Wednesday, August 21, 1991

AFTER THE COUP


AFTER THE COUP

                                                Language is a virus.
                                                  —William S. Burroughs

Yelena, I want to write you a poem of the men we've loved,
how their names, oval like honey, cling to our lips.
I want to say to you we are sisters; there is no cure
for Tuesdays, Bach, revolution, and snow falling from our memories—
always in another country. The children we don't have,
words lost with meaning, a revelation: the senses fade, or do they?
How do we measure generations, when you and I,
who, following our hearts, sleep alone
because our craft is hidden in the very definition of snow?
The Inuit have 52 words for snow; how many have we for love?
Who will recobble Kutzovsky Prospekt now the barricades are down,
the tanks withdrawn? They say the fallen will be buried in the Kremlin Wall
even if they have to disinter someone to make room for them.
Who will it be: Lenin, Stalin, John Reed?

Someone pinned onto my jacket, Demokratia,
a concept imported like independence, economy, and freedom.
Shall I tell you how I can't sleep in the hollow
where my lover's body made a lasting impression;
I have to move against the wall in order to find rest?
But you know of these things we've never alluded to,
having no common language between us
To those who could translate our thoughts,
we would never divulge such secrets.

The weather is changing,
they're pulling the statues of repression down to their knees.
Both Vladimir and Iron Feliks were found to be hollow inside after all.
Opposite the Bolshoi Theatre, Marx still stands amid graffiti—
I apologise: I was wrong. . .
I can still see you walking down Shevchenko Street;
snow collecting in the blue pockets of your scarf.
There is something about snow that illuminates the face
into the purity of angels
no matter that it is dirty, or a symbol for the old guard,
and the shelves still empty.

I always thought of Russia or the Ukraine
as a dark place in winter;
I forgot about the reflective quality of snow.
Or that East and West are somehow buried
in the curious fact that, in Arabic,
there is no distinction between ice and snow.
And there are no words for democracy or orgasm
in China. Tianenmen Square.
If the revolution succeeds or fails,
will language dictate thought?



I think of you on that street named after the poet,
your lover sneaking off to marry someone's intended wife
while mine is unaccounted for. How does one measure grief
when the collective beds of the harem are so full,
they buckle and strain and calve like ice floes in spring?
They say only a small portion of the iceberg is visible above water-line.
The ice in our lemonade (sweetened, no doubt, with kolkhotz sugar beets,
not honey) demonstrates this with consistency
We fall from the blueness of our lover's eyes,
the iceberg, another summit to be scaled, like all the rest.
I want to tell you how the fragrance of nectarines or apples
in the cloistered stillness of a room in late afternoon
is like that opening to sex.
We are haunted by the everyday things in our lives;
the slippers under the kitchen table,
forgotten clothes still holding the shape of the man.

The air grows colder, I wear flannel nightgowns,
the full moon is a reminder of walks along the Dniepr
midsummer, when there is little palpable difference between air and flesh.
It seems as if the woman is always lying down a harvest for the man,
no matter what country, century, or season. What of Akhmatova?
Sometimes it feels there is no end to this concert of silence.

We become experts in the business of waiting,
calling our advocation our art.
These indistinct words spill onto the snowblind page;
shadows of bare branches,
feeble attempts of fruit trees holding laden skies.
Our lips aren't jaded, they're made of common stone.
Maybe we did live other lives in other countries,
maybe the small boy skating on thin ice was your only child;
the treacherous river is dark, brooding, and vengefully swift.
If you look onto the white expanse, they've cut holes into the skin
of the river, plummeting the icy depths for small treasures.
The river's children glisten silvery, as if the moon hid in their bellies.
They are not the Savior's body, they are feeding on the moon,
each month she reminds us of the red tide,
squeezing out slave's blood, drop by drop.
Coral beads in the snow, on the sheets swaddling our hearts.

Someone cautions me: Give even-numbered flowers to the dead.
I cannot begin to count all the bouquets in Red Square
to see if I'm among the living.
As honey ages, it darkens, turns bitter the sweetness
of long-withered blossoms buried in its core.
What generation of bees enters our lips to reconstitute spring
as if you could cage the very air with memory?
Winter nightclothes grow multiple arms to hold us
as we journey towards the longest night,
drinking resurrected light from the moon.


21 August 1991

1991 Soviet coup d'état

1992 Louisville Review, KY
1992 Richard Eberhardt Poetry Prize, Florida State University, First Honorable mention
1992/93 Sundog Florida State University

Monday, August 19, 1991

DREAM VESSELS # 19: The Great Johnstown Flood FIRST DRAFT

 DREAM VESSELS # 19: The Great Johnstown Flood  FIRST DRAFT
     —From a collage by Marsha Connell

Rolling imprecisely from the military cavalcade
Ambivalent shockwaves rolling
toward a shore pierced with shadows
of houses and picket fences at dawn.
A loose sun and swirling fiery skies
battle against cerulean mountains.
A city that takes pride in its tombstones
is tucked in under a thin blanket of snow.
There is comfort in knowing
the ancestors sleep at the foot of the city.
The statue—is it Saint Joan? Flying,
one wing bent skyward,
touching the big blue marble of earth,
bringing its image back down to the ground.
Marsha said she lived near the great Johnstown flood.
She said she could see the watermarks,
the houses where people perished by water and by fire.
She said: This was where I was living
when I got the news that my father died.
I lived in the hills above Johnstown,
there are no roads to Johnstown.
No roads to get out, all those houses
jammed up against the bridge, bursting into flames.
I can’t shake the scenes of those floods,
they said it would never happen but it did,
a strange alignment of planets, the cold winter light
made the flood happened the statue is real,
all the unidentified dead.

Summer 1991

Thursday, August 15, 1991

Crafts for Craft's Sake 8/15/91









EXHIBIT CURATOR JEFF ZIGULIS at the kiln of his workshop in Sebastopol: 'The popularity and recognition of American Crafts has exploded."

BY MAUREEN HURLEY


The early '70s was the heyday of the current American crafts movement. But changing lifestyles and values, and a plethora of mediocre crafts, nearly killed it. We've all done time at numerous street fairs and crafts shows—and they keep coming back to haunt us: vintage resurrections are alive and well at the flea market, and village shops along the isolated North Coast in summer can be like a bad déja vu. I mean, who still has Aunt Em's beaded macrame frying-pan wall-hanging? How many ceramic Hobbit toothbruses weed potholders can one person admit to having owned?

Now the emphasis is on high-quality collectibles—objets d' art. This is the focus of the "Fine American Crafts by Sonoma County Artists" exhibit currently on display at the California Museum of Art (CMA) in Santa Rosa. The handicraft of 29 Sonoma County artists (the majority from West County) ranges from traditional wood crafts, clay, blown glass, textiles, dolls, and knives to jewelry and metal sculptures.

According to some artists and collectors, American crafts have made a real comeback, and have been transformed and elevated to the status of fine art. In the post-Darwinian fashion of the '80s, many craftspeople molted—got a haircut and a "real" job, while others tenaciously stuck it out, honing their survival skills by developing their craft into a fine-arts format.

Curator for this crafts show is nationally recognized ceramicist, Jeff Zigulis of Sebastopol. In his Artists' Statement, Zigulis tosses out a provocative idea: that with the growing popularity and recognition of American Craft over the last 15 years, the line between Art and Craft has blurred significantly." Zigulis, a former college instructor, juror, and "seasoned exhibitor" for the American Crafts Council, states that "the show will display how American crafts have evolved into a movement that merits acknowledgement by admirers and collectors alike." Certainly the show challenges set notions, as there is a wide variety of objects and styles ranging from pure craft to pure art to choose from.

Public response to the show has been varied. Some who come to the exhibit expecting to find bargains are surprised to find this isn't another crafts fair. Unfortunately, the term "arts and crafts" conjures up images of lace doilies, shell animals and trees and dried-bean picture frames. As Zigulis states, "People have a cheapened view of crafts."

He is very quick to point out the distinction between a crafts fair and a show. "The emphasis here is on the word 'fine' crafts. Many of these artists who became craftspeople are from a fine-arts background. These people are professionals making a living at their craft." A successful craftsperson, with the right marketing skills, exposure, and a little luck, can make up to $100,000 to $200,000 a year, according to Zigulis. Not exactly flea market wages.

Form follows function? During my salad-bowl days at College of Marin, I recall my pottery teacher, a corpulent Greek named Thano Johnson, wildly waving his arms in the air like a stuffed owl, booming the adage: "Form must follow function." He emphasized that "because every substance had integrity, one must both respect and honor the physical and aesthetic properties of the medium and the object." During raku (Japanese wood kiln) firings, he demonstrated the Art of Tea.

Form and function echoed through my mind like "Good and Plenty" commercials on TV. And so, as I viewed the exhibit, I found myself automatically muttering form follows function. This idea is attached to another, less defined idea, the blurred borderline between art and craft.

'Form follows function. Yeah, but there is no longer any function in pure form," Zigulis explains, citing an example of a teapot with a sealed lid used as a theme or a starting point which leaves us begging the question: Is it a teapot or a sculpture? "It's no longer functional. A kitchen knife transforms into a piece of sculpture. The lines are blurred. The definitions are blurred."

From this progression of ideas, the artist has the opportunity to grow and evolve. Ultimately, aesthetic judgement is in the eyes of the beholder, a more personal definition is needed. "You just kind of slide into that gray area," says Zigulis. laughing.

The dictionary doesn't shed much more light on the subject: a craftsperson (craft is an Anglo-Saxon word) is defined as someone who is cunning or skilled at a manual or mechanical trade-, an artificer, an artisan; also, sometimes called an anist.

On the other hand, a fine artist (art is a Latinate derivative) practices an art in which imagination and taste reside over the execution of the making of things for their own sake without relation to the utility of the objects produced.

In other words, art is for art's sake. Though the origins of craft are utilitarian, it approaches the realm of art on a more personal level.

Interestingly enough, the influential Bauhaus movement of the '20s and '30s. which played a vital role in the shaping of American and European crafts and industrial design, ventured away from pure function into streamlined form. Artisans designed experimental models that became industrial products.

However, in some cases, they got so carried away with form that it no longer followed function—as anyone who's sat too long in an uncomfortable Bauhaus chair can attest to. The Bauhaus movement, founded in Germany, had an enclave right here in West County: American Bauhaus West, so to speak.

The Bauhaus director, architect Walter Gropius, designed the Hexagon House in Guerneville as a studio space for artists and art students. One artist was internationally recognized potter Marguerite Wildenhain of Frog Pond Farm in Austin Park, who influenced several generations of potters including my former partner.

Meeting of the physical and the aesthetic, Sebastopol potter and teacher John Chambers' salt-fire glazed ceramic vessels with closed tops present an oxymoron: they're no longer practical as pots, and transgress into the realm of sculpture. At what point does a craftsman become an artist? When he calls his vessel a "Helmet Pot."

In contrast to Chambers' academic and understated ceramics, Bodega sculptor Michelle Morehouse's porcelain candelabras positively resonate and challenge the senses. "Candelabra for Kuwait" and" 100 Hours," with their powerful primary colors and motifs-barbed wire, dead doves, skulls, missiles, and candies stuck on cactus—are reminiscent of Mexican papier-maché altar pieces for El Día de los Muertos.

Patsy Chamberlain of Occidental incorporates yarn-bound twig pinches into her bird shrines, and I like the honest evidence of slab construction—textured clay. However, with the exception of the exquisite center shrine (which sold immediately), I wish she'd experimented more with other types of glazes and techniques to enhance the shrines—perhaps raku.

Gerald Hong's raku vessels, especially "Arch with Arrows," are exemplary models of form and function, demonstrating both physical and aesthetic integrity. As is Zigulis's vessel from his "Dancing Man Series." The surface of these vessels becomes a rich canvas for an idea. Both artists use underglazes, pencils, and stencils to work the surfaces. Technique doesn't interfere with overall aesthetic design. Zigulis often saggar-fires his pieces two or three times to achieve the results he desires.

Forestville artist Carla Bernstein's peeled willow chairs don't differ much from the age-old craft, other than burned and painted pictographs judiciously placed here and there. However, they're quite comfortable to sit in. Nice copper nails, too. She is new to the field; perhaps, with time, her work will evolve more.

Though we couldn't handle Karl Schroen's knives at the exhibit, it's reported that their balance is superb, they bless the hand. I lusted after sun-ripened Roma tomatoes and basil, just to whet the thirst of the blade. (Tomatoes, as any good chef knows, are the ultimate challenge to the quality and sharpness of a blade. However, I think Carl's blades are more carnivorously oriented.)

Healdsburg weaver Molly Hart, best known as a textile artist, successfully takes her soft craft of yarns to the hard realm of metal sculpture/ painting in "Genetic Memory." Her "found art" jewelry is composed of circuit breakers, screens, and switches.

Collaborative artists Robert and Joanne Herzog's stacking wooden jewelry boxes are more like shrines. Every square centimeter is carefully polished, decorated, or carved. Even the bottoms! "Analog" is supported on river stones of carved redwood. One loses a sense of scale with these pieces.

Chuck McLaughlin approaches the wood for his bowls the same way a sculptor unlocks secrets from a raw slab of marble by studying the possibilities it has to offer, and paying tribute to it. Among the results are a handsome big-leaf maple bowl, replete with original knothole, and a redwood burl bowl with lacy natural edges.

Brenda Rainson's coiled linen baskets are amazingly well executcd. "Transformation Journey," with lavender and green trees and dreamlike figures, conjures up images from our aboriginal past. Marilyn Radzat's large dolls have great costumes (the layered look), but I instantly recoiled at their too-beautiful faces, as it seems she can't bear to give them character or life.

Master craftsman Fred Cresswell of Cazadero's handblown glass pieces, with heavy Venetian cane designs and fumed glass, though technically beautiful, fluid, and well crafted, lack that distinction to challenge the cutting edge of glass art, while French-born Occidental artist Laurence Evangelinos's kiln slumped glass pieces are more arresting as wall pieces that just happen to double as platters—especially her untitled piece of blue glass with threaded black glass cane and blue squares.

Avant-garde. According to Zigulis, American crafts are in the forefront of the international crafts scene, with France, Australia, and Japan as close contenders. The American works are more avant garde—"pushing the inside of the envelope out," muses Zigulis. When asked what future trends might develop 15 years from now, the burly artist laughs and says, "I don't know. If I did, I'd be out there doing it, and not this exhibit!"

Though Zigulis is the curator, this thoughtful and well displayed show (there are over 100 pieces) is the brainchild of Duane Jones, CMA director. "I wanted to do a crafts show for a long time," says Jones. "We have many fine artists and craftspeople who have no venue to show their work in Sonoma County.

Last spring both Jones, who also lives in Sebastopol, and Zigulis were setting up for the Sebastopol Center for the Arts auction when Duane collared him late one night "with the help of a good bottle of cabernet," —well, the rest is history. No matter what your take on arts and crafts is, you'll find something at this show to stimulate your synapses. As Jones says: "We want people to argue about it."

"Fine American Crafts by Sonoma County Artists" is at the The California Museum of Art at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa through September 15. Exhibit hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. A free lecture by Jeff Zigulis will be on Thursday, Aug. 22. at 7 p.m. For more information, call the museum at 527-0297.


THE WEST SONOMA COUNTY PAPER - AUGUST I5- SEPTEMBER 4.1991 page 19


DREAM VESSELS # 15: Jatumpamba FIRST DRAFT

DREAM VESSELS # 15: Jatumpamba  FIRST DRAFT
     —From a collage by Marsha Connell


Marsha said: A bowl, like letting go of the self.
Pottery shards from Ecuador.
A dream bowl of eggs, cracked,
cosmic shards representing red earth bowls,
in pieces—like all my bowls.
I sent back dozens, eight boxes of shards.
I was distraught. The Dream Vessels need to go to Ecuador
to heal something that is broken.
Who was to know that was going to happen?

There is the mountain and there are the women.
I went to the mountain to see the women.
They were of the earth and to find them
I had to walk in mud up to my ankles.
The streets of Jatumpamba, near Cuenca,
pre-date cars, there are no cars.
The women stay in the villages to make pots.
The women go to the cities for money,
they sell the pots in the marketplace,
carrying huge pots on their backs.
All the young women want to go to the cities
to make panama hats. They don’t want to make pots
like their mothers. Too old-fashioned. They want to be modern.

Marsha said: I met Alexandra during a performance piece
about sacred earth, about a woman storing bags of earth.
She said a name, Helene Aylon. I said that was my painting teacher.
She said Helene created rituals pregnant with women, and earth.
Alexandra, a Swedish archaeologist, didn’t understand the message.
A bowl in her country is just a bowl.
In Jatumpamba, it’s a way of life.

Marsha said: someone stole my shoes out of Alexandra‘s trunk.
And in Quito, to get to the Avenue of the Shoes
we had to pass through the Avenue of the Coffins.
I had to laugh, for John and I stayed on the Avenue of the Coffins.
Those purple lined coffins gave us such strange dreams.
Marsha said: I went to Jatumpamba to make a cultural exchange.
In Jatumpamba they’re running out of clay. Their culture is dying.
so I went to learn something.
I didn’t know what I could do.
I didn’t know anything.
so I went.

Summer 1991
it looks like I never did the free write on this collage or it is lost.

Sunday, August 11, 1991

DREAM VESSELS # 11: Shards of Creation DRAFT (DV 12-17 MIA)

DREAM VESSELS # 11 Shards of Creation   
DRAFT
  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 the ova and ovum,

Summer 1991

DV 12-16 missing
D V #17 Grandpa Sam's Farm  (empty file..) I sure hope I have a hard copy somewhere.

Saturday, August 10, 1991

DREAM VESSELS # 10: Covenant

DREAM VESSELS # 10: Covenant


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.


Summer 1991


Friday, August 9, 1991

DREAM VESSELS # 9: I Lift My Eyes, FIRST DRAFT

DREAM VESSELS # 9: I Lift My Eyes, FIRST DRAFT
        from a collage by Marsha Connell

And the slender necks of wooden geese drink from a vessel.
Someone covered with the prayer shawl 
sits on the crest of the vessel, the eroded edges of a cliff,
minarets, a passage through the mountains.
Wild geese, the size of houses, sleep on the landscape, 
distant snow rosiated against the coming darkness.
Wind has eroded the cathedrals of the desert.
Sometimes, when the light is right, you can see distance cities 
reflected in the surfaces of ponds. Stars, the city?
By naming things, we categorize them, they lose their magic.
Sometimes it is better when they remain unnamed 
because they fit better into the matrix of things. 
Separated, they become isolated, 
like this flock of geese on a frozen landscape.
The woman under the prayer shawl, does she see herself? 
Or does she see the faces of God? Or are they the same thing?
Fingertips emerge from beneath the shawl, feminine.
Our landscape is inadequate when it comes to terms of gender.
The darkness beneath the shawl, the human form extended 
into the darkness of vessels. No one ever shows them 
pouring out of the darkness. Maybe wine, perhaps water.
But the liquid takes on the properties of darkness 
if stored long enough.
Perhaps this is why we dream of ourselves in the center of things, 
not on the edges of the dream like the retina.
Inside the vision darkens the intensity of color and light 
until it fades into the darkness.
I used to think the indistinct edges of things 
was how the world was really formed, slovenly, haphazardly.
Images snapping to attention like soldiers under scrutiny. 
It’s a takeoff of the idea that if a tree falls in the forest 
and there’s no one to hear it, just the sound exist?
We cannot see sound waves—or radio waves for that matter. 
If there’s no antenna to translate radio waves into sound, 
the radio waves still exist. Somewhere in deep space 
scientists are able to measure such distances.
Orson Welles’ voice in War of the Worlds 
is still traveling deeper and deeper into space. 
Is anyone out there listening? 
Will the radio waves retain their original integrity, 
or will they become corrupt like a computer file with time and use. 
Does space use time, or does time use space? 
A Mobius strip convoluted back on itself, 
on the outer edges of the galaxy, only to return to its source, 
finding no antennae to receive them. 
On the slopes of Haleakalā, Maui’s house of the Sun, 
a laser measures the distance of the moon.
Conclusion: the moon is drifting away from us.
On Haleakala, the Nene, or the Hawaiian goose no longer flies, 
its feet are no longer webbed because it lost 
the reason for webbed feet—water.
A goose out of water, unafraid of man, was nearly eaten into oblivion. 
Rats jumped ship, and the mongoose brought here to prey on the rats 
both prefer the eggs of indigenous birds to exotic species. 
It’s the same old story the world over. Encrusted copper urns 
too long beneath the sea, become thin and brittle with age.
The sea’s invisible fingers massage them into papery relics. 
Barnacles colonize them, kick food into their mouths with feathered feet.
After a lifetime of standing on their heads, 
what do they dream of on the edge of a vessel?

 Summer 1991


Thursday, August 8, 1991

DREAM VESSELS # 8: Masada

DREAM VESSELS # 8 Masada
      —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?
We 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