Wednesday, November 29, 2017

CHOP


This is my new TROY chop mark/seal for signing my "larger" Inktopodes paintings/drawings.

It was hand drawn and then a local rubber stamp company transformed the drawing into usable chop/seal.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

DESTINY CITY ZINE SYMPOSIUM



Troy's Work Table Publishing presents INKTOPODES at Destiny City Zine Symposium (Fall 2017 edition) on Saturday 12/2.

Come visit with Troy and the Inktopodes, as well as other local and independent writers, artists, zine makers, and small presses.

View the event page HERE.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

STORIES

Today was a day of storytelling. People wanted to know stories of the Inktopodes—in general and in particular. They wanted to know how I create them. They wanted to know names and why I chose them.

They also wanted to share stories about whom would be receiving one of the Inktopodes or where they would reside.



One woman was struggling to make a decision between three or four Inktopodes until she asked me what Jeanne's (#94) name was and why. I told her that Jeanne was named after Renée Jeanne Falconetti's performance as Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc) in Carl Dreyer's 1928 silent cinematic masterpiece La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, because her look reminded me of the closeups of Falconetti in the film.



Another woman told me about her covered outdoor patio "Tiki bar" where she and other teachers would gather after school for drinks and conversation. She eventually settled on Sigmund (#40) once she knew he was named after the title character in Sid and Marty Krofft's Sigmund and the Sea Monsters kids TV show.



And Karpo (#73) went home with another woman after she heard the name. Something "clicked" for her and she knew upon hearing the name that this was the Inktopodes for her niece who collects octopus art and memorabilia.

This was how most of the day went. I told stories. I listened as stories were told to me. New stories were born as Inktopodes swam off to new owners and new homes.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

TREE LIGHT


The light at 8:00 a.m. on November mornings oftentimes creates miraculous visions. If only I were able to paint these scenes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

NEGATIVE SPACE II


Found "artwork" on the sidewalk.

Monday, November 13, 2017

NEGATIVE SPACE


Found "artwork" on the sidewalk.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

THE SEED-DREAM



If one of the seeds of Yggdrasil

should drop from the paw or the cheek

of Ratatoskr the Runner

and somehow find fertile loam

in which to sprout

will a new world arise?

If so what dream lies within

those woody walls?

Monday, November 06, 2017

RATATOSKR


"Ratatoskr" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, charcoal, and charcoal pencil on recycled story paper and  12" x 12" concrete board.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

HARVEST



Ratatoskr runs and runs

and runs the lengths of Yggdrasil

the Great Ash the World Tree—


runs the trunks of the Nine Worlds—

deciduous and evergreen—

maple and yew and alder


pine and fir and spruce—

gathering the seeds of plenty

from each incarnation


and each variation—

cone and nut and berry

green and sweet and filled


with summer life

for the fallow days

of winter time

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

RATATOSKR



there are more pressing tasks than trying to settle old squirrels

for Ratatoskr is neither young nor old but timeless

and not to be settled from his frantic frenetic fevered search

for nutmeat to cherish ingest enjoy

and gossip to gather bear deliver

between the raptors in Yggdrasil's canopy

and the dragon that nibbles at the great tree's Nine Worlds roots

no, let us not delay the work of this near-divine rodent

rather, let us encourage the digging and chattering and scurrying

along the whorls and burls of the bark and branches

hoping that he will drop a tidbit for us

a relic from one of the other worlds

a glimpse of things we may feel but not necessarily know

Sunday, October 29, 2017

SEASONAL GOURD CARVING


 "Octo-punk'n." Danish squash, acrylic paint, 24 lb. bond paper, masking tape.

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Danish squash and masking tape.

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"Dia de los Muertos." Danish squash.

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To be or not to be, a Danish squash skull.

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"Ash the Jack-o-Lantern." Pumpkin. Carved by The Child.

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"Classic Jack." Danish squash.

YGGDRASIL with SHADOWS



Yggdrasil with shadows

is a playground for Ratatoskr

multiplied


One broad leaf is an island

of light in the darkness for one

drill-tooth


One broad leaf is an island

of dark in the brilliance for another

Ratatoskr


Each broad leaf is an island

each with its own chittering rodent—

a collage


of colors and geometries

and bodies upon the gallows

branches

Saturday, October 28, 2017

YGGDRASIL as MAPLE



Yggrasil as maple—
one avatar among many


Ratatoskr attempts
to grab the samaras

as they flutter toward
the soft waiting soil

to crack them and eat
their nutmeat


before they can become
Yggdrasil 2.0

Friday, October 27, 2017

YGGDRASIL in AUTUMN



Yggrasil in autumn


where leaves will hang

for only a second

if a season


where Ratatoskr

will run from tree top

to root stock


seeking rich meat

of rotting nuts

as well as gossip


of the shrinking day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

OCTOROCK


The "Octorock."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

THE BOTANICAL GARDEN



"Some experts said it was the greatest mass extinction since the dinosaurs."
—page 16, from The Botanical Garden by Ellen Welcker

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The Botanical Garden by Ellen Welcker is a strange and short book-length poem. I was perusing the poetry book shelves at Orca Books of Olympia,Washington when I noticed this small square volume. I was initially attracted to the sperm whale on the cover and the incongruity between it and the title.

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"Fifty years after whaling began, refugee populations in the Arctic Ocean had dropped so much that they were no longer considered an industry."
—page 25

---

But it was the words within that finally drew me in and had me heading toward the counter to purchase it. Poking about through its pages had me intrigued, captivated. There were themes, but there were as many digressions as there were consistent threads.

---

"Immigrants are huge, but elusive and difficult to see which adds to their mystery and fascination. They are highly intelligent animals with an elaborate social life, no possessions, and the complete freed of movement in three dimensions."
—page 30

---

It reminds me of Notes on Sea & Shore by Greta Wrolstad. It reminds me of Notes From A Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel by Evan S. Connell. It reminds me of Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century by Patrik Ouředník. It reminds me of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.


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"You who name mountains, oceans, and desolate towns: tell me the idea of your country. Tell me its contours and flags and animals and industries. Tell me why it is, then tell me if the idea of being is a beautiful fusion."
—page 37

---

The text is concerned with borders and barriers, even as it transcends them. It confuses and conflates human and whale, mother and child, geographies and bodies. Information about whales and information about refugees and immigrants trade places.

---

"The game was called Border Patrol. The objective: 'to keep them out...at any cost!' Players had the opportunity to shoot any and all of the four types of border crossers: 'Nationalist,' 'Drug Smuggler,' 'Breeder,' or 'Krill Eater.'"
—page 44

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Categories are collapsed. Countries are shown to be nothing more than empty names. And, in the midst of everything being swept away in some sense, there is still the sea, always the sea.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

SALTED CARAMEL


Salted Caramel, an Imperial Stout (in the Blackwater Series) by Southern Tier Brewing Company.

12 ounce bottle served in snifter.

10.0% abv.

---

The pour is indeed black water. The head is a thin skin of dark tan that mostly dissipates within 30 seconds or so.

The nose is salted caramel.

The tongue is dark chocolate, cocoa, caramel, vanilla, a bit of marshmallow, and a light saltiness. Lurking in the background is a hint of smokiness.

The mouthfeel is medium with a hint of oiliness. The flavor is mostly chocolate and cocoa up front and then a longish finish slowly adds the other flavors.

The only problem with this beer is that it is really too sweet to be drinking a full bottle. It would be better split with someone. Six ounces in a mini snifter and paired with dessert after dinner is probably the best plan for this beer.

I liked it, but I’d rather eat salted caramels than drink them.

Monday, September 18, 2017

VESALIUS (2 MONTHS)


Detail of "Vesalius (2 Months)" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, and charcoal on 12" x 12" concrete board.

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Rest in peace.

MELVILLE: A NOVEL


"In 1849, when Melville returned to America after a short stay in England, he had a strange item in his baggage. It was an embalmed head...but it was his own."
—Opening two lines of Melville: A Novel by Jean Giono

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I am so looking forward to reading this short novel about Herman Melville. I've only read these two opening lines and I am hooked.

Apparently, it started life as a preface to the first French translation of Moby-Dick, but then swam off into what is now this short novel.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

POETRY and the BIBLE

I'm just going to leave this right here for myself—a "syllabus" of sources for an upcoming class I'm teaching.

The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible by Sarah Ruden, especially "Poetry in the Bible: The Living Word of Everything and Nothing."

Poetry, Language, Thought by Martin Heidegger, especially "What Are Poets For?"

The Humiliation of the Word by Jacques Ellul. Page 46. "Poetry needs to be spoken." + "The same process applies to religious writing."

The New Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics by Lewis Turco.

The Great Poems of the Bible: A Reader's Companion with New Translations by James L. Kugel, especially "Psalm 23 • And Obscure as That Heaven of the Jews."

Poets on the Psalms, edited by Lynn Domina, especially "Psalm 23" by Catherine Sasanov and "I Shall Not Want: The Twenty-third Psalm Comes to Cleveland, Ohio" by David Citino.

"Psalm XXIII" from Radio Sky by Norman Dubie.

"David singt vor Saul / David Sings Before Saul" from New Poems [1907] by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

POETRY


The July/August (left) and September (right) 2017 issues of Poetry magazine.

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Poetry magazine has been firing on all cylinders lately.

First, the design of the covers for the July/August 2017 and September 2017 issues by Alexander Knowlton and Pentagram is wonderful. I love the different typefaces used for the POETRY lettering on the July/August issue and the minimalist "nested" typeface and color scheme used on the black background of the September issue.

Secondly, the editorial staff of Poetry are seeking out and serving up some of the best contemporary poetry.

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The July/August 2017 issue features Asian American Poets, many of whom I already read and know and many of whom were new to me. The issue opens with Aimee Nezhukumatathil's wonderful "Sea Church" and keeps going strong until it closes with Li-Young Lee's epic "Changing Places in the Fire" and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's "Culture Lab Manifesto" and accompanying "Culture Lab" images and artwork.

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As of this writing, my favorite poem in the July/August 2017 issue is "On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens" by Khaty Xiong. I see, sense, and hear transformation, fragility, vulnerability, motherhood, a shifting of perspective—and all of it layered and confused and yet somehow concrete.

Listen to these beautiful lines:
As in a fever the boy runs back & does not see / the white morpho the way I must see it: / my personal moon stone-ripe in this foreign corner, / mother as fauna forever — inhuman & gazing.

---

My September 2017 issue just arrived in the mail today, so I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I'm especially looking forward to poems by Atsuro Riley, Patricia Lockwood, Joy Harjo, and Terrance Hayes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

CONVERGENCES



On Saturday, August 12, 2017, my friend Dave and I got together for lunch, conversation, and to visit King's Books. While perusing the poetry shelves at King's Books, I stumbled upon Radio Sky by Norman Dubie and Crow by Ted Hughes.

---

Years ago, I was working on a series of poems that featured Fox and Crow from the fables of Aesop. Each poem was a "comic strip" of sorts, consisting of three short sections or "panels." Each panel was filled with violence and/or death. Fox, Crow, or both were usually dead by the end. Even if they didn't die there was plenty of mischief.

A friend asked me if I had ever read Crow by Ted Hughes. I had not. At that time, I still didn't. I didn't want any associations of my Crow with that of the Crow of Hughes. I already had Aesop's Crow in my head, as well as my Crow, so I didn't need another.

---

But that was then. Now seemed a good time to delve into the tales of this Crow. There was distance from poems long written and released.

---

What appears on The Dark Mountain Project blog on Thursday, August 17, 2017? An essay by Mat Osmond about the poems of Ted Hughes and the illustrations of Leonard Baskin as found in Crow. Yes, the very book I had just picked up a few days prior was now the subject of "In Other Tongues: An Underswell of Divination."

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On Sunday, August 20, 2017, I'm having a conversation with my uncle at a family gathering. The talk is of trees and how they communicate with one another. My uncle asks me if I've read The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from A Secret World by Peter Wohlleben. I have not, but I have read about the chemical communication of bananas with one antoher as they decay, and I've written a poem about the same. I have also learned recently about research on tomato plants and how they communicate with another through a fibrous fungal network in the soil, which acts as a sort of "internet" or information web for these plants.

As my uncle and I talk, I know that I will be locating a copy of The Hidden Life of Trees and end up reading it.

---

My uncle also tells me about his special connection to yew trees. He talks about the amount of DNA that humans share with yew trees. He tells me about the various yew branches he has found throughout Tacoma and how he has been carving those branches. He tells me where yew trees are located in Tacoma and the surrounding communities of Pierce County.

---

The next day, Monday, August 21, 2017, I'm on The Dark Mountain Project website again and there is a new post. What is it? Another "In Other Tongues" essay. This time it is "Conjuring Yew Trees and Mountains" by Christos Galanis.

The essay features a couple of people who are able to communicate with yew trees, similar to my uncle's experience.

---

These Dark Mountain "echoes" of conversations and experiences I had just prior to their posts remind me of Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences by Lawrence Weschler. I'm not sure how these juxtapositions happen sometimes, but they did. I'm learning to be better about recognizing them and accepting them for the gifts that they are.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

OCTOPUS as HARLEQUIN


"Octopus as Harlequin (after Picasso)" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal pencil, chalk pastels, acrylic.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

FAUVIST FOREST


"Fauvist Forest" by Troy's Work Table

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal, and chalk pastels on sidewalk in Puyallup's Pioneer Park as part of Art Downtown's "Chalk the Walk."

Friday, August 11, 2017

SERAPH


"Seraph" by Troy's Work Table. A companion to "Shift."


Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, and charcoal on concrete wall and sidewalk at Frost Park.

Monday, August 07, 2017

PILLAR


"Pillar" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk and charcoal on 12" x 24" concrete board.

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There are three "divine" beings who are "nightmare" "characters" from my childhood. The three of them "haunt" me. It is likely that I have conflated them in my imagination. Or, alternately, they have converged, in some sense, in my inner world.

(The many quotation marks set off beings that are not necessarily equal, but perhaps have provided me equal amounts of terror throughout my life, for various reasons.)

---

The first being is the God of the Old Testament. And it is this being that provides the chalk "painting" with its title. I think of the pillar of smoke by day and the pillar of fire by night, which was leading the Israelites throughout the desert. But the relationship was holy and tense and tentative, the latter mostly because the people lacked the proper faith to trust in this God and his manifestations.

Additionally, I think of the fourth figure in the furnace fire with Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. Christians like to get a bit sloppy with the story and insist that it is Jesus made known to the the three men. I like to think that this figure is a manifestation of God, but I don't need this person to be the Word, the Son, the Christ.

---

The second being is Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos of H. P. Lovecraft's weird fiction, who has "risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries." I think of his thousand manifestations of madness and how he pursued me when I was an impressionable young reader of horror. I see him as the "swarthy, slender, and sinister" man who "looked like a Pharaoh" so that I don't have to imagine his otherworldly, non-Euclidean, extradimensional forms.

But the "human" avatar is plenty nightmarish on its own.

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The third being is Randall Flagg, the dark man of Stephen King's The Stand. I don't watch film or television series versions of Flagg because he is both very concrete in my mind and very fleeting. I see him as King described him: walking the freeway in his "sharp-toed cowboy boots" and "faded, pegged jeans and a denim jacket," the latter adorned with the many buttons he has placed there. I see him as a man of no age, as well as a man with no face. I see him as silhouette, as shadow, as darkness, as void, as abyss.

---

There is a piece of me that wonders if Lovecraft was drawing upon Yahweh and other gods of the ancient Middle East for Nyarlathotep. There is a piece of me that wonders if King was drawing upon Nyarlathotep for Flagg.

Even if neither Lovecraft nor King is searching back and echoing what has come before, those echoes and juxtapositions still resonate for me, right or wrong as they may be.

---

Which is all a long way of saying that the dark charcoal figure in the pillar of flame above is a mixture-manifestation of those three. I see one as good, one as "neutral-indifferent," and one as evil. Yet they are gathered together and presented as one in some deep place in my dreamscape. They are nightmarish because they are so other, so supernatural, so different.

And each of them has appeared in my life again for different reasons. The first because of a death and having to turn to one of my favorite stories from the Old Testament: (the same) God appearing before the prophet Elijah and giving him his mission. The second because of a couple of stories and poems I'm working on, and the weird fiction that inspires them. The third because of the film version of The Dark Tower being released, which includes Matthew McConaughey as a manifestation of Flagg.

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Then, for whatever reason, I saw the forms of "Fungal Forest" underlying this figure and the chalk piece emerged. It was quick and raw in its creation. And, fortunately, it is now out on concrete and out of my head.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

SHIFT


Details of "Shift" by Troy's Work Table.


Art as grief therapy. Art as process. Art as ritual.


Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, charcoal, and a spot of motor oil on 13' x 4' "found" concrete.

Friday, July 07, 2017

SENESCENT


"Senescent" by Troy's Work Table. Sharpie marker on "found" paint. 10" x 18". Bremerton Art Walls.

SWIM FREE


"Swim Free!" by Troy's Work Table. Acrylic paint on "found" paint. 9" x 12". Bremerton Art Walls.

Friday, June 23, 2017

GORGÓS


"Gorgós (Dreadful)" by Troy's Work Table.

Mixed media on 24" x 36" concrete board. (Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, charcoal, plaster of Paris, tempera paint, charcoal pencil.)

From left to right: Euryale, Stheno, Medusa.

LEMNIAN ATHENA


"Lemnian Athena" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, charcoal, and charcoal pencil on 18" x 24" concrete board.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

ENTROPY of the IMPERIAL YOUTH


"Entropy of the Imperial Youth" by Troy's Work Table.

Watercolor and India ink on 9" x 12" watercolor paper.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

UNION OFFICERS



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Union officers flank the battlefield at the Civil War reenactment during Old Town Days of Union Gap, Washington.

Friday, June 16, 2017

XXX CANTOS


Wooden type at the Olde Yakima Letterpress Museum.

---

"She is submarine, she is an octopus, she is / A biological process"

—from "Canto XXIX" by Ezra Pound

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(I'm intrigued by these lines, but even more so by the line break.)

---

I've now completed the first 30 of the 120 Cantos of Ezra Pound.

With A Draft of XXX Cantos (1930) completed, I move on to Eleven New Cantos XXXI–XLI (1934).

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

IGNORANCE


"Keep your eyes on the mirror. / Prayed we to the Medusa, / petrifying the soil to the shield,"

—from "Canto XV" by Ezra Pound

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I have decided to read The Cantos by Ezra Pound. But I have decided to read it on its own terms, in the midst of my ignorance.

---

It would be easy to find a guide to interpreting these poems and have everything of which I am unaware or need additional help identifying explained for me. But it would slow down my reading and not allow the poems to sing.

---

Therefore, I simply read.

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I encounter English, colloquial English, Greek, Latin, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and transliterated Chinese. I know there are more languages to come.

I encounter references to mythology and history of which I am only vaguely familiar or unfamiliar, amidst stories that I do know.

I let all of it wash over me.

---

I enjoy the song of the lines and lyrics, even if I do not always understand their references or meanings.

---

At a later time, I will read The Cantos again, with a guide, in order that I can enjoy the poem with fuller knowledge of what Pound intends me to find within. But, for now, I dwell in my ignorance and let the poem speak to me where I am at, with what I know.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

UNIVERSAL HARVESTER


"Orlok, like the actor [Boris Karloff], is a surviving remnant of a bygone age; the monsters he played when he was younger and stronger have given way to the ongoing shocks of the late twentieth century, to atrocities of war and the isolation of modern life. There are new monsters now."

—page 20, Universal Harverster by John Darnielle

---

John Darnielle is the singer-songwriter responsible for the band The Mountain Goats, and for most of it's musical history as the solo member. Now, Mr. Darnielle is also an author and Universal Harvester is his second novel.

---

I went in with no expectations of what to find within these pages.

---

The little I did know was that the main character was a twenty-something clerk in a mom-and-pop video store in Nevada, Iowas in those moments where videotape rentals were on the decline. The story takes place in the late 1990s. My experience as a teenage clerk in a mom-and-pop video store took place a decade earlier, but I found much here that was familiar.

---

It doesn't take long for the familiar to give way to the strange, though. Small snippets of home video (?) are being reported by customers in the middle of movies they've rented. But how did these scenes get there?

---

A reading note:

There is a slow build of creeping horror (and I'm only to page 42 (of 214)). This is Lovecraftian. Or Poe. Or The Blair Witch Project.

It shouldn't be as tense as it is at this point, mostly because so little has happened.

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And then:

Darnielle makes sure that he knows that you were going to refer to The Blair Witch Project at some point...

"'I don't know if either of you saw that Blair With Project but they had something like this on the internet.' Both nodded back." (page 76)

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There is more than one story line and they eventually melt together. The tension builds and then is left as we enter a new story line. The pattern starts again. But there is connective tissue to attach one story to another to another.

---

This isn't cosmic horror (a la Lovecraft) after all, but, indeed, the new monster of "the isolation of modern life." The antidote in these tales is people having to deal with one another face to face, in the flesh.

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Recommended if you like literary fiction or "cerebral" horror.



Wednesday, June 07, 2017

THE CANTOS


My "new" hardcover copy of The Cantos by Ezra Pound.

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On Memorial Day weekend, I was perusing the shelves at King's Books when I happened upon this copy of The Cantos. It is in very good condition. Other than a minor tear on the spine of the book jacket, some fading on the jacket (due to being many decades old), and a handwritten inscription on the end papers, this book is hardly used. Also, it was reasonably priced.

What makes me nearly a moron is that I initially passed it up.

I didn't have any cash on me at the time. But as the week wore on, I kept wondering why I didn't grab this book off of the poetry shelf and bring it home with me. I rectified the problem by doing just that this evening.

I returned to King's Books, all the while offering up prayers that it would still be on the shelf, and once I saw it grabbed on to it and didn't let go until I purchased it and made it back to the car.

Now I'm letting Pound's language and lines wash over me.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

GRASS


These stalks of grass are as thick as drinking straws and six to eight feet in height. I'm hiding in their midst during a break from work, watching birds.

Friday, June 02, 2017

ARTEMISION POSEIDON


"Artemision Poseidon" by Troy's Work Table.

Charcoal, sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, and charcoal pencil on 12" x 12" concrete board.