The Long Look

Window, lens, hand, soul.

You appeared on a certain corner every evening with your camera, to enact a ministry of light. Recalling childhood, you arrived in the circle’s fullness each time. Former strangers worked with you. You created each image together. This is how you said, I know you

Every moment was a breath of spirit. In this world of surface illusion, you reached your illuminating hand, your goal always, touch me, touching you. 

By devotion to the details of flesh and fracture, shadow and shade, the drape of traffic lights over wet pavement, each frame became a reminder: look at us here, in the same image. 

Those birds are one creature. Those ants are one creature. Gathered on the corner in the glow of wet streetlights, one creature. And you took it all in, and said, we are here to work out our fear of being.


Inspired by the work and spirit of Khalik Allah, as generously shared in an interview with J. P. Sniadecki in BOMB.

Whisper Like a Magnet

Wonders of slow work.

Worry faces, worry rug, worry gesture of hand, furrow of brow, the expression of the weary in love. Wonder the ritual, the circle, the bared breast, and mythic flight. Stitch these stories of threads from what the weather tore open. Your arrival is an act of mending, of repair, the slow work of hands and thread, returning and returning to worry a single line into light. How like the handling of a body, where each fiber has a mind of its own. How all-consuming to do, how uninteresting to watch. How unlike the heroic arrival of the vanquisher with the sword. How unlike the swift rescue, the problem solved, the fix.


Inspired by the astonishing work of Sophia Narrett, interviewed by Colm Tóibín in the most recent issue of BOMB. The title of this post comes from one of Narrett’s works.

New Ancient Cathedral

To build what may be entered.

Enter this poem. Recognize its ladder. You know it from your grandmothers’ dreams. Here is a plush carpet of sound to somersault you into the dizzy end of the last hallway, hatching to bird.

Here is a poem to be pinched, swung from, picked like a lock, a cast-iron rhyme in the chest from which freshwater fish swim, unschooled, from the unheard, in a furred fury of feathered wings, erupting in collective bloom.

Here come the blue doves, announcing. When the new one is born, there will be change. There will be. Change. Their will.

Time is a baby in the belly of the whale, its new song of a frequency above us. And so, below. Climb into it. Here is a row of commas, hooks for the pulleys to lift us down, held fast to periods anchoring the lines of struck sentences whose ghosts fill the page, a waiting congregation. To be redeemed. Their histories.



Inspired by the architectural poems of Ry Nikonova.


Of seeing.

The moon world waking, you stretch sheer fabric over frame and paint a transparent scene, so that a witness seeing lighthouse, bird, and figure looking back, might also see the structure holding them in place. What does it mean to do this? You ask, of every painting, finding histories of art in every new work, the language being learned even as you look.


Inspired by Glasgow-based artist Merlin James. Italicized phrases come from this interview.

Unstill Life

With Tara Geer.

Here are studies in unknown shapes. The first bloom? In service of spontaneity, a perpetual reorientation. How useful in a landscape of discontinuity. How lumpy this world feels. I can only build by stumbling, my clumsy hands fitting one incongruity into another, and these into the rising wind.

In the center of a city, one draws a garden, vast and wild with unnamed fruits, a forbidden abundance. Who does she think she is? Vines twining around her calves, half an open orb cupped in each hand, juice running between fingers, in rivulets down forearms, to her weeping elbows. She lowers her face into the flesh. It clings to her chin, and she dares to look back with a wild grin, breathing.


Notes while reading this interview with Tara Geer, discussing her current installation, Unstill World. I am grateful to find her work, which aims “to translate unknowing into the work and not just more and more kinds of knowing.”

The New You

An ongoing installation project.

There was no title for the New You, a liminal masterpiece of clay and accumulated objects. It morphed in size: now handheld, now too big to fit through a doorway. Scale is an attitude, you explained. You had a similar view of materials. Now you are an unassuming carboard box, full of surprises, now the breathtaking choreography of of bright colors on canvas. You repurposed materials from earlier works. One day, you surprised us with a large floor installation we had to rotate around to take in. This One is For You, you called it.

Given a long enough silence in a large enough group,  someone will eventually ask the question. When someone did, wondering What’s it mean? you laughed, but gently. I don’t think about the meaning in my work, you said. I only find it in working.


Inspired by Ethan Greenbaum’s delightful interview with his wife, the artist Sun You, which I found this morning in BOMB magazine.


Where a voice.

Once, certain attentions were considered advancement, conditioned as we were to equate the sense of nascent excitement with progress, and to make of this a god, and we did not recognize the beginning of a fall, into an agony long as life. Neither anguish nor inertia could resist its pressure.

Only by taking absence back from silence can anyone be protected. 

Here, a voice. It says, Come, says Now.

You are not condemned. Rise. It is time for another birth. You can scratch a way into life again, from memories still unlearned.

Singing the Abyss

In defiance of capture.

Rhythms of earth tongues, come out. I give these primitive liberties forms to evade surveillance of that principle bent on separation of bodies from themselves and one another, that enacts bars of murderous purity masquerading as sensible grammars.

The nocturnal creatures know me. They sit in my lap, lap from my hands, and laugh at the extent of your fears. We only eat prey, love, announce the joyful birds.

Separate us all you like. Each solitude only offers another rebirth. With each, we widen the net of our bodies. We become the looming canopies connecting at altitudes and depths, above and beneath the walls you drive yourself mad with the effort of erecting in your endless quest to extract Resource from Source. You make a god to coddle your greed, and the dragon laughs.

Will you look at this face? No, you can’t bear it, finding in its gaze the endless points of no return, each now a star in the night you claimed to conquer. Our skins fallen from us, we move from their weight and your ability to trace.

When the last wall is built, the last stone in place and the weight of its prowess inverts and you find yourself entombed in a solitary well, calling, who will hear you but the lowest, who come and go among these depths, and the dead?

Between Falls

Field notes from the ground.

Once I ached to mature into a kind of effervescent grace of quiet luminosity, but it is something else to recognize that I am still the child on the floor, stacking pieces from a pile of scattered blocks like some aftermath. My hands have traded their dimples for veins, having somehow passed straight through elegance without so much as a pause, in their haste to build some appeal, but to what?

Perhaps to a continuance of the possibility of making anything, especially when it has become so obvious to go without saying (but, clumsy as I am, I’ll note it here): so much ends with falling. Or perhaps to this insistence: because it always falls in the end, I will build. 

It will not last. It is a double-edged marvel, the not lasting and the way it sometimes holds just long enough to find a witness. Once, I felt the brush of the toddler’s eyelash at my cheek. One day, before the next fall, it still seems possible to climb some crumbling arrangement of dream fragments––and leap.


Into being.

What comes when the search ends

and every purposeful intent, busily

attentive toward some known,

to crack the ice of time, when

being itself seems to reach

a hand?


Denial, so smitten by the rough

hand of progress, will insist 

that this is the axis of a turn,

but nothing has changed.


In this sunlit absence, here

is a space again, and it––

or I, or both, sighs

an audible breath,

the hush of shoreline,

a lapping this, and it

glimmers at the edge

of language.