April 29, 2011

Encaustic {Soul Music} [jana]

Ingredients:

1 Wood panel board
Oil Paints
Pure Beeswax, tempered with 10% harder wax, like Carnauba or Damar Resin. (The surface would be too soft without this tempering that lends a surface.)
Brushes
Pottery tools for scraping and engraving

And also, heat is needed, the fire, the crucible.

The palette, an electric griddle, stolen from the kitchen. It holds at a low temperature. Wait. It will take some time for the wax to heat through and become ready to use.

And then there are the tools to fuse the layers together, heat guns and torches, heated knives and spoons for burnishing, all weapons of transformation. Paper, for burying within, to be revealed or not, by choice.

Photocopies, shadows, to be transferred to the surface, leaving ghosts of meaning.

The wax is hot and honey-scent rising, consecrates the studio.

Begin.

Layers down, clear, then colors. Buried notes and papers. No one will ever see them.

Each layer fused by torch and gun, permanence. The wax tempers and seals, layers built hard and uncompromising, a glassy surface, hiding richness.

Now for the knives. Potter’s tools, Razor blades. Choices, slices, removing the layers built so hard and well. Pull back the surface and find what you left behind, the pain and purpose of it, the promises obscured. And down to the wood.

History.

You could always melt it all off, start over. The battle erased, forfeit.

The surface is battered, but now rich in depth now. Fuse once more with flame.

The transfer design must be rubbed in carefully to the still-warm wax, then saturated with water {baptized?} and washed away, leaving the trace resting like a prayer over the surface.

Cathedral.


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April 26, 2011

Unorganized Religion [judd]

I’m ready for some unorganized religion
Any day of the week, prepared for anything
I bring a guitar and you a poem
Together we make a song
He brings a thought
She, an open mind
Together they share an idea
Jesus is there
He’s listening as he sits
On the arm of the sofa
Now lingering with us in the kitchen
Drinking the last cup of coffee
And not making more

So now we need a rule that if you
Drink the last cup,
Even if you’re Jesus,
You must make more coffee
Jesus, you got this started and now
Because of you, we need a rule
Where once we followed you,
Highest prince, loveliest lord,
Now we follow more rules because
Rules are like potato chips
You can’t have just one.

And pretty soon we’re talking about
Buildings, bylaws, and budgets
When we get to that point
I’m getting out
Jesus and me, we’re going
To the Starbucks at the mall
Where I don’t expect Jesus
To make the coffee
The two of us, unorganized


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April 22, 2011

Assisi [jenna]


“Totally give yourself over to the One who gave Himself totally for love of you.”—St. Francis to St. Clare

A city set on a hill, I thought, looking at Assisi for the first time. The train had carried us through miles of open countryside, leaving us at the base of the mound on which Assisi sits like a fortress. We caught a bus and rode to the hilltop.

A breeze met us in the center of the city, sharp with fall’s chill and threatening rain. I wrapped my sweater and rain jacket around me—the warmest clothes I’d brought—and we headed toward the basilica of St. Francis.

After a week in Rome, where the fast-paced modern city hurtles over, around, and through Baroque churches and pagan ruins, it was a relief to walk along quiet streets. Assisi lacked the force of Rome and the fashion of Siena; it was simple, settled, at rest. We peered through the windows of tiny tourist shops and admired softly reddish Italian buildings that seemed on the point of crumbling with age. As we approached the basilica of St. Francis, the quiet began to feel consecrated, as if the town itself were hallowed by the spirits of its two well-beloved saints.

Giovanni Francesco di Bernadone—St. Francis, brother of all creatures, lover of poverty, wholehearted in everything he did, is one of the best-known saints in Christendom. Francis founded the “Lesser Brothers”, a monastic order that wholeheartedly renounced wealth. Their example for that was Francis himself, who stripped off his name and social standing along with the very clothes his father gave him.

When he heard Christ speak from a crucifix in the little church of San Damiano, saying “Rebuild my church”, Francis took the request literally and began rebuilding the run-down structure by hand. The deeper result of Christ’s call came later. As Francis’ faith and works became more widely known, his obedience to that call became known to Pope Innocent III, who had a dream about the passionate young monk. Now, outside St. John Lateran (the Pope’s parish basilica), Innocent’s vision stands: a statue of St. Francis, placed so that when you look at it from the right angle, you can see the little man holding up the big Church.

Back in Assisi, a woman named Chiara (Clare) Offreduccio heard Francis preach and took his messages to heart. Clare’s parents wanted her to marry a wealthy man, but she escaped with Francis’ help, eventually becoming his friend and founding an order of nuns that joined Francis’ brothers in a life of poverty, hard work and prayer.

Both of those saints, neither of whom owned anything that was not given to them, now have basilicas named in their honor. St. Francis’ basilica is dark and lovely, with broken frescoes in the upper level and a simple little chapel around the tomb of Francis himself. St. Clare’s interior is mostly destroyed; its beauty lies in its pink and white marble fa├žade, the splendid view of olive groves and countryside from its courtyard, and in the crucifix from San Damiano church, where you can kneel and try to pray with some of the devout joy and loving surrender that Francis and Clare once did.

Other churches in town contain relics and memories of the friends. The Chiesa Nuova (New Church) hosts the little cupboard-under-the-stairs sort of room where Francis’ father locked him for his disdain of money, and somewhere I remember seeing the coarse, simple garments the saints wore—small things and few, in aged brown and cream colors.

The humility and devotion of Francis and Clare drew attention from popes and put Assisi on the map, at least as a place of pilgrimage. But humility and devotion still linger in the art and air of the town. With less grandeur than Rome boasts, and decay sped by the earthquake that damaged the basilicas, the city isn’t much of a tourist destination compared with the rest of Italy unless you’re interested in the faith.

I wanted to stay there. After touring a few big churches, the wealth and glory starts to blur together. Assisi was a place to stop and breathe, to write, to think, and most of all to pray.

"Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance!
And transform your entire being into the image
of the Godhead Itself through contemplation.
So that you too may feel what His friends feel
as they taste the hidden sweetness
that God Himself has reserved from the beginning
for those who love Him” — St. Clare


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April 19, 2011

Not Enough [liz]

My father hates money spent, left unused
I hate time passed without you
We are missing too much

We wait for you
Each week gain and lose
Unnatural rhythm, but you jump right in
How do we find security in a dynamic climate,
Smooth the lines that leave such an impression?


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April 15, 2011

The Air and the Ground [jake]

Note: This piece is a form that a friend-of-a-friend of mine invented called a tri-ku: three haikus connected by enjambment of the last line of one haiku and first line of the next.

O, pinions connect
tendons to feathers aloft
and aloof. Such a

thin security,
veiled vulnerability.
O, pinions! Clip them

and watch the birds drop.
How impossible: grace was
the air and the ground.


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April 12, 2011

Broken Rib [sean]

Sunk into the sweat-soaked spread of carpet on the floor,
When it’s good, I’m still left here mourning for more, for more.
And how do I explain—it’s the wine, it never tastes quite fine,
And the books don’t seem to hold any interest.
And the people don’t seem to hold any interest.
And the games don’t seem to hold any interest.
And the black dog saunters up again to bite the Hand that feeds,
He wraps his hand around my shoulder and whispers, “you get up off your knees,”
He says “Let’s paint a smile, let’s place a face on that disease.”
And I don’t get off my knees, but he never goes away; he just keeps coming and coming.
And I don’t get off my knees, but I never get a break;
He just kicks me in the gut again, and again, and takes my breath away.
With the smile made through gritted teeth, the ribs still cracked and sore,
It’s the case that when it’s good, I’m still left here mourning for more, for more.
The room fills up again—I wince, take an inoculation, and try to make some conversation.
But it’s the case that when it’s good, I’m still left here mourning for more, for more.
And the food doesn’t seem to hold any interest.
And the candles don’t seem to hold any interest.
And the sun doesn’t seem to hold any interest.
And nothing seems to hold any interest, but I keep pressing on for more, for More.


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April 8, 2011

Untitled [tony]

I've traveled far and wide
from places you can only imagine
of all places for me to choose
i have chosen here to rest

this metal woven wall
is my home for the time being
in a moment i could be gone
not knowing where i'm headed

at least you were here to catch my story


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April 5, 2011

A Giant in Playland [justin]

You have to be careful where you touch the children.

No... let me start earlier than that and give a backgroundal anecdote. My first adult experience was somewhere in New Jersey. I was 20 at the time, and a small gaggle of high school seniors and myself were on our way to a friend’s parents’ beach house for the weekend. It was dark, but not late, when we pulled into the parking lot about an hour out from our destination.

For one reason or another, James, one of the seniors, and I decided to crawl around the subhuman-sized gerbil tubes, a collection of mass proportion in comparison to other golden arches locations. It must have been a full moon or maybe an overdose on orange drink or perhaps all Jersey children struggle with cannibalism, but for whatever reason, a pact of them decided we were a threat and started bombarding us relentlessly, some screaming Roman war phrases.

It’s a scary thing to be suspended in a confined space, far from home, hearing the guffaw of human hyenas, feeling the whole structure shake as they get closer. At the end of the the tube I’m in, I see a little girl slowly turn the corner with blood around her mouth... this is obviously ketchup from her happy meal, but with the florescent lighting casting shadows in weird places, she might as well have been a Zombie. And one thing is for sure, kid zombies (or vampires or disembodied spirits) are always more frightening than the adult version.

I quickly make it out to freedom, but James was stuck in section 4, between the cargo net and the firetruck wheel. The kids attacked from both sides and I remember James’ face peering out through one of of the small windows in the red tube with a look of disbelief, almost like he was thinking, “This is how I’m going to die?” What do you do in such a situation? You can’t hit the kids and saying anything in grown-up speak just kindles more rage (damn Power Rangers) that they’ve been suppressing since lunch time when Dad wouldn't allow seconds on the fruit roll-ups. So you cover your face with one arm, and your groin with the other, and push through to the escape hatch—that is, the slide.

James made it and we laughed about the whole thing with wide eyes. Parents just nodded with big grins about how athletic or imaginative or resourceful their little angels were in the pilage. It’s hard for parents to be objective with their kids in given situations. Typically we either exasperate our offspring with correction in trying to create a better version of ourselves or we get all starry eyed as we stare into Narcissus’ pool and say they can do no wrong.

Anyway, I digress. The invasion of elderly persuasion was 9 years ago and things have changed in my world. Now when this giant enters playland, his 19 month old daughter, a native ambassador, escorts him. This doesn’t make things perfect, but I have yet to be unrighteously ambushed in my travels with her. In fact now I have to be more aware of those without than those within the PVC tubing.

As we pull into the parking lot and my daughter realizes what we are doing, she gets uber excited, with arms flailing, saying “Yeah? Yeah?” in a way that means “Daddy, please don’t break my heart. If this is a tease, let me know now.” I enter in with her like any other onto the shores of playland; the only thing distinguishing me, initally at least, is that I have the cutest girl in the room. After her shoes are off, mine come off (using two cubby holes to my daughter’s one) and that’s where people start noticing me more.

It’s more than likely a Saturday morning so I’m wearing torn pajama pants with Adidas shorts over top of them; my hair, if not under a hat, is unkempt; my facial hair, typically not trimmed. None of these things really matter. But in some way, they do when you know your child is going to be in a confined area with this person.

Which brings me to the opening line. Once an adult enters playland and is cleared by the presence of their ambassador, they simply become a tool for the smaller kids to make it to the next level, usually in order to get to the bigger slide. In the space allotted typically it would be most natural and easiest to help the kids up by pushing on their butt, and while they wouldn’t think twice about it, a parent on the outside might. Instead, I suggest grabbing their chubby little legs, one per hand, and hiking them up that way... it’s surprisingly more awkward logistically, as sometimes they’ll flail in different directions as compared to the centered rumpus, but it is safer in terms of “why is that guy touching my kid?”

Another tip... don’t disappear for a long time. Sometimes my daughter just wants to spin the car wheel around and around and around in the back quadrant, which is fine, but when Johnny 5 comes to check out what’s going on and mom or dad can’t see him directly with the Giant, things could get sketchy in their minds. Also, stick to the corners, being careful not to block the windows to the outsiders for too long... drug deals can happen fast nowadays.

Oh, and for the love of God, watch your elbows. At the time of writing, I count six plastic brush burns from the slides. They are the kind that look sort of wet and white at first and then turn red and scabby later. Beware, my friends—Giants can be hurt, too.

Last note. If you are a young male and you’re going to enter the playland place fully, you are absolutely not allowed to have just a mustache for facial hair. People will automatically assume that the child with you was kidnapped and brainwashed... just avoid any possibility of that debacle and you should then fall under peaceable diplomatic legislation.


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