Pond Brain

A studio of open minds.

The artist welcomed extremes in her work, so employed bacterial assistants. They see differently, she said. She said the bacteria were very helpful. They bring a new intelligence, she said.

Is that them? We wondered. But it was the slime mold, which had recently arrived to help with the next project. 

What is that?  

We’re doing an adaptation of The Book of Changes.


Adapted from this BOMB interview with Jenna Suelta, for whom collaboration with non-human intelligences is a central feature of artmaking. Pond Brain is the title of a 2023 sculpture she created with bronze, water, sound, and light.

Spider Dreams

And the rest of us, watching.

The jumping spiders are dreaming. You can tell because the babies have translucent skin. Watch the eyes behind it, back and forth. Notice the twitching legs.

What are they doing? One of us asks. The theory is that they are trying to make sense. Whatever they dream about, it may help them jump better when they wake. It may help with direction, takeoffs, landings. Which, we have to admit, is more than any of us can say about our spider dreams.

The birds are doing it, too, another observes. Watch the feathers, how they twitch on drooping heads. The sleeping cephalopods turn wild colors, sending signals with urgency.

What we are wondering seems uncouth to ask. But chances are that there is one in any given assembly who is relatively immune to propriety, so we wait for the silence to break.

Do you think they see us? Says the one, When they . . .?

No answer is forthcoming. In the next hush, we notice that it isn’t clear which answer we want.  In the long quiet that follows, we sleep.


Inspired by Carolyn Wilke’s recent Knowable article on emerging research into the REM sleep patterns of various creatures.

The Missing

To call but not back.

Certain loves move this way, entire lives

sharing only this admission in the end:

I do not know you anymore. And yet. Will you?

––a refrain and its penance, demanded.

It varies. Who is addressed.

Maybe this is the crux of our want.

To be challenged, then absolved.

We went out looking for the animals,

but the animals had gone. They ran

from their names. We had to admit.

That it was possible we had the wrong


Hello, Stranger

What you notice in a morning.

Sometimes you sit here over coffee wanting to address these birds in the tree limbs just outside, each fluttered wing an aria unto itself. To say to them, sing me and know they know you mean it, how you want to be home already, somewhere. And hear an answer well enough to let you finally weep to see it.


From an undersea expanse.

It started above ground. Then we

worked the present’s peace, as

the storm and life went on until

the whole story was underwater.

The lens moved to track the current,

the coral, its choral lives. The lens

was intelligent. It saw us. We

looked back, our entire lives

before us, now beyond speech,

the brave vessels of our knocking

hearts still moving by the word. 

We held new names inside us,

hinting at what we were and to

what we were being returned. 

Down we went. At last, 

there was no time before this

but our remembrance, and some

would make trespass of memory

holding it close, would hear its

first utterance in the water, like

Mother            even now, in

this constant dusk the day 

still breaking in my––– 

But she said:


don’t speak to me of

souls. Not here, at this

late hour. Only hold.

The Land Before Us

Facing its faces.

The land before us

suggested as much 

by gesture as by intensity

of gaze returned.

It was tempting 

to call out, Hello?

and Who is here?

But we saw them

seeing us and

the grasses

spoke first. 


Inspired by Osman Can Yerbaken’s description of the paintings of Ghanaian artist Gideon Appah, who as Yerbaken puts it, “commands the landscape genre as its own form of portraiture by depicting the emotionality of a place like the piercing immediacy of a face.” 

Into Next

With winged hero.

Hello, messenger. You are no good at flying but faithful in your attempts. 

Pranked again by your devices, you can’t resist the dime store crown, the glitter-wrapped wand to go with it, even as it leaves you short one palm to break the fall. What resistance you have, you spend against gravity. 

A study in wreckage, your devotion. There you go again to the height of the last wall in the next fallen fortress, to meet the updraft, that it may lift you backward into the hour at your open hand.