“a stitch in time saves nine”

“The universe,” she purred slowly while smoothing through the kitten’s whiskers, “was made out of lots of fabric and one very large hand- the one that was willing to get pricked mid-needlepoint. It was too large for any thimble, and so it was calloused and graceful.

The first pine trees were stitched in with a little ragged breathing, the first clouds were a sigh, the ocean waves all coughs and gasps, tickling into the sharpness of the earth palate.

The first animals were knit from big spools of yarn: wool and linen, cotton and corduroy, gingham and velvet and yards of rouched silk.

There is a texture for every corner of the universe, but there is a special pattern for the cat. A little like origami, folding into the spaces of ticking and melted minutes back and over and forth and back again. One fold for each of the nine lives so that as the fur unravels and the whiskers and tails spiral like a sliced open snail with the little pink tongue… All those stitches will snap one at a time until the ninth finally comes undone just like the rest of the bunching nylon multiverse

how it falters and tangles and tears and becomes tiny and confused again.

These knots”, she whispers, “are special.

Like the tiny tweed holes of the stars,

and the glued abalone shell of the moon.”

(Love from Boulder,

Miss Sara)

I Blinked

I blinked and no more fingertips. All hand lines, palm

and tendons all the way down the finger,       first digit

second digit,      and then empty air. I could still grab things,

full fisted, but couldn’t feel the grooved finger music, that

vibrational      conversation      we have with guitars and

doorknobs. It may have happened like falling in love,

a little then all at once,      with dry mouth and

ringing ears, the ocean gulping the space around

claustrophobia      swallow      swallow

will the rest of me fade away too?

I invested in some gloves. Opera gloves, thin cotton

gloves, soft woolen gloves with sticky traction fingers.

There aren’t people to go to with these problems of

lightness, of numbness     of lack. They blink

and stutter      and connect the dots, this

phenomenon of absence. No.

Better to find flesh paint, get the mixing tray

wait for the air and the deadness to reach past the elbows,

but the disappearing wasn’t linear this way, it was,

so cruelly, sensitivity centered. The earlobes

and the tip of the tongue, the clitoris and the arch

of the foot. The space ate away at me,

an edible woman      becoming empty.

[This poem is a brief investigation into a character of mine named Felicity. She’s disappearing. Thanks for reading. Also: Thanks to Julien Blundell (fellow poet magician) for the writing prompt of “I blinked” which inspired my writing.

Love from Boulder,

Miss Sara]

prayer/poem/unidentified graveyard

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photo by Jane Booth

empty veins of an abandoned church. the blood was once pumping, prayers spinning, stained glass did not make it this east. the first one burnt down and someone built atop it’s ashes hoping god would enter and answer. a man stood here and spoke a sermon,

“son, do not doubt the love and

do not turn your back to wrath.”

 this is my sermon,

“silent and haunted by still alive beings

i don’t know where i’m walking

haphazard paths

halfheartedly constructed

how does heaven see mass graves?”

no land untouched by man is not an exaggeration. some say there’s beauty in this synthetic sixth extinction, all i find is a desire to sleep with the few ancient trees still rooted and learning to wilt with the rest of us. my whole heart is stretched in apology for my society (american, african, czech, german – no.  i mean consumerism.) mama nature take me home – or as close as i can go, the one lone hope is

hard to say. maybe a handshake, maybe a symphony that only i can hear, specific to my ears and their revision of gray landscapes. what this place was before roads, before factories, and tombstones, green bones intact but splintered. take advantage of smooth pavement while you can and keep writing when it’s not, when we stop, when will we? will we?

nothing is sacred. no exceptions or accepting. every land has it’s own specter to digest. human horror stories sink into any semipermeable substance. wounded bark makes murdered wood, martyred and taken for granted, the cabinets are their own grave stones. they are not dated named or placed.

i do not know why i expected it to be different here. somehow more understanding of man’s violation of nature in making himself bigger and better than his mother.

we are meant to follow nothing but the footprints we left in the mud for ourselves. people do not need permission to enter the past. to dehumanize a location erase the names on headstones.

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photo by Linda Moses

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photo by Jane Booth

Love & many blessings, 

Eleanore ~

Questions: Answered and Unanswered

This week I did a collaboration with Travis in my Project Outreach class (a class where baby writing birds are thrust from their contemplative nest and demanded to teach 15 hours of workshops over the course of the semester). The prompt was to write questions and answers and the other half of the exercise (part B, part bee, part 2, part 1 revisited, part dislodged, part flown away, part island, and so on) can be found on his blog here: https://cirripediapress.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/project-outreach/

Created in the space of the third mind, the bold will indicate the ink from my pen (Noodler’s Purple Heart from a Lamy fine point fountain pen) and the non bold is Travis’s handsome black ballpoint (origin and flavor of ink unknown).


When will the winter end? / When the last white bird sheds its woolen sweater vest.

Where does the sea meet the sky? / The time that the wave becomes a cloud.

How high can a bird fly? / Until the air is so thin that the lungs won’t balloon, then it begins the fall.

What is the shape of your heart? / The shape of a thousand unanswered questions + about the size of my next words.

How complicated can we make this? / A celtic knot, snake unfolding into an onion, feathers that burst into flames.

What are the hopes of an inchworm? / Inchworms naturally dream of and yearn for solitude, so that they can live.

How does the moon stay in the sky? / When you cover string with glue, wrap it around the balloon and subtract the balloon, this is the weightlessness. But you need more string still, to keep it.

When will our mouths be satisfied? / An unending conversation is the only required action – the shape of words against tongues and teeth.

What would you take to a deserted island? / Papers and sweat and my body weight in aloe juice.

Why would a plant need a hat? / The plant has been waiting, left on the railway platform of a 1940s movie.

Which metal is the strongest? / Adamantium. Wolverine claws!

What language speaks closest to love? / The simple language of truth, with humor waiting in the wings.

How many questions go unasked? / What is the flavor of grief?


May you be inspired to ask some questions, answer some, and answer some with more questions.

Love from Boulder,

Sara

Modes of Democracy & Journal (Ir)Responsible

A space constructed with the intention to hold and analyze art must be planned with wandering viewers in mind. A museum is just this; a theatre for the visual, where a painting, sculpture, or other piece may perform it’s play in an uninterrupted place. With careful architecture and interior design many exhibitions are placed in proximity to each other and manage to stay separate. They can coexist without intermingling meanings. The lines between are clear cut and definable: here is a modern wing, over there baroque, and in another location a film show.

What happens when a space is unsuccessful in retaining the individual forms of it’s exhibits? Naturally, the mind begins to see ties between them. It compares and contrasts the elements it experiences as together. It constructs a story that may never have been imagined by the individual displays alone.

And so it is at the Dox museum. The show I was intending to see was Modes of Democracy, an examination of the multiple forms and plethora of content that Democracy has evolved into since the ancient greeks first coined the term and developed the idea contained within it. The exhibit itself is split into eight different sections, each entering the subject at a unique angle:  from environmental issues to internet voting.

Another exhibit up at the time, of interest but not the intended focus, was about the satirical magazine: Charlie Hebdo, aptly named Journal (Ir)Responsible. Most of the world is aware of the massacre that took place at their editing office early in 2015. It sparked an internet wildfire, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie or, #IAmCharlie. All around the globe solidarity meetings were staged and love sent to Paris. The exhibit at Dox displays the controversial covers and articles printed from the magazine’s inception in the late 60’s to the straw that broke the camels back. Images of Muhammad saying uninspiring bits of text instigated the murders by Muslim extremists of several of the magazine’s staff and a receptionist of their building.

 

Walking in and immediately being searched by two armed security guards. I feel secure but somehow stunted. Of course, it’s only expected: after what happened in Paris it makes sense to have guards positioned at the entrance and throughout the museum, bags thoroughly looked through, and bodies felt for contraband. But what does that do to a sense of freedom? Knowing that you’re being watched changes your behavior, the Observation effect on a grand scale. Past the entrance fee and coatcheck there are gray arrows painted on the walls; this way to Modes of Democracy, that way to Journal (Ir)Responsible. They point in the same direction. Following the arrows I arrive first in a space dedicated to discussing the surveillance state.

Foucault’s design for a prison is present. Wherein omnipotent guards, or even more inscrutable and objective eyes, those of cameras, may watch every inmate all day every day with maximum ease and effect. Laura Poitras, the publisher of the Snowden interviews, which illuminates the availability of supposedly private information to the United State’s National Security Agency, is also present in this section. The questions come, drifting from the ether of art into the matter of mind: does surveillance limit one’s free speech? One’s freedom of action? Are these not cornerstones of Democracy? How is it possible to call a nation democratic if it’s citizens minds and bodies are not free to roam in their own self-propelled direction?

My own self-propelled direction takes me next to the Icelandic Constitution, a few rooms and followed arrows away from Foucault and Poitras. Here, I meet almost all of Iceland’s constituents by reading their, mostly unanimous and utterly revolutionary, re-vision of their country. A large room with a dull pink rectangle taking up most of two walls and a projection being played on a third. The fourth is left blank: a space for pondering, a place for eyes to rest after reading a text so unfamiliar and astounding. Curvy black script sprawls across the pink -the words of a new wave of humanity, the video shows the people of Iceland singing their national anthem – the music included in the wave.

Coming from America, I was surprised, even at the Czech example of Vaclav Havel. A poet-playwrite-politician-president? Impossible! It’s arguable that even in it’s beginning, American Democracy was a sham. The Declaration of Independance and the Constitution did not apply to a large number of people: africans were imported as a product, native americans slaughtered, and women shamed. The Czech Republic, however, had to start their democracy fresh. From scratch. With a vision saturated by centuries of outside oppression. Finally free to begin an earnest attempt at creating their own order, perhaps their sense of approaching ideals like freedom and liberty can catch things American eyes easily glide over.

Coming from America, to a country whose favorite president is more than a few of my favorite things, to this crowdsourced constitution stands in direct contradiction my understanding of democracy in practice.  Compared to that, this proposed constitution is a poem in and of itself. Article Seven, all shall inherit the right to life at birth. Article Twelve, a child shall be guaranteed the right to express its opinions in all instances concerning it. Natural resources are public property. It goes on. It’s entirely is unimagined in America, the self-proclaimed “protector” of democracy. Although the crowdsourced constitution failed, it’s inception at all is inspiring. Leaving the room, a swell of pride and gratitude for humanity washes the bad taste of surveillance from my tongue.

But again, questions, always questions. Why didn’t this inclusive and genuinely kind attempt to better the world fail? Is it because democracy has been corrupted everywhere? Or is this kind of optimism truly not in the reach of modern society to actualize? Is violence and war, as many authors and intellectuals (including Havel) suggest, the necessary pain required for transcendence? How can that be true if certain individuals bear the weight of the majority of that suffering? Is this what democracy should be?

 

Meandering through the rest of the exhibits and one question comes up again and again. Which arrow points where? Am I being guided through this labyrinth or am I to guide myself? Finally the answer is made clearer when I arrive at a wide ramp and am again searched for weapons. I don’t know where I’m going but I go and I find at the top a room filled with Charlie Hebdo covers. The end of the entrance message from the Dox team reads, “The intent of this exhibit is to allow the Czech public to form it’s own opinion of the magazine, it’s attitudes, ideas, and humor.”

They are not easy to read. Nothing is sacred, nothing inviolable. Everything up for humiliation, for critique that goes beyond constructive and verges into cruel. Je ne suis pas Charlie. Maybe I understand their attempts at loosening the world’s grip on outdated and destructive organized religion, and certainly this does not merit a death sentence. But there is not an ounce of respect. There is not an iota of compassion for anyone, anything, or any situation. If you hate everyone equally, there can be no -ism attached to the hatred. No racism, sexism, ableism.

 

Neither the French nor the Czech language has a phrase or tense for, “should.” But going through this exhibit, watching the heartfelt beliefs of millions of people being mocked, I think, “this should not be.” And maybe in the world that Charlie Hebdo is trying to create there would, indeed, be no reason for such insulting commentary. I do not know the answer but I do know (some of) the questions:

When free speech turns into hate speech, what is the best way to respond?

 

When democratic ideologies become caricatures of their former selves, why hold on to them anymore than the religions they persecute?


Was it the intention of the curators of the Dox museum to send their viewers through a maze so that these questions of tolerance, respect, and freedom are almost impossible to arrive at? This is the true importance of Democracy, a fearlessness in questioning. Charlie Hebdo was not questioning but stating and outright ridiculing sacred laws and stories. Modes of Democracy examines the ways in which Democracy can go very right and very wrong. Taken together, as a whole, it forms an energized picture of the state of mind my world lives in: schizophrenic and struggling towards (or away from) peace. Taken together, as an individual entity of art, it gives life to necessary questions that must be asked by all who live in this world and wish to see an era of true prosperity and genuine happiness for humankind and our environment.

Love From Prague,

Eleanore

Meet the Flowers

Eleanore and Sara are poetesses that are spending the year far away from each other. This is space for them to write and share their collaboration and celebrate their individual writings. This is a space for magic and moonlight and mountains and city streets and tiny failures of every flavor. This is space for silliness and severity, grief and joy, the blossom and the wilt and all the in between.

Let this be space for them to grow, and for you to come along,

to enchant and to be enchanted.