruling families,
devastating the human potential.

Ethics. Our leaders are not Samurai. In Japan
even warrior thieves had a code of honor to uphold.
They say the plumes over Kuwait are visible from space.
The feathered serpent of the desert climbs
the holy ladder of smoke only to find darkness again.
They say in the desert, even the stones can speak.
What of the woman who is mute alabaster,
and the memory of water,
the mother ocean
who can no longer cradle her;
she is trapped within her cells.
The honor of the sky,
the veil over water,
Maya mayim.

Nothing but smoke and ash.
Asleep under the final Noh Mask.

Spring 1991 

NOTE the mastectomy too graphic—
gave him an exquisite tea bowl
filled with the dry husks of bees?  this was from a Bob Hass, a workshop in the Bahamas in 1981, it later turned up in a prose poem of his, "Human Wishes."

1993 Dream Vessels, Marsha Connell
1992 Another version of this poem appeared in  Sacred River
and Chaminade Literary Review 

DREAM VESSELS # 2:   Earth Palette
              from a collage by Marsha Connell

Somewhere in Central America
blue shutters closed against the blue wall,
the indigo sky in the midst of war.
Guarding against the evil eye, Babylonians,
and later, the Arabs painted beads blue.
This is why blue beads dangle from the mirrors of busses,
donkey's halters, and women's necks on both continents.
The blue-eyed language of a Mestizo child—
Cortés, Cabrillo, Pizarro, & Las Malinches of the world
who suffered at the hands of love.
All we have to measure entire civilizations
is blue tile from Inanna's ancient city,
vessels filled with golden beads, and arabesques—
images in the shape of God. Names of stars.

The midday sun seeks refuge at the base of shutters.
Behind closed doors a Yemenite bride is sleeping.
Soon she'll assemble herself in the form of desert crystals.
Gathering the sun in her robes she turns
to catch the light, all she sees is ultraviolet.
Reduced to silica, she is pure transparency.
The calligraphy of wheat fields after scything
combines arranged in bezier curves,
visible only to the birds who are not bound to this land.
Cuneiform on clay tablets: writing began when the silos
and graineries were overfull, before the desert was at hand.

Times of plenty, and of need. A blue-eyed daughter in Israel,
far from home. Who is her spirit guide? the mother asks.
A map of civilization is scattered in that wheat.
On the edge of the steppes, horsemen wait
against the sky for someone to tresspass:
they say, one must die to become a man,
to take one's place in the community.
After a good harvest of wheat, of bodies—
it's all the same in the end. On any of the continents
nature doesn't distinguish between blood and chaff,
or invent abstractions about the shape and color of space.
Where is the juncture where the desert shrub antlers itself
against the brooding sky? Teased into patterns by the wind,
it yields in random mathematical increments.
How then, to explain away those missiles,
more beautiful than the stars?

Spring 1991 

1994 Kalliope, First Prize, Sue Saniel Elkind Poetry Prize

DREAM VESSELS # 3:   Night Goddess          
            from a collage by Marsha Connell

The hawk Horus landed here first, or at least that's what is said.

Seated on funerary divans, the rulers of the Upper and Lower kingdoms

wear the sun of Horus; the bull between the sun,
and the root hunger of cobras, rays of Ra. Amun.
The sun in gold cartouches immortalized on temple walls.
Nefertiti sleeps, her profile, a landscape.
What is Egypt but an fertile dream of Africa?
The Fellahim, tillers of black earth.

Did worry beads first appear when the two kingdoms
were united in marriage and death?
Plenty of sand in Egypt; who first thought to melt sand
into faence? Tin from Welsh mines took cooperation, not war.
Another ridge on the ribbon road. Ivory and beads,
as if coral wept from all the blood spilled.
In the presence of so much stone, the rider
on a white horse is but a small afterthought.

Moving through worlds, searching for a sense of place,
we disturb what's taken out of context: millions of potshards
from the pilgrims who fed the gods milleniums on end.
The sun's rays fracture and separate on the lintel
the way a child's drawing depicts the sun with rays—
all curved and geometric at the same time.

Where is the white sand island rising from the sea of chaos?
The reed shrine holding the image of the hawk?
Why are all the women asleep with their unadorned profiles
to the sky? Where is Isis?
Here, there is no personal story to lean on.
Juxtaposed against two worlds,
our modern debris is seeking home.

On hands and feet, the goddess of the night, 
Nut, has stretched her body across the sky.
Nefertiti's Nubian ear, a dark shell
in the wrinkled folds at sunset.
Anubis, God of the Dead, seeks New World Order.

Spring 91 & 92

DREAM VESSELS # 4:     Witnesses
   from a Gulf War collage by Marsha Connell
   The women soldiers will go first.
            —Marsha Connell, dream fragment
   The skies over Bagdhad have been illuminated.
            —Bernard Shaw, CNN

She is a woman veiled. Roses dangle from stalks of lightning
against a blood-red sky, a tree of strange knowledge.
In a dream she was asked to witness war games.
Sometimes life is like that—the artist observing
simultaneous layers of time. Mediators in occupied territories:
A child in a pink dress watches reflections in the water.
A woman shakes darkness from the folds of her robe.
Laser-guided missiles on the banks of the Tigris. Confluence.

The idea of a key, a kite, and a storm unleashed itself
from the sky to illumine the night. Tender filaments,
fragile blossoms of light burning from the coil.
But now, the ultimate burst which spawned the Age of Light
yields roses of another kind. At Pearl Harbor
she saw Japanese men crying as they struggled to understand,
because so much was hidden from them.
They learned for themselves what happened
from the things which did not survive.
The last of the Hibakusha, nearly all gone now.
She has more questions than answers, keeps looking
for hope, but finds only compelling darkness.
That child born during the Age of Light
holds onto a shadow woman of the desert,
the hijab hides her from prying eyes
of the 20th century, but cannot shield her from it.
The vase on a pedestal—a ballet dancer,
refined white gloves of ghosts,
the peculiar weight of roses.
Carrying dead grandmothers into marriage,
we were all young once, didn't notice the paradigm
between a love of nature, and dominion over the weakest.
What of the child who will inherit the dowry of the sky:
the seductive beauty of a mushrooming cloud, incandescent roses,
the breathing of some unnamed fear in a dark room
where we can't find the switch in time.
Does she not see the lights of the city,
minute grains beneath her feet?

Spring 1991

1993 Dream Vessels, Marsha Connell

DREAM VESSELS # 5:      Shards of Destruction

            from a collage by Marsha Connell

Twilight comes ponderously of age in the tropics.
Birds gather to watch the jewels on the shores
of Waikiki glisten with that peculiar illusion of light
when the blurring of headlights becomes a serpent
winding along Ala Moana Drive. Streets converge in an X.
A multitude of shoes come to mind; Imelda's maybe—
Kept in her exhiled husband’s air-conditioned masoleum
in the Valley of the Temples, where he waits for a political thaw.
Above the white void, it is equally difficult to hide,
or to find one's way to the other side of the question.
Should it be so strange to see skyscrapers rise
from the curved smile of pots, or lipstick crosses
lodged   between fixed systems of thought?
Blue macaws witness iridescent missiles
shove the horizon against the edge of the rainforest;
they wear broken shards for cloaks of mourning.
The household of the earth torn open,
labia pierced by the jeweled cities;
the rapists asking if she enjoyed it.
What's the use of asking those kinds of questions
when even the birds lean away from each other?
A bamboo torii gate with enough sense to grow
out of the confines of the sky cannot close the hole.
Broken vessels cut just as well as shrapnel.
It's only the context of violence which is different.
The boats in their berths, coffins of light
crusade against the darkness of the sea.

Summer 91 & 92

1992 Chaminade Review

DREAM VESSELS # 6:    Cellist
     from a collage by Marsha Connell
     War is a symphony of destruction

      orchestrated by few & paid for by many.

In the gnarled bark of white pines,
an angel is hidden. Once a primordial sea
covered Owen's Valley. Sometimes
when the light is just right,
if you don't quite look, angels lean out
as if the tree were the prow of a ship
launched on the crest of the White Mountains.
We've sailed to the New World and taken the moon hostage.
Who spilled the moon? Who will drink to it, or mend its shell?
Annularity at sunset. Light knows its own source.
An eclipse swallowed the moon burning from within.
The faceless musician in a trenchcoat holds the cello—
concealed behind the saturnine curves of resonant wood.
Who gets to be the cellist in the next incarnation?
Or the cat? Where is the orchestra?
Who's left to interpret the dreams of 1644? Or now?
Morphos is asleep. A netted fish for Medusa's hair.
The moon is made of basalt like the sea floor.
More dead than alive, the tree hangs onto dreams,
hangs onto life by a thin Cambrian cord,
umbilicus to earth; its roots—archaic seeds
that sprouted before the Bible was proscribed.
Shadows of branches finger the air,
ply the wind, fretting the traces
for an ancient symphony of light.

Summer 91/92

DREAM VESSELS # 7:  Grandmothers

          from a collage by Marsha Connell

From a turbulent sea filled with icebergs,
where immigrants waited to enter the promised land,
blind and crowned with thorns, Liberty rises.
Or is she drowning, sinking beneath the waves?
In a crepuscular haze where nothing is clearly defined,
not even the edges of the sky, industrial scrubbers
breathe warm clouds into the frigid air.

Towels and aprons, domestic prayer flags;
a grandmother hangs out clothes to dry, touches the mezuzah.
In a locked cabinet, whiskered koi frozen on a ginger jar—
The memory of ancient fish, venerable as the sun.
The small child wants to touch them and wonders
if they still dream of being fish—or have they forgotten how.

Where are all the grandmothers?
How to explain to the children free carbon
cannot escape through the holes in the ozone layer.
A slow polar Armageddon ripens under greenhouse skies.
The seas will rise, the cities will flood.
No time to worry about the trees.

Though everything is cyclical, we can't see into the next one.
Both enemies shrouded under the same veil of history—
Liberty ages, ice melts into the sea.
Her eyes seem to say this too shall pass.
Prayer flags continue to do a brisk trade with the wind.


If a child walks on Jerusalem's walls.
should a rainbow appear?
While in the old Jewish cemetery
a raven's wing reaches upward.
Among the stones inscribed in Hebrew
the flute player and the golden cross of the sun at T'sanque
Across from the graveyard, windows of housesóten of them
like so many eyes or commandments,
I'd swear it was Russia, 1910.
But what is the flute player doing here
resurrecting the dead.
He is the Anasazi god of fertility, his penis a flute.
He is the hunchback, the bringer of music
growing among the graves, small blue flowers, vines.
The cornices of graves like gabled roofs
all crooked, like teeth.
The child looks back over his shoulder
as he takes his morning stroll to the citadel to the dome.
A child walks on Jerusalem's walls.
This is the line that divides nations, peoples.
His shadow cast into the courtyard of the wailing wall, leviathan.
He is strutting, a soldier in the making.
Participants, celebrants the size of ants.
A child walks on Jerusalem's walls; is he Arab or Jew? some will ask.
He is a child looking back through the four arches,
portal at the top of the steps leading to the citadel.
He is walking away, looking back to a distant time
when the only conceivable answer was yes.
I dreamed I was in the courtyard, I was asked to chose between three religions: the Christian I knew, Moslem scared me,
I went to the Jewish temple. I chose the oldest,
but the choice was not mine.

         from Gulf War Collages by Marsha Connell


Beneath a bandage of snow the stones of Masada—
wounded mathematics address a long mountainous road.
Am I dreaming a mirage of islands on the horizon?
Why not sooty chimney stacks or columns of faith?
Fluted pillars lintel the sunset. Icons of the past take flight.
I struggle with the mechanics of closed systems.
In the collage, a virginal doll fell from a brooding sky.
Names of religion, of stars. Of missiles. The sixth pillar.
From Tel Aviv, photos of the artist’s daughter in a gas mask;
an “I am” escapes on the breath of the god of collateral damage.
I thought of Georgia O'Keeffe in the desert painting the secrets
of flowers in the curved throat of mountains.
This is my body said the doll as she orbited industrial skies,
the moon is chasing the earth's darkness. This is my blood.
When the cities were bombed, I dreamed of skiing on sand.
Who told me to ski the fall line with harmonic determination?
I traverse a slope too steep to bear the weight of the world
in the direction of declination. A leap of faith.
Sand and snow are one thing, but time stutters
and slips like old movies as we watch celluloid fires on CNN.
They say life passes before the eyes of those resurrected from death.
In those last infinite seconds, what images did the mind choose to view?
Drink from the body of memory, the world is a narrow bridge.
The mountains, stubbled with 6 O'clock shadow.
If we make it out of this one, it'll be a close shave,
no matter what icons we choose to salvage or bury.

Summer 1991/9/2001

DREAM VESSELS # 10 is missing

DREAM VESSELS # 11 Shards of Creation   

 From a collage by Marsha Connell
War, at least, has become the human condition.
       —William Styron

The sky is a Sistine chapel draped over the holy city at dawn;
the dome a lesser eye of the sun.
Writing on clay pots, images of the sun and zigzags
could be the rain, mountains or temples.
City of clay rising from the desert
God touches Adam, filling him with inspiration, breathing into him
and like the effigies we once were made of clay it is said
We write ourselves onto clay tablets while the angels looked on
we would prove to be trouble. They were right.
Adam is a reclining colossus on the green hills behind the city
God's balcony is overcrowded
perhaps this is why he is reaching out to Adam
It's a race, theyíre passing the baton, the invisible wand
but Adam is lying down on the job, naked and forthright
while God is clothed. original Sin?
He will take that back where it will lie on the pillows of Eve.
She will carry it forth, creating the races of Mankind
but the mother ship too is crowded.
The city wallsócells both protecting and isolating the nest egg.
The maleness of this religion cannot be denied.
Where are the women, the femininity?
Even the liongates are male, the angels, the cherubsóall male.
The sepulcher, by right, should be femaleó
like Queen bees, ants and termitesóthis is the pattern of nature.
In that gesture of God's to Adam—like gentle apes reaching
through the bars of a cage to touch a beloved companion,
God and Adam are cellmates both in prison;
who made the walls? surely not the women.
Perhaps God and Adam fell in love.
After all, God made Adam in his own likeness
or so it is written. And like Narcissus, God saw
his own reflection in the pools of Adam's eyes
and could not bear to be parted from himself.
Maybe the angels are really jealous
wanting something of God for themselves but this is blasphemy.
Blastopore; I will take that risk cursing the king
using God's nameórisking death by stoning.
Blas blas seed sprout  beginning in the beginning was the logos
blas + evil  blasto sprout seed bad polemy = speech sprouting speech
but there is a war going on in the Gulf.
Metaphors Desert Sand, Desert Storm, Desert Shield.
A victorious warrior returning from battle
is advised to dress for mourning (tao te ching)
We dress trees in yellow ribbons as if they were young girls.
War as a shadow of war before Eden. Pax Amerika.
Who are the chosen, and what of the Hittites, the Sumerians
and the Kurds? A continuous world war. Corporate ideo war games.
Who is taking responsibility for our shadows during this age of light?
The oil fires of Kuwait, a whole country on fire
how many days will the oil lamps burn this time?
What festival of light will lend its name to the offering from the desert?
Scud missiles exploding over Israel more beautiful than the stars
In every citadel there is a well—even the ground water is poisoned
Saddam is rebuilding the tower of Babel Sodom is Saddam in cuneiform
neb-Hussain builds for the nuclear armagedden.
There is little graceto be shed. The final prophet.
What pillars of wisdom, what articles of faith to bear witness to this?
Afraid of their own impure thoughts, men blame the women for them

in Russian every womanís patronymic name ends in ova- ovum the egg

DV 12-16 missing
D V #17 Grandpa Sam's Farm  (empty file..)

DREAM VESSELS # 20:   Piano Rose I  

         from a collage by Marsha Connell

And the piano rose
only to find itself entangled
in the gnarled arms of an old oak.
Returning home to the trees
was what it least expected.

From the trunk, a cherub—
hair transformed into wings
muses over his handiwork:
a couple making sweet music
in the mossy arbor.

The crescent moon threatens to slip
down the throat of the well,
full-bellied roses rise from the dankness.
A single rose caught napping
on the piano lid like a flightless bird.

No one comes to play the piano
nesting clumsily in the trees.
Stone urns. Spanish moss gathers
in the wisdom of the air.

Summer, 1992

DREAM VESSEL # 21: Piano Rose II

         from a collage by Marsha Connell

Between shrouded barn and hills, cobwebs tether a piano to the sky.
A raku bowl instructs a white rose on gravity & the ritual of tea.
The eclipsed century unfurls its dark flag. Japanese soldiers,
or the struggle of the sun and the moon comes to mind.  
The artist said, A piano is more like a house than a barn.

The piano dreams itself into being: endless halls, lonely floors,
the caged sun porch with its restless regiment of rocking chairs.
Everything in black & white. The high ceilings, sconced candles.
Her grandfather’s barn surprises her with a secret studio.
She dreams of finding lost art; her task: to restore the garden.

Ivory keys tickle the confluence of memory and longing.
In the empty house, dischordant music shatters the windows.
Transfixed by dim visions of childhood, she returns to the farm
of white roses, her father’s death, cobwebs shrouding the past.
Born on the cusp of war, she finds light
                                             by naming the sources of darkness.

In the garden, a sculpture rises from a vessel, like Daphne,
into the corona of the black sun. Who is the enemy?
She must choose between sprouting branches, or wings.
Oil derricks inscribe haloes of black gold on desert sands.
The moon weeps, footprints in the lunar dust.

Summer  92 -  4/94


The angel in back offers her golden bowl.
On the hem of her garment, a procession
of men offer bowls in rapid succession.
Her wings shelter those who stand beside
a painted hide beneath an orange sun
and the vertical vedrigris of a bamboo forest.
Worshippers carry the crozier and the chalice,
water plumments from the mountains.
Such is the gift of power; it begets more power.
An angel who is a bird drinks from the bowl
of a pillar that rises above them.
Old Byzantium, the Cheyenne Way
and modern technology collide head-on with nature.

An army of windmills compliments the electric pole
Bamboo gates and a score of sentient beings.
we transport
Splayed between the triangular bodies

(I think the rest is missing)

DREAM VESSELS # 23:  Three Mile Island
 from a collage by Marsha Connell
—for Regina Susskind who did not leave TMI in time

Above the tilled field a monk dips knowerís ink into the earth,
serenely addresses the dichotomy of a oil field;
a black chrysanthemum blossoming in his Zen garden.
Morning enters reverently through wooden slats.
Patterns endlessly repeat themselves.

Red lights—virgin teats—glow on the sleek green bellies
of nuclear reactors resembling vessels emerging from raw clay;
the potter breathes air into the pot, raising the walls.
These, our towers to the strange worship of divided light.
A vessel adorned with cranes sprouts papery wings as if to escape.

They say Chernobyl is heating up again;
no one can extinguish the graphite fires.
Used to their government crying wolf,
the old ones have moved back to their villages
at Ground Zeroóthe black egg of the phoenix.
They say: we donít believe. Show us evidence.

The insidious light shines through us; a light we canít see.
A light for which a child made a thousand paper cranes.
The cranes, who mate for life, most elegantly bow and rise,
pirouetting, sweeping their wings; a ballet for air and earth.

It is evident the monk cultivates the origins
of running grass before he begins to write.
How then, to cipher the inscriptions
of those megaliths pilloring the garden of the sky?
Summer 1992

From a collage by Marsha Connell

Three camels, ships of the desert
in caravan; turbaned riders asleep
in the green-gold of night
striding toward us
an archaic statue thick calves
a woman by the breasts, but a man in stride
the wind whips her garments
molding them to her body
left foot forward
a ricebowl above her head
the Orient, the camels, the silk road
naked vertebrae rise against the night sky
like a howling animal,
a quadruped reaching for the sky in grief
on the unstable platform of two legs
while lightning punctuates exclamates the horizon
The snow capped mountains bathed in royal afterglow
a messenger walks out of the desert
neither male nor female
we must seek new paths, new directions
the way we have been going has been too late
her arms are gone, she cannot embrace us
a fissure threatens to divide her
across the gut and she is bald
her hair is lost in the night
the rice bowl, a cauldron to resurrect the dead
but the fisher king is wounded and cannot heal
she is come to tell us
that she is come
and the camels head left into the sand storm
uneasily rocking their cargo (human or otherwise)

The Israelite fled out of Egypt into the desert
surviving a series of plagues. 

Do nothing be still turn your fears into faith 
aramís rod, the jar of manna 
god walks among them 

DREAM VESSELS # 27:  Dark Vision    DRAFT

                                  From a collage by Marsha Connell

A black ship with lateen sails
in front of the gates to the courtyard
where lions with three-pronged tails
rise on each column.
A woman covers her face
the sea is the red of bombs, of destruction.
Glistening lights of the harbor on an oily sea
the lions on the pillars who watch us
for reactions liook as if theyíre about to cry.
The columns curling upward
like serpents on the healerís staff
the apron covers her but she weeps into her hands
the sea and blood share the same origin as tears
why is she weeping?
the past and future clash
in 1990 there were 111 wars world-wide;
a typical year, someone notes.

DREAM VESSELS # 28:  Oil Spill     DRAFT

                                    From a collage by Marsha Connell
Two women walking over the oily sea
a necklace of diamonds
the boats pull the blue-black oil
barricades globular oil glistening
seductive oil on the rocks, the birds
in jeweled formation
the planets rise guardian-like
behind the women who walk
covering their faces
the nomadic blankets
where credo is interwoven
with the dailiness of survival
and art is not separate
but the oil, these diamonds
fabulous wealth for the few
maybe the diamonds are frozen carbon tears of stars
A womanís face is a diamond
they fall from her hands
the Persian Sea is doomed
weíve defecated in the cradle
the tropical seas abound with life
they blossom like tribal rugs
a blanket of oil for the sea
a blanket of sludge for the shore
plumes of smoke for the air
visible from space
it took the smoke from 600 oil wells to block out the sun
sabotage of the Bergan Oil Fields
the oil slick did not differentiate
between the types of grebes and cormorants
Soldiers shooting into the dark with infrared scopes
shot down 8000 camels as ememies of the state,
what of the 30,000 birds?
What of the Syrian bear shot in the foot by an Iraqi soldier for target practice.
and the camels caught in crossfireóno exodus for them but death.
At the zoo, a giraffe bends down to eat grain from an old manís upraised hands. A call to prayer from the minaret. The desert is covered with tar.
like a vast parking lot

A boy squats by the sea, Hussain wanted to ignite the water with 4 million barrels of oil.
The turtles coming ashore to lay thteir eggs, bewildered. Nosea grass to eat.
the wading birds just die quietly in the marshes
Birds and insects, seeing blue sky reflected in the oil pools
mistaken it for water and a river of oil floated down to the coast
fresh crude trapped in the branching arms of the coral turns to asphault medusaís hair turned to stone in the tide of destruction

DREAM VESSELS # 30   Cabbage Harvest   DRAFT

                                    From a collage by Marsha Connell

From the sky, a tea bowl gathers in lightning
I thought of black chickens
hovering over the city at night.
Something in the art of tea
electrifying the air.
While in a New England town in fall
the tribeswomen watch the spectacle of the dark sky
gathering greens for their dinner
the streets are quiet
the burlap sack tumescent
the tea bowl circles the city on black wings
and the women reach down to pluck the green and gold from the trees
to nourish the celestial tribe and the overprivleged one
perhaps this is where the manna from heaven originates from
the color of fall trees
you can hear the tea bowl folding its wings
as it settles for the night
the annular division of labor between night and day equal
no matter where we measure it from
the poles, the equator.
Itís just the way in which itís dished out
that affects where we live, what we eat
it all boils down to the weather
the horse latitudes, the temperate zone
where the trees live
the most densely populated place on earth

DREAM VESSELS #37: Mountain Fire Shepherd   FIRST DRAFT

                                    from a collage by Marsha Connell

The shepherdess comes out of the burned land and the tent.
The shelter is not a yurt, but a mountain. Perhaps Tibet.
Where to find tent poles if there’s a shortage of wood?
Tied to the door frame, an amulet, laurel leaves and feathers protect her

No one sees her in all her coral finery
On this continent  or Hawaii she would wear a feather cloak

Four rams hold up a chalice to the sky to collect rain
Have the forests been felled by a volcano, or worse?
homeless birds watch us.
the bluebird will not come again, this silent spring

The orb above the tent is not a moon;
inexorable oil barrels rise in place of the harvest moon
toward the carbon past, a march we can’t stop
The fire from the oil wells in the middle east
will be felt in the remotness of Tibet
The fire will darken her life too
though Tibet is a closed country 
Our presence is felt here too

When I was little my grandmother gave me a bluebird necklace 

This elaborate vessel. our culture does not invest in such elaborate art
a chalice, for us to own it is a sacrilege

we don’t have the investment of feeling for the power of anything natural
this very humble woman’s at peace with it so it’s more natural to her

DREAM VESSELS # 38 Morning Tea

                                    From a collage by Marsha Connell

A white rose transmuted above the empty cup
the act of just after breaking night’s fast
everyone dressed in the white shrouds of sleep
arise, binding the sheets to their heads, a cowl
they become winged like angels, or ghosts
see how the white rose stretches on extended wing towards the light
she is a swan song going about her business rooted in the commerce
busy-ness like bees we congregate in all the world’s places
uninhabited by  ghostly shrouds
we become monozygotes
the ouroboric serpent circling the cup is trapped in the saucer
forever destined to chase his own tail
in some places of the world peasants lay out saucers of milk for the snakes
as if they were children or cats and there is a certain catness about them
they listen to the wisdom of the earth through their ribs
in summer molt they are blind sensing the heat
as the herds of people commuting to work
the ritual of morning tea is a sacrament
the knife severs the dream world from the workaday world
there is such elegance in all that whiteness
bone china abstractions
the spine of each feather tinged with pale yellow
the blue white apparitions of the crowd, we see only the backs of their heads
they seek Mecca
the snake churns around the saucer counterclockwise
though we no longer adhere to the notion of the coriolis effect
to go counterclockwise is the notion of ascendance
we always seek the top. Clockwise we start at the azimuth and the end
only to fall from grace struggling toward the eleventh hour and the death knell
while the snake unwinds time and the notion of handedness
right and wrong dexter and sinister
the lifting of tea to the lips
the leaves of the camellia family,
neo-colonial issues arise out of this whiteness that suggests purity, or even death
the art of tea, the humbling of self and the offering of self as action, as gift
the distillation of the ancient regime of Zen Buddhism in the act of tea
but we are finished with such notions
the symbol of the snake is repeated in the abstract patterns of the cup
its body, a shoreline, rippling waves in the cosmic void
as it searches out its own tail
when the snake lets go, it is said, is when catastrophe strikes
the snake cannot find the end of himself and so he endlessly circles
the cup of morning
seeking to heal the breech but we have lost the earthly wisdom of snakes
they’ve been banished from the garden (sub rosa) concealment
that is why everyone is facing Mecca in search of the garden of the psyche
but the cup is half-empty and half-full, we cannot see the bottom of it
no need to find a gypsy to read the fortune in the tea leaves
the approaching end is self-evident
Gaia’s final concert of silence amid the ghostly rustle of sheets
inhabitants of an earlier time when the earth was new
we creatures have outdone the cleverness of our creator
the shadows of all oblique angles the curve of the henchman’s arm
and the final blow  rara avis
the rose lifts her skirts, flies away into the morning light
out of the depths (ad infinito) from the beginning
the firm melody of the snake who has no ears, his entire being, a tympanum
the cup is the egg, the serpent circling the egg, the orphic bowl
the sanctum of winged serpent but he is outside his realm
and where are his wings?

“originally heaven and earth were a single form—the cosmic egg.” Orphic Hymn

MARSHA It’s very angelic, heavenly but those are women dressed in mourning  like a landscape. It didn’t get interesting until the snake got into  it, Kandinsky designed the cup, it’s an Okeeffe rose he was an abstract artist  I’ve got the snakes coming all over the place  i don’t like snakes  I’m repelled by them it almost makes me cold that snake crawling across my arm they introduce some discomfort the male principal?  in all these women they’re all phallic shapes  it may be that the soul is resurging up and the angels are coming. one of the rituals after someone dies is to eat, drink, and share the stories. Mourning takes away the sweetness. its’ very contained and constrained a whole other side not visible  pain eerie no faces so removed. All you see is their backs.  what you see vs. what you know  what’s happening snakes in the shape of a wave, waves of feeling, waves of emotion.

DREAM VESSELS #39: The Whole World is a Very Narrow Bridge  FIRST DRAFT

                                    from a collage by Marsha Connell

Sea gulls and fairy terns wheel and turn over the bridge and its reflection
the river, a sentient being, skin of mist, of the pale mauve at sunset
The vessel of our ancestors, the Anasazi, has borrowed wings
and the birds all point to the unnatural nest
where an egg glows like the moon, or the earth, or the sun
The water near the dock is restless, wanting to move on
the birds hold formation
Is the porcelain egg a bowl to give birth to a winged pot?
Does it dream of flying over more peaceful waters
at an undeterminate time of beginnings or endings?
Everything depends upon how you read it
A flat plane? Horizontal or vertical?
A trinity of birds has broken past the imprisoned sky of the winged vessel
So many bars, the bridge, the nest, the dock—all to confine us
The pot is full, round, fecund as a nine-month woman
decorated with the symbols of life, the Greek key, the labyrinth
The minotaur is asleep, the legs of gulls like small brush strokes
against their fanned tails, are they guarding their eggs
or are they opportunistic, about to descend upon an unguarded nest for a meal
Cannibalistic creatures.
Nature is non-moral, yet we are shocked by such notions
as if there were some significance buried there for us to glean from
We are only repelled by the notion because the metaphor is too obvious,
too potent, this is why it repels us.
But birds are the messengers, they know the density of air
Only in rare dreams do we join them, testing our wings
I remember finding a baby bird on the garden path
of an obscenely decadent hotel, the Waikaloa, the Disneyland for adults
An immigrant starling too young to leave the nest
the distress calls of its mother, real enough
I was caught between contempt for opportunistic non-native species
who do so much damage to our crops
but then it struck me that we too, are opportunistic immigrants
plundering the nest of something infinitely more fragile
So many paradises succumb to corporate taming
we are the ones responsible, the ones who wander through massive hotel lobbies
in order to quench our thirst
The egg is not in a nest, it is the illusion of a nest, circular, familiar
the egg is suspended, perhaps rising, or falling down the bottomless mesh tube
a flume, a conduit churning to the ground in arabesque formation
We are flooding the countries with our technology
It clings to us like opportunistic burrs brushed off in a likely spot to colonize
The ascension of the vessel into the sky like the resurrection
perhaps it rose out of the tomb early searching for a rushed spring
the mesh tube, the opening to the tomb.
But it is not Christ seeking the trinity above our heads,
the pot, by nature, is female The ascent of She,
winged into the cacophonous air, the crepuscular air
The underworld is of our own choosing
I read about a curious notion that we cannot see the parallel
between the religions we were raised in
and this is why we must read the myths from other cultures
We tend to think of our own upbringing as fact, not metaphor
Yet here it is again and again, the metaphor of rising from the underworld
called Persephone, called Inanna, called Demeter, called Isis, called Astarte, called Christ
The egg must be rising because the pot is ascending,
free of the underworld at last, it metamorphoses
or did it give birth to the egg? Completeness of evidence
and the procreative urges to further the species at any cost
The starlings who rob the nests of others
the missionaries in Hawaii, governments
each with a vested interest to further the self
group ego and fear of the void that is sure to follow death and extinction
Surely there must be more to life than the nest the starling thought
before it plunged to the earth, its pinfeathers still sheathed
Surely there must be more to living than this death, this ceasing
early people thought as they placed flowers on the newly dead
Surely this is a metaphor for something else
Surely ours is the enlightened path,
each tribe proclaiming, uttering the first “I am”
but as each proclaimed their identity, they separated from the larger whole
thus spontaneously developing creed and dogma
The multiple “I am’s” echoed around the world
shattering the dawn, self-expulsion leads to the center of things
the feeling of either being on the outside seeking the center of the universe
or making the center the place where you stand
You conceive it into being
I am therefore I am came before the Cartesians
every revolution has its own prison because of the nature by which it was construed—in extremes. Action/reaction nether being the center of things
I am/ I am not
Thus the maws of the void open up to swallow us whole before our time
And so the birds wheel and turn like dancers, or do dancers mimic the birds?
And what of the snake who listens to the ground with its whole body?
ear to the ground with its ribs, listens to the dark wisdom of the earth?
Of life and death, of zygotes and blastophores. Hot ash bonfires, cremation
and hidden fecundity The pot rises carrying its precious burden to the sky
so the air will know another kind of kin
seeks union with the great unanswerable void
and the questions that will never be answered
This is the way of things. Monotones,
the black lip of despair, the pot speaks to the air
I resist the notion to Ariadne but she’s there
the mesh becomes the web, the bridge leads to the other side
the first egg fallopian tubes spider, reptile, human, fish, all arise from the egg
symbol of Christ, the web, Peter’s net, in ova, in the egg, unprepared

MARSHA NOTES: This piece is pivotal, the appearance of the first egg. Bridges, eggs. She says ‘spiderwebs’ twice personal sources of inspiration. the title comes from a prayer. The bridge, separation (see # 12) when I was in Israel on Reba’s birthday we put it on a poster a bridge with wings joining the US with Israel. Reba wrote words in Hebrew to the song. Means Don’t be afraid.
It’s so visceral, the thing in the center is like a hanging  bridge on the tip of New England reaching parts of my life, some are known, the one in the middle, unknown, precarious bottom of bridge  the known world, the middle is more ancient, more scary,  it represents an inner psychic peace, not a storm  I put an egg in the middle. Nest/egg/bridge

Lapis, symbol of Christ, prima materia.  The age of fishes  The sins of the world are the cause of suffering. Who is responsible? fisher king wounding & healing Anima mundi Zeitgeist equinox into the sign of the fish Pisces  krater transformation  “I noticed no Ariadne had put a thread into my hand.”
“Without history there can be no psychology, and certainly no psychology of the unconscious.” “What does one do with the unconscious? The relation between the ego and the unconscious” —Jung the concept of the self  analogs physics transformations of energy process of change individuation

DV files 40-46; 48-51 
were never transcribed from freewrite
DV files 47 & 52 empty. 

Marsha did several more Dream Vessel collages after we'd made a book, and I was onto other projects by then so I never finished them.